2020 New Year Address by Overseas Bureau Chief Reverend Urishibata
Jan 1, 2020
To all Nichiren Shoshu priests and Hokkeko members throughout the world: Happy New Year 2020! 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.
The passing of the former High Priest Nikken Shonin last year brought deep sorrow to all priests and lay believers of Nichiren Shoshu. However, the plans for kosen-rufu for the eternal future set by Nikken Shonin were inherited by the current High Priest Nichinyo Shonin, and Nichiren Shoshu is now advancing forward again.
The late High Priest Nikken Shonin visited many countries, strongly pioneered worldwide propagation by Nichiren Shoshu, and gave hope, courage and conviction for the achievement of kosen-rufu. The present High Priest Nichinyo Shonin is furthermore proceeding with the plans of the late High Priest Nikken Shonin, continuing the wide stream of the propagation of true Buddhism, which is certain to spread in each country.
Nichiren Daishonin states the following in On Rice and Grains (Beikoku-gosho):
I entrust you with the responsibility of propagating true Buddhism in your province. The seeds of
Buddhahood can sprout in response to a particular karmic relation.
(Gosho, p. 1242)
In order to repay their debts of gratitude for the compassion of the High Priests, the Hokkeko believers in each country are devotedly practicing for the achievement of kosen-rufu in each country, where they have been entrusted by Nichinyo Shonin and Nikken Shonin to propagate true Buddhism.
There are many obstacles toward advancing kosen-rufu throughout the entire world. We sometimes may face danger. But even under such an adversity, the Hokkeko believers all over the world, with absolute faith in the benefits of the Dai-Gohonzon, are advancing in practice earnestly every day, in order to accomplish their shakubuku goals, based on the golden words, “The seeds of Buddhahood can sprout in response to a particular karmic relation.”
This year is the final stage toward achieving a membership of 800,000 Hokkeko believers. Originally, our High Priest Nichinyo Shonin gave us the objective, “to achieve a membership of 800,000 Hokkeko believers by the year 2021, when we will be celebrating the auspicious occasion of the 800th anniversary of the advent of our Founder, Nichiren Daishonin.”
Since then, the Hokkeko members all over the world set their shakubuku goals, planed shakubuku activities yearly, monthly, and daily in detail, and took action, with unity between priests and lay believers in each Hokkeko chapter, aiming toward the accomplishment of the objective given by the High Priest.
This is the final year of our practice toward the objective for 2021. I would like to ask everyone in each country to renew your determination to achieve the shakubuku goal this year, and strive forth, in order to accomplish the shakubuku goals for 2021.
The Nichiren Shoshu Head Office set the slogan for this year as, “The Year of Achieving Our Shakubuku Goal.” I would like to discuss the meaning of this slogan. The objective of achieving a membership of 800,000 Hokkeko believers shall be accomplished by the 31st day of December in 2020, as it was set at the beginning. This date is the deadline for accomplishing the objective. Thus, all organizations of
every country, with unity between priesthood and laity and in the spirit of itai doshin, must earnestly carry out shakubuku with strong determination and achieve the objective in both name and reality. This is the meaning of the slogan, “The Year of Achieving Our Shakubuku Goal.”
Relative to this, the Overseas Department proposes the following three practical points for overseas believers:
- Take actions based on the joy arising from conducting daily Gongyo and Shodai.
- Advance kosen-rufu through shakubuku based on the spirit of itai doshin.
- Develop your faith and practice through consistent attendance at the monthly Oko Ceremonyand going on tozan pilgrimages.
1: Take actions based on the joy arising from conducting daily Gongyo and Shodai.
Conducting Gongyo and Shodai constitute our basic practice as Hokkeko believers of Nichiren Shoshu. This is the source of benefits. Through this practice, our life force naturally arises from within our life, making our daily life fruitful.
The world today is filled with turmoil, such as racial discrimination, poverty, and conflicts between various religions. In such a chaotic situation in the world today, we can gain the strong power to overcome difficulties, lift our state of life, and open up a life of happiness by conducting Gongyo and Shodai. With this conviction, let us do Gongyo and Shodai every day.
2: Advance kosen-rufu through shakubuku based on the spirit of itai doshin.
First and foremost, it is necessary for the priests and lay believers to unite in the spirit of itai doshin, in order to achieve our shakubuku goals.
If all members of the Hokkeko chapter work together, put shakubuku into action, and steadily conduct activities in practice, such as home visitations to develop the faith and practice of fellow members, then the path toward kosen-rufu will open, and propagation of true Buddhism will move forward.
3: Develop your faith and practice through consistent attendance at the monthly Oko Ceremony and going on tozan pilgrimages.
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.
The benefits through attending the Oko Ceremony give us energy and peace of mind, so that we are able to live our daily lives in peace. The Oko Ceremony also is the important occasion to listen to the lecture of the guiding priest and learn the teachings of Nichiren Shoshu.
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, our negative karma from slander against the Law since time without beginning is eradicated. Both our body and heart are purified and the determination to propagate surely will well up in our life, together with huge benefits.
We also should understand that 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.
I wish for all the priests and Hokkeko members to please understand the significance of the slogan for 2020, “The Year of Achieving Our Shakubuku Goal,” while comprehending the meanings of the three practical points. Then please willingly join all activities of faith and practice, and take action to courageously strive forth for the achievement of kosen-rufu.
High Priest Nichinyo Shonin gave guidance on the passing of the late High Priest Nikken Shonin as follows:
It is most essential that all of us, based on unity between the priesthood and laity in the spirit of itai doshin, further devote ourselves to our practice for oneself and others, in order to repay the boundless debts of gratitude we owe to the late High Priest Nikken Shonin.
In order to repay our vast debts of gratitude for Nikken Shonin, and to repay our gratitude for the compassion of Nichinyo Shonin, let us dedicate ourselves to practicing together.
I ask all the Nichiren Shoshu 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 itai doshin, 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.