Guidance from Sixty-eighth High Priest Nichinyo Shonin
On the Occasion of the July Kosen-rufu Shodai Ceremony
July 1, 2012
Reception Hall, Head Temple Taisekiji
On this occasion of the July Kosen-rufu Shodai Ceremony, conducted here today at the Head Temple, I would like to express my heartfelt appreciation to the large number of participants in attendance.
At the Head Temple this year, we are conducting a one-hour Shodai practice from 8AM to 9AM every day throughout the month of July. I would like to ask each of you to participate.
As I observe the recent chaotic conditions in society, including political corruption and economic depression, frequent tragic incidents and accidents, and the intermittent occurrence of earthquakes throughout the nation and flooding due to unusual weather, I strongly feel that each of us must refute the slanderous teachings that are the root cause of unhappiness and suffering. We must carry out shakubuku activities toward the achievement of our objectives for 2015 and 2021, by upholding the Daishonin’s true intention, as expressed in the Rissho ankoku-ron, with unity between priesthood and laity.
I sincerely pray that all Hokkeko chapters definitely will achieve their shakubuku goals for this year, through each person upholding the spirit of “Advancing Kosen-rufu Through Shakubuku.”
The Treasure Tower (Ken hoto; eleventh) chapter of the Lotus Sutra states the following:
This sutra is hard to uphold; if one can uphold it even for a short while, I will surely rejoice and so will the other Buddhas. A person who can do this wins the admiration of the Buddhas.
(Hokekyo, p. 354; The Lotus Sutra, Watson, pp. 180-181)
Just before expounding this passage in the Treasure Tower (Ken hoto; eleventh) chapter, Shakyamuni explained the extreme difficulty of propagating the Lotus Sutra, as compared to propagating the other sutras. He used the analogy of the six difficult and nine easy acts, which he expounded during the third of his three pronouncements encouraging the people to propagate the Law after his death. This analogy demonstrates how difficult it will be to embrace the Lotus Sutra after Shakyamuni’s passing.
He also states that “if one can uphold it even for a short while,” then Shakyamuni and all Buddhas will admire him.
The Daishonin cited the phrase, “This sutra is hard to uphold” in the Gosho “Reply to Shijo Kingo” (“Shijo Kingo dono-gohenji”). Shijo Kingo was confused by his many hardships, even though he embraced the Lotus Sutra, which assured that one would enjoy “peace and security in this lifetime and good circumstances in the next.” The Daishonin explained that the reason for the occurrence of hardships was because the Lotus Sutra, which is the ultimate purpose of the advent of all Buddhas, refutes all the expedient teachings. This originally was revealed in the sutra passages, “This sutra is hard to uphold,” and “difficult to believe and difficult to understand.”
Therefore, the Daishonin stated that the more hardships Kingo suffered, the more solid his confidence in the true Law should be. Furthermore, if he maintained his confidence, he certainly would attain “the unsurpassed Buddha way.” In order to achieve this, however, he indelibly must etch into his heart the essential truth of all Buddhas of the three existences—Nam-Myoho-Renge-Kyo. The Daishonin encouraged Shijo Kingo to uphold the mystic Law (Myoho), and to prepare himself for the difficulty of maintaining faith in it.
Nichiren Daishonin states the following in “Reply to Shijo Kingo” (“Shijo Kingo dono-gohenji”):
Many people accept the Lotus Sutra upon hearing it. However, it is rare to find those who “remember and never forget [what they have been taught]” when the great hardships that they have heard about actually befall them. Accepting is easy, but continuing is difficult. But one must maintain one’s faith in order to attain Buddhahood. Those who uphold this sutra must be prepared to undergo hardships.
(Gosho, p. 775)
In this passage, he teaches that in order to attain Buddhahood, we must chant Daimoku and continuously sustain our faith, no matter what great hardships confront us. This is of utmost importance.
“Remember and never forget [what they have been taught]” means to never forget to uphold the Gohonzon. It means to continuously have correct faith and embrace the correct Law. We must remain unfazed by great hardships and unfavorable situations.
It is not easy to protect the Gohonzon and continue faith without interruption. However, in order to gain the benefit of attaining enlightenment, the most important key is continuing our practice for oneself and for others, including performing Gongyo in the morning and evening.
It is true that one who embraces the correct object of worship definitely will encounter hardships and devilish functions. But, by overcoming them without any confusion in our mind, we will be able to attain enlightenment.
The Daishonin states in “Letter to the Brothers” (“Kyodai-sho”):
If these devils do not vie with one another to cause obstruction, there is no way of knowing that this is the true doctrine.
(Gosho, p. 986)
Furthermore, in the “Orally Transmitted Teachings” (“Ongi kuden”) he states:
In the Latter Day of the Law, the followers of Nichiren must be prepared to meet adversity when they practice Myoho-Renge-Kyo, but they should rejoice and consider it to be “peace and tranquility.”
(Gosho, p. 1762)
As the Daishonin teaches, we decisively must face difficulties without flinching. We must confront evil, because evil will never defeat the Buddha. To that end, we first should have unshakable conviction in the Gohonzon. In other words, “having no doubts is to have faith” (mugi wasshin).
In “Reply to Sairen-bo” (“Sairenbo-gohenji”), the Daishonin declares:
Be that as it may, the votaries of the Lotus Sutra must never discard their faith or cater to the feelings of others. If they devote their lives completely to the Lotus Sutra and follow precisely the golden words of the Buddha, they will, without fail, enjoy a long and healthy life, unaffected by misfortunes and illnesses. Furthermore, they will achieve the ultimate supreme effect in this present existence and in their future lives. Moreover, they will be able to attain the great aspiration of kosen-rufu.
(Gosho, p. 642)
Additionally, in “Questions and Answers between a Sage and a Foolish Man” (“Shogu mondo-sho”), he states:
Myoho-Renge-Kyo is the Buddha nature all living beings possess. The Buddha nature is the Dharma nature. And the Dharma nature is enlightenment….Thus, if you chant this title of Myoho-Renge-Kyo once, the Buddha nature of all living beings will be called and gather around you. The three enlightened properties of the Law, wisdom, and compassionate action of the Dharma nature within you will be drawn forth and then clearly emerge. This is described as attaining Buddhahood.
(Gosho, p. 406)
Taking these golden words deeply to heart, we must not neglect chanting Daimoku and conducting shakubuku. When we single-mindedly strive to practice for oneself and for others, the attainment of Buddhahood in our present form undoubtedly will be realized without fail.
We, in Nichiren Shoshu, are now in the middle of great advancement in shakubuku toward the achievement of our objectives for 2015 and 2021, with unity between priesthood and laity, based on the spirit of itai doshin. In particular, this year’s objective is for all Hokkeko chapters to achieve their shakubuku goals. Thus, it is important to chant Daimoku both individually, and together with the entire chapter for the accomplishment of these goals. Let us take action to conduct shakubuku with the joy and benefit of chanting Daimoku.
There is a close relationship between Shodai and shakubuku. A distinguishing feature of the chapters that achieved their shakubuku goals early is that the members all chant Daimoku together.
I would like to conclude my address with my heartfelt prayer that each of you will bear these points in mind, and make every effort to chant Daimoku more than ever, in order to definitely achieve our shakubuku goals for this year. •