New Year's Day has been celebrated in various ways since ancient
times and marks the renewal of a person's determination to open the way
happiness. In the Gosho, "Reply to Akimoto" ("Akimoto dono gohenji")
Nichiren Daishonin states:
In considering the order of the five seasonal festivals, we find
that they correspond respectively to the five characters of Myoho-Renge-Kyo.
New Year's Day celebrates the character Myo. (Gosho, p. 334)
Myoho-Renge-Kyo is the ultimate Law that activates the original
energy of all life and existence. The Sutra of Infinite Meaning (Muryogi
states that, "All phenomena are derived from the one Law." Our lives are based
on the ultimate truth of Myoho-Renge-Kyo, whether we know it or not. Therefore,
when we correctly carry out the practice of Nam-Myoho-Renge-Kyo, we are making
the fundamental cause for unshakeable happiness to grow within our lives.
The Law of Nam-Myoho-Renge-Kyo was revealed by Nichiren Daishonin,
the True Buddha in the Latter Day of the Law, who possesses the complete
understanding of the essential teaching of the Lotus Sutra. The Daishonin was
the person who actualized the true Law within his life as the True Buddha. All
people can attain enlightenment when they fuse with the life of the True Buddha
by chanting Nam-Myoho-Renge-Kyo to the Gohonzon.
Nichiren Daishonin states:
New Year's Day marks the first day, the first month, the beginning
of the year and the start of spring. A person who celebrates this day will gain
virtue and be loved by all, just as the moon becomes full gradually, moving
from west to east, and the sun shines more brightly traveling from east to
west. (Gosho, p. 1551; M.W., Vol. 1, p. 27l)
Nichiren Daishonin also states, "To accept is easy; to continue is
difficult but Buddhahood lies in continuing faith." (Gosho
, p. 775; M.W.
Vol. l, p. l27)
Keeping correct faith in the Daishonin's Buddhism with the fresh
spirit of one's new year determination is the only way to accumulate great
benefit and to achieve great results from one's efforts.
In the Gosho, "The Daimoku of the Lotus Sutra," Nichiren Daishonin
' means to revive, that is, to return to life." (Gosho
p. 360; M.W.
, Vol. 3, p. 23) The Chinese character "Myo"
Myoho-Renge-Kyo contains many profound meanings and this profundity
characterizes Myoho-Renge-Kyo. Myoho
has the function of revitalizing
the ineffectual teachings of provisional Buddhas. When we believe in and carry
out the practice of chanting Nam-Myoho-Renge-Kyo, our lives, which have been
poisoned by provisional teachings and negative karma, will change into lives of
enlightenment. In Buddhism, the word "revive" means to change our evil nature
into a higher life-condition and to attain Buddhahood.
Making determinations and chanting Nam-Myoho-Renge-Kyo indicates
the significance of New Year's Day. Even though one may be dressed in beautiful
clothes and filled with determination for the new year, without chanting
Daimoku, determinations will be short-lived and self-centered. When the
festivities are over, one simply returns to a world of delusion and old
In the strictest sense, a genuine New Year's Day Ceremony is
carried out only by Nichiren Shoshupriests and believers who are sincerely practicing to the Gohonzon of
the Three Great Secret Laws. We, who bask in the benefit of the True Buddha's
mercy, should recognize New Year's Gongyo as a most profound and auspicious
ceremony that encompasses the meaning of the True Buddha's enlightenment of
(time without beginning or end).
As Nichiren Shoshu believers, we should put New Year's Gongyo
first, before other activities. By performing a vigorous
first Gongyo of the
year, we become determined to maintain sincere, steadfast faith. We also should
strive to develop a confident practice for ourselves and others throughout the
Each year, the High Priest performs a solemn New Year's Gongyo
with priests and believers at the Head Temple Taisekiji. Through this ceremony,
they are able to show their heartfelt appreciation to the three treasures of
Nichiren Shoshu and pray for worldwide propagation, world peace, and happiness
for all humankind. Following Gongyo, the High Priest gives warm guidance to all
believers, and each participant receives a cup of saké from the offerings made
to the Dai-Gohonzon. Each local temple also conducts New Year's Gongyo
following the Nichiren Shoshu tradition of celebrating New Year's Day.