New Year’s Address
High Priest Nichinyo Shonin
January 1, 2013
As we welcome the early spring of the New Year, the 761st anniversary of the establishment of true Buddhism, I am extremely pleased that our Honorable Retired High Priest Nikken Shonin has also welcomed this New Year in good health and high spirits.
I am convinced that all Hokkeko members in each overseas country have welcomed this New Year with refreshed spirits.
Last year, the growing momentum of shakubuku around the world was worthy of “The Year of Advancing Kosen-rufu Through Shakubuku”. Shakubuku activities were widely known and deeply understood through the unity of “itai-doshin”, “harmony between priesthood and lay believers”, firm faith with the spirit that “one’s body is insignificant while the Law is supreme”, and “willing to give one’s life to propagate the Law.” By doing so, we Nichiren Shoshu experienced great progress toward the achievement of our goals toward the years 2015 and 2021.
This is entirely because each chapter fervently built single-minded unity and stood up for achieving each shakubuku goal, and this brings me nothing but joy.
This year, “The Year of Advancing in Unity,” I pray from the bottom of my heart that every Temple and group will further strengthen unity, and that all chapters will develop great advancement toward the achievement of shakubuku goals by bringing forth the full scope of their potential, and continuously advance forth by conducting great shakubuku activities at all times and in various places.
Thus it is important that each Temple and group first make concrete annual plans specifically for achieving shakubuku, preparing both short and long-term goals for each activity. Then with the same resolve, everyone must exert forth utmost efforts in the advancement of shakubuku.
Without this basic plan within the organization, action will become meandering and unstable like that of “a ship without a helm” or “a horse without a bit”, and goals cannot be accomplished.
Therefore, the entire Hokkeko should maintain a strong sense of purpose, and should carry the same aspiration to foster the unity of itai-doshin and the accomplishment of shakubuku goals. It is important to carry out shakubuku activities that involve all members with unity in the Hokkeko even though there may be various ways that members attend shakubuku activities.
In other words, if all your actions are entirely carried out in itai-doshin, you will establish a strong circle of solidarity that will never be defeated by obstacles. You will be able to achieve shakubuku goals by forming a solid and active Hokkeko.
Nichiren Daishonin states the following on the importance of itai-doshin (many in body, one in mind) in the “Heritage of the Ultimate Law of Life and Death”:
All disciples and believers of Nichiren should chant Nam-Myoho-Renge-Kyo in itai-doshin (many in body, one in mind) without attachment to their own minds, to become as inseparable as fish and the water in which they swim. This is called the Heritage of the ultimate law of life and death. This is the object of Nichiren’s propagation. When you are so united, even the great aspiration for Kosen-rufu can be fulfilled without fail. But among Nichiren’s disciples, if there are persons who practice in itai-ishin (many in body, differences in mind), it would be as in the case of the owner of a castle who destroys his own castle from within. (Gosho page 514)
The Daishonin teaches the importance of itai-doshin in other Goshos as well. As with anything, when accomplishing something, one will obtain good results when one joins powers as opposed to separating them. In the same way, without the unity of itai-doshin, we can not achieve the great aspiration for Kosen-rufu.
The key to obtaining the unity of itai-doshin and spirit and courage to conduct shakubuku is the practice of Shodai.
The characteristic point of the Temples and groups around the world that are actively conducting shakubuku is that Shodai has been conducted with full effort by the Hokkeko.
Shodai and shakubuku are inseparably related. When you conduct shakubuku, you must carry out Shodai first. There may be persons who are unable to physically attend shakubuku activities due to various circumstances; however, it is important to attend the Temple and group Shodai Ceremonies and to pray for the achievement of shakubuku with full efforts of the Hokkeko.
The Daishonin states the following in “How Those Initially Aspiring to the Way Can Attain Buddhahood through the Lotus Sutra”:
On the teaching of Myoho-Renge-Kyo: The Buddha nature inherent in us, human beings; the Buddha nature of Bonten, Taishaku and the other deities; the Buddha nature of Shariputra, Maudgalyayana and the other shomon disciples; the Buddha nature of Manjushri, Maitreya and the other bodhisattvas; and the mystic Law that is the enlightenment of all the Buddhas of the three existences, are one and identical; this principle is called Myoho-Renge-Kyo. Therefore, when once we chant Myoho-Renge-Kyo, with just that single sound we summon forth and manifest the Buddha nature of all Buddhas; all dharmas; all bodhisattvas; all shomon disciples; all the deities such as Bonten, Taishaku, King Emma; the sun, the moon, the myriad stars, the heavenly gods and earthly deities, on down to hell-dwellers, hungry spirits, beasts, asuras, humans, gods and all other living beings. This benefit is immeasurable and boundless. (Gosho page 1320)
I hope that all of you will engrave these golden words in your hearts and that each Hokkeko believer will seriously carry out the practice of Shodai with praying for the achievement of shakubuku goals with absolute conviction in the Dai-Gohonzon. I also hope that you will put forth ceaseless efforts to further conduct this practice with the understanding that conducting shakubuku with the benefits and joy gained from Shodai is the key to accomplishing each shakubuku goal.
In particular, in November of this year, the Major Renovation Ceremony of the Image Hall (Mieidō)will be held as the commemorative event of The 750th Anniversary of Revealing the Truth and Upholding Justice through the Submission of the Rissho Ankoku Ron. With regard to shakubuku, we must surely achieve each shakubuku goal in concert with this auspicious event.
Therefore, this year, “The Year of Advancing in Unity”, Hokkeko believers around the world should conduct Shodai and shakubuku in itai-doshin and solidarity, and then all temples and groups will surely achieve each shakubuku goal. I would like to conclude my New Year’s address by earnestly praying for your great advancement toward achieving each goal toward the upcoming years 2015 and 2021.