Guidance from Sixty-eighth High Priest Nichinyo Shonin On the Occasion of the October Kosen-rufu Shodai Ceremony
October 2, 2016
Reception Hall, Head Temple Taisekiji
Good morning, everyone!
On this occasion of the October Kōsen-rufu Shōdai Ceremony, conducted here today at the Head Temple, I would like to express my heartfelt appreciation to the large number of participants in attendance.
Three quarters of this year already have passed, and we have only three months remaining. I imagine that all of you are further devoting yourselves to your practice, aiming toward the achievement of this year’s shakubuku goals.
Some chapters already have achieved their goals for this year. The members of those chapters are progressing well with their practice and producing good results, aiming toward our goal—to achieve a membership of 800,000 Hokkeko believers by 2021. For the chapters that have not yet achieved their goals, the remaining three months are the crucial stretch.
I truly wish that the members of each chapter will make concerted efforts in the spirit of itai dōshin, so that they certainly will achieve their goals that they pledged in front of the Gohonzon.
The Parable of the Phantom City (Kejōyu; seventh) chapter of the Lotus Sutra reads:
We beg that the merit gained through these gifts may be spread far and wide to everyone, so that we and other living beings all together may attain the Buddha way.
(Hokekyo, p. 268; Lotus Sutra, Watson, p. 130)
The preceding passages state:
Before the Buddha made his advent into this world, all the lands in the ten directions were in complete darkness. More people fell into the three evil paths everywhere throughout the land, and the people’s minds were dominated by anger. Even heavenly beings fell into the evil paths when they died. For innumerable kalpas, people had no chance to attend the Buddha’s preaching. Instead, they constantly committed evil deeds and their health declined both physically and mentally. Because of the grave sins they committed, they lost the spirit of seeking for true happiness. Their minds were attached to heretical doctrines, and they had no knowledge of good customs or rules. As a result, they were undergoing intense suffering. At a time like this, the Buddha appeared in the world. Feeling pity and sorrow for the living beings, the Buddha made his advent into this world and attained enlightenment. People were filled with great joy. We, as well as all others rejoiced, feeling unprecedented joy. Our palaces, because they received the Buddha’s light, became wonderfully adorned. Now we will present them to the Buddha. Please accept them.
(Hokekyo, p. 267; summary)
These passages are followed by the above-mentioned passage:“We beg that the merit gained through these gifts may be spread far and wide to everyone, so that we and other living beings all together may attain the Buddha way.”
Unlike the Hinayana teachings, the Lotus Sutra teaches the core of the Mahayana teachings, which state that the practice for oneself and others is most important. The Lotus Sutra emphasizes that pursuing one’s own attainment of Buddhahood and saving others should be as one.
The Daishonin teaches the following in the Gosho, Letter to Nanjō Hyō’e Shichirō (Nanjō hyō’e shichirō dono-gosho):
Although both are good, if you employ the lesser good [of the pre-Lotus Sutra teachings] and force someone to renounce the greater good [of the Lotus Sutra], you will fall into the three evil paths.
(Gosho, p. 323)
The Daishonin strictly warns that if one upholds faith based on only pursuing one’s own happiness, even though this act itself is a good deed, it is the lesser good that renounces the greater good. Thus, this will cause one to fall into the evil paths.
Practicing merely in pursuit of one’s own happiness and not imparting the benefit of the Buddha to others is self-centered faith, lacking the practice of shakubuku. This kind of attitude was most disliked by the Buddha. This is one of the reasons why the Buddha strictly admonished in the pre-Lotus Sutra teachings that the people of the two vehicles could never attain Buddhahood.
Thus, the most important thing now is for all of us to devote ourselves to the practice for oneself and others. We must urge ourselves to summon up the power of faith and strive in our practice. At the same time, we must extend a helping hand to the many people who are undergoing intense suffering due to the poison of slander, and conduct shakubuku.
We have three months remaining this year. Though we have a limited amount of time, the members of each chapter should make concerted efforts in the spirit of itai dōshin and strive to chant Daimoku. Then, I believe that if we courageously step forward to do shakubuku through the benefit from chanting Daimoku, we will be able to achieve our goals without fail.
In the Gosho, Attaining Enlightenment at the Initial Stage of Faith through the Lotus Sutra (Hokke shoshin jōbutsu-shō), the Daishonin teaches the following:
If they hear the Lotus Sutra, which enables people to attain Buddhahood, this [encounter] will sow the seed of [Buddhahood] into their lives and they eventually will attain enlightenment without fail. Therefore, Tiantai and Miaole follow this notion and expound in their commentaries that they should tirelessly teach the Lotus Sutra. It is like those who falter and fall to the ground and who are able to use that very ground to push themselves up to stand again. In the same way, even if they descend into hell, they will rise again before long and attain Buddhahood. The people in the world today have turned their backs on the Lotus Sutra and, for that offense, they will undoubtedly fall into hell. Therefore, in any case, one should strongly teach and make people listen to the teachings of the Lotus Sutra.
(Gosho, p. 1316)
I sincerely wish that you will engrave these golden words into your hearts, and use the remaining three months most effectively. Then, all the chapters will achieve their goals without fail.