QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS ON NICHIREN SHOSHU BASICS OF PRACTICE
OCTOBER 2014, PP.14-17
The most significant ceremony for priesthood and laity of Nichiren Shoshu is the Oeshiki Ceremony. Most of us cerebrate this ceremony last October 13th or close to that date. At the Head Temple Taisekiji, the Oeshiki Ceremony is held yearly on November 20 and 21. Nichiren Daishonin passed away at the residence of the believer Ikegami Munenaka in Bushu-Ikegami (present day Ota-ward in Tokyo) on October 13, 1282 (fifth year of Koan).
The Oeshiki is the ceremony to repay our debt of gratitude, and to clelbrate the fact that the Daishonin manifested his eternal appearance as True Buddha through his passing away. The Jigage portion of the Juryo chapter of the Lotus Sutra that we recite every morning and evening state: “…at times I appear to be extinct, at other times not….” (Hokkekyo, p.440; The Lotus Sutra, Watson, p.230) The Buddha’s life ends for the time being when he passes away. However, as it is stated in the Juryo chapter: “…Constantly I have dwelled on Holy EaglePeak…Constantly I have preached the Law, teaching converting….”(ibid., pp.229-230). As these passages indicate, the Buddha is always here in this world and guiding us, ordinary people, to attain enlightenment. The revered manifestation of the Buddha who is extinct but not extinct is constantly present throughout the three existences.
Although the Daishonin passed away on October 13, 1282, his life continually exists as the Dai-Gohonzon of the High Sanctuary of the Essential Teaching at the Head Temple Taisekiji to guide us. Therefore, we celebrate the Daishonin’s revelation of his continual existence in the past, present, and future, and we repay our debt of gratitude.
Letters of Remonstration Are Letters of Shakubuku
At the Oeshiki Ceremony, the chief priest and six priests read the Rissho ankoku-ron and “the Letters of Remonstration,” which were written between 600 and 700 years ago. Have you ever seen priests reading letters on scrolls? The six scrolls of the “Letters of Remonstration” were written by the Daishonin, Second High Priest Nikko Shonin, Third High Priest Nichimuku Shonin, Fourth High Priest Nichido Shonin, Fifth High Priest Nichigyo Shonin and Ninth High Priest Nichiu Shonin, respectively. They are called the Letter of Kokushu kangyo, which means to shakubuku the head of the nation.
During the Kamakura period, in the Daishonin’s time, people suffered tremendously because of the great earthquake, bad weather patterns that affected food production, and outbreak of epidemics. Also, foreign, and an outbreak of epidemics. Also, foreign affairs were in disarray due to the Mongolian invasion of Japan. Thus the country was in extreme chaos. Though praying for the peace of the Nation, the Kamakura government, ruled by the Shogun and his secretary, were devoted to erroneous religions, such as the Nembutsu and Shingon sects. However, the single, best way to govern the country successfully is through adherence to the true Law of the Lotus Sutra—Nam-Myoho-Renge-Kyo. Only by discarding erroneous teachings can we create a happy world that is truly peaceful and free from famine and epidemics.
Therefore, the Daishonin wrote the Rissho ankoku-ron, the letter of shakubuku, on July 16, 1260 (first year of Bunno) and sent it to the Kamakura government. Of course, afterward, the Daishonn continued to do shakubukuat every possible opportunity. After the Daishonin passed away, Nikko Shonin, Nichimoku Shonin, and each successive High Priest shakubukued people in power in the government and Imperial Court. These letters of shakubuku are “Letter of Remonstration.”
Our Vow to Do Shakubuku to repay Our Debt of Gratitude
It is said that the life of the Daishonin begins and ends with the Rissho ankokuron. In order to save everyone, the Daishonin risked his life to conduct shakubuku. The common theme of the Rissho ankoku-ron and “Letters of Remonstration” is to uphold the correct Law through discarding slander. The essence of shakubuku is to propagate the Daishonin’s Buddhism and discard erroneous teachings. This is the core. The ceremony involving the recitation of the Rissho ankoku-ron and the “Letter of Remonstration” contains the very important meaning that each of us who visit the temple vow to do shakubuku with the Daishonin’s spirit as our sample. Let’s visit the temple with our family members and firmly repay our debt of gratitude to the Daishonin.
What we can do now for kosen-rufu is to shakubuku people around us, one by one. The fact that the priesthood and laity all over the world are striving to do shakubuku toward achieving our goal under High Priest Nichinyyo Shonin’s guidance is a manifestation of practicing the Daishonin’s teaching correctly and following the spirit of the Rissho ankoku-ron and the “Letters of Remonstration.” Through Gongyo and Shodai, let us do all we can to achieve our objective.