New Year’s Day Address
January 1, 2013
Reverend Shogu Kimura
Happy New Year to you in this “The Year of Advancing in Unity”
We extend our heartfelt joy to our 68th High Priest Nichinyo Shonin and our 67th Honorable Retired High Priest Nikken Shonin who have both welcomed this new year in good health and high spirits and who send their compassion, instructions, and guidance to us, the priests and lay believers.
I have just completed the New Year’s gongyo and have sincerely prayed for all of you, in the year ahead, to put increasing efforts in your achievements and to redouble your faith. I have further prayed that you will enjoy a long and healthy life, that peace and harmony will reign in your families, that the Law will be successfully passed to your progeny, that you will achieve your shakubuku goals, and that all your prayers will come true.
Upholding the objective, “Today’s Shodai creates Tomorrow’s Shakubuku,” everyone in our chapter has been advancing forth to achieve the designated goals set for the years 2015 and 2021. In addition to doing the regular shakubuku activities, we held several Buddhist seminars at our temple, in the San Francisco area, and in the outlying regions. As a result, we were able to successfully achieve our objective last year on Septuember 13th. I am convinced that this is the manifest result of none other than your profound faith and your devotion in forging ahead to do shakubuku, your act of compassion based on your desire to bring salvation to as many people as possible and to actualize true world peace. It has been greatly encouraging for me to witness many believers who accomplished shakubuku and, at the same time, were able to overcome their own challenges. Moreover, we have even been able to see a situation in which new believers, who saw this precious transformation, were already able to successfully achieve their own shakubuku. Accordingly, throughout last year, our Hokkeko group, as a whole, was constantly full of joy, as a result of the benefits of chanting Daimoku and doing shakubuku.
Today, in the temples and throughout the various regions, our voices, full of joy, still continue to reverberate unceasingly throughout this vast land of America, as we remain confident that today’s shodai creates tomorrow’s shakubuku and advance forth with a smiling attitude that rivals the warm and strong rays of the California sun.
While we celebrate our accomplishments from last year, I have set our shakubuku goal for this year at 60 new believers, so that we can continue to achieve further advancement. The targeted time for achieving this goal is the end of September. It is extremely important to accomplish our goal in order to successfully achieve the designated objective for 2015.
The Daishonin states the following in his gosho, “Persecution by Sword and Staff” (Ueno dono gohenji):
By all means, you must believe in and devote yourself to the Lotus Sutra. Not only you must do so; encourage everyone in your family to take faith so your deceased parents and ancestors will be saved. Since I was born, I, Nichiren, have spent not one day, not even one moment, at leisure. I have focused solely upon the propagation of the Daimoku of the Lotus Sutra
(Gosho, p. 1361; The Gosho of Nichiren Daishonin-Vol. 1, p. 49-51)
We must thoroughly embrace and put into action the will of the Daishonin. We must advance forth with devotion to propagate the true Law to as many people as possible. True Buddhism will not spread naturally on its own. It must definitely be propagated through shakubuku by people who embrace the true Law. This is not a feat that can be accomplished by one person. The true Buddha land can only be established when we, as priests and lay believers, form a solid unity and advance forth with devotion towards kosen-rufu.
Once again this year, we have received three great objectives for action:
- To strengthen our faith and practice through consistent Gongyo and Shodai.
- To carry out shakubuku with unity between the priesthood and laity.
- To pilgrimages to the Head Temple in each country.
We just received guidance concerning these three objectives from our Overseas Department Chief Reverend Urushibata. It is our supreme benefit that we are able to advance forth with devotion and joy in our practice of shakubuku, based on doing gongyo and Daimoku, which are fundamental to our faith, and to be able to go and worship the Dai-Gohonzon.
I ask you all to renew your determinations and advance forth with devotion, as you pray for true world peace and your personal enlightenment.
The long-awaited Ceremony Commemorating the Completion of the Major Renovation of the Image Hall (Mieido) and the commemorative ceremony tozan pilgrimage will be held this year. In this significant year, let us further strengthen our solid unity and strive to achieve the early fulfillment of our shakubuku goals, based on the directions that we received today from our High Priest and the guidance from our Overseas Department Chief. Together with the priests and lay believers throughout the world, let us single-mindedly advance forth with sincere devotion, in solid unity between priests and lay believers, characterized by different bodies but one mind, so that we can all partake in the joy of achieving our designated objectives and propagating true Buddhism. Let us pledge to accomplish this and to be able to thoroughly repay our debt of gratitude to the Three Treasures of true Buddhism.
Let us successfully achieve our objectives without fail during this “The Year of Advancing in Unity”
I would like to conclude my address for today by sincerely praying for your continued good health and your ever-increasing achievements.Thank you very much for your attendance and kind attention.