Guidance from Sixty-eighth High Priest Nichinyo Shonin – November 1, 2009

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On the Occasion of the November Kōsen-rufu Shodai Ceremony
November 1, 2009
Reception Hall, Head Temple Taisekiji

Good Morning, everyone!

On the occasion of the November 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 November has already arrived. I imagine you are devoting yourselves to the practice day and night, aiming toward the achievement of this year’s shakubuku goals.

As you have already started working toward the achievement of our new designated goal, it is vital that you first accomplish this year’s shakubuku goal without fail. This will lead you toward the accomplishment of our new goal.

Our challenge is for all the chapters across the country to achieve their new goals. Thus, I hope both small and large chapters will make every effort to accomplish the goal of increasing the number of the Hokkeko members by 50 percent by 2015.

Demonstrating the relationship between the right and wrong of the Buddhist teachings, and rise and fall of a nation, the Daishonin teaches the following in “Shingon will Ruin the Nation” (“Shinkokuō-gosho”):

“If you wish to see yourself, you should use an untarnished mirror. If you wish to understand the rise and fall of a nation, it would be better to examine the situation based on the teachings of Buddhism.

“The various sutras of Mahayana Buddhism, such as the Sutra of the Benevolent King (Ninnō-kyō), the Sutra of the Golden Light (Konkōmyō-kyō), the Sutra of the Sovereign Kings of the Golden Light (Konkōmyō saishōō-kyō), the Sutra of the Protection of the Nation (Shugo-kyō), the Nirvana Sutra (Nehan-gyō), the Lotus Sutra and others, all teach that a country can prosper or fall to ruin and the people’s life spans can be lengthened or shortened, depending on the right and wrong of the Buddhism they believe in.

“For example, water can set a boat afloat, while it also can damage it. Grains can feed people, while they also can harm them. A small surf and light winds cannot easily destroy large ships, while swelling waves and strong gales can destroy a small boat in an instant. Twisted principles of government can be compared to small waves. A strong nation and fine people cannot easily be destroyed. On the other hand, if the teachings of Buddhism become skewed, a country will certainly be destroyed, just as a large wave will instantly sink a small boat.”

(Gosho, p. 1301)

To put it simply, if you wish to look at your own face, you should use a clear mirror. If you wish to determine the rise and fall of a country, it would be better to judge according to the teachings of Buddhism. The various sutras, such as the Sutra of the Benevolent King, the Sutra of the Golden Light, the Sutra of the Sovereign Kings of the Golden Light, the Sutra of the Protection of the Nation, the Nirvana Sutra, the Lotus Sutra, and so on, all teach that a country can either prosper or perish, depending on whether the Buddhist teachings [upheld by the people] are right or wrong. In the same way, one’s life can be extended or shortened, depending on whether the Buddhist teachings [one believes in] are right or wrong. For example, water can set a boat afloat, but sometimes it can also destroy it. Though staple grains feed humans, they can also harm humans. Small waves cannot easily damage big ships. However, small boats can be helplessly destroyed by large waves during stormy weather. A crooked conventional rule is like a small wave, since it cannot ruin a strong country or excellent people. On the other hand, if the teachings of Buddhism are crooked, a country can easily be brought to ruin, just like a large wave can easily wreck a small boat.

It is true that the principles of right and wrong in government comprise one of the factors that determine the rise and fall of a nation. What we must fear to a much greater extent, however, is whether the teachings of Buddhism being upheld are right or wrong, because this has a greater impact on society than the laws of government.

The Daishonin already has revealed this point in his Risshō ankoku-ron. Thus, we too, must deeply take it to heart.

Determining whether the teachings of Buddhism being upheld are right or wrong means we clearly must distinguish the correct Law from heretical teachings. Thus, we must strictly refrain from committing slander against the true Law.

The Daishonin teaches in the Risshō ankoku-ron:

“How deplorable it is that people go against the Buddha’s admonitions that are based on his true intentions! Indeed, how pitiful it is that they follow the fallacious words of this deceptive and irrational monk [Honen]! If one desires peace to reign throughout the entire nation without delay, he should first and foremost put an end to the slanders that prevail throughout the country.”

(Gosho, p. 247; The Gosho of Nichiren Daishonin, Vol. 2, p. 35)

“Put an end to the slanders that prevail throughout the country” means to conduct shakubuku. It is taught in “Admonitions against Slander” (“Soyadono-gohenji”):

“If they see enemies of the Lotus Sutra and fail to reproach them, both master and disciple will fall into the hell of incessant suffering. The Great Teacher Nan-yueh wrote, ‘They will fall into hell together with evil men.’ Trying to attain enlightenment without admonishing slander of the Law is like seeking water in fire or finding fire in water. How deplorable!”

(Gosho, p. 1040)

The Daishonin strictly warns his disciples that failing to shakubuku the slanderers of the Lotus Sutra and passing them by without remark is the most unforgivable act. This will certainly cause them to accumulate negative karma, which will lead them to fall into hell.

The Daishonin also teaches in “Letter to Nambu Rokurō” (“Nambu rokurōdono-Gosho”):

“If you walk through a sandalwood grove, you will take on the woody aroma, even if you snap no tree branches. Likewise, if you approach with familiarity slanderers of the Law, you will lose every virtue you have accumulated through your Buddhist practice. Eventually, you will fall into hell together with the slanderers. In the fourth volume of the Annotations on the Great Concentration and Insight (Maka shikan guketsu), the Great Teacher Miaole teaches, ‘Even if a man does not have an evil mind to begin with, if he seeks out evil friends, he will eventually become an evil person himself, and will be notorious throughout the world.'”

(Gosho, p. 463)

This means, if you walk through a grove of sandalwood trees, the fragrance will naturally cling to you, even if you do not snap any branches off a tree. Likewise, if you do not shakubuku the slanderers of the Law, and instead befriend them without reason, you unknowingly will be influenced by such evil friends. You will then lose every single virtue you have accumulated through your Buddhist practice and will eventually fall into hell together with the slanderers of the Law. The Great Teacher Miaole taught in the fourth volume of the Annotations on the Great Concentration and Insight, “Even if one does not have evil mind at first, if he befriends an evil man, he will later become evil and his evil name will become known throughout the world.”

In this way, we must remonstrate with those who become friends with slanderers of the Law without reason. It is extremely important that we fear slander of the true Law and eliminate such slander, in order to achieve the attainment of Buddhahood.

The Daishonin teaches in the Risshō ankoku-ron that the cause for confusion, misfortune, and suffering is the evil poison of slander of the true Law. Eliminating such slander is the only way to lead one to realize happiness for oneself, happiness of the family, and the peace of the nation, as well as the rest of the world.

As doing shakubuku opens up the path for true happiness, it is essential that we devote ourselves to do shakubuku with courage. Our new challenge from now on is a shakubuku-based practice.

The Daishonin teaches in the Risshō ankoku-ron:

“You must immediately renounce your erroneous belief and take faith in the supreme teaching of the one vehicle of the Lotus Sutra. Then, this entire threefold world will become the Buddha land. How could the Buddha land ever decline? All the lands in the ten directions will transform into treasure realms. How could a treasure realm ever fall to ruin? If the nation never declines and the land is indestructible, you will find safety and peace of mind. These are the very words that you must believe and revere.”

(Gosho, p. 250; The Gosho of Nichiren Daishonin, Vol. 2, p. 42)

Firmly believing in these golden words, we must first devote ourselves to do shakubuku, so that we can accomplish this year’s shakubuku goal.

This is the month when the Third High Priest Nichimoku Shonin passed away. Let us commemorate the noble behavior of Nichimoku Shonin, who risked his own life to propagate the true Law. He passed away in Tarui, Mino Province, on the way to conduct a remonstration with the Imperial Court.

I will conclude my address today with my sincere prayer that each of you will do shakubuku based on your firm resolution.