HOW DEEP ARE THE ROOTS OF YOUR FAITH? HOW PURE IS THE JEWEL IN YOUR HEART?
By REV. HYODO NAMBARA
CHIEF PRIEST OF HONKYOJI TEMPLE TOYONAKA City, OSAKA
MYOKYO, APRIL 2019
Congratulations on your pil-grimage to the Head Temple Taisekiji! As introduced, I am Reverend Hyodo Nambara, serving as the chief priest at Honkyoji Temple of Toyonaka City, Osaka. I would like to talk about the Gosho passage “How deep are the roots of your faith; how pure is the jewel in your heart?
In Nichiren Shoshu, a pilgrimage to the Head Temple signifies that we pray for kosen-rufu, the true sense of world peace, as well as attaining Buddhahood while expiating the karmic offenses of the infinite past at the personal level. We do this by chanting Daimoku to the Dai-Gohonzon of the High Sanctuary, the heart and soul of our Founder, Nichiren Daishonin, during a ceremony conducted by the High Priest. The Dai-Gohonzon, which you are about to see shortly after this lecture, is the true entity of the True Buddha, Nichiren Daishonin. We revere the Dai-Gohonzon as the living Buddha. Try to make a pilgrimage as often as possible, because it is the well-spring of benefits.
Receive Great Benefts by Doing Shakubuku
This is “The Year of Courageously Advancing Forward.” We have two years left until the auspicious event to celebrate the 800th Anniversary of the Advent of Our Founder, Nichiren Daishonin. I believe that all chapters are in itai doshin, working diligently on shakubuku and the development of the new members. High Priest Nichinyo Shonin gave the following guidance in his New Year’s Address:
There are two years remaining until we accomplish our pledge to achieve a membership of 800,000 Hokkeko believers by 2021. The struggles this year are extremely important in order for all chapters to achieve their goals. Each member must keep in mind the precept, “Anything can be achieved with the unity of itai doshin among priests and lay believers.” Have the determination to do shakubuku and take action for the achievement of the goal. Sweep away the obstacles with courageous shakubuku along the way. (Daimichiren, January 2019)
Your chapter may have chosen its own slogan. For our temple, it is “fulfill our pledge by this Oeshiki Ceremony,” and we constantly remind all members, young, old, men, or women, to participate in shakubuku activities for the celebration of our auspicious event, the 800th Anniversary of the Advent of our Founder, Nichiren Daishonin. This is happening in all chapters throughout the world. It is simply because we want all members to join and share the benefit of achieving this great pledge.
There may be people around you whom you are the only person helping or who seek your assistance. If we fail to recognize them, we cannot achieve kosen-rufu, no matter how much we chant for it. High Priest Nichinyo Shonin has given us this guidance:
Kosen-rufu will not be achieved without our efforts. All of us must understand that we have the important mission to carry out the supreme practice of compassion–
shakubuku–for the sake of the salvation of all living beings. When we take this responsibility and accomplish our mission, we are able to receive the Buddha’s wisdom and gain immeasurable benefts. (Dainichiren, December 2014)
We can not achieve kosen-rufu if only he same few people in the chapter are active in shakubuku. It becomes possible when all members start pouring energy into the chapter’s goal. When you return to your temple, I would like you to enable the members to develop by teaching them the importance of shakubuku.
Faith That Is Firmly Rooted will Never Be Shaken
People of shallow faith may be attracted to the practice for quick benefits; however, such people are doing more harm to themselves than good. The Daishonin gives guidance about short-sightedness in “Reply to Kubo ama Gozen”:
How deep are the roots of your faith; how pure is the jewel in your heart? (Gosho, p.1241)
This Gosho consists of only four lines but speaks volumes in the importance of deepening faith and purity of faith comparable to flawless crystal. Even if a tree appears to flourish, if the roots do not grow deep enough, its leaves will wither away, and it will be knocked over by the wind. The faith that appears sincere only on the outside cannot sustain a person in this practice when an obstacle overwhelms him or her. In contrast, a tree with roots that have grown deep and far will survive even when the leaves are all blown away by a gust. Even if you have a harsh experience, like a storm destroying everything you possess, you will remain resilient, and you’ll regain what you have lost.
The roots signify the foundation of the accumulated benefits of a good life condition through the practice. The growth of a tree depends on its roots span and depth, and when one’s practice is deep and strong, benefits naturally will flow from within even when one doesn’t seek them.
In his Exgesis on “The Essentials of the Lotus Sutra” (Hokke shuyo-sho mondan), Twenty-sixth High Priest Nichikan Shonin explains;
The…Gosho states, “It is like hundreds of thousands of leaves on a tree growing from a single root.” “Leaves on a tree” signify the temporary state (shaku). Thus, they are many in number. “One root” signifies the essence (hon), and therefore, is one.
(Gosho mondan, p. 523)
The Soka Gakkai grew as branches and leaves on Nichiren Shoshu, the root that had grown for 700 years. However, they discarded the Dai-Gohonzon, the original root of the High Sanctuary of the Essential Teaching, and stated that they would no longer uphold the Dai Gohonzon as the fundamental object of worship. Since then, the organization started to wither. By contrast, Nichiren Shoshu has experienced numerous storms of slander, and we may have lost many leaves, but the root still spreads deep in the ground.
Gratitude for Being Born in This Age
It is time for us, the Hokkeko members, who are designated the followers of the Bodhisattvas of the Earth, to grow the leaves once again. We were born here during the time of the 800th Anniversary of our Founder, Nichiren Daishonin’s advent.
Let us courageously advance toward the goal. We should not waste any time. The High Priest declares:
Whether we experience the burning suffering of hell or the attainment of Buddhahood all depends on the actions we take in a single moment of life. Our destination will be dramatically changed by whether we choose to devote ourselves to the propagation of Nam-Myoho-Renge-Kyo or spend each day without a purpose. Each action we make will determine whether we are happy or unhappy, and whether or not we will attain Buddhahood. (Dainichiren, November 2014)
How about you? Are your thoughts, words, and actions dedicated to the propagation of Myoho-Renge-Kyo? Let us focus on it for the rest of the year. You will be able to achieve your shakubuku goal when you put your efforts in shakubuku without pausing Life seems long, but it is not. Time passes us by from moment to moment, and nothing remains forever. However, despite the fact that we cannot perceive the life of the three existences, everything we do will stay as karma in our lives. When caught up in daily events, we may be spending our precious time doing nothing for the propagation of the Law. In the Gosho, “On Practicing According to the Buddha’s Teachings” (“Nyosetsu shugyo-sho”), the Daishonin states:
Tiantai’s tatement, “The Lotus Sutra is the teaching of shakubuku, the refutation of the provisional doctrines” is, indeed, based on reason. (Gosho, p.673)
He also states:
If you exert yourself now in shoju, by carrying out the four peaceful practices, will it not be the same as sowing seeds in the winter and expecting to harvest in the spring? When a rooster crows at dawn, it is helpful. But if it crows in the evening, it is disquieting.
It is nonsense to seclude yourself in the mountains without refuting the enemies of the Lotus Sutra and carry out the practice of shakubuku at a time when the Lotus Sutra and pre-Lotus Sutra teachings are confused. You only will lose the opportunity to practice the Lotus Sutra. Now, in the Latter Day of the Law, who is correctly carrying out the practice of shakubuku exactly as taught in the Lotus Sutra? Whomever you may meet, conduct shakubuku to the people and refute the teachings of the other sects. Proclaim repeatedly with all your might that the Lotus Sutra is the only teaching that will lead the people to Buddhahood, and that the various other teachings obstruct them from attaining enlightenment and are the root cause for leading them to fall into hell. This will certainly provoke the appearance of the three powerful enemies. (ibid.)
We, the Hokkeko believers, who have taken faith in the Gohonzon, must never become lazy but courageously denounce erroneous doctrines and the entities that spread them, such as the Soka Gakkai, with the wisdom and understanding that practicing doctrines other than the Lotus Sutra will not only prevent those practitioners from attaining Buddhahood but also lead them to the suffering of hell.
The Lotus Sutra is the only Law that enables all beings to attain Buddhahood. The growth of the root of faith and practice deeply means to speak about the immeasurable benefits of the Gohozon and expect that such shakubuku actions will summon the three kinds of enemies. The accumulation of benefit from shakubuku actions will enable a common mortal to attain Buddhahood in his or her lifetime.
We, the Hokkeko members, who have formed a deep karmic relation with the Buddha, are so fortunate to be here for the rare occasion of the 800th anniversary of
Nichiren Daishonin’s advent. This fortune is due to the fact that we are present for the faith and practice of the true Law, If we did not have the goals set for achieving the 800,000 Hokkeko believers, would we Practice shakubuku as much? Would we be able to chant Daimoku as seriously? The fortune is sincerity, the serious faith and practice generated within us, which lead to the ability to perform Shodai and shakubuku.
Shakubuku is the Salvation of Others
Sixty-seventh High Priest Nikken Shonin gave the following guidance:
Regarding shakubuku, as the Daishonin states in the Rissho ankoku-ron, “You must immediately renounce your erroneous belief and take faith in the supreme teaching of the one vehicle of the Lotus Sutra.” Each individual must take faith in the correct Law….Furthermore, “the advent of the truth” is stated in the Gosho, “On Remonstrating with Hachiman.” In this Gosho, the Daishonin states: “For the past twenty-eight years, from the twenty-eighth day of the fourth month of the fifth year of Kencho (1253) through the twelfth month of this current year, the third year of Ko’an (1280) I, Nichiren, have done nothing else but one thing. That is, to dedicate myself to have all the people of Japan chant the five and seven characters of Myoho-Renge-Kyo. This act of compassion is the same as a mother trying to put milk into the mouth of her infant.” (Dainichiren, November 2001, Summarized)
We cannot leave out shakubuku when we speak about the Daishonin’s teachings. High Priest Nichinyo Shonin states:
The significance of shakubuku is to teach those who are experiencing the impact of slander in their lives and lead them to the correct teaching. Shakubuku is the salvation of all living beings, the highest form of compassion. This is why Nichiren Daishonin condemns his followers who look away when others are suffering from the effect of slander. In “On the Protection of the Nation” (“Shugo kokkaron.”), the Daishonin teaches: “The Buddha reprimands one who sees others commit slander and fails to renounce it. Such a person is not a follower of the Buddha.” (Gosho,p.145)
Furthermore, in “Reply to the Wife of Abutsu-bo” (“Abutsu bo amagozen- gohenji”), the Daishonin states:
Whether or not one refutes slander, will determine whether or not a person will be able to free oneself from the grave karmic sins that one committed in the past. One’s own negative karma can be eradicated if one teaches true Buddhism to others. However, if one sees and hears slander and does not denounce it, then one’s two virtues of correct sight and hearing immediately will deteriorate, and one will become a merciless and heartless individual. The Great Teacher Zhangan stated, “If you associate with those [who slander the true Law] and lack the compassion to correct them, then you are, in fact, their enemy.” It is extremely difficult to eradicate a sin as grave as this. (Gosho, p.906)
Allowing an acquaintance of yours to suffer from the consequences of slander is the root cause of all suffering. It is against the Daishonin’s teachings. Therefore, such a person cannot be called a follower of the Daishonin’s teachings. This is how serious we are about shakubuku. (Dainichiren, October 2016)
Our upcoming ceremony is not merely about attendance. It is about the process of actions we take to do shakubuku. The Daishonin states:
In any case, one should strongly teach and make people listen to the teachings of the Lotus Sutra. (Gosho, p.1316)
Shakubuku is not an enticement. In the Latter Day of the Law, whether one accepts the relationship with the Law immediately or creates a reverse relationship, Nam-Myoho-Renge-Kyo of the Three Great Secret Laws will save us all. That is why the Daishonin emphasizes making the Lotus Sutra heard no matter what. Regardless of your circumstances, I would like all of you to put these words into action because they are the very key to receiving immeasurable benefits, which include the eradication of karmic offenses from the remote past.
The Gokaihi Ceremony is the opportunity for everyone to connect with the Dai- Gohonzon of the High Sanctuary for the first time. The Daishonin, who inscribed the Dai-Gohonzon, is the True Buddha. Now, let us devote ourselves to shakubuku activities for the salvation of our loved ones and anyone else, even if we have the slightest connection with them. It is how we pay the debt of gratitude to the Daishonin. In keeping with today’s theme, “How deep are the roots of your faith; how pure is the jewel in your heart,” let us bring up our faith to such a level and advance courageously. This is the spirit of Hokkeko believers.
I pray that you will accumulate great benefits by consistently chanting Daimoku, no matter how easy or difficult your life may become. Focus on the achievement of our mission day after day, month after month, and keep performing serious and courageous shakubuku. This is how we can experience the great benefits that we have never felt before in our entire lives. With this prayer, I would like to conclude my lecture.