New Year’s Address
By Overseas Department Chief
January 1, 2019
To all Nichiren Shoshu priests serving abroad and the Hokkeko members throughout the world: Happy New Year 2019!
On this first day of the year, I extend my sincere New Year’s greetings to all of you, and I pray wholeheartedly for the peace and advancement of kosen-rufu in each country.
Last year, following the guidance of Sixty-eighth High Priest Nichinyo Shonin, Nichiren Shoshu priests and lay believers worldwide carried out resolute shakubuku activities toward the achievement of 800,000 Hokkeko members by 2021, the 800th anniversary of the birth of our Founder, Nichiren Daishonin. I am happy to report that great strides were made by our Japanese members as well as by those worldwide.
2019 is the fifth year since our activities to establish 800,000 Hokkeko members began. This means only two years remain until 2021 and the 800th anniversary of Nichiren Daishonin’s advent. From the beginning of this year, the priests and lay believers in each country should further consider this time frame of two years. In order to achieve the objective for 2021, they will need to create plans detailing their monthly schedules and daily activities toward their yearly goal, and positively take action, based on the unity of the members of the entire chapter.
Therefore, at the start of this New Year, I ask that each of you renew your determination to fulfill your shakubuku pledge and devote yourself to the propagation of true Buddhism.
The NichirenShoshu Head Office set the slogan for this year as “The Year of Courageously Advancing Forward.” Relative to this, the Overseas Department proposes the following three practical points for overseas believers:
- Achieve your shakubuku goal by doing Gongyo and Shodai every day.
- Create unity among all the believers in your Hokkeko chapter and your country.
- Attend the Oko and all other ceremonies and meetings and participate in tozan pilgrimages with your fellow believers to deepen both your and their faith and practice.
First, I would like to discuss the meaning of the slogan, “The Year of Courageously Advancing Forward.” All the believers of every organization in every country must create a foundation and courageously advance forward with unity between priesthood and laity in the spirit of many in body, one in mind, itaidoshin, so that they can endeavor to accomplish the given objective for 2021, both in name and in reality.
In shakubuku activities, especially during these coming two years, we must expand the circle of new members who are doing shakubuku and sowing the seed of Buddhahood based on their relationships. This will serve to increase the number of shakubuku.
Therefore, developing the faith and practice of the new members will be extremely important.
The steady activities for developing their faith and practice, such as: teaching them how to do Gongyo and Shodai; encouraging them to attend the Oko and other ceremonies; and persuading them to go on tozan to the Head Temple will cause your temple and country to achieve your shakubuku goal, and finally to accomplish the objective for 2021.
Next, I would like to explain this year’s three guidelines for action.
1: Achieve your shakubuku goal by doing Gongyo and Shodal every day.
Conducting Gongyo and Shōdaiconstitute our basic practice as Hokkeko believers of Nichiren Shoshu and is the source of benefits. It is especially important to teach the new members how to properly serve the Buddha.
There is an obvious difference in faith and practice between those who ceaselessly carry out Gongyo and Shodai everyday and those who do not. I would like to ask that you and your family set a time and do Gongyo and Shodai together.
You can elevate your life condition, gain a strong life force to overcome various obstacles, and lead a happy life through the daily practice of Gongyo and Shodai. With this conviction, let us carry out shakubuku.
2: Create unity among all the believers in your Hokkeko chapter and your country.
First and foremost, it is necessary that the Hokkeko chapter become united between priesthood and laity in the spirit of itaidoshin, in order to advanceshakubuku toward kosen-rufu.
Our High Priest Nichinyo Shonin always gives guidance that organized activities in the Hokkeko chapter create a positive result for shakubuku. This requires building the solid unity of itai doshin between priests and Hokkeko members.
When the Hokkeko members with strong conviction in faith in this Buddhism advance with unity in shakubuku activities, it will generate a driving force, and great results will be achieved in shakubuku.
3: Attend the Oko and all other ceremonies and meetings and participate in tozan pilgrimages with your fellow believers to deepen both your and their faith and practice.
The Oko ceremony officiated every second Sunday is the ceremony for us to repay our vast debt of gratitude due to the three treasures: the Buddha, the Law, and the priesthood, while we eradicate our negative karma and renew our pledge to carry out shakubuku.
It is also the important occasion to listen to the lecture of the guiding priest and learn the teachings of Nichiren Shoshu. We should know that the number of believers attending the Oko ceremony is closely related to the accomplishment of the objective for 2021.
Furthermore, the practice of going on tozan pilgrimages to Head Temple Taisekiji is the foundation of faith for Nichiren Shoshu believers.
The Head Temple is our principle sacred ground where the Dai-Gohonzon of the High Sanctuary of the Essential Teaching, which is the very life of Nichiren Daishonin, is strictly protected. It is also the place where the High Priest resides, protecting the linage of the Lifeblood Heritage of the Law, leading us to the attainment of Buddhahood.
When our life is purified by the magnificent environment and pure air of the Head Temple through going on tozan, the determination to refute heresy and uphold justice inherited from Nichiren Daishonin surely will well up in our life.
Thus, all the tozans, including the tozan for representative members, the summer study tozan for overseas believers, personal tozan, and tozans for the new members are essential activities for improving the organization of the Hokkeko chapter and fostering the full-fledged believers who shoulder kosen-rufu.
Nichiren Daishonin states in Reply to Sairen-bo (Sairenbo-gohenji) as follows:
The votaries of the Lotus Sutra must neither discard their faith nor dishonestly live their lives in any way. If they devote their lives completely to the Lotus Sutra and practice precisely as stated in the golden words of the Buddha, they will, without fail, enjoy a long and healthy life, unaffected by misfortunes and illnesses. They will achieve the ultimate supreme effect not only in their future lifetimes but also in their current lives. Moreover, they will be able to attain the great aspiration of kosen-rufu. (Gosho, p. 642)
As this Gosho passage states, if you keep on chanting Nam-Myoho-Renge-Kyowith confidence in the Gohonzon, you will obtain great benefits described as “they will, without fail, enjoy a long and healthy life, unaffected by misfortunes and illnesses. They will achieve the ultimate supreme effect not only in their future lifetimes but also in their current lives. Moreover, they will be able to attain the great aspiration of kosen-rufu.”
Our High Priest Nichinyo Shonin gave the following guidance on the occasion of the Kosen-rufu Shodai Ceremony in October 2018:
Establishing a membership of 800.000 Hokkeko believers is the vow that we pledged in front of the three treasures. This is an extremely important goal, which we must achieve at any cost with the concerted efforts of all of the Nichiren Shoshu priesthood and laity. This is because we need to save many people, who are suffering in agony due to the poison of the slander of erroneous teachings. Now, in the Latter Day of the Law, we must purify this intensively chaotic world, defiled by the five impurities. Then, we must build true peace, and realize the true Buddha land.
In order to achieve this, each of us first must have the awareness, pride, and resolve that we are disciples and followers of the Bodhisattvas of the Earth, and earnestly devote ourselves to chant Daimoku. It is essential that, with the benefits and joy from chanting the Daimoku, we do shakubuku in high spirits. (Daibyakuho, vol. 991)
I ask all the NichirenShoshu priests and lay believers, please etch this guidance of High Priest Nichinyo Shonin into your heart. Furthermore I would like to ask that you again make the resolution to earnestly propagate true Buddhism, in the solid unity of itaidoshin, in order to achieve true peace in this world, which is now filled with the five impurities, and establish the Buddha land.
I would like to conclude my New Year’s address by praying from the bottom of my heart for the happiness of each one of you, and for the peace and advancement of the propagation of the true Law in your country.