When Nichiren Daishonin died it was his human life that ceased to exist, the
Buddhahood within his life and all life lives on. Demonstrating that this Buddhism
is eternal. We celebrate Oeshiki to honor Nichiren Daishonin, the eternal Buddha,
the human manifestation of the eternal Law of Myoho-renge-kyo.
Because Nichiren passed away on the 13th day of the month, we express our
appreciation to him with the Oko ceremony on the 13th day of every month to
remind us that the eternal Buddha is always present. In addition to this, it is of
great importance that once a year on October 13th all believers gather together
for a great celebration to honor this occasion. If you do not have time to get
together on this day make the time! Make the effort, no matter what. Let your
children, your whole family and all others know how important this day is. Explain
to them that we are celebrating the eternity of true Buddhism and the true
Buddha. Make it a festive day-a holiday! Exchange gifts, enjoy special foods, get
together with other believers and discuss Buddhism, for Oeshiki is as important to
us as Christmas is to Christians.
When people have a temple they take it for granted and do not attend often. It's
human nature. But what I urge is that at least one day a year you attend temple
[or convene in a home if you do not have a temple]. That day should be on
Oeshiki. On this day you should make offerings to the Gohonzon of paper lotus
flower lanterns and paper cherry blossoms, placing them decoratively around the
altar. [This is done because, although the thirteenth day of the tenth month, the
day Nichiren Daishonin died, was in late autumn/early winter, upon his death the
cherry blossoms on Mount Minobu bloomed miraculously, indicating that it was
not the end of the Buddha's life but the beginning of the advent on this earth of
the true Law of the true Buddha. The lanterns signify "the light the true Law
imparts to dispel the darkness of all mankind."] When you assemble in this place
and chant you will experience the oneness of master--Nichiren Daishonin--and
disciples--us--chanting Namu-myoho-renge-kyo together. In that single moment
you will be aware of being enlightened. To experience this is of great importance.
As human beings living in the mundane world we tend to only seek results and
rarely give a thought to what we are doing; it is the nature of the human condition
to always look toward the future. Contrary to this way of thinking, Nichiren
Daishonin teaches that the present is more important than the future [as both the
past and future are contained within this moment]. Our practice is not for receiving
benefits one month hence, one year hence or ten years hence. The reward of this
practice lies within a single moment of time. Within this isolated moment we
should feel both joy and peace [which springs forth from the same Buddha nature
inherent in all human life]. This is what is known as the Buddhism of original
cause or hon'inmyo.
This Buddhism of Nichiren Daishonin is based on the doctrine of original cause
(hon'inmyo) and not on hon'gamyo (the effect or harvesting, which is
Shakyamuni's Buddhism). [The doctrine of hon'inmyo "teaches that the nine
worlds are all present in the beginningless Buddhahood, and that Buddhahood
exists in the beginningless nine worlds."] The significance of practicing according
to hon'inmyo is that enlightenment--the original effect--exists now in this single
life-moment. Invoking Namu-myoho-renge-kyo-the original cause-brings it forth.
The reason we decorate the altar and honor and hold in high esteem the
occasion of the Buddha's death is that we believe the Buddha is with us at every
moment. The joyful feeling that we have on this occasion should be with us not
only once a year, but also every day of the year. Unfortunately as human beings
we cannot maintain this attitude for very long. It is for this reason that we
celebrate Oeshiki, to remind us that the Buddha is ever present.
The reason for holding a ceremony every 13th day of the month and honoring the
true Buddha during every morning and evening prayer is to recapture that special
feeling and to attain enlightenment. Maintaining that joy in our hearts is what we
want to do, whether we are standing, sitting, lying down or walking.
The practice of this Buddhism extends beyond sitting in front of Gohonzon.
Nichiren Daishonin's teachings are the fusion of the laws of Buddhism and the
laws of the world-there is no separation. We must keep this in our heart and live
Once a year, every year decorate your altar, make flowers and enjoy yourselves!
Everything you do demonstrates your faith.
By Reverend Ryodo Okamoto
|Translated and edited by Udumbara Foundation staff.
|This is NOT an official site of
the Nichiren Shoshu Shoshin-kai