Guidance from Sixty-eighth High Priest Nichinyo Shonin – January 1, 2010

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On the Occasion of the January Kōsen-rufu Shodai Ceremony
January 1, 2010
Reception Hall, Head Temple Taisekiji

On the new spring of “The year of Advancing toward Kōsen-rufu,” I would like to wish you a Happy New Year!

I imagine the Honorable Retired High Priest Nikken Shonin, too, is enjoying the great New Year in splendid condition.

I also believe both Nichiren Shoshu priesthood and laity have welcomed “The Year of Advancing toward Kōsen-rufu,” feeling refreshed and have made a fresh resolve to make further efforts in their practice.

At the Head Temple, the shodai ceremony started at nine a.m. today due to the New Year. However, as a general rule, one-hour shodai ceremony will be conducted from eight a.m. to nine a.m. every day throughout the month of January, as per usual. I hope many people will be participating in the shodai ceremony. Please note that this year is “The Year of Advancing toward Kōsen-rufu.” In other words, it is the year to move forward in shakubuku. It is because kōsen-rufu can only be achieved by the fulfillment of shakubuku.

The important thing in carrying out shakubuku is shodai. Shodai is fundamental to Buddhist practice. It is a significant practice for one’s attainment of Buddhahood.

The Daishonin teaches in “Myōhō amagoze-gohenji”:

“Face powder can change the color of lacquer to white, just like powder snow. Those who approach Mount Sumeru will shine with golden hue. Those who uphold the Lotus Sutra can transform their negative karma from their lifetime and since remote past into great good of the positive karma. Needless to say, all the virtue from the infinite past of no beginning will surely turn gold. Since the great man who is now deceased chanted Nam-Myoho-Renge-Kyo in his final moment, the entirety of his evil karma from his lifetime and since time without beginning will be transformed into the seed for Buddhahood. His life is characterized by the principles of ‘earthly desires are enlightenment’ (bonnō soku bodai), ‘the sufferings of birth and death are nirvana’ (shōji soku nehan) and ‘attaining Buddhahood in one’s present form’ (sokushin jōbutsu).”

(Gosho, p.1483)

The Daishonin reveals that one can transform one’s evil karma from the infinite past into virtue, through chanting the Daimoku. Furthermore, he teaches, even the negative karma since the time without beginning becomes the cause for the attainment of Buddhahood. This concept is revealed in the doctrines of earthly desires are enlightenment, the sufferings of birth and death are nirvana, and attaining Buddhahood in one’s present form.

The Daishoin also teaches in “The Daimoku of the Lotus Sutra” (“Hokke Daimoku-shō”):

“Learned men in the world today say, ‘How is it possible for those who simply chant Nam-Myoho-Renge-Kyo based on faith, without understanding the meaning of it, to avoid falling into the evil paths?’ If what is indicated in the sutra is correct, these scholars can hardly escape from falling into the avichi hell. Even if a person lacks understanding, so long as he chants Nam-Myoho-Renge-Kyo, he can avoid the evil paths.”

(ibid., p.354)

The Daishonin denounces the errors of the earthly scholars for placing importance on understanding Buddhism and taking faith lightly. He emphasizes faith is a basic requirement for Buddhism, indicating that without putting faith into practice, no one will be able to enjoy any kinds of benefits.

In other words, if the act of taking faith is removed from religions or Buddhism, they become merely desk theories. Such theory is no longer Buddhism or a religion.

No matter how noble the theory may be, no one will be able to receive any benefits from it. A mere theory enables one to achieve the attainment of Buddhahood.

In Buddhism, it is taught:

“Faith is fundamental to entering Buddhism.”

(ibid., p. 353)

Here, the deep meaning lies in these words.

That is, we, the common mortals alone, cannot possibly learn truth correctly to build a life condition of absolute happiness. However, the Daishonin teaches in the “Orally Transmitted Teachings” (“Ongi kuden”):

“The single character of faith enables one to receive wisdom of all the Buddhas throughout the three existences of life. Wisdom is Nam-Myoho-Renge-Kyo. Faith is the cause for acquiring wisdom, corresponding to the stage of first hearing the name of the Law. Understanding does not exist outside of faith. There is no faith outside of understanding. The single character of faith is the seed for reaching the stage of enlightenment. Since those who are the followers of Nichiren take faith in Nam-Myoho-Renge-Kyo, they can receive the greatest treasure of all benefits without seeking them. Faith is the seed for Buddha’s wisdom.”

(ibid., p.1737)

By putting our faith into practice, following the teaching of the founder Nichiren Daishonin, who became enlightened to his inner truth of the fundamental law of universe, we can substitute our faith for wisdom that the Buddha had already been awakened to. Accordingly, we can obtain the greatest treasure without seeking it. That is, we can acquire the life condition of absolute happiness [attainment of Buddhahood].

Practicing one’s faith refers to shodai. Without shodai, we can never enjoy the boundless benefits of Buddhism.

Furthermore, the Daimoku in the Latter Day of the Law is the practice for oneself and others, unlike the Daimoku for oneself only in the two periods of the Former and Middle Days of the Law. “On the Three Great Secret Laws” (“Sandai hihō-shō”) reads:

“There are two methods for the practice of Daimoku. The first was used during the Former and Middle Days of the Law, and the second is to be used during the Latter Day of the Law. Although Bodhisattvas Vasubandhu and Nagarjuna themselves chanted the Daimoku during the Former Day of the Law, they did so for their own sakes only, and did not tell many others about it. So did Nan-Yueh and Tiantai during the Middle Day of the Law. This method might be called practice in principle only. Now, in the age of the Latter Day of the Law, the Daimoku that Nichiren chants is different from that of previous ages. It is the Nam-Myoho-Renge-Kyo of both practice for oneself and for others.”

(ibid., p.1594)

In other words, the Daimoku in the Latter Day of the Law is the practice to save oneself and others. The Daimoku for saving oneself refers to shodai. The Daimoku for saving others is shakubuku. Shodai and shakubuku cannot be separated. Shodai based on one’s sincere faith is the energy source for shakubuku. Thus, High Priest Nichikan Shonin teaches in the Exegesis on the “True Object of Worship” (“Kanjin no honzon-shō” mondan):

“If practice for oneself is fulfilled, there exists practice for others without fail. Practice for the sake of others is the act based on one’s profound compassion.”

(Mondan, p.219)

It is taught in this passage, when one becomes filled with the benefits of chanting the Daimoku, his act is certainly accompanied by the practice of shakubuku.

What I would like to emphasize is shodai and shakubuku are united as one. One should not do shodai for the sake of chanting the Daimoku. What is most important is one should do shakubuku based on the benefits and joy from shodai. Shodai alone is not the true Daimoku, which can save both oneself and others. We are apt to become bogged down to the theoretical Daimoku of the Former and Middle Days of the Law.

Therefore, in this year of “Advancing toward Kōsen-rufu,” each individual should steadily strive for shodai and do shakubuku, remain committed to the practice for oneself and others. With this, each one should pledge to the three treasures that he/she will achieve this year’s goal and courageously work toward the achievement of the aspiration of kōsen-rufu.

Looking at the chaotic social conditions in Japan and overseas today, I feel it is essential that we, the disciples and the followers of Nichiren Daishonin, must devote ourselves to practice, without begrudging our lives, aiming at the realization of the establishment of the Buddha land. We should become patriots for the general good, taking the golden words of “one’s body is insignificant while the Law is supreme” (shinkyō hōju) and “propagating the Law at the cost of one’s life” (shishin guhō) to heart.

If you get snagged on the idea of “today a man, tomorrow a mouse” without doing what you should be doing, you are wasting your time.

I sincerely wish that each of you will engrave that you were born into the human world, which is difficult to achieve, and have encountered the sacred teachings of the Buddha, and became a disciple of the True Buddha through a deep karmic relation, and make further advancement toward the achievement of true world peace in order to save Japan as well as the rest of the world. With this, I would like to conclude my address today.