GUIDEPOSTS IN FAITH
MARCH 2014 (PP. 8-9, 11-13)
WHY DO WE MAKE PILGRIMAGES TO HEAD TEMPLE TAISEKIJI?
The Daishonin teach the following in the Gosho, “The Person and the Law” (“Nanjo dono gohenji”):
Those who travel to this place to pay their respects instantly will eradicate the negative karma they have accumulated since the remote past and transform their sins of the three categories of action into the three virtues.
Once there was a woeful wanderer who journeyed to lcy Lake in central India in hopes of easing his troubled mind. Finding that the cool waters of lcy Lake had extinguished the burning anguish his soul, he exclaimed, “It’s as though I had reached Clear Cool Pond as described in the sutras. All my hopes have been realized!”
lcy Lake and this place are different, but the principle is the same.
Eagle Peak of India is now Mount Minobu of Japan. A long time has passed since you last visited here. Please arrange your affairs so that you can set out as soon as possible. I look forward to seeing you again.
(Gosho, p.1569; GND-1 p. 83)
Last year, we were able to celebrate the Grand Ceremony Commemorating the Completion of the Major Renovation of the Image Hall (Mieido). Essentially, we were able to witness the appearance of a structure that was built more than 380 years ago. Let us rejoice wholeheartedly in our great fortune that we are alive during a time when we could experience such an extraordinary event.
Incidentally, every year around autumn, the Bureau of Religious Affairs decides upon the plans for the following year, and the theme for what the year will be designated is presented. Every year up until the present day, the three actions of “Gongyo and Shodai, shakubuku, and tozan” always were included in the themes, because these three acts are fundamental to our practice, Therefore, we are urging new members to go on tozan as soon as possible and for Hokkeko chapter members to make a pilgrimage as a group.
However, within Nichiren Shosu, many believers still thoroughly do not understand the significance of pilgrimages to the Head Temple Taisekiji. If members understood the significance of making this cause, them with every opportunity, they would pray to be able to make a pilgrimage. Lacking such an understanding, even if they have been practicing for many tears, they would have difficult going on tozan. We do not go to Taisekiji for curiosity’s sake or for pleasure for example, sightseeing as many do for other sects.
During the Daishonin’s lifetime, Abutsubo, Nanjo Tokomotsu, Shijo Kingo, Toki Jonin, and Nichimyo Shonin traveled long distances, risking their lives to make a pilgrimage to see Nichiren Daishonin. In this manner, we must maintain a seeking spirit, make time, and manage to raise funds in order to be able to make a pilgrimage to the Head Temple Taisekiji. In “Reply to Shijo Kingo Shijo Kingo” (“Shijo Kingo dono gohenji”) the Daishonin instructs:
As you frequently have come to see me, year after year, definitely with in this lifetime you will expiate the karma you have accumulated since time without beginning. You must put forth your utmost efforts in faith more than ever.
(Gosho, p. 1502)
Also, in the Gosho highlighted in this article, the Daishonin instructs:
Those who travel to this place to pay their respects instantly will eradicate the negative karma they have accumulated since the remote past and transform their sins of the three categories of action onto the three virtues.
(Gosho, p. 1569; GND-1, p. 83)
The Daishonin teaches that by making frequent tozan pilgrimages, we definitely are able to expiate immeasurable karma, which we have accumulated in our lives from time without beginning, within this lifetime and accumulate tremendous fortune. We can transform all negative karma from our past and present existences created by our thoughts, words, and deeds into the three virtues of the property of the Law, wisdom and emancipation. The three virtues refer to the Buddha’s pure life or body of the Law (hosshin), the Buddha’s wisdom, which is able to discern right from wrong (hannya), and the Buddha’s emancipated state, being free from hardships or suffering (gedatsul).
It could be said that the act of making a pilgrimage to the Head Temple Taisekiji is primarily to enable us to attain enlightenment, since it allows to expiate all karma from the infinite past in this lifetime and transform all evil arising from the three categories of action into the three virtues of the Buddha. Since one undergoes this Buddhist training in order to attain enlightenment, the Daishonin urges d in Shijo Kingo to make future pilgrimages by instructing: “You must put forth your utmost efforts in faith more than ever.”
The Daishonin tells Nichimyo Shonin in “Oto gozen haha gosho”: “The further the distance, the greater one’s resolution is” (Gosho, p. 689). When people move their feet, exert time, and gather resources for travel to make a pilgrimage in order to seek enlightenment as part of their Buddhist training, they will earn the praise of the Daishonin. The great aspiration to attain enlightenment is reflected by the distance it takes to travel.
Like the pioneers during the Daishonin’s lifetime who risked their lives to make a pilgrimage to see him, we must venerate the Dai-Gohonzon of the High Sanctuary, the living essence of the True Buddha Nichiren Daishonin. And for the sake of expiating negative karma and praying to attain enlightenment, we must try to make as many pilgrimages as possible in this lifetime. We make frequent pilgrimages in order to pay our tremendous debt of gratitude to the True Buddha for his deep compassion toward all living beings. In regards to the Buddha’s great compassion, the Treatise on the Great Sutra on the Perfection of Wisdom (Dai chido-ron) states the following:
If living beings are unable to hear the Law, their lives descend into various evils and sufferings. This is similar to the Lotus in a pond that is unable to flower unless it receives sunlight. The Buddha is the same. The Buddha teaches the Law due to the great mercy that he has toward all living beings.
If living things could not hear the Law because they were unworthy of the Buddha, as a result of their karma and earthly desires from past lifetime, they would descend into the evil paths and consequently suffer. This is similar to a lotus flower being unable to receive sunlight. It would fail to bloom and rot in the water. The Buddha has great mercy for living beings. With immeasurable, profound compassion, he has taught the Law.
We who live in the Latter Day of the Law lack the fortune of having previously recurved the seed of Buddhahood; therefore, we are buffered by our own earthly desires and karma during this evil age defiled by the five impurities (the impurities of the age, desire, living, Beings, view, and life). Like the flowering plant in the water that cannot bloom or bear fruit or seed and instead rots, human beings endure great struggles and suffering throughout life and then pass away. The Daishonin teaches us in “Repaying Debts of Gratirude” (“Ho’on-sho”):
Since Nichiren’s compassion is vast, Nam-Myoho-Renge-Kyo will prevail for ten thousand years and beyond into the future. It possesses the beneficial power to open the blind eyes of all the people in Japan, and it blocks the path on the hell of incessant suffering.
(Gosho, p. 1036)
We were able to encounter the Buddhism of the True Buddha Nichiren Daishonin and can believe in and practice to the Dai- Gohonzon, which is fully endowed with fortune. As a result, we have been able to avoid the path to the hell of incessant suffering. Instead, we enjoy a life of true fulfillment and satisfaction in which we can expiate negative karma and attain enlightenment in our present form.
In “The Practice of this School” (“Toryu gyoji-sho”), Twenty-sixth High Priest Nichikan Shonin elucidates the great mercy of the True Buddha who makes his advent in the latter Day of the Law:
Even if one’s bones are broken in Kojo and one’s flesh is thrown away in Setsurei (Sessen), this does not amount to replaying one’s debt of gratitude.
(Six-Volume Writings [Rokkan- sho], p. 197)
The City of Fragrances (Kojo) is where Bodhisattva Dharmodgata lived. In exchange for receiving the teaching from Bodhisattva Dharmodgata, Bodhisattva Ever Wailing broke open his bones as an offering. Described as devoted to the pursuit of perfect wisdom and unconcerned with worldly fame or fortune, he was called Ever Wailing because he wept when he failed to find a teaching.
Sessen Doji [Shakyamuni Buddha in a previous lifetime] also sought the Law of Buddhism by living alone deep in the Himalayan Mountains. He offered his life to a demon in exchange for hearing the true teaching. But it is taught that even the performance of such selfless acts cannot repay the tremendous debt of gratitude toward the Gohozon and Nichiren Daishonin.
Through the True Buddha Nichiren Daishonin’s advent in the Latter Day of the Law and through his establishment of the Three Great Secret Laws and revelation of the Gohonzon, all living beings in the Latter Day of the Law are able to attain enlightenment. Furthermore, rather than praying only to expiate our negative karma and attain enlightenment, it is most important for the boundless mercy of the True Buddha Nichiren Daisonin and the Dai-Gohonzon. This kind of faith and practice will repay our debt of gratitude and allows us to accumulate great fortune.