Taking Action First

Good afternoon, everyone. I firmly believe that you will receive praise from our founder, Nichiren Daishonin, because you have traveled long distances to make this tozan pilgrimage. I hope that you will keep in your hearts the following passage from “Reply to Shijo Kingo,” which states, “you instantly can eradicate the negative karma from the remotest past when making a tozan pilgrimage.” Please strive to conduct shakubuku and chant Daimoku. I hope that you will be able to come on tozan again.

All of us, the priests and lay believers of Nichiren Shoshu, are devoting ourselves seriously, day and night, to move forward toward our objectives—to increase the membership by 50 percent by the year 2015, the 770th anniversary of the birth of Nikko Shonin, and to achieve a membership of 800,000 Hokkeko believers by the year 2021, the 800th anniversary of the advent of Nichiren Daishonin.

Regarding the crucial moment, High Priest Nichinyo Shonin gave us the following guidance on the occasion of the Hokkeko Summer Lecture Tozan in May:

Each of us should realize what our mission is. It is to conduct shakubuku for the achievement of kosen-rufu. If we, the disciples and followers of the Daishonin, forget to carry out shakubuku efforts, our bodies will be but mere decorations. Then, happiness cannot come to us or to the people around us. If you care about your family and want to further the prosperity of the lives of your relatives and other people, you first must perform shakubuku for the establishment of the correct Law throughout the nation.
(Dai-Nichiren, #797, p. 32)

Thus, the High Priest clearly gave us the following guidance:

1.Our mission is to conduct shakubuku.
2. The purpose of conducting shakubuku is to extend happiness to all people, including your parents and children.

On June 6, he stated the following, on the occasion of the Committee Meeting of the Commemoration of the 750th Anniversary of Revealing the Truth and Upholding Justice through the Submission of the Rissho ankoku-ron:

As we celebrate the Grand Completion Ceremony of the Mieido in 2015, there is one thing we must keep in our hearts—it is none other than the celebration of the Grand Ceremony in both name and reality.
(Dai-Byakuho, #839, p. 2)

Regarding the phrase “in both name and reality,” he further states:

We must focus on our objective, which is achieving our shakubuku goals for all chapters by the time of the completion ceremony of the Mieido.

In his guidance, the High Priest also indicates that to do this, the specific focus should be “putting it into action.” This means, “taking action first.” He states, “It is, after all, not theory, but simply to take action.”

Therefore, today, we will learn about faith, based on “taking action first.” We will discuss a passage from the Gosho, “On Practicing According to the Buddha’s Teachings” (“Nyosetsu shugyo-sho”). In this writing, the principle of the attainment of enlightenment of the oneness of life and its environment is expounded. Both our lives and our environment can attain enlightenment when we understand what our mission is—conducting shakubuku.

As you know, it is important to move forward with a refreshed mind, by renewing your original resolution and once again resetting the spirit of shakubuku. Please listen to my lecture with this understanding.

Nichiren Daishonin states the following in the Gosho, “On Practicing According to the Buddha’s Teachings” (“Nyosetsu shugyo-sho”):

He should be willing to loudly proclaim that the Lotus Sutra alone can lead people to Buddhahood. And he should thus try to refute the people and doctrines of all the other sects. By so doing, the three powerful enemies will arise without fail.
(Gosho, p. 673)

The phrase “The Lotus Sutra alone can lead people to Buddhahood” means that the Law of Nam-Myoho-Renge-Kyo, which we uphold based on the High Priest’s guidance, is the supreme teaching that enables all living beings—including our family, friends and acquaintances—to gain happiness. With a firm understanding of this point, our effort to conduct shakubuku should begin.

In the “The Essentials of the Lotus Sutra” (“Hokke shuyo-sho”), the Daishonin states:

The predictions in the Lotus Sutra match my behavior. I am so overjoyed that I cannot help but praise myself.
(Gosho, p. 734)

Practicing based on the instructions of the Nichiren Shoshu Head Temple Taisekiji definitely will enable us to attain enlightenment. Thus, we should teach others around us, so that we can achieve happiness together. If everyone had a strong conviction that the True Buddha Nichiren Daishonin’s intention is for us to spread the true Law of Nam-Myoho-Renge-Kyo, realizing that this is the only true teaching, then it would be no exaggeration to say that most of our shakubuku goals already would be achieved.

With a strong conviction, we should thus try to carry out the Daishonin’s instructions, “One who should be willing to loudly proclaim.” The Treasure Tower (Ken hoto; eleventh) chapter of the Lotus Sutra states:

In a loud voice, he addressed all four kinds of believers, saying, “Who is capable of broadly preaching the Lotus Sutra of the Wonderful Law in this saha world?”
(Hokekyo, p. 347; The Lotus Sutra, Watson, p. 180)

Shakyamuni Buddha also gave all people the mission to propagate Myoho-Renge-Kyo in the saha world. In the “Recorded Lectures” (“Onko kikigaki”), the Daishonin states:

The disciples and followers of the Buddha must propagate the Daishonin’s teaching of Myoho-Renge-Kyo and loudly refute the heretical teachings of other sects. This demonstrates the meaning of the passage, “they are clever when faced with difficult questions and answers, and their minds know no fear.”
(Gosho, p. 1855)

In other words, the phrases “willing to loudly proclaim” in the Gosho, “On Practicing According to the Buddha’s Teachings,” and “a loud voice” in the “Recorded Lectures” and in the Treasure Tower (Ken hoto; eleventh) chapter of the Lotus Sutra all carry the same meaning. It is the voice of the Buddha expressing his true intention, and he preaches for all living beings equally in every corner of the saha world. The teaching he possesses is the truest and highest. Furthermore, continuing to practice both for oneself and for others also means being “willing to loudly proclaim.”

When we conduct shakubuku as envoys of the Lotus Sutra, we should have a courteous attitude toward everyone. We also should have the courage to be unafraid of anything, with the conviction that the Law we now try to spread is the highest teaching. I also would like each of you to keep the following important point in mind. When doing shakubuku, one should lead someone to the state of happiness by speaking with absolute conviction, in a compassionate tone, and without any aggression or uncertainty. This is similar to the behavior of the Buddha.

We must take action, just as the Daishonin taught in the passage, “he should thus try to refute the people and doctrines of all the other sects.” The phrase, “refute the people and doctrines of all the other sects,” indicates refuting the people’s erroneous belief systems. This means to refute the teachings they believe in, so that they truly will be able to resolve their suffering and distress, such as sickness, economic hardships, and relationship problems. We must refute heretical teachings and doctrines very carefully. Thus, we must study, in order to deepen our understanding of the Daishonin’s Buddhism.

I believe that you understand how important it is to etch the Daishonin’s Buddhism into your hearts by enriching your understanding of the doctrines of Nichiren Shoshu through study. This is part of the practice. Studying Buddhism, reading passages of the Daishonin’s Gosho, following the guidance of the High Priest—which you receive on occasions such as this Summer Study Tozan taking place at the Head Temple every year—attending the Oko Ceremony and other ceremonies at your local temples, and attending local meetings and Shodaikai gatherings at various places—all of these will support your efforts in doing shakubuku.

However, even as I mention this to you now, some among you may recoil, just thinking about the difficulty involved in studying the teachings. However, there is no need for any of you to worry, because the Daishonin’s Buddhism leads all people, including you, to understand this true Buddhism.

The Benefit of Listening to the Law

You may be familiar with the principle of “the benefit of listening to the Law.” In the Gosho, “Letter to Abutsubo” (“Abutsubo-gosho”), the Daishonin states:

Abutsubo’s life is the treasure tower endowed with the seven kinds of treasure: listening, believing, observing the precepts, concentration, practicing assiduously, selfless devotion, and self-reflection.
(Gosho, p. 793)

In this passage, he teaches us that listening to the Law is a necessary first step, in order to gain the benefit of the immeasurable seven kinds of treasure.

The meanings of the seven kinds of treasure are:

1.“Listening” - to listen to the teachings of true Buddhism.
2.“Believing” - to take faith in the Gohonzon upon hearing the teachings.
3.“Observing the precepts” - to unwaveringly embrace the Gohonzon.
4.“Concentration” - to single-mindedly chant the Daimoku to the Gohonzon.
5.“Practicing assiduously” - to dedicate oneself to chanting Daimoku and doing shakubuku.
6.“Selfless devotion” - to discard one’s selfish attachments.
7.“Self-reflection” - to repent of one’s arrogance and laziness.
Through reflecting on ourselves, we should listen to the teachings, again and again, and have strong faith, so that we will be able to have unshakable conviction in the Gohonzon and strive to practice for oneself and for others more than ever. One who follows these points and carries them out will be endowed with the seven kinds of treasures. Thus, knowing the importance of “listening,” we always must listen to the High Priest’s guidance, participate willingly in the meetings or ceremonies where the priest presents his sermons, and attend local meetings. In order to do this, sometimes we must manage our schedules. By so doing, the benefits of listening to the Law will be accumulated, and you will be able to understand the true teaching in your own life, even though this teaching is “difficult to understand and difficult to enter.” Now, each of you has gained the benefit of one of the seven kinds of treasures, “the benefit of Listening to the Law,” through your participation in this Summer Study Tozan. Let us try to conduct shakubuku with courage, confidence, and pride.

Encountering the Three Powerful Enemies is the First Step to Attaining Enlightenment

As we strive to do shakubuku, circumstances will come up, just as the passage states, “the three powerful enemies will arise without fail.”

The three powerful enemies were described in the Encouraging Devotion (Kanji; thirteenth) chapter of the Lotus Sutra. They are the people who appear and obstruct us when we try to propagate the Lotus Sutra in the Latter Day of the Law.

The first of the three powerful enemies are extremely arrogant lay people (zokushu zojoman). They are people with no education in Buddhism, who persecute the votary of the Lotus Sutra with verbal and physical abuse. The second are extremely arrogant priests (domon zojoman). They are priests of misguided religions who have not attained Buddhahood. They arrogantly persecute the votary of the Lotus Sutra.The third are extremely arrogant false sages (sensho zojoman). This refers to priests or powerful people in society who are regarded and respected as saints. They maliciously slander and persecute the votary of the Lotus Sutra by using their power.

At various times, these three kinds of powerful obstructions will sneak up on and attack our Hokkeko, which is the organization through which we devote ourselves to conduct our practice of shakubuku.

Conducting Shakubuku Means Practicing According to the Buddha’s Teachings

The Daishonin teaches us that we can check our level of faith through encountering the three powerful enemies. In the “Recorded Lectures,” (Onko kikigaki”), he states:

Because the person who is at the stage of first hearing the name of the Law embraces the Law, the three powerful enemies arise, and the benefit of the phrase “peace and security in this lifetime” will be manifested. And this phenomenon will be proof that he is definitely the votary of the Lotus Sutra.
(Gosho, p. 1838)

As the three powerful enemies appear to confront us, we will be added as one of the true disciples of Nichiren Daishonin. It would not be an exaggeration to say that a qualification of the disciples and followers of Nichiren Daishonin is whether or not the three powerful enemies appear in one’s own faith. If you encounter even one of these, it comes as a result of practicing according to the Law. Then you will have the right to become a true disciple and follower of the Daishonin. However, everyone feels pain when experiencing difficulties. At that time, I hope that we will remember the following passage from “Reply to Lord Hyoe sakan”(“Hyoe sakan dono-gohenji”):

At that crucial moment, he definitely will encounter the three obstacles and four devils. The wise will rejoice, while the foolish will retreat.
(Gosho, p. 1184)

Now is the time for us to become the wise people or sages who can transform our hearts of suffering and fear into joy and courage. Then we can move forward through inspiring ourselves, and we will move a step closer to the realization of our goal, the attainment of Buddhahood.

Following the instruction of the above golden words and reflecting on our faith in order to maintain correct faith, we can reform the closed-mindedness of our selfish lives and then, our own faith naturally will lead us to think of what we can do as envoys of the Buddha. Our goal of attaining enlightenment surely will arise.

Taking faith in the teachings of Nichiren Shoshu—following the correct Law—is the only way to produce positive results, due to the vast power of the Buddha and power of the Law of the Dai-Gohonzon. Therefore, it is not difficult to gain happiness when we are mentally prepared to uphold the Law. Making a determination with the awareness of one’s mission to strive to practice according to the Law, and following the guidance of the High Priest will be the deciding factors that enable us to achieve happiness.

Receiving Benefit through Practicing According to the Law is the Attainment of Enlightenment of the Oneness of Life and its Environment

During his life, the Daishonin himself expressed the method of “true practice according to the Law” through his behavior. He taught us how to refute the heretical teachings of other sects. Therefore, before concluding my guidance today, I’d like to quote a passage from “On Practicing According to the Buddha’s Teachings” (“Nyosetsu shugyo-sho”). The Daishonin expounds the proof of benefit at the time when the true teachings are propagated throughout the nation. He states:

At that time, because all people chant Nam-Myoho-Renge-Kyo together, the wind will not beleaguer the branches or boughs, nor will the rain fall hard enough to break a clod. The world will become as it was in the ages of Fu Hsi and Shen Nung in ancient China.Disasters will be driven from the land, and people will be rid of misfortune. They will also learn the art of living long, fulfilling lives. Realize that the time will come when the truth will be revealed that both the Person and the Law are ageless and eternal. There cannot be the slightest doubt about the sutra's solemn promise of receiving the benefit of peace and security in this lifetime.
(Gosho, p. 671; cf. MW-1, pp. 101-102)

In this passage, he teaches us that when kosen-rufu is achieved, natural disasters and wars will disappear. Gusty winds will transform to mild breezes, and storms will change to compassionate rain—just like silk. Furthermore, there will be equality for all people around the world.

The teaching of the oneness of life and its environment shows that human disasters, natural disasters, such as earthquakes and typhoons or hurricanes and unusual weather, heat waves and cold spells all occur due to our own, subjective evil minds. Therefore, if people throughout the world chant Nam-Myoho-Renge-Kyo together, then securing the peace of the land through the propagation of true Buddhism will be realized in society without fail. Then, we will gain true happiness in our own lives.

The Daishonin states the following 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. Then, this entire threefold world will become the Buddha land. How could the Buddha land ever decline? All the lands in the ten directions will transform into treasure realms. How could a treasure realm ever fall to ruin? If the nation never declines and the land is indestructible, you will find safety and peace of mind. These are the very words that you must believe and revere.
(Gosho, p. 250; GND-1, p. 42)

To have a high ideal of visualizing a future of freedom from natural disasters and conflicts between people means that we should chant Daimoku, single-mindedly and unceasingly, and talk about Nichiren Shoshu true Buddhism to the people around us. This is the mission, given by the True Buddha, Nichiren Daishonin, to those of us who live in the Latter Day of the Law.

The objectives: “To increase the membership by 50 percent by the year 2015, the 770th anniversary of the birth of Nikko Shonin;” and “to achieve a membership of 800,000 Hokkeko believers by the year 2021, the 800th anniversary of the advent of Nichiren Daishonin;” were given to us by High Priest Nichinyo Shonin. When you teach other people about the benefit of attaining enlightenment, both you and the people around you will be able to receive the benefit of attaining Buddhahood. Furthermore, the action you carry out will be the power to change your own environment. Let us strive to practice for oneself and for others, moving forward toward the achievement of our goals.
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