People all over the world when confronted with hardships, sorrows or difficulties ponder over the fastest and easiest way to solve or to overcome these problems. Yet it is never simple nor easy to discover the root cause of sufferings in human life. Happiness, in the true sense does not merely mean being satiated with food, clothing and shelter nor does it signify simply living a life of comfort.
The Road to True Happiness
Nichiren Daishonin expounds in His teachings the One True Way to attain absolute and unwavering good fortune whereby all the people are able to fundamentally overcome the basic universal sufferings of being born, of old age, sickness and death as well as doubts and disillusionments which plague mankind, causing hardship and sorrow in life which no one can escape.
With strong commitment and a firm determination to make advancement in one's progress toward faith in the Daishonin 's True Law, every single believer, without exception, will be able to purify one's life, maintain both spiritual and physical health, bring joy to one's family, enrich one's life, and above all, transform all of one's misfortunes into good fortune, and thereby achieve true happiness. Likewise nations currently besieged with racial strife or those continually tormented by civil wars will be able to bring about true peace and prosperity to their beloved homeland.
Buddhism was first expounded nearly 3,000 years ago by Shakamuni who made his advent in India. During the first phase of his teaching which ranged 40 years, Shakamuni transcended beyond the barriers of sexual differences, class and social discriminations prevalent in his days to teach the Law in various ways according to the circumstances and capacity of his listeners in order to save as many people from different walks of life.
Shakamuni & Nichiren Daishonin
Then covering the last eight years of his life, Shakamuni expounded his ultimate purpose of his life, the Lotus Sutra, as the Supreme Vehicle for all mankind to attain enlightenment. In addition to this, he revealed the appearance of the True Buddha of infinite past of Kuon-ganjo. Furthermore, 2,000 years after his passing in an age rife with evil called Mappo, Shakamuni prophesied the advent of One who would replace him, the One True Original Buddha of Kuon-ganjo who will emerge to fundamentally lead all people in this world to the One True Path of enlightenment.
Two millennia after Shakamuni entered nirvana the teaching of Shakamuni in India as well as in such countries as China and Japan no longer held any power to relieve the sufferings of mankind. In this age of Mappo, as predicted in the Lotus Sutra expounded by Shakamuni Buddha, Nichiren Daishonin made His advent as the Votary of the Lotus Sutra of Ichien-Budai (the entire universe) to establish the True Buddhism with the Dai-Gohonzon of Nam-Myoho-Renge-Kyo of Kuon-ganjo as the essence of our faith.
Needless to mention individual wishes answered, the happiness of one's family granted, but on a much larger scale, countless people are emancipated from their sufferings, national and social justice and prosperity fostered; all the benefits and the attainment of Buddhahood of all mankind originating from the True Law and True Teachings of Nichiren Daishonin are brought forth through the noble practice of faith in the Supreme Object of Worship, the Gohonzon.
The Practice of Faith in Nichiren Shoshu
There are three essential elements to our practice - "faith", "practice" and "study".
The fulfillment of the above three noble requisites of practice, without doubt, assures one to realize one's individual wishes as well as promises one's family of happiness and prosperity in the two existences of present and future.
- The first requisite "faith" involves placing absolute trust in the Gohonzon and in the teaching of Nichiren Daishonin; and along with this, it is necessary to have absolute confidence in the validity of one's practice in the Supreme and Only True Law.
- The second point "practice" begins with one's resolution to practice sincerely, followed by doing morning and evening Gongyo every day to Gohonzon, and chanting the Daimoku of Nam-Myoho-Renge-Kyo in order to purify one's life. Next we share with our family, relatives, acquaintances and friends the greatness and the profundity of the Daishonin's teachings, pray for the happiness of all mankind, and together with other believers we strive to make advancement in faith and work toward mutual prosperity.
- The third and the final requisite "study" means to study the teaching of Nichiren Daishonin. Through the study of Nichiren Daishonin's Writings, the Gosho, as well as through the various sermons preached by the successive High Priests, one deepens the understanding of the Buddhist teachings transmitted down since The Daishonin's time so as to heighten the joys of practicing true faith and to elevate the life condition of one's faith.
The founding of Nichiren Shoshu begins with the birth of Nichiren Daishonin on February 16 in the first year of Jo'o (1222) in the land of Japan. He renounced the world to enter the Buddhist priesthood, an upon the thorough the fifth year of Kencho (1253) Nichiren Daishonin - aged 32 - revealed His ultimate realization, the enlightenment of Nan-Myoho-Renge-Kyo, the supreme Law and Wisdom of the True [Original] Buddha of Kuon-ganjo, and based on this realization made His declaration on the establishment of True Buddhism.
Nichiren Shoshu and The Head Temple
Ever since His declaration, Nichiren Daishonin encountered and endured countless oppressions and persecutions that included a night assault on His life in Kamakura, an execution attempt at Tatunokuchi and two sentences of banishment. Dauntlessly He continued the propagation of the Great Law if Nan-Myoho-Renge-Kyo; all the while, carrying on with His efforts to raise His disciples and followers, educating and fostering their understanding of Buddhism. On October 12, in the second year of Koan (1279) the Daishonin inscribed Dai-Gohonzon of the High Sanctuary of Honmon as the Supreme Object of Worship for the [sake of] eternal prosperity and happiness for all mankind. Following this, the Daishonin appointed Nikko Shonin as the Great Master of Propagation and His legitimate successor, bestowing upon Nikko Shonin all authority with regard to His Buddhism and with regard to the Gohonzon, Nichiren Daishonin passed away peacefully on October 13, in the fifth year of Koan (1282).
After the passing of Nichiren Daishonin, Hagiri Sanenaga, the load of the Minobu area, began to commit various acts of slander which were in direct opposition to the teaching of the Daishonin. Nikko Shonin, as the second head priest of Kuonji Temple at Mount Minobu, in order to protect the True Law and True Teaching bequeathed to him by his Beloved Maser, Nichiren Daishonin, was left with no other alternative but to leave Mount Minobu. In the second year of Sho'o (1289), accompanied by Nichimoku Shonin and his other disciples, Nikko Shonin left Mount Minobu, taking with them the Dai-Gohonzon of the High Sanctuary of Honmon as well as the other sacred treasures that belonged to the Daishonin. The following year, in the third year of Sho'o (1290) in October, under the generous support and protection of Nanjo Tokimitu, Head Temple Taisekiji was founded at the foot of Mt. Fuji in Ueno.
Since that time for the past 700 years, the One and Only True Buddhism of Nichiren Daishonin of the infinite past of Kuon-ganjo has been strictly protected and correctly transmitted down through the ages at the Nichiren Shoshu Head Temple Taisekiji.
Today all the believers of Nichiren Shoshu throughout the would fervently wish and love to make pilgrimages to Taisekiji which has developed into a Great Dojo (the place to practice True Buddhism) and a fountainhead for the movement for worldwide Kosen-Rufu.
At this time including the Head Temple Taisekiji, Nichiren Shoshu has 724 temples throughout Japan; additionally, overseas there are total of twelve temples in the following countries - the United States of America, Brazil, Spain, Ghana and the Republic of China (Taiwan) - and representative offices in Austria, France, Panama, Argentina, Srilanka, Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore and Hong Kong.
Nichiren Shoshu Temples
Each Nichiren Shoshu temple is solemnly endowed with the Three Treasure of True Buddhism - the Buddha, the Law and the Priesthood, and centers around the Gohonzon that has been inscribed and transmitted down from the time of Nichiren Daishonin through the ages to the present. Each Nichiren Shoshu temple, regardless of mission to correctly partake in the propagation, in the practice and in the transmission of the orthodox, legitimate True Law and True Teachings expounded by Nichiren Daishonin.
Moreover each Nichiren Shoshu temple throughout the world fulfills the basic yet pivotal role of conducting various Buddhist services and ceremonial rites for those believers who visit the temples, training lay believers so as to foster their faith, as well as it provides a place to practice for both the lay believers and the priesthood to mutually accumulate good fortune and benefits.
The number of overseas lay believers at present totals 620,000 in 48 different countries in 2002.
Within Nichiren Shoshu, there exist 1) the priests who correctly protect and transmit the True Law of Nichiren Daishonin and 2) the lay believers who correctly practice this Buddhist Law expounded by Nichiren Daishonin. It is only when the laity and the priesthood unite, cooperating in mutual effort toward the propagation of this faith that we achieve true world Kosen-Rufu.
Unity Between the Laity and the Priesthood
The assembly of lay believers who are affiliated with the Nichiren Shoshu temples are generally known as "Hokke-Ko". The term "Hokke-Ko" refers to the name the Daishonin Himself bestowed on the lay believers on the occasion of the establishment of the Dai-Gohonzon of the High Sanctuary of Honmon.
Regardless of whether there exists a "Hokke-Ko" at one's local temple or whether one resides in a country where no Nichiren Shoshu temple exists at this time, every Nichiren Shoshu lay believer assembles at either a temple, representative office or at a community center to mutually foster one's understanding of faith by listening to the priests' sermons or by sharing the valuable experiences of faith with the fellow lay believers in order to accumulate good fortune and to devote oneself to making further advancement in one's society as a capable person who makes contributions toward its progress.