Nichiren Shoshu

Myoshinji Temple

Okyobi Address

February, 2014
John Bennett

Good Morning everyone.  Before I begin this morning’s address please allow me to take a moment to thank Reverend Kimura for conducting this morning’s Okyobi Ceremony. And also to thank Reverend Shirai for his assistance.

On March 8th, 2015 Nichiren Shoshu will be celebrating the 770th Anniversary of the birth of the second High Priest Nikko Shonin.  At that time world wide Hokkeko will have completed the first milestone set by the 68th High Priest Nichinyo Shonin in 2009, that is, increasing the membership of Hokkeko by fifty percent.  As the March 8th date is just shy of two months from the start of the year, it means that the entirety of this goal should be completed by the end of this year.  That is why 2014 is called “The Year of Accomplishing Our Shakubuku Goal”.

This year is a very important year for Myoshinji. It will mark the 30th Anniversary of the establishment of our temple (which we will celebrate on June 22nd).  At the same time this is the year to complete the 50% increase in Myoshin-ji Hokkeko membership.  And this is in addition to the upcoming Tozans for this year as we encourage new members to attend one of these Tozans at Taiseki-ji the Head Temple of Nichiren Shoshu.  As well as the Open Houses and Shakubuku activities we have planned for the year.  With such a busy year ahead I hope we can all conduct these activities safely and with genuine enjoyment.

So this morning I would like to address the subject of a joyful practice.  One morning in March of last year, I awoke from a dream repeating two phrases over and over in my mind.  They were, “The opportunity of a lifetime” and “The time of your life”. 

On that particular morning it occurred to me that these two phrases have an additional, secondary meaning we tend to overlook.  The first phrase, “the opportunity of a lifetime”, which is often used to describe the rarity of certain events within a life, can also be viewed as having an additional meaning which is that a lifetime is the rare opportunity.  And that the second phrase, “the time of your life”, is the time that you have to live in this lifetime.  No one knows how much time we have in each lifetime.  This is because no one knows what our individual karma is and karma determines how long we have to live.

Essentially, both of these secondary meanings arise from appreciation of the lifetime we currently have and the realization that the lifetime we have should be appreciated more than we sometimes do.  When I thought about the secondary meanings for these two phrases I was able to get out of bed easily to start my day.

Reverend Kimura has said that appreciation is the attitude that ends suffering.  The practice of True Buddhism allows us to attain a life of appreciation that makes it possible to enjoy every aspect of life including the difficult times.  Both of these insights arise from Nichiren Daishonin’s teachings. There are Gosho passages whose meaning is to find appreciation for the lifetime we have and to use it wisely so that we have “the time of our life”.

In the NSM from September 2004, there is a Tozan lecture from the Summer Study Tozan of that year.  The lecture was on the 6 points of the Rissho Ankoku Ron.  The last point (#6) was the Cycle of Happiness.  In this lecture Reverend Yamazumi says,

“Those who acknowledge the benefits that they receive are able to promote a Buddhist practice that is full of happiness and satisfaction.  Since they are common mortals, they will find new desires welling forth in their hearts.  However, since they remember the benefits that they have received, they are able to maintain a practice filled with satisfaction and appreciation.  Because they carry through the practice of upholding the Mystic Law, their new desires are fulfilled, and they are able to achieve new benefits.  Since these new benefits are also stored in their hearts, their Buddhist practice blooms with increased happiness and satisfaction. This is the cycle of happiness.”

Furthermore, in the same lecture Reverend Yamazumi also states,

“Remembering our benefits will promote a cycle of happiness, and this in turn, will lead to securing the peace of the land through the establishment of True Buddhism.”

Fundamentally this lecture points out that appreciation of our benefits is the key to ever increasing happiness in Buddhist practice.  By thinking in a broader sense of our benefits as “the opportunity of our lifetime” and “the time of our life” we can begin to appreciate our entire life through the practice of True Buddhism -- not just the good times.  And this happiness is what will draw others to want to practice this True Buddhism.  And this in turn will transform the world with meaningful, positive change.

So as we approach this year’s very important activities I hope we can all unite together for this “opportunity of a lifetime” and that we will experience great joy in our practice and have the “Time of our life”.

Thank you.