QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS ON
NICHIREN SHOSHU BASICS OF PRACTICE
NOVEMBER 2016, PP.18-21
The Name of Taisekiji
Did you know that Nichiren Shoshu temples have both a temple name and a mountain name? The mountain name is called the sango. Since ancient times, Buddhist temples usually were built in the mountains, because it was the most suitable place for Buddhist practice. Due to this legacy, temples have both a temple name and a mountain name. For example, the temple in Los Angeles is called Enichizan Myohoji Temple. “Enichizan,” the mountain name, is translated as “Merciful Sun Mountain.” Do you know the mountain name of Taisekiji? It is “Taho-Fuji-Dainichi-Renge-zan.”
This is long, difficult name. Some may suppose that Taisekiji means “The Head Temple” is not a sango, it is a correct way of referring to Taisekiji, because this phrase indicates a temple that unites a sect of Buddhism. Therefore, since Taisekiji is the great root and the central temple of Nichiren Shoshu, it is called “Nichiren Shoshu Head Temple.”
Head Temple Taisekiji was established on October 12, 1290 (the third year of Sho’o), 727 years ago by the second High Priest Nikko Shonin. The temple name, Tai (great) seki (stone) ji (temple), comes from the name of the land where it was built, “Ohishigahara” (Great Stone Field).
Taisekiji is the Supreme Land
High Priest Nikko Shonin inherited the entirety of true Buddhism from Nichiren Daishonin in 182 (the fifth year of Ko’an). After the Daishonin’s passing, Nikko Shonin became the chief priest of Minobusan Kuonji Temple. However, a few year later, Hagiri Sanenaga, the steward of Minobu, started to slander, enticed by a priest named Minbu Nikko. No matter how hard his master Nikko Shonin tried to admonish him, Hagiri Sanenaga did not change his behavior. Thus, Nikko Shonin left Mount Minobu in the spring of 1289 to spread the law into eternity for the sake of worldwide propagation. He took with him all the Daishonin’s treasures, including the Dai-Gohonzon. He believed that if he stayed at Minobu any longer, the Daishonin’s Buddhism would be tainted.
Nikko Shonin went to the household of a sincere believer, Nanjo Tokimitsu, the lord of Fuji Ueno, who had invited him to his estate. The following year on October 12, 1290. Taisekiji was established on the tract of land called Ohishigahara, donated by Tokimitsu. Mt. Fuji is to the northeast of Taisekiji. When seen from the Head Temple, Mt. Fuji looks symmetrical and majestic Taisekiji, which overlooks Mt. Fuji, is the sacred place where the Dai-Gohozon of the high Sanctuary is enshrined. In “The Document for Entrusting the Law that Nichiren Propagated Throughout His Life,” the Daishonin gave Nikko Shonin the following instructions:
…establish the [True] High Sanctuary of Honmonji Temple at Mt. Fuji (Gosho, p.1675)
Each successive High Priest has protected and inherited every aspect of the Daishonin’s teaching to this day. Currently, Sixty-eighth High Priest Nichinyo Shonin is the chief priest of Head Temple Taisekiji, and he teaches and guides us. ‘Taisekiji’ is the center of Nichiren Shoshu. As stated, the Head Temple Taisekiji is the supreme land where the Dai-Gohonzon and the High Priest reside.
The Spirit of Tozan
The purpose of visiting Taisekiji is to have an audience with the Dai-Gohonzon of the High Sanctuary. In ancient times, believers went on tozan, walking long distances for many days, propelled by the whole-hearted desire to see the Daishonin. After long hours of travel, when they finally arrived, they served Daishoninsincerely, staying manydaysout of theire desire to serve him as much as possible. Their attitude is described accurately in the Life Span of the Tathagata (Nyorai juryo; sixteenth) chapter of the Lotus sutra as follows:
All harbor thoughts of yearning and in their minds thirst to gaze at me.
….single-mindedly desiring to see the Buddha…
(Lotus Sutra, Watson, p.230)
This means seeking the Buddhas, just like the way we yearn to see our loved ones every day, or how we long for water when we are thirsty. We truly should thankful that we can go on tozan using convenient transportation such as cars, trains, and planes. Let us pursue our faith and practice to seek the Daishonin forever. We should have a profound audience with the Dai-Gohonzon and chant vigorous Daimoku at the Head Temple.
Nichiren Shoshu Monthly, March 2017, p.10-11