Celebrating the Declaration
of True Buddhism
In the early morning of April 28, 1253, Nichiren Daishonin, age
32, stood alone in Kasagamori forest at the top of Seicho-zan Mountain waiting
for dawn. As the sun rose above the Pacific Ocean, Nichiren Daishonin joined
his hands in prayer and began to chant the Daimoku: “Nam-Myoho-Renge-Kyo,
A Brief History of Nichiren Daishonin
Zennichi-maro entered the priesthood at Seichoji Temple in Awa
Province (now Chiba Prefecture) when he was 12 years old. He studied hard under
his master Dozen-bo and excelled. As an acolyte, he had prayed to Space
Repository (Kokuzo), the bodhisattva who represents the wisdom of the universe,
to become the wisest priest in all of Japan. At the age of 16, he was formally
ordained and given the name Zesho-bo Rencho. He moved to Kamakura to further
his studies and for more than a decade, he assiduously researched Buddhist
doctrines, at centers such as Kyoto and Nara.
Young Zesho-bo Rancho found the answers he had been seeking and
confidently came to understand that the root of all people’s suffering is their
faith in inferior, powerless, heretical teachings. He realized that the only
true teaching in the Latter Day of the Law was Nam-Myoho-Renge-Kyo hidden in
the depths of the Juryo chapter of the Lotus Sutra.
Zesho-bo Rencho began to realize that he was born with the mission
of Bodhisattva Jogyo, who was predicted in the Lotus Sutra to propagate the
true Law of the Latter Day. He also realized that to denounce the
misconceptions of the prevailing sects would certainly begin a life of
persecutions, as was also predicted in the Lotus Sutra.
On April 28, 1253, Zesho-bo Rencho renamed himself Nichiren (Sun
Lotus). He then entered Seichoji Temple where priests and believers had
gathered to hear his first sermon. He already was known as one accomplished in
both practice and study of Buddhism. They waited for him in Jibutsudo Hall. He
began his first sermon to establish true Buddhism. His clear voice resounded
throughout the hall, easily winning over and influencing his audience through
his righteous bearing, fluent speech, and tremendous knowledge. But as his
sermon progressed, the attitude of those in the hall changed, first to surprise
and then to intense hostility.
In that sermon, the Daishonin carefully
clarified the characteristics of those living in the Latter Day of the Law, and
told them that Shakyamuni’s Buddhism no longer held any power to relieve their
suffering. He further uncompromisingly declared that all of the other Buddhist
sects propagated at that time could not help them. He indicted Nembutsu as a
teaching that would cause people to fall into a state of hell. He especially condemned
the teachings of Zen Buddhism as a devilish source of trouble. He thus
explained why there was confusion in society, upheaval and disintegration of
the public order, why the hearts of the people were demoralized, and the
country plagued by natural disasters. Nichiren Daishonin told them that these
conditions were caused by faith and practice of heretical religions. Because he
knew that only Nam-Myoho-Renge-Kyo was able to save people in the Latter Day of
the Law, the Daishonin admonished them to give up Nembutsu, Zen, and other
provisional teachings immediately and to take faith in the true Law of
The steward of the area, Tojo Kagenobu, who was a confirmed
Nembutsu believer, became furious after hearing this and ordered his warriors
to arrest the Daishonin. Nichiren Daishonin managed to narrowly escape with the
help of two of his seniors, Joken-bo and Gijo-bo. After converting his parents
and giving them the Buddhist names Myonichi to his father and Myoren to his
mother, he headed for Kamakura to launch his lifelong propagation activities.
The Power and the Compassion of Nam-Myoho-Renge-Kyo
During his lifetime, Tojo Kagenobu, whose ignorance of the meaning
of the Daishonin’s sermon turned to hatred and anger, fell into a hellish life
condition. He is said to have died in a fit of mental anguish. Nonetheless, due
to the absolute compassion that characterizes the mystic Law, even this kind of
negative relationship to the Daishonin’s teachings can be a cause through which
one eventually will be able to attain enlightenment. In other words, according
to the power and compassion of Nam-Myoho-Renge-Kyo, the Buddhism of sowing,
people who slander, like Kagenobu, must fall into hell once in their lifetime.
They do, however, find their way to true Buddhism through their reverse
relationship with it. This is the way and power of the Law encompassed by the
The Daishonin’s declaration and establishment of true Buddhism
encompasses all believers and slanderers and both good and evil. The ultimate
significance of the Daishonin’s declaration lies in the fact that the seed of
enlightenment, the mystic Law, was sown for all humankind and the entire
The Daishonin’s absolute mercy, the essence of
Nam-Myoho-Renge-Kyo, is capable of permeating all lands, people, and the five
components of life: form, perception, conception, volition, and consciousness.
Thus, by voicing the mystic Law on April 28, 1253, the seed was sown for these
three realms of existence to become the manifestation of enlightenment. The
mystic Law is absolute and not dependent upon the awareness of the people, be
they believers or slanderers.
The significance of the annual Risshu-e Ceremony is to
express our gratitude to Nichiren Daishonin. Through his profound mercy, he
overcame tremendous obstacles to establish true Buddhism for all eternity.
Hence, we commemorate this day by making the determination to follow the
Daishonin’s example of teaching everyone about Nam-Myoho-Renge-Kyo.