Reverend Shindo Nomura,
Nichiren Shoshu Overseas Department Secretary
Greetings, everyone! I
extend my heartfelt congratulations to you today for attending the
Commemorative General Tozan Pilgrimage. As I was just introduced, I am Reverend
Shindo Nomura. For more than sixteen 16 years, I have
been serving in the Overseas Department of the Religious Affairs Division to
promote overseas kosen-rufu. The topic of my sermon today is “United with One
Mind,” and I would like to focus on overseas matters. This topic is also
title of the Photo Exhibition of Worldwide Propagation that is currently on
display in the Treasure Hall.
There are Nichiren Shoshu believers in more than fifty 50 countries
and regions around the world. The circumstances in which they uphold their
faith differ greatly, according to their respective countries.
For example, there are approximately 3,000 believers in
Singapore, an advanced nation in Southeast Asia, and there is one Nichiren
Shoshu temple there. Brazil is located directly on the opposite side of the
globe from Japan, and there are more than 2,000 believers in two temples in
that country. When we compare the sizes of these two countries, we find that
Singapore is approximately 1/556 the size of Japan—roughly the size of Awaji
Island—whereas Brazil is 23 times larger than Japan. We frequently use the
Tokyo Dome as a unit of measure and estimate the size of a place by “how many
Tokyo Domes would fit into a given area.” We can make an analogous comparison
between Brazil and Singapore. Incredibly, Singapore can fit into Brazil more
than 12,000 times. There is a great difference in the sizes of these two
countries. Among the approximately 50 countries in which Nichiren Shoshu
believers reside, only 15 have temples. Therefore, under current conditions,
those who live in the remaining 35 nations have little opportunity to even meet
In this way, overseas believers must overcome numerous
obstacles in the circumstances under which they practice, in addition to defeating
challenges that arise from various differences, such as ethnicities, languages,
customs, and laws. Together, they carry out their faith and practice as
Nichiren Shoshu believers. This year, in particular, they all have been
focusing on the Overseas Believers General Tozan Pilgrimage and have been
“united with one mind” in their mutual determination to assemble at the Head
I am currently in charge
of matters concerning the three countries of Indonesia, Sri Lanka, and
Thailand. I have been in charge of Indonesia and Sri Lanka for more than 12
What comes to your mind when you hear the names of these
three countries—Indonesia, Sri Lanka, and Thailand?
Yes, you would think of the tsunami. Four-and-a-half years have already have passed
since the incident. These three countries encountered the most devastation from
earthquake and the Indian Ocean tsunami that occurred at the end of 2004.
disasters may be gradually subsiding gradually from
your memories, but the casualties from the earthquake and tsunami were huge.
More than 130,000 people died in Indonesia, and more than 46,000 individuals
lost their lives in Sri Lanka. I offer my sincerest prayers for their peaceful
repose. Ironically, these calamities of historic proportions have been
responsible for making the Japanese word “tsunami” a household word.
my very eyes, I witnessed the devastating conditions immediately following the
disasters in Sri Lanka and Indonesia. Those are memories that I can never
forget. I realize that I must never lose sight of those memories, since they
characterize the strict reality of the spirit of the Rissho ankoku-ron.
months following the tsunami, conditions in Sri Lanka were extremely gruesome.
The towns on the shore had disappeared. The railroad tracks and the trains that
transported many passengers along the coastline were completely were washed
away. The tents in the numerous refugee camps were crowded and encroaching on
each other. It pained my heart to see a child whose elementary school had been
destroyed and was forced to attend classes in a makeshift tent constructed on
the grounds of another school. Fortunately, there were no deaths among our Sri
Lankan believers as a result of this tsunami.
recall the epicenter of the Sumatra-Andaman earthquake? It was in Aceh. Six
months after the earthquake I accompanied an official of the Indonesian
government to observe the conditions in Aceh, the epicenter. I assumed that reconstruction
would have progressed, since half-a-year had already had
gone by. In reality, however, only the mountains of rubble from the devastation
had been removed, and conditions were far from any semblance of reconstruction.
The official in charge of reconstruction and development informed me that the
huge mountains of rubble were a jumble of debris, buildings, trees and plants,
and human remains. Even though the workers were anxious to retrieve the bodies,
there were no roads that the vehicles could use. Therefore, they were forced to
start by first building roads for the construction equipment.
my visit, I witnessed two sights that exemplified the tremendous power of the
tsunami at the epicenter of Aceh.
was a large ocean-going tanker that had been docked on the coast. It was forced
by the tsunami to flow into the center of a town located a mile and a half from
the shore and was stuck there. Fortunately, this tanker had the capacity to
generate electricity, so it was able to provide electricity to the townspeople
who had lost their power source as a result of the disaster.
second sight was my visit to an expansive location where approximately 60,000
victims were buried. Many of you may be aware that the largest number of Islam
followers in the world resides in Indonesia. Roughly 90 percent of the
population of 220,000,000—that is, 190,000,000 individuals—embrace Islam. The
epicenter of Aceh is the area where Islam was first propagated in Indonesia.
Therefore, faith in Islam is particularly strong there, and a huge mosque is
prominent in town.
to the Islamic faith, the bodies of those who have passed away must be buried
as soon as possible. They must be buried within 24 hours. Therefore, the bodies
of the 60,000 people who lost their lives in the earthquake and tsunami were
taken to the expansive plaza as soon as they were found and identified and
buried. Bulldozers were used to bury the bodies and scoop dirt over them. This
repeatedly done so that there were layers of
bodies at the burial site. Indeed, the conditions vividly were vividly reminiscent
of the situation described in the beginning paragraph of the Rissho ankoku-ron:
cattle and horses are everywhere, and human skeletons clutter the streets. More
than half the population has already perished, and there is not a single person
who does not mourn.
(Gosho, p. 234; The Gosho of Nichiren Daishonin-Vol. 2,
of this tremendous catastrophe, not a single Nichiren Shoshu believer who lived
in Aceh lost his or her life. One lady told me her experience. She was out
shopping when suddenly she was overcome by the tsunami. When she regained
consciousness, she had been pushed atop the roof of a school and survived the
after these tremendous tragedies in Indonesia and Sri Lanka, what kind of faith
and practice are the believers upholding in these countries?
Indonesia, a month after the great earthquake occurred, the “Memorial Service
for the Victims of the Sumatra-Andaman Earthquake
and the Indian Ocean Tsunami” was conducted under the leadership of Nikken
Shonin, who was our High Priest at the time. There were believers from Aceh who
attended this ceremony, in their earnest desire to have even a brief audience
with our High Priest. Eight months thereafter, Hoseiji Temple was constructed
in the capital city of Jakarta, and Myogenji Temple was established in a
location approximately two hours by car from Jakarta, and the enshrinement of
the wooden Joju Gohonzon was held at the time. Ever since the great earthquake
and tsunami, the priests and lay believers of Indonesia have encouraged each
other by holding fast to the phrase:
evil is always followed by great good.
(“On Great Evil and Great Good,” Gosho, p. 796)
Finally, they were able to achieve their long-cherished
objective of establishing temples in Indonesia.
like to share my perception of a certain condition that occurred at the time of
the visitation by our High Priest. Usually the voices of the Indonesian
believers, as they perform Gongyo,always have
very extremely vigorous.
When I sit in front and chant together with them, I always feel the powerful
surge in their voices that pushes me from behind. However, during our High
Priest’s visit, that usual vigor was somehow missing. It turned out that it was
not at all that their vigor was lacking; in fact, they had lost their voices
because they were overcome with emotion when they first encountered their large
wooden Joju Gohonzon.
establishment of these temples, the only opportunity that the Indonesian
believers had to pray to a large wooden Gohonzon was when they went on a tozan
pilgrimage. And only those who had the financial means were able to go. Even
though the temples were established, you must understand that the area of
Indonesia is five times that of Japan. The nation has more than 18,000 islands.
Yet, there only are only two temples
and two priests. Every month, approximately 1,000 believers congregate at
Myogenji Temple, and they must stay overnight to attend study meetings. There
are believers from distant islands who must spend two nights and three days
one-way to travel by boat and bus to worship at that temple.
the believers are encouraged to go on a tozanpilgrimage, due to financial difficulties, there are many for whom
doing so is only a distant dream.
previous issue of the Daibyaku-ho,
there was an article introducing the experience of an Indonesian woman. She
wrote that she works at a fruit stand and makes the equivalent of approximately
three dollars everyday. How could a person of such means come up with the
airfare of $1,500.00? Even if she worked every single day of the year—$3.00 x
365 days—her total earnings would not amount to $1,500. However, she wrote in
her experience that she still dreams about going on a tozan pilgrimage.
The first 2009 Overseas Believers General Tozan
Pilgrimage was held in April of this year, and approximately 400 believers from
Indonesia were able to attend. Over half of these individuals—more than 200
believers—were on tozan for the first time. There are more than 1,200 believers
in Indonesia who hope to come on a tozan pilgrimage this year. Indeed, they are
“united with one mind” in their determination to come to worship at the Head
would like to focus on Sri Lanka. Are you all familiar with the geographic
location of the nation of Sri Lanka? You may feel better acquainted with this
country if we refer to it as Ceylon, where the Ceylon tea leaves are produced. Ceylon It
is an island country on the southern tip of India. A direct flight from Japan
to Sri Lanka takes approximately nine-and-a-half hours. The total area of this
country is slightly smaller than the island of Hokkaido.
In Sri Lanka, 70 percent of the population are believers
of Hinayana Buddhism. The national government prioritizes and supports Hinayana
Buddhism. There are many Hinayana Buddhist priests among the members of the
national government authorities. Based on these conditions, Nichiren Shoshu
priests have not been permitted at this time to reside permanently in the
country to engage in propagation activities. As a result, we must travel there
two or three times a year for short periods to perform the Gojukai Ceremony,
guidance meetings, study sessions, memorial services, and home visitations.
As is the
case in Indonesia, many of the Sri Lankan believers only can only dream
about going on a tozan pilgrimage, since it is extremely difficult to raise the
money to do so.
There is a Sri Lankan husband and wife who are determined
to go as a family on this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity tozan pilgrimage this
year. Since several months ago, they placed their children in the care of their
parents, and they have both gone to work away from home in the Middle Eastern
country of Kuwait.
for one person to go on a tozan pilgrimage from Sri Lanka is about the entire
annual salary of a white-collar office worker. The cost soars exponentially for
an entire family to go on tozan.
Moreover, if a Sri Lankan person does not obtain an entry visa to Japan, he
would be denied entry into the country and, therefore, would not be able to
visit the Head Temple. There are tremendous obstacles in place to obtain this
visa, such as showing proof of sufficient funds in one’s bank account. In other
words, however much an individual wants to go on a tozan pilgrimage, he cannot
do so unless he can prove that he is financially secure.
I hope that you can now see how a trip to Japan and the
tozan pilgrimage for these individuals are truly remote endeavors, far beyond
mere physical distance.
their sincere veneration and adulation for the Head Temple continues to
intensify. For many years, the Sri Lankan believers have lived in the midst of
a war zone between the government and anti-government terrorist organizations
and have had all too many encounters with death. It is precisely because the
Sri Lankan believers sincerely pray for upholding justice to achieve peace and
tranquility in the land (rissho ankoku)
that they are ever more determined to participate in the Overseas Believers
Tozan this year.
certain that you are familiar with the story of Nichimyo Shonin, who traveled
the distant route from Kamakura to Sado with her infant daughter, Oto-gozen, to
have an audience with the Daishonin. In a letter addressed to Nichimyo Shonin,
the Daishonin wrote the following:
determination of these individuals is manifested in their willingness to travel
(“Letter to Oto-gozen’s Mother,” Gosho, p. 688)
Thus, the Daishonin praises Nichimyo Shonin’s faith. He
explains that a person’s determination in faith can be seen by one’s
willingness to travel long distances to worship.
The Sri Lankan believers have received tremendous
benefits from the Gohonzon, and they truly desire to repay their debts of
gratitude. If they could, they would like nothing better than to be able to
come on a tozan pilgrimage themselves and directly express their gratitude to
the Dai-Gohonzon and our High Priest.
They thought about how they could repay their debts of
gratitude, since in their current circumstances they lack the means to make
Gokuyo offerings and to go on tozan. They realized that if they mustered forth
their courage, they would be able to do shakubuku. Thus, the Sri Lankan
believers have channeled their desire to repay their debts of gratitude into
shakubuku activities. As a result, I have seen great improvement in what, at
first, had seemed like hand-to-mouth existences. When I met some of them the
next time, they happily informed me that their lives had improved to the extent
that they could make a small Gokuyo offering. Then, when I met them on my next
visit after that, they told me that they could participate in the next tozan
pilgrimage. There are numerous such Sri Lankan believers whose life
circumstances have shown tremendous improvement in a short span of time.
shakubuku force in Sri Lanka has been tremendous. In the past ten years, more
than 9,000 people there have received Gojukai, and more than 6,500 individuals
have received the Gohonzon. When I visit Sri Lanka every six months, I conduct
the Gojukai ceremony each time for more than 800 persons and I bestow the
Gohonzon to 600 individuals in a single day. This begins with morning Gongyoat 7:00 and continues until 1:00 p.m.
shakubuku statistics are tremendous in Sri Lanka. Indeed, the believers
experience great hardships and dangers in their finances and public safety, but
they remain joyful in their shakubukuefforts.
From their actual experiences, they learned that shakubukuwill enable them to become happy and to make others happy as well.
Wherever they are, even if they are in the jungle, they passionately uphold
their mission and advance in their shakubuku efforts.
of years, these individuals sincerely practiced Hinayana Buddhism, which they
inherited from generations of their ancestors. However, they saw no results or
benefits and they never gained any hope in life. When they encountered the True
Buddha and the Gohonzon, they recognized the great fundamental change that took
place in their lives, their daily existence, their purpose in life, and their
way of life.
morning and evening Gongyo, we recite the following from the Juryo chapter:
I will leave this good medicine
here. You should take it and not worry that it will not cure you. (Ze ko ro yaku. Kon ru zai shi. Nyo ka shu
buku. Mottsu fu sai. )
(Hokekyo, p. 437; The Lotus Sutra, Watson, p. 228)
This passage gives
instructions for one to take the medicine without being concerned that it may
not be effective.
we hear all the time that the Gohonzon’s benefits are tremendous, we tend to
evaluate these benefits of the Buddha within the confines of conventional
knowledge. We are prone to arbitrarily to restrict the
possibilities by thinking, “Whatever the circumstances may be, this couldn’t
possibly come true.” Thus, we make arbitrary limitations. It would seem logical
that we only
would only be able to receive benefits that
are proportionate to such restrictive estimations.
Similarly, in doing
shakubuku, we may be placing preconceived limitations on ourselves by thinking,
“Maybe it would be impossible to shakubuku this person,” or “It’s difficult
because I have not extensively studied t extensively the
Buddhist principles.” Based on our shallow wisdom and experience, we arbitrarily may
determining the results of our shakubuku efforts, even before we act.
Since 2002—when we were
first presented with the objective to double the number of the Bodhisattvas of
the Earth—until today, Sri Lanka has achieved exemplary shakubuku results by
quadrupling the number of Nichiren Shoshu households from 1,800 to 7,200.
Frequently, those who received Gojukai during one of my visits immediately would
do shakubuku and be waiting to sponsor several individuals to
receive Gojukai by my next visit, six months later. We truly cannot expect
these new believers to possess extensive knowledge about the principles of
Buddhism. They are simply overjoyed that they have been able to encounter the
True Buddha, and this enthusiasm immediately connects them to the Gohonzon and
enables them to receive benefits. Then, they honestly tell other individuals
about the joy of receiving their benefits. In am convinced that
this singularly unwavering faith in the Gohonzon is the essential driving force
for the incredible development of the great shakubuku efforts in Sri Lanka.
I am certain that this year, as we
celebrate the 750th Anniversary of Revealing the
Truth and Upholding Justice through the Submission of the Rissho ankoku-ron, we all feel that we live in a world in which any
tragic occurrence anywhere on the planet would come as no surprise to us.
We are currently in the midst of a 100-day Daimoku
campaign. Our High Priest Nichinyo Shonin presented us with the following
you all to use the precious experiences and benefits that you gain as a result
of chanting this Daimoku to focus on doing shakubuku, the best means of
achieving salvation for all mankind, for the sake of the world and all people.
All of you
assembled here today will now attend the Gokaihi Ceremony and have an audience
with the Dai-Gohonzon. As you do so, I ask each of you to keep in mind even a
small portion of what I have talked about on this occasion and “unite with one
mind” to sincerely
pray sincerely for the achievement of peace
and tranquility through upholding justice (rissho
ankoku) not only in Japan, but throughout the entire world. Furthermore, I
ask you to pray for the accomplishment of your own shakubuku goals and the
great success of the upcoming Great Assembly of 75,000 Believers. I also ask
that, when you return home, you put your thoughts into action. This is the only
means to bring peace to Japan and the world as a whole. It is also is
the most wonderful way of life, through which you will be able to elevate your
own life condition and easily and calmly overcome whatever obstacles you may
I pray for your
continued good health. Thank you for your kind attention.