New Year’s Address
High Priest Nichinyo Shonin
January 1, 2017
As we welcome the New Year, the 765th year since the establishment of Nichiren Daishonin’s Buddhism, I am overjoyed that Honorable Retired High Priest Nikken Shonin is in good health and in high spirits.
I am very pleased that Mr. Koichiro Hoshino, the Dai-koto of the Hokkeko organization and chairperson of the Hokkeko Federation, along with all Nichiren Shoshu Buddhists throughout the world greet the New Year in a spirit of renewal.
The slogan for this year is, “The Year to do shakubuku, develop your faith and help others develop their faith and practice.”
Concerning shakubuku, the Daishonin teaches us in Questions and Answers between a Sage and a Foolish Man (Shōgu mondō-shō):
The world today is defiled with impurities. People’s minds are distorted and filled with envy, and provisional teachings and slander against the Law abound, making it very difficult to propagate the True Law. At such a time, it is of no use to practice the reading, reciting and transcribing of the sutras or to meditate. You must simply perform shakubuku. With great courage, crush slander against the Law, and use the doctrines to refute erroneous teachings to the best of your ability. (Gosho, p. 403)
Furthermore, in On Practicing in Accordance with the Buddha’s Teachings (Nyosetsu shugyō-shō), the Daishonin explains:
At present time, the provisional teachings have become enemies of the True Teaching. When teaching of the One Vehicle is being propagated, all the provisional teachings become its enemy. When confusion occurs, you should refute these slanders from the standpoint of the True Teaching. Of the two methods of propagation of shoju and shakubuku, the practice of the Lotus Sutra is shakubuku. With good reason Tiantai stated, “The Lotus Sutra is the teaching of shakubuku, the refutation of the provisional doctrines.” (Gosho, p. 672)
True to His word, proof of this is evident in our current age of the Latter Day of the Law where the Five Impurities run rampant, human minds are extremely disturbed, and erroneous doctrines and slander against the Law permeate throughout the world. In such circumstances, the practice of Shōju, applied in the Former and Middle Days of the Law, is of no use. Each one of you must remember that now is the time to do shakubuku and refute erroneous teachings which are slanderous to the True Law (of Nam-myoho-renge-kyo). It is vitally important for all Hokkeko members to be united in this great shakubuku effort. Concurrently the development of faith and practice in conjunction with doing Shakubuku is crucial.
The practice of shakubuku and one’s growth in faith are essentially inseparable. The responsibility of correctly guiding new Buddhists in faith and practice rests not only with those who introduce them but equally with the whole chapter. Only when as much effort is put forth by each chapter for the development of each new person as is made for successful shakubuku can a strong organization capable of meeting the formidable challenges to advance Kosen Rufu be built. This is how to move forward and make great strides toward worldwide propagation, pushing the frontiers further and further.
Currently all Nichiren Shoshu Hokkeko chapters worldwide are rallying their forces in a joint effort between priesthood and laity in the spirit of Itai-dōshin (many in body, one in mind) advancing robustly toward establishing a membership of 800,000 Hokkeko members by the year 2021, the 800th anniversary of the birth of our Founder, Nichiren Daishonin.
At this point in time, it is important for each person to recognize and reaffirm the significance of shakubuku together with development in faith and practice and to implement this in their own daily practice. This will pave the way for each Hokkeko chapter to accomplish their shakubuku goal through the members’ joint efforts in a spirit of Itai-dōshin.
Above all, this is “The Year to do shakubuku, develop your faith, and help others develop their faith and practice.” The most important action to keep in mind is for everyone to support shakubuku and take responsibility for helping to develop the faith and practice of new Buddhists, and they too will follow this example and start doing shakubuku.I would like to conclude my New Year’s address by sincerely praying for each one of you to further endeavor advancing in faith, practicing for oneself and for others.