Guidance from Sixty-eighth High Priest Nichinyo Shonin – July 5, 2009

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On the Occasion of the July Kosen-rufu Shodai Ceremony
July 5, 2009
Reception Hall, Head Temple Taisekiji

Good Morning, everyone!

On the occasion of the July Kōsen-rufu Shodai Ceremony, conducted today at the Head Temple, I would like to express my heartfelt appreciation to the large number of participants in attendance.

The month of July has arrived, and the “Grand Ceremony in Commemoration of the 750th Anniversary of Revealing the Truth and Upholding Justice through the Submission of the Risshō ankoku-ron” will be conducted in ten days. Furthermore, three weeks from now, the “General Meeting of the Great Assembly of 75,000 believers” is scheduled to take place.

As I have mentioned on many occasions, the goal of the “Great Assembly” is an extremely important milestone on the road to the accomplishment of kōsen-rufu, and must be achieved at any cost. It is also a significant Kick-off Ceremony for the next challenge in our practice.

Thus, if we try to achieve the total success of this goal, we will inevitably encounter various obstacles.

The same can be said about life in general. No matter what we do, if we set a goal and begin to strive toward the achievement of that goal, we often face various obstacles and hindrances. People often quote the analogies: “When a car drives down a gravel road, it kicks up a cloud of dust,” and “When a ship sails on the sea, the surface of the water ripples”.

In particular, when we practice the true Buddhism of the Daishonin and strive toward the achievement of kōsen-rufu, devilish functions will inevitably emerge to block our practice.

Nichiren Daishonin teaches in “Letter to the Brothers” (“Kyōdai-shō”):

“The doctrine of ichinen sanzen revealed in the fifth volume [of the Great Concentration and Insight (Maka shikan)] is especially profound. If you propagate it, without fail, devils will arise. Were it not for these, there would be no way of knowing that this is the true teaching. A passage from this same volume reads, ‘As practice progresses and understanding grows, the three obstacles and four devils emerge. They compete with one another to interfere. Do not be influenced or frightened by them. If you fall under their influence, you will be led onto the path of evil. If you are frightened by them, you will be prevented from practicing true Buddhism.’”

(Gosho, p. 986; cf. MW-1, p. 145)

Citing this passage from the Great Concentration and Insight (Maka shikan), the Daishonin emphasizes that we must not yield to the three obstacles and four devils or be frightened by them.

Basically, devils are functions that work to disturb people’s minds and cause illusions. It can also be said that they prevent people from accumulating good deeds and block people’s Buddhist practice. At times, such devilish functions take on the disguise of a bodhisattva, a heavenly being, a human, one’s master, one’s father and mother, wife and children, or brothers and sisters. Such functions can also be disguised as wealth, food, drink, and so on, in order to delude people’s minds. Among them, the biggest obstacle is called the Devil of the Sixth Heaven, who dwells in the highest of the six heavens in the world of desire.

It is stated in “Letter to the Brothers”:

“This world is the province of the Devil of the Sixth Heaven. All of its people have been related to him since time without beginning.”

(Gosho, p. 980; MW-1, p. 135)

As taught in this passage, the Devil of the Sixth Heaven rules and manipulates people and other devils. Furthermore, the Daishonin teaches in “On Prayer” (“Kitō-shō”):

“But the Devil of the Sixth Heaven, who is a manifestation of fundamental darkness, entered into the bodies of all the various people and caused them to hate the Buddha and impede his preaching.”

(Gosho, p. 624; MW-7, p. 33)

The Devil of the Sixth Heaven is jealous of the people who attain Buddhahood and relentlessly interferes with their practice. In this passage, “fundamental darkness” means the fundamental illusion inherent in one’s own mind.

“The Treatment of Illness” (“Jibyō daishō gonjitsu imoku”) reads:

“The fundamental nature of enlightenment manifests itself as Bonten and Taishaku, whereas the fundamental darkness manifests itself as the Devil of the Sixth Heaven.”

(Gosho, p. 1237; MW-3, p. 279)

As expounded in this passage, the natures of enlightenment and fundamental darkness are both inherent in one’s life. Fundamental darkness manifests as the function of the devil. The wisdom that enables people to overcome such fundamental darkness is the single character “faith.” Thus, the Daishonin teaches in the “Orally Transmitted Teachings” (“Ongi kuden”):

“Accepting and upholding this Law is the single character ‘faith.’ A sword that extirpates fundamental darkness is the single character ‘faith.’ Believing and understanding with no doubts leads one to overcome fundamental darkness.”

(Gosho, p. 1764)

With firm faith, based on believing and understanding with no doubts, one can overcome devilish functions of any form, even fundamental darkness, which is the most difficult illusion to surmount. After all, devils could never compete with the Buddha. However, if our faith is weak, we give in to devilish functions.

We have finally reached a concluding phase of our practice. We are just on the verge of the Commemorative Grand Ceremony and the General Meeting of the Great Assembly of 75,000 believers. Especially at times like these, obstacles and devils tend to arise, manifesting in various forms.

I would like to conclude my address today with my sincere prayer that you will chant vigorous Daimoku in the spirit of itai dōshin, and vigilantly reach out to each other, so that everyone participates in the General Meeting of the Great Assembly, no matter what obstacles and devils may arise.