ON RUBBING THE PRAYER BEADS
Q:  I notice you rub your beads often. What is the significance of that?

RH:  It' just a bad habit. There's no deep meaning to my rubbing of the beads.
It's just my habit. Definitely rubbing the beads fiercely, forcefully or excessively
is something we should not do.  Do not place the beads up towards your mouth
because it echoes. The correct posture is to place your hands together in front
of your chest. Rubbing the beads just a little is okay, but it has no meaning.
ON UNDERSTANDING THE LOTUS SUTRA
The Lotus Sutra is presented as a pageant or a Broadway musical, explaining
how the Buddha became enlightened, how he came to be. Each part of the Lotus
Sutra explains this. So the phrase
Niji seson ju sanmai is translated to mean "at
that moment the Buddha was enlightened."  It's hard to recite the Lotus Sutra
everyday without understanding what is written. To understand a little would be
helpful.
ON SANGE
Sange (prayer of contrition) is something you do at the outset of your belief in
this Buddhism. It is not only apologizing for what you've done, it is committing to
what you will do to improve, correct, or make right the next time. Sange is
included in the fourth prayer.
ON VEGETARIANISM
Q:  I grew up as a Shingon Buddhist. We abstained from eating the flesh of
animals, including fish and poultry, on the first anniversary memorial of a
deceased person. We only ate vegetables. What are your thoughts on this?

RH:  Vegetables are like people. It's not right that you can eat vegetables but not
animals. It's all life. If you are concerned about eating life you have to realize that
all things that we need to nourish our bodies are alive or have had life. Thinking
this way you would have to eliminate everything. There is scientific proof that
when you begin to cut a cabbage, for example, the cabbage signals
telepathically through electric energy that it hurts. A plant has the same life value
as an animal. It is wrong to think that you can eat a vegetable, but should not eat
an animal, unless of course it is for medicinal reasons.
ON HAVING NO PRECEPTS
In Nichiren Daishonin's Buddhism there isn't anything that you cannot eat, wear
or do. Nothing like that is specified. The only specifications in this Buddhism is
that you can't believe what you want - believing in a little bit of this from this
religion, and a little bit of that from that religion. There are no prohibitions against
sex, smoking, drinking. Catholic priests and nuns have to abstain from sex. They
have to be celibate and live chastely. That's not true of the clergy in Nichiren
Daishonin's Buddhism. A religion should not prohibit sex or the drinking of
alcohol, or instruct you on what you should or should not eat. A religion should
not limit your life. Priests and lay people are not different in what they desire. We
are all human beings. Therefore in Nichiren Daishonin's Buddhism there is no
prohibition against any desire. There are no restrictions.
ON JUDGING OTHERS
Lay believers should be able to judge a priest by what he is doing, and not allow
him to do whatever he pleases. You should be able to judge someone by
whether they are focusing on the Law, or concentrating on trying to follow the
Law. We all have the Buddha nature. Even if you hate someone, or are angry
with someone, the person you hate still has the Buddha nature. Therefore the
issue at hand is not whether a person is fundamentally evil, it is whether they
have done something wrong. A person who does not believe in this Buddhism is
not entirely separated from
Namu-myoho-renge-kyo. Namu-myoho-renge-kyo is
multifaceted, and is represented in what is best in an individual even if he or she
does not believe in the Law. So if you see someone doing something wrong you
must admonish them, for if you don't you are guilty of the same offense as they
are. Your silence suggests you agree with them.
ON RIGHT AND WRONG AND BUDDHAHOOD
There are so many different people in this world. Even if they chant Daimoku and
have the same faith as we do, they may still act and think differently. Each
country has its own laws. And there are people within every country who try to
figure out ways to break the laws. They cheat other people, and disregard the
laws. On the other hand there are also people who don't even have to think
about the laws, yet they obey them and live lawfully.  But with regard to faith,
there are just a few people who live a life based on faith. Daishonin said, "To
accept [faith] is easy; to continue is difficult. But continuing faith will lead to
Buddhahood."

No matter how much a wrongdoer tries to be right and professes to be right, he
will never attain enlightenment. It is not only the person who is committing the
wrong. Those who follow a wrongdoer must give consideration to
eho-fue-nin --
relying on the law, not on persons.
ON ADMONISHING SLANDER
Nichiren Daishonin's teacher, Dozenbo, carved Amida Buddha statutes. The
Daishonin told him, "If you write Namu
Amida Butsu six times you will fall into hell
six times. If you write it seven times, you will fall into hell seven times. You can't
make an object of worship half way; your whole self goes into making an object
of worship." The Daishonin warned Dozenbo of his fate directly, and at the time
the slander was being committed.
ON THE DAI-GOHONZON
Many people believe that the DaiGohonzon at Taisekiji represents the high
sanctuary. But it doesn't. Why was the DaiGohonzon inscribed? It was the spirit
of the people of Atsuhara, who remained steadfast in their faith when confronted
with the government's persecution, which inspired the inscription of the
DaiGohonzon. So many people hold the belief that the physical presence of the
DaiGohonzon is the most significant thing, when it is actually the seeking mind of
every believer that is of primary importance. The DaiGohonzon at Taisekiji and
our own Gohonzons are equal.
THOUGHTS
By Reverend Raido Hirota
2001
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the Nichiren Shoshu Shoshin-kai
Translated and edited by Udumbara Foundation staff.