Karma and destiny:
Q:Do Buddha make judgements ?
A:He doesn't. If we possess sins, they were created by oneself rather than being brought about by others. It is only you, who can pass judgements on yourself. Our actions, statements and thoughts, in the course of our daily life, become seeds. These seeds are sowed into our soul, where they are stored as karmas. The bad karmas accumulated over time are referred to as sins (Zaisho).
Q:Some people are born in an extremely fortunate environment. Others carry a heavy doomed fate. Some are healthy, some are sick. Are all of these circumstances caused by karmas?
A:It is a very difficult question to answer. All conditions cannot be claimed as a results of karmas. There is such a thing as karma possessed by each individual. There are common karmas held jointly by families. groups or society. Additionally, matters occur through an interaction complex common karmas of cause and condition. Consequently. it cannot be simply said that it is the cause of karmas.
Q:What is the difference between karma and destiny?
A:Karma is created by oneself rather than by someone else. It is a matter created in the past and in the present for one's future life. After all one's destiny is not determined by someone else who surpass oneself.
Q:What is the process for building karmas?
A:We see, hear, taste and smell, feel pleasantness, unpleasantness cold and warmth by our body. They are referred to as the five senses and through their process our soul functions. In Buddhism, the process is known as the consciousness or the sixth consciousness.
The founder of psychoanalysis, Sigmund Freud, researched the world of unconcsiousness. Buddhism had also elucidated on it. This unconscious world is called Manashiki, or the seventh conscious. Buddhism states that a soul called Arayashiki or the eighth conscious exists in the inner depth of unconsciousness. Everything that we observe, hear, think about or say during our lifetime all become seeds which are planted, stored and recorded in the Arayashiki. The seeds stored in the Arayashiki becomes a spiritual energy which forms our destiny in the immediate future and over into the future life.
Q:Are the seeds recorded in the Arayashiki carried over into the future world even after death?
A:It is a very important question. After death, the six senses and the Manashiki will cease to exist. However, the energy within the Arayashiki will continue to exist. Therefore, the seeds stored in the Arayashiki are carried over into the future life. The bad seeds carried over from the past world that causes our unfortunate life are referred to as offenses (fault) or sins. All of us possess sins from the past world. From that standpoint, we begin our prayer service before the altar by reciting the Summary Formula of Penitence, “In order to eliminate the sins and hinderances that I have accumulated by disparaging the Dharma since the beginningless past, beginning now from the present bodily existence until I obtain the Buddha body, I will uphold the Primodial Sacred Object (the sacred formula, Namumyohorengekyo), the Primodial Altar and the Primodial Practice (Chanting of the Odaimoku)." We then entered into the chanting of the Odaimoku.
What is Dharma?
Q:You stated that one can recieve “visible merits/benefits"(Goriyaku) through practices of HBS religion. What kind of merit is it? Why is it necessary to recieve visible merits?
A:Goriyaku (merits or favorable rewards) must be felt; be conscious (aware) and moved (touched) by it. Some people can feel and become aware of it. Others may be unaware of it. In this case, it is necessary for someone to tell the person that he had received Goriyaku. To recieve merits which can be seen is not the final objective of HBS. By receiving merits one can percieve that the HBS religion is a true religion and become faithful parishioners. In other words, to receive spiritual awakening (enlightenment) is important.As such, a receipt of divine benefits is manifest evidences; benefits which can be seen.
Q:Was the Dharma taught by Shakyamuni Buddha? If not, would the Dharma have not existed in this world?
A:Buddha is a person who was spiritually awakened, or a person who perceived the truth. Dharma is the fundamental true law of this world which Buddha percieved. In this instance, even if Buddha had not appeared in this world, the law would have been perceived since it had existed from the beginningless past. It was Buddha who was awakened to it.
We are fortunate that Shakyamuni Buddha was born in this world. If not we would have been unable to meet the Odaimoku religion based on the wonderful Dharma.
Q:What is the relationship between the Buddha, the Dharma and the Odaimoku?
A:The Lotus Sutra elucidated that the principles of the Dharma, the Eternal Buddha and the Odaimoku were not separate entities. They were one body‐identical. That is what Shakyamuni Buddha perceived and Nichiren Shonin claimed that the Odaimoku should be the object of worship based on the Dharma.
Q:Is the wonderous Dharma possessed in our Arayashiki?
A:Yes. An identical truth is possessed in our soul, which is known as "Ichinen Sanzen" (Ichinen means a life for one instant or a life of exceedingly short period of time, and sanzen refers to all phenomena in this world. Therefore lchinen Sanzen means all phenomena in this world are included both in our thought for one instant and even in a minute grain of sand). By chanting the Odaimoku, the “Ichinen Sanzen" possessed in our soul is activated and the bad seeds are filtered.
Q: Are our wrongdoings, even in thought, become seeds and stored in the Arayashiki? And, are the bad seeds causing our problematic destinies?
A:Your actions, speech and thoughts all become the seeds that are sowed into the Arayashiki. Therefore. to detest or hate someone will create bad seeds. However, try not to see only the minus side of the principle. By accomplishing good deeds one can build good destinies. This is the teaching of Buddhism.
Q:Are you saying that the present world is connected to the past life and the present life to the future life?
A:Yes. Just like yesterday is connected to today, and today is to tomorrow. It is like an extended spider web stretched out into space. Various people and events are all related to one another.
About the scripture:
Q:What is the Primordial altar?
A:Originally, the altar was a place where Buddhist commandments were given to a parishioner to formally become a priest. The “Hommon no Kaidan", or the Primordial altar, in the case of HBS, is a place where the Scripture is enshrined and religious services are held by chanting the Odaimoku in front of it.
Q:Can you describe what Ryojusen is like?
A:Ryojusen (Mt. Eagle Peak) is a mountain in Magadha, (Rajgir) India, where the Buddha spent eight years in his late life interpreting the Lotus Sutra. Nichiren Shonin referred to Mount Ryjusen as the “Pure Buddha Land". To us, Mount Ryojusen is a place where the Odaimoku can be chanted in front of the Scripture whether it be at the temple or at home.
Q:What is the difference between the Scripture of HBS and other Nichiren Shu Sects?. It seems there is no difference. Why must the Scripture of Nichiren Shu Sect be exchanged for HBS's Scripture when one terminates his relationship with the former and joins HBS?
A:A parishioner of HBS must enshrine the Scripture of HBS. There are three reasons for it. First, Scriptures of Nichiren Shu Sects are not enshrined in a legitimate formality. Some Nichiren Shu Sects place icons of gods or statues of Buddha in front of the Odaimoku Mandala, which are incorrect. Secondly, in many cases the mandala of other sects have not undergone the “Opening the Spiritual Eyes" ceremony or Kaigen. A Scripture which has not undergone “Kaigen" is merely an ordinary scroll. Thirdly, the Scripture must be enshrined in accordance with the fundamental true teachings based on the teachings of Chapters 15 to 22 of the Lotus Sustra. Scriptures that are not based on those conditions are not Scriptures designated by Nichiren Shonin.
Q:Why are there differences in styles of Scriptures?
A:Today. there are over 130 known Scriptures which were written by Nichiren Shonin. Actually, there may be more. These Scriptures are not identical in writing styles. There are some Scriptures written with the names of Buddhas, Bodhisattvas and the Guardian Kings of Heaven to the right and left of the Odaimoku in the center. Others are just plain Scriptures with the Odaimoku in the center. Styles of Scriptures are not inportant. The core of the scriptures is the Odaimoku which embraces all things.
Q:What is Shoten Zenjin?
A:Shoten Zenjins are the various guardian kings of heaven who appear in the Lotus Sutra. They are the kings who vowed to protect the practitioners of the Lotus Sutra.
Q:Why does the Odaimoku have the power to cure illnesses?
A:It is because the Odaimoku contains the merits of enlightenment of Buddha and the power of Buddha's spirit to protect practitioners. It is elucidated in Chapter 21, The Supernatural Power of the Tathagata, of the Lotus Sutra: “The supernatural power of the Buddhas are immeasurable, limitless, and inconcievable as previously stated. But I will not be able to tell all the merits of this sutra to whom this sutra is to be transmitted, even though I continue to tell them by supernatural powers for many hundreds of thousands of billions of asamkhyas of kalpa". It is difficult to explain in words. It can only be understood by actual experiences.
Q:Why does Soka Gakkai Sect refer to Nichiren Shonin as Nichiren Dai Shonin?
A:Soka Gakkai considers Nichiren Shonin as the Eternal Buddha. The honorific for the Eternal Buddha is Dai Shonin. Nichiren Shonin is revered by HBS as the Great Master, who had transmitted and spread the Odaimoku in the Mappo Period. Therefore, HBS does not utilize the honorific of “Dai Shonin". HBS refers to him as Boddhisattava or Daiji, which means Great Master. Therefore, I believe the honorific of Great Master may be more appropriate in English.
Practitioner: I believe so. Saint is an honorific associated with priests of Christianity.
What Is Transmigration Between The Six Realms:
Q:What is Rokudo‐rinne? (Transmigration between the six realms). Is there such a thing as an animal being reborn as a human being or vice versa?
A:Our world is fixed in ten boundaries (realms). The highest is the world of Buddha. followed by the realms of Boddhisattava, Engaku (a self‐enlightened Buddha), Shomon (Disciples of Buddha), Tenjo (the heavenly realms), Ningen (humans), Shura (Demi-Gods), Chikusho (animals), Gaki (hungry spirits), and Jigoku (hell). Ordinarily, we are reborn somewhere within the six realms from Hell to the heavenly realm in cycles.
Following is a true story: A man with a tattoo on his arm died. His family was a farmer who raised cows. A year after the death of the man, a cow gave birth to a calf. This calf had on its back the same tattoo pattern which was on the dead man's arm. I believe you can ascertain what that meant.
There is also a reverse case. Dogs and cats can be reborn as human beings through the supporting power of the Odaimoku they heard during their stay with a parishioner.
Q:Isn't the thought of transmigration between the six realms of Buddhism and the Theory of Evolution (Darwin's theory) contradictory?
A:The Theory of Evolution explains the process of living things on this planet. Transmigration between the six realms, explained by Buddhism, stems from a broader viewpoint beyond the space and evolution of time of living things.
Q:How does Buddhism view time? Does time have a beginning and an end?
A:In Nichiren Shonin's “Kanjin Honzon Sho" it states: “Buddha neither deceased in the past or will be born in the future". The life span of Buddha is beginningless and endless.
Q:Is it a flow of one straight line, or is it endless as in cycles?
A:It is spiral.
Heaven and The land of tranquil light:
Q:What is the difference between Heaven in Christianity and the “Pure Buddha Land" or the “Land of Tranquil Light" in Buddhism?
A:I do not know how heaven is explained by Christianity. Buddhism explains heaven to be the “Land of Tranquil Light" or as the “Pure Buddha Land", but there are some differences among other sects. The “Land of Tranquil Light" or the “Pure Buddha Land" are referred as the spiritually best world for the souls of people who had attained enlightenment of Buddhahood. The “Land of Tranquil Light" is not only the world where one proceeds to after death but also HBS looks upon it as a land we visit during the chanting of the Odaimoku in front of the Scripture (Gohonzon) whether it be at home or at the temple.
The Eternal Buddha:
Q:Nichiren Shonin proclaimed: “Itai Doshin" (United in mind although separated in body) is an important element. If so, why are there so many different sects in Buddhism? Why aren't they consolidated into one sect?
A:It is a regrettable situation, but HBS cannot be united with sects that display icons of various Buddhas and Guardian Kings of Heaven and which do not preach the true principles of Nichiren Shonin.
Q:What is the biggest difference between HBS and Soka Gakkai (SGI)?
A:Soka Gakkai revers Nichiren Shonin as the Eternal Buddha. HBS does not proclaim Nichiren Shonin as the Eternal Buddha. It was Jyogo Boddhisattava, the first disciple of the Eternal Buddha, who appeared in this world of the Mappo Period in the form of Nichiren Shonin and who acted as a messenger of the Eternal Buddha. Thus, HBS revers Nichiren Shonin as the Great Master, Teacher and Parent.
Q:What is the relationship between the Eternal Buddha and the Odaimoku?
A:The Eternal Buddha, who attained enlightenment, and the Odaimoku, the true Dharma, are identical.
Q:The true Dharma is fundamentally an eternal existence with no beginning and no end, isn't it?
A:That is correct.
Q:The Dharma has no beginning, but a Buddha to be called a Buddha must engage in religious acitivities to attain enlightenment isn't that so? If so, isn't there a beginning for such practices? Isn't there an inconsistency that they be referred to as identical?
A:The Odaimoku Scripture is not a mere law of the universe. It is a special characteristic embodied in the Eternal Buddha - a Cause and Effect rule. The engagement in religious activities by the Eternal Buddha is Cause. The attainment of enlightenment to become a Buddha is an Effect. The Cause and Effect rule is similar to that of a chain linkage. Therefore, in Cause there is a beginning, but the Effect possessed by the Eternal Buddha is an infinite cycle.
For example. flowers bloom - an Effect. The flower is the result of a seed - a Cause. But, was the seed the starting point? The seed was obtained from the flower. There is a Cause (a “In") before the Effect (a “Ka") and vice versa. The Cause and Effect Law is a repeating cycle. The Eternal Buddha is referred to as eternal in that sense. He had continuously engaged in the escetic religious practices and constantly trained and guided the people. Within those deeds we find eternity in the Eternal Buddha.
Q:What is the figure of the Eternal Buddha like?
A:We tend to imagine the figure of the Eternal Buddha by its icons, but those statues are a provisional figure of him when he appeared in this world. Since the Eternal Buddha embraces all existences, his true figure cannot be captured in visual concept. A two-fascicle work by Nikko Shonin who was one of the 6 main diciples of Nichiren Shonin containing Nichiren Shonin's lecture on the Lotus Sutra given at Mount Minobu in 1278 (The Ongi Kuden) stated:“The figure of the Eternal Buddha does not look like the statues which portray him as he appeared in this world."
Differences between Buddhism and Christianity:
Q:What is the difference between Buddhism (Buddha) and Christianity (God)?
A:The God of Christianity is considered a creator. On the other hand, the Buddha of Buddhism is not a creator like that of Christianity. To describe it simply, Buddha was a human being who possessed the fundamental truth of the universe in a man's soul.
Christianity's God is not a human being. Christianity states that human beings can not become God. On the other hand, Buddha is an extension of a perfected human being who is above us. The Buddha (Shakyamuni Buddha), who preached his teachings for a period of 50 years, appeared in India approximately 2600 years ago. While preaching the Lotus Sutra during his late years, Shakyamuni Buddha revealed that “his original state" was the Primordial Eternal Buddha that possessed an eternal life. The Buddha elucidated in the Lotus Sutra that he wraps the entire universe, space wise and time wise, and he was the Buddha that existed from the beginning of the universe.
Q:It seems like it is related to the concept of Christianity's God, isn't it?
A:Christianity's God is a creator who exists somewhere. In other words, the God of Christianity is a relative existence. In contrast, the Eternal Buddha, who was a human being, wraps all existences and can be considered as an absolute existence. Therefore, man is a part of the Eternal Buddha.
HBS's subject of worship:
Q:Is HBS's subject of worship the “Eternal Buddha"?
A:It is better to describe it as the “World of Enlightenment" of the Eternal Buddha. He has no form or shape. He embraces the universe through the Fine Dharma that penetrates the world. There is no need to sculpture icons of the Eternal Buddha and revere it.
Based on the teachings of the Lotus Sutra, Nichiren Shonin described the world of Buddha's enlightenment in words, and HBS's subject of worship is the Gohonzon, Namumyohorengekyo.
Q:What is written on the Gohonzon?
A:The Chinese characters (Kanji), “Namumyohorengekyo" are inscribed in the center, with Shakyamuni Buddha to the right of it and Taho Buddha on the left, respectively. Also, the names of Bodhisattvas, whose duties were to spread the Lotus Sutra, and various Guardian Kings of Heaven that protects the practitioners are written on it.
Meaning of the Odaimoku:
Q:What is the meaning of Namumyohorengekyo?
A:Namu is “To be a devotee from the soul". Myoho is the Fine Dharma. Renge is the Lotus Flower and Kyo is the Sutra. The Chinese characters translated from the Indian words itself have no meaning. Namumyohorengekyo is the title of the Lotus Sutra. Thus, it simply means, one will believe in the “World of Enlightenment of the Lotus Sutra".
Originally, Namumyohorengekyo meant, “The words describing the Sacred Enlightenment of the Buddha" and, essentially, should not be analyzed.
Namumyohorengekyo is also referred to as the Odaimoku, a World of Enlightenment of the Buddha.
Q:Why is “Namumyohorengekyo" chanted?
A:Buddhism engages in various practices to attain the merits of Buddha's enlightenment into one's soul through the use of body, soul, and mouth. They are known as the three forms of practices.
Practitioners of superior ability will use practices of their own methods to arouse their souls to get closer to the stage of enlightenment. But, the common people can not accomplish the objective using their methods of practice. Thus, the teachings of the Lotus Sutra's Essential Sections elucidated that the people in the World of Mappo should use the mouth to repeatedly chant the Odaimoku, Namumyohorengekyo.
The sounds and chanting voices of “Namumyohorengekyo" heard through our ears will be etched in our soul. The Odaimoku contains the power of merits of the Buddha. By planting it into our souls, the sinful soul of the common people will be filtered and purified.
Q:Why is it necessary to chant the Odaimoku repeatedly?
A:If you have an ambition to become a soccer player, it is natural to engage oneself in learning to kick the ball. One can only accomplish the skill through repeated practices. Similarly, by chanting the Odaimoku repeatedly the merits will compound and be afforded accordingly into the soul.
Q:How many times should the Odaimoku be chanted?
A:The more the better. But, it should be no less than a thousand times a day. Or, no less than 30 minutes when praying before the altar. If one does not have sufficient time, it is alright to divide the chanting session between morning and night for 15 minutes each time.
The difference between Mahayana Buddhism and Hinayana Buddhism:
Q:There is the Large and Small Vehicle teachings. What are the differences?
A:Large Vehicle is a large conveyance. A Iarge number of people can simultaneously get onto it. For example, the Large Vehicle Religion is a boat that can carry a large number of passengers, whereas the Small Vehicle Religion can carry only a single person or a few persons. The Large Vehicle Religion teaches large numbers of practitioners to mutually help one another, to encourage others to its faith and to devote themselves for the objective of attaining the world of enlightenment.
The Small Vehicle Religion teachings emphasize independent to seek enlightenment.
The Lotus Sutra that we revere is the highest peak among of Mahayana Buddhism.
The realms after death:
Q:What are the Realms of Buddha and Bodhisattvas like?
A:Those realms are not a place. It is a situation of the soul. It cannot be imagined by human.
Q:What happens to a good person who helped others, but who did not practice the faith of HBS?
A:A person who built good karmas during their life-time will, undoubtedly, be reborn in a fortunate circumstance.
Q:Can such people proceed to the Realm of Buddha?
A:No. Not unless they had sowed seeds of Buddhahood into their Arayashiki, the most fundamental eight level of consciousness, through practices of the true religion of HBS. Nichiren Shonin stated: “The common people of the Mappo Era can only plant seeds of Buddhahood into their Arayashiki by chanting the Odaimoku".
Q:My parents are not parishioners of HBS. Can their souls be redeemed after death?
A:Yes. Of course. The spirit of anyone can be redeemed by chanting the Odaimoku. But it should not be misconstrued with “Jobutsu", entering into Nirvana. “Jobutsu", an Effect, can only be attained by someone who had engaged in the practices of the Odaimoku religion and had accumulated merits during their life-time, a Cause.
A non-parishioner, after death, can be reborn into the realm of human being through the Odaimoku “Goeko" (transferrence of merit) service. The destiny tied to the Odaimoku will permit the deceased to engage in the true religion after rebirth.
Chanting the Odaimoku and reciting the Lotus Sutra:
Q:Possession of a true religion is Odaimoku chanting, isn't it? Can merits for enlightenment be received through recitation of the Lotus Sutra? Didn't Nichiren Shonin recite the Lotus Sutra?
A:There are two ways to recite the Lotus Sutra. One method is to recite the Lotus Sutra with the feeling that it is more edifying than chanting the Odaimoku, but this is a wrong method. The other is to recite the Sutra with feeling of reverence and gratefulness for the Odaimoku. This is the right way. Thus, HBS recites Chapter 21, “The Supernatural Powers of the Tathagta" of the Lotus Sutra. In any event, to attain enlightenment is to chant the Odaimoku and acquire its merits. Nichiren Shonin recited the Lotus Sutra, but, in his case, he thoroughly and accurately understood the meaning of the Lotus Sutra. It is entirely different from the way we would recite it without full knowledge of what we are reciting.
Q:Is it meaningless to chant the Odaimoku without having faith in it?
A:Not necessarily so. It is clearly better to chant the Odaimoku than not to. It is only normal that a person who chants the Odaimoku with gratitude within their soul will recieve more religious merits than those who do not.
Introspection Into One's Mind:
Q:What is the meaning of “Kanjin" described in the “Treatise on the Object of Worship" (Kanjin Honzon Sho)?
A:It means observation of one's soul. That is, polishing and purifying one's soul through the practices of Buddhism. There are two methods. One is to bank on your own ability, like that of Zen Buddhism. The other method is to seek outside aid. Most HBS members require outside assistance to observe their soul. It was Nichiren Shonin who showed us the way to do it in the “Treatise on the Object of Worship" by chanting the Odaimoku.
Let us chant the Odaimoku out loud and to listen to it by ear. By doing so, the Odaimoku will plant Buddha seeds into our soul. The Odaimoku is the seed which contains the merits of Buddha's enlightenment. The seeds of the Odaimoku and the power of faith will be united and it will polish and purify our soul.
Nichiren Shonin's successor:
Q:According to Nichiren Shoshu Sect and Soka Gakkai, the only person who can succeed Nichiren Shonin is Nichiko Shonin. Is that a correct viewpoint?
A:No. Just prior to his death, Nichiren Shonin nominated the following six disciples among many others to become leaders. They were: Nissho Shonin, Nichiro Shonin, Nichiko Shonin, Nichiji Shonin, Niko Shonin, and Nitcho Shonin.
Nichiren Shoshu Sect and Soka Gakkai's selection of Nichiko Shonin stems from the fact that he was their founder and for public appeal.
Nichiren Shonin divided his keepsakes among his disciples. Nisso Shonin was given a personal Lotus Sutra Scroll. Nichiro Shonin received a hand-written Scripture Scroll of Nichiren Shonin which was displayed in his altar. On the other hand, Nichiko Shonin was granted a horse that Nichiren Shonin kept. It is extremely doubtful that a person who was given a horse can be considered to be Nichiren Shonin's successor. I doubt it.
Invocation of the Buddha and Saints:
Q:The “Myoko lchiza" cites the names of Boddhisattva Nichizo and other priests, such as Daikaku Daisojo. Do they belong to the family of HBS? Please explain briefly about them.
A:Boddhisattva Nichizo or Nichizo Shonin was one of six main disciples of Nichiren Shonin. He was the most faithful disciple who served Nichiren Shonin. Nichizo Shonin was only 14 years of age when Nichiren Shonin died. Prior to his death, Nichiren Shonin had instructed Nichizo Shonin to go to Kyoto (then the capital city) to study and to spread the teachings of the Lotus Sutra for the future.
Nichizo Shonin became a disciple of Nichiro Shonin at age 16, and he spent the rest of his life spreading the teachings of the Lotus Sutra in Kyoto in compliance with Nichiren Shonin's will. He died at the age of 74. HBS has taken over Nichizo Shonin and Nichizo Shonin's tradition.
Priest Daikaku was a priest of Daikakuji Temple, a Shingon Shu Sect, in Kyoto, until he was converted to Nichiren Buddhism by Nichizo Shonin's “Kyoke" (converting others to the true teachings of HBS through education and guidance). Priest Daikaku then spread the teachings of HBS in the Kyoto area; followed by Rogen Shonin, Nissai Shonin, Nichizon Shonin and Nichido Shonin. Nichiryu Shonin's uncles are Nichizon Shonin and Nichido Shonin.
Accomplishments of Nichiryu Shonin:
Q:It is stated in the “Myoko lchiza" that Nichiryu Shonin was the revivor of Nichiren Shonin's teachings. What did he actually do?
A:150 years after since the death of Nichiren Shonin, Nichiryu Shonin played an active role in reviving the teachings of Nichiren Shonin. At that time, Nichiren Shonin's teachings were greatly misinterpreted because his religion was not officially recognized and sanctioned as a true religious sect by the Government. Consequently, the priests were compelled to place themselves in the officially Government sanctioned Tendai Shu Sect. Placed in this predicament, the priests, naturally, were exposed to the misinterpreted teachings that the “Shakumon" (Provisional Sections) and “Hommon" (The Essential Sections) were equal in nature‐“Honjaku Itchi" (the same). Since there were no printed materials available of Nichiren Shonin's writings (due to lack of printing techniques during that period), nor access to his hand written manuscripts, the priest had no way to learn of the differences in teachings.
Nichiryu Shonin, therefore, visited many temples throughout the nation where Nichiren Shonin's manuscripts were kept and preserved, and he transcribed them. Upon examining and researching Nichiren Shonin's manuscripts, Nichiryu Shonin concluded that his teachings were fundamentally based on the teachings of “Hommon" of the Lotus Sutra, and the chanting of the Odaimoku is its basic principle.
Due to Nichiryu Shonin's revival of Nichiren Shonin's true teachings, the former is regarded an an invaluable person of HBS.
Q: What portion of the Lotus Sutra was being taught to the people of the Mappo Era?
A: Various Bodhisattvas, led by Jogyo Bosatsu, came welling up from the opening in the earth to spread the teachings of the Lotus Sutra for the Mappo Era. These Bodhisattvas were exposed only to the portions of Chapter 15 through Chapter 22 of the Lotus Sutra, and not in its entirety. This means the only important eight chapters of “Honmon Happon" were taught.
Nichiren Shonin stated in the “Kanjin Honzon Sho" (A Treatise on the Object of Worship) that “Such a sublime Sacred Object (Myohorengekyo) had never been revealed by the Buddha Shakyamuni during the more than forty years of his life as a preacher before the teachings of the Lotus Sutra, and even during the eight years when he taught the Lotus Sutra it was only in the primordial eight chapters of the Lotus Sutra that this was revealed".
Displaying of Nichiren Shonin's statue:
Q:Why is the statue of Nichiren Shonin displayed in front of the Gohonzon by HBS?
A:Nichiren Shonin appeared in the Mappo Period to spread the wonderful Dharma that was entrusted to Jogyo , a direct disciple of the Eternal Buddha.
Neediess to say, the founder of Buddhism was Shakyamuni Buddha. Therefore, he should be the one to be most revered, but, as previously explained, Shakyamuni Buddha's original form was the Primordial Eternal Buddha and since his spirit dwell in the Gohonzon, HBS does not display a statue of him.
Nichiren Shonin's teachings were based on the principle of the primordial eight chapters of the Lotus Sutra. He stated that he was the rebirth of Jogyo because the various experiences of persecutions and life threatening episodes that he encountered while spreading the true teachings, activities and achievements coincided with the incidents predicted in the Lotus Sutra.
There is no other person besides Nichiren Shonin who carried out the teachings of Shakyamuni Buddha faithfully. Thus, Nichiren Shonin's statue is displayed in front of the Gohonzon because he is respected and revered as the greatest teacher and master.
People that practice the faith of the Lotus Sutra in this period should be grateful to be near him by chanting the Odaimoku with a soul of reverence and to be able to serve him by doing other duties.
Q: What are the Mortuary Tablets enshrined to the right and left of Nichiren Shonin's statue? And, why are they enshrined?
A:Nichiryu Shonin's mortuary tablet is on the right side of Nichiren Shonin's statue and Nissen Shonin's tablet (the founder af HBS) is on the left side. (They are both sacred tablets).
Less than 100 years after Nichiren Shonin's death, his noble teachings were misinterpreted and the form of faith and practices changed, Nichiryu Shonin took an active part in reinstating Nichiren Shonin's original teachings and guided the Nichiren Sect to the true way of its practices and teachings 150 years after Nichiren Shonin's death. Later, Nissen Shonin, based on the teachings of Nichiren Shonin and Nichiryu Shonin, founded HBS.
To express our reverence to the two Shonins their mortuary tablets are enshrined besides Nichiren Shonin's statue and in front of the Gohonzon.
Why is the statue of Nichiren Shonin black?
Q:1. Why is the statue of Nichiren Shonin displayed in front of the Odaimoku Gohonzon?
2. Why is the statue of Nichiren Shonin of HBS black?
3. What is Nichiren Shonin holding in his hands?
4. Why is a cotton strip (Owata) placed on Nichiren Shonin's head?
5. What should one do when enshrining the statue of Nichiren Shonin into the altar?
A:Nichiren Shonin, who taught us about the true Dharma and transmitted to us the Odaimoku entrusted to Jogyo Bodhisattva, is, in a sense, our Great Master, Teacher and Parent. His statue is placed before the Scripture in the altar to offer our respect and to revere him faithfully.
Other Nichiren sects display Nichiren Shonin's icons, but they are not black. The black statue of HBS is origin of HBS. The expression “black" is inappropriate. It is better to refer to it as an antique-looking statue due to the lapse of so many years.
HBS's statue of Nichiren Shonin that is antique-looking is justified for the following reasons:
There was a disciple of Nichiren Shonin whose name was Nippo Shonin. He excelled in woodcarving and had carved about 3 or 4 figures of Nichiren Shonin. One of them is displayed at the Honmonji Temple in Kyoto, now known as the Yuseiji Temple, the Main Temple of HBS. This statue had a natural wooden color initially, but being exposed to burning candle oil and for so many years, it began to get darker in color. This is also the statue on which Nichiren Shonin conducted an “Opening of the Eyes" ceremony to instill the spirit of the Odaimoku. In the early part of the Meiji Era, when Nissen Shonin entered Yuseiji Temple to carry on his religious practices, the statue was already a black looking antique.
Since then, Nissen Shonin felt that all new HBS's statue of Nichiren Shonin should look like the original statue displayed at Yuseiji Temple. That statue of Nichiren Shonin has been designated as a national treasure by the Japanese Education, Science and Technology for its value and excellent carving technique.
Nichiren Shonin is holding a scepter in his right hand, and a Lotus Sutra scroll in his left hand. Many parishioners think that he is holding wooden clappers in his hands. Not so. His right hand is holding a scepter and in his left hand is the Fifth Scroll, of the Eight Scrolls of the Lotus Sutra. His icon illustrates that he is presenting a sermon to us. The Fifth Scroll contains Chapter 13, “Fortitude", of the Lotus Sutra. As you know, the modern day Lotus Sutra is in book form, but, in ancient times, it was written on eight separate scrolls. The Fifth Scroll elucidates that people born in the Mappo Period must be courageous enough to overcome any hardships they encounter and to spread the teachings of the Lotus Sutra. Nichiren Shonin carried this scroll with him at all times because he felt that it contained the Eternal Buddha's prediction that he would appear in this world of Mappo as a messenger of the Eternal Buddha.
Purpose of the cotton strips:
Every year, from November to March of the following year, cotton strips are placed on the head of Nichiren Shonin's figure.
On November 11, 1264, Nichiren Shonin, accompanied by several disciples on their way to the home of a parishioner, Yoshitaka Kudo, was attacked by a large number of mobsters of Kagenobu Tojo, a district head. During this scuffle, Nichiren Shonin received a cut with a sword on his forehead. That incident is known as the Tojo Komatsubara Incident, one of four famous attacks on Nichiren Shonin. After the scuffle ended, an old woman who just happened to pass by, seeing the cut on Nichiren Shonin's forehead offered him her cotton hood. This is the origin of placing a cotton strip on the head of Nichiren Shonin's statue. It also serves to express our feeling of esteem by protecting it ostensibly from pain during the cold winter.
Meaning of offering mortuary tablets:
Q:What do the wood and paper mortuary tablets represent?
A:Those mortuary tablets are offered to transmit the merits of good deeds to the spirit of our ancestors. An inscriptioin of the Odaimoku is inscribed on the upper part of the mortuary tablets and below it is written the posthumous Buddhist name and family name. Naturally, transference of merits to the deceased cannot be accomplished by just offering tablets. Chanting the Odaimoku is most important. By doing so, the merits of enlightenment contained within the Odaimoku can be transmitted to the spirit of the deceased through the Gohonzon.
The Lotus Sutra, a savior for evil persons:
Q:Why is Devadatta, who rebelled against the Buddha, included in the Gohonzon?
A:Devadatta was once a disciple of the Buddha, but he later turned against the Buddha because of self-conceit. He used every means to injure the Buddha and his grave offenses condemned him to hell. Why must such an evil person's name be included in the Gohonzon?
Christianity elucidats that a sinner that falls into hell will forever remain in hell. Buddhism, on the other hand, elucidated that even those who fall into the realm of hell, hungry spirits, and animals, will be given the chance to redeem themselves from those realms and be saved.
Devadatta fell into hell because of his amassed sins. But, through repentance for his past sins he was once again able to return to the realm of human beings. Thereafter, he devoted himself to Buddhism and enhanced his boundary to protect practitioners of the Lotus Sutra.
The name of Kishimo-jin (Hariti) is inscribed on the Gohonzon composed by Nichiren Shonin. She committed evil sins by kidnapping children and kiling them, but after being admonished by Shakyamuni Buddha, she repented for her sins and became a believer in Buddhism.
The Lotus Sutra elucidats that anyone that falls into the realm below the realm of human beings, can be rescued through merit transference services.
Have other Buddhas besides Shakyamuni Buddha attained enlightenment?
Q:Are there any other Buddhas that attained enlightenment besides Shakyanmuni Buddha?
A:Buddha means saints that have been awakened to the truth. Human beings have no universal restrictions of time and space. Shakyamuni Buddha stated: “I am not the only one that was enlightened to the true Dharma contained within the universe and men's soul. There may have been others that were enlightened to the truth and became Buddhas. There may be others in the future. There is no mistake that there were others that were awakened to the truth". Various other Buddhas appeared in the Mahayana doctrine beside Shakyamuni Buddha. As such, numerous Buddhas came about in the past, present, and many Buddhas may appear throughout the ten worlds in the future. There is only one original law. This “Original Law", is elucidated in the Lotus Sutra. It is not merely a law of nature (universe), but is the very eternal life of the Primordial Eternal Buddha.
Based on the teachings of the Lotus Sutra and the world of the Eternal Buddha, the “Namumyohorengekyo" script is the Gohonzon.
Q:Then, what is the connection between the Eternal Buddha and Shakyamuni Buddha?
A:Shakyamuni Buddha, like other Buddhas, is the transformation of the Eternal Buddha. In short, they are the other self of the Eternal Buddha. They appeared in the form of a human being in this world to guide and save the people from suffering.
Q:Shakyamuni Buddha was originally a person to be awakened to the truth, wasn't he?
Why did he became a priest, to practice and be awakened to the truth?
A:He wanted to be a model for the people's way of life, religion and practices.
Are human beings originally an existence for enlightenment?
What is Buddha?
Q:All existences in the world are the manifestation of the life of the Buddha. Please explain why human beings are believed to be an existence for enlightenment?
A:First of all, I would like to explain what Buddha is.
Buddha is a saint that desires to awaken the people to pursue the fundamental truth contained in the universe and in the soul of mankind through practices. Historically, Shakyamuni Buddha, who appeared in India approximately 2,600 years ago, is referred to as Buddha.
Not the only saints that were awakened to the fundamental truth (ultimate Dharma) are called Buddha. According to Buddhism, the universe (the whole universal system) itself is Buddha. If Shakyamuni Buddha was able to become a Buddha by being spiritually awakened (to the Dharma) shouldn't the original Dharma be Buddha? The universe filled with original spiritual truth is Buddha. In other words, a human being that is awakened to the Dharma is Buddha and the universal system is also Buddha. To advance this thinking all existences in the universe, such as mountains, oceans, trees and grasses, and human beings can be thought as the phycial appearances of Buddha's life.
Buddha of phenomena and noumena:
A mistaken thinking, such as “Innate Buddha Ideology" became prevalent within the Tendai Sect in the Heian Era. The mistaken “innate Buddha Ideologsy", believes that we, human beings are the manifestation of Buddha life. Therefore, it is the original spiritually enlightened existences. If that were true, this thinking was, “why it is necessary to devote oneself in practices for the attainment of enlightenment?.
Nichiren Shonin and Nichiryu Shonin, who returned the mistaken teachings to the true teaching, criticized the “Innate Buddha Ideology". They felt that it created confusion. Buddha phenomena are natural elements contained in things and are possessed by human beings.
Noumena is the condition of polishing the natural elements.
Truly, the universe is called the Dharma body and is Buddha itself. If human beings are partly the existence of Dharma Buddha, it cannot be said that they are originally enlightened existence. That is merely a Buddha of Phenomena.
Figuratively speaking, babies at birth possess many possibilities. They possess the ability to learn language and gain knowledge. However, if they are not taught or given the opportunity to expand their abilities while growing up, they will not be able to nurture their talents.
Human beings are a part of Buddha's Dharma body. The soul is endowed with natural elements known as Buddha nature. By being given an opportunity to practice their talents, the buds of Buddha nature will sprout and livelihood will be revitalized.
From that standpoint, Nichiren Shonin and Nichiryu Shonin criticized the mistaken views of the “Innate Buddha Ideology" and they elucidated upon the importance of engaging in the practices of the Lotus Sutra teachings.
The HBS's system of “Oko" was established about 150 years ago by Nissen Shonin for the purpose of altering the “reason" of Buddha nature to The “practice" of Buddha nature based on the teachings of Nichiren Shonin and Nichiryu Shonin.
The two most important factors of “Oko" are the chanting of the Odaimoku and listening to sermons. Through Oko, we become an “existence to be awakened".
Q:Westerners' believe benefits to be materialistic. What are HBS's types of benefits?
A:Naturally, favorable job situations, business and economic improvements are materialistic benefits. Physical benefits include recovery from illness, building a healthy energetic body, avoiding accidents and calamities, and improvement in human relationships. Dissolving affliction of the soul and various other things are psychological benefits.
The most important factor of HBS's benefit is fostering openness to accept changes. That is, to polish the Odaimoku by repeated chanting. Elevating one's openness to the HBS faith is also a benefit.
Q:We have been told to avoid attaching photographs, calendars, or pictures on the same wall where the Gohonzon is displayed. Aren't HBS's regulations too extreme?
A:It is important to face and have the soul concentrate on the Gohonzon while praying and chanting the Odaimoku. It is necessary to avoid distractions of other objects. Displaying pictures of beautiful women or tourist attractions to the left and right of the Gohonzon will distract one's mind during the chanting of the Odaimoku.
Q:Can one be excused from chanting the Odaimoku in front of the altar if they are tired and want to relax or sleep?
A:Nichiren Shonin stated:“chanting the Odaimoku even for a short period of time after a busy day will result in greater merits than chanting the Odaimoku a hundred times in a favorable environment.
It is better to chant the Odaimoku even for five minutes while battling the conditions of fatigue and sleepiness.
Q:The Lotus Sutra expounded that the spirit of Buddha exists within the infinite space.
Why can not one just face the infinite space and pray?
A:For example, numerous electrical waves are emited into space by TV stations. However, one cannot enjoy the broadcasted pictures and sounds at home unless there is an antenna or a receiver. Similarly, Buddha's mercy will not reach us unless we face the Gohonzon and pray. The emitted electrical wave is the benefit and the TV set is the Gohonzon where the true spirits of the Buddha and Bodhisattvas dwell. No matter how pure a Gohonzon may be, if there are materials that divert one's concentration away from the Gohonzon while praying, the chanting will become lackadaisical and your desires will not reach the Buddha. As such, an interaction between oneself and the Buddha will not prevail and beneflts will not be awarded.
Is it true that spirits dwell in tress and paper?
Q:It is said that spirits of Buddha and Bodhisattvas dwell in the Gohonzon made from paper and wood, but that concept is difficult to believe. How should we understand that?
A:There is a story in England where a young man began drinking after marriage and spent his day dilly‐dallying. The wife who became doubtful of her husband's conditions invited a female Psychic acquaintance for consultation. The Psychic initially looked around the house. She then pointed to a chair that the husband sat on and said; “get rid of that chair immediately. It is the root of all evil".
The chair was purchased from an antique shop as a wedding gift from her husband's friend. An investigation of its former owner revealed that he was an alcoholic and had committed suicide while sitting on the chair.
In short, the traits of the former owner were transferred to the young man. If the chair had not been disposed of at that time the husband may have also committed suicide with a pistol while sitting on the chair.
Another example involves an American couple who bought an accessory made from an elephant tusk while visiting Kobe, Japan.
As the husband held the tusk in his hand, he felt a severe pain in his tooth. Likewise, the wife's tooth began to ache when she held the accessory. After returning home, a friend that accepted the elephant tusk accessory also felt pain in a tooth.
In this case, the scholar, Colline Wilson, stated: “Perhaps, the elephant was shot by the poachers and the tusk was removed while it was still alive. The agony it suffered must have shifted to the tusk and it can be thought that a person that retains the accessory will be subjected to a tooth ache."
The feelings and spirits of Buddha and Bodhisattvas dwell in the Gohonzon. This is based on the theory and method of the “Three thousand realms in a thought (Ichinen Sanzen) elucidated in the Lotus Sutra. We must rely on the method established by Nichiren Shonin in his writing, “Opening the (Spiritual) Eyes" (Kaigen).
What are the differences between HBS's Gohonzon and Soka Gakkai's Gohonzon?
Q:When I attended a Soka Gakkai's meeting, I felt no emotion when facing their Gohonzon. However, by facing the HBS's Gohonzon and chanting the Odaimoku today, I received an unfamiliar emotional gratitude. Why are there such differences between the Gohonzon of Soka Gakkai and HBS even though they are identical?
A:There are two reasons. 1). Whether the Gohonzon is based on the true teachings or not. 2). whether an “Opening of the (Spiritual) Eyes (Kaigen") ceremony had been performed or not.
A Gohonzon based upon a false doctrine is not a true Gohonzon. Soka Gakkai's stands on the theory that Nichiren Shonin is the Eternal Buddha, but they revere Honorary Chairman, Ikeda Daisaku, as their superhuman leader. Their teachings digress from the true form of Nichiren Shonin's religion. Moreover, Soka Gakkai's Gohonzon has not undergone an “Opening of the (Spiritual) Eyes (Kaigen)" ritual. Kaigen is a ritual to invite the spirits of Buddha and Bodisattvas and other Buddha protectors of the Lotus Sutra into the Gohonzon.
The Soka Gakkai's Gohonzon, which has not been blessed by an “Opening of the Eyes" ritual, is only a hanging scroll. Therefore, you feel no emotions.
On the other hand, the Gohonzon of HBS, based on the true teachings of the Lotus Sutra and Nichiren Shohint has properly undergone the “Opening of the Eyes" ceremony. Therefore, the Buddha, Bodhisattvas and other Buddhas that protect the Lotus Sutra dwell in the Gohonzon. Therefore, you feel emotions of gratitude.
To be protected by The Gohonzon:
Q:What is the most important thing one must do to be protected by the Gohonzon?
A:The spirits of the Buddha and Bodhisattva dwell in the Gohonzon. It is important to possess a feeling of reverence to the souls of the Buddha and Bodhisattva through the Odaimoku to be protected by the Gohonzon.
The Buddha and Bodhisattvas' desires are for the salvation and guidance of all mankind.
If we do not possess such desires in our soul it will not induce the souls of Buddha and Bodhisattvas. Thus, one should not only seek protection from them, but one should strive to convert others to the HBS religion for their happiness through the assistance of the Gohonzon by chanting the Odaimoku. That is the shortest way to gain protection from the Gohonzon.
Q:Is it alright to pray, by name, to a specific Bodhisattvas or Guardian Kings of Heaven mentioned in the Lotus Sutra?
A:The Bodhisattvas and Guardian Kings of Heaven, who appear in the Lotus Sutra, vowed to “protect the practitioners of the Lotus Sutra" in front of Shakyamuni Buddha. The true practitioners of the Lotus Sutra in the Mappo Period are the people that engage in chanting the Odaimoku, Namumyohorengeko, which Nichiren Shonin had spread as a messenger on behalf of the Buddha. Therefore, it is more important to chant the Odaimoku rather than reciting the names of Bodhisattvas and Guardian Kings of Heaven.
Q:Does Shakyamuni Buddha save evil persons who do not believe in him?
A:Would you extend a rope to a victim who fell into a ravine and say from above the cliff, “Hang on to the rope. I will pull you up." The victim however shouts, “I don't trust you" and refuses to grasp the rope. Of course, the victim cannot be saved.
Shakyamuni Buddha's objective is to guide and save all existences. However, if the victim has no desire to be guided and saved, even Shakyamuni Buddha cannot save him.
Transference of merit:
Q: How are the spirits ofthe deceased saved?
A:The good/bad behaviors that one has created become “In" (Cause) and the various good/bad things that one encounters are “Ka" (Effect/condition). This is the basic doctrine of Buddhism. Therefore, by building a good “Cause" through practices the HBS faith, a benefit of “Effect" can be brought about.
The good “Cause" that one accumulated through numerous chanting of the Odaimoku can be sent to the spirit of the deceased through the intervention of the Gohonzon. If a deceased person's spirit is in the lower realm and is suffering, transference of one's merit to another will assist the spirit to be reborn once again into the reaIm of human being. But in order for that spirit to attain enlightenment the person engaged in the transference of merit must be a practitioner of the HBS religion.
Transference of one's merit to another is returning the spirit of the deceased once again into our world and to provide a chance to come in contact with the religion of the Lotus Sutra.
What is Benefit (Goriyaku) of the soul?
Q:How does chanting of the Odaimoku change the condition of the soul?
A:Chanting the Odaimoku will assist you to enter into a condition of exchange with the Eternal Buddha, the very life of the universe. Through this exchange, the merits of Buddha enlightenment will flow into your soul. Thus, through continuous chanting of the Odaimoku, you will realize that you are being kept alive and a feeling of gratitude and joy will arouse your spirits. The way you treat others and your acceptance of things will change for the better.
Nichiren Shonin, who attempted to spread the teachings of the Lotus Sutra, possessed a sense of joy and gratitude toward the authorities and officials of the feudal Kamakura government (Bakufu) that persecuted him.
Nichiren Shonin stated that the persecution inflicted upon him by those persons allowed him to follow the predicted path elucidated in the Lotus Sutra as a practitioner.
He elaborated:“When I return to the land of the tranquil light, I will attempt to save the people who persecuted me".
By continuing to chant the Odaimoku faithfully, one will naturally be endowed with a soul serenity. Is there a more wonderful benefit as that?
Illness can be cured by faith:
Q:There is a parishioner, who was suffering from an internal disorder for a long time. Upon visiting her, she informed me that she had to undergo surgery.
Taking the opportunity, I advised her to ameliorate her religious pose and pray at the temple, and have other parishioners hold a prayer service on her behalf. Her response was, “If illness can be cured through religious service, there is no need for doctors". How can I change her way of thinking?
A:HBS does not expound that, “One should not see a doctor, nor undergo surgery, nor by practicing the faith, illness will be cured". Medicine and religion, basically, are not mutually exclusive. They supplements and cooperates with each other.
The temple played a role in curing illness for the people in the past. For example, Prince Shotoku, during the construction of the Shintenoji Temple in Osaka, built the Seyaku Clinic where the poor could receive medication and care in the same compound. This type of institutions proclaimed by the Emperor Komyo was the model for today's institutional system.
HBS recommends that when parishioners are not feeling well they should consult a doctor and, if surgery is necessary, to proceed with the prescribed remedy. In conjunction with the medical treatment, one should worship at the temple by chanting the Odaimoku. The sick should gladly accept a prayer service on their behalf by the members of the temple so he/she could receive a divine reward in thier time of need.
First, be determined to depend on the faith and offer a prayer to the Gohonzon. An illness that requires a surgery may recover eariyer.
Secondly, parishioners who accumulated merits through every day practices will lessen their suffering and pain.
Thirdly, parishioners will be guided to a good hospital and doctors. They will be taken care of in the best and safest manner.
Fourth, a prayer service by parishioners will simultaneously take place while the surgery is being conducted. This will ensure a satisfactory conclusion. A post-surgery prayer services will also help for a speedy recovery.
Why do belivers encounter accidents?
Q:A converted Believer encountered an automobile accident. He was spared his life but was hospitalized. The car was so severely damaged that it was a write-off. While the parishioner did not express it verbally, he had doubts as to why he had not been spared of the accident.
A:Parishioners' feeling of acceptance about accidents and catastrophes can be largely divided into the following categories:
1. Self inflicted sins.
Car accidents can be self-inflicted due to one's carelessness caused by ignoring traffic signs and reckless driving. Also, if a parishioner practices religion in name only, and ignore the practice of going to the temple, one will not be awarded benefits from the Gohonzon. It is better to blame oneself than to possess a bitter feeling toward the faith.
Nissen Shonin stated: “To receive benefit depends on one's deepness or shallowness in the faith. Do not say that the Law refrains from awarding benefits when your faith was weak".
2. A warning (admonition) from the Gohonzon.
Having received benefits in the past and owing a debt of gratitude to the Gohonzon, neglecting or having doubts or disillusionment about the religion, one may receive a “penalty" punishment. Recognize “it as an admonition from the Gohonzon" and accept it as benevolence from the Gohonzon.
It is important to have a soul of repentance and to make improvements.
3. A Serious Incident becomes a Lesser one:
This usually means warding off what could have potentially been a serious incident. Examples include canceling a trip at the last moment only to find out that the plane you were scheduled to board had crashed.
Is Fuse a fee?
Q:Is it proper to construe that a Fuse made to a priest at an Oko Service is a fee?
A:The late 17th Head Priest of HBS, Ishioka Nichiyo Shonin, described “Fuse" as follows:
The Fuse given to a priest is not a fee. An Oko Service is to listen to the teachings of the Buddha and paying gratitude to Buddha's great benevolence and to Nichiren Shonin's great mercy and compassion. The beneficence is not for the priest. It is to be offered to the Gohonzon. The priest is merely taking charge of the Fuse. Upon returning to the temple, the priest presents the Fuse to the altar and addresses it by saying, “This is from the true heart of the parishioners". In turn, the parishioners can receive benefits.
There are two types of beneficence; One is, “Expounding the teachings of Buddhism to others (Hosse)", and the other, “Giving material gifts or donations to others (Zaise)".
“Hosse" is bestowing and elucidating Buddha's teachings. “Zaise" is supporting the sect and temples. It can be construed as an offering made to the priest of the parishioner's own free will to aiding them.
For example, at an Oko Service the priest preaches the teachings of the Lotus Sutra to accumulate merits of “Hosse". In response, the attending parishioners provide Fuse to accumulate the merits of “Zaise". As such, the Fuse is for the reason of mercy and compassion provided by the Buddha, and to accumulate one's own merits. It is wrong to think of it as a fee.
Why dose Buddha inflict penalties?:
Q:The Buddha and Nichiren Shonin are deeply compassionate individuals. Why do they impose penalties?
Likewise, why are some parishioners penalized for slandering the Dharma and some are not? And why are non-parishioners, no matter how much they slander religion, not penalized?
A:A penalty is inflicted because the Buddha and Nichiren Shonin are deeply compassionate individuals. Nissen Shonin stated:“Persons who impose penalties are deeply loving and sympathetic persons". The Buddha, through compassion, imposes penalty so that, through repentance, one can improve on his/her religious practices. He never penalizes anyone based on hate or opposition.
From this standpoint, the penalty from the Buddha and Nichiren Shonin is to subdue evil and it is a type of benefit. Thus, HBS crown the Chinese character of “Penalty" (Bachi) with the honorific “O" and refers to it as “Obachi".
Next, in response to slandering the Dharma and negligence, Nissen Shonin stated: “To consider a penalty as a penalty is a penalty". In some instance, one may be unaware that he may have been provided with a penalty. Further, Nissen Shonin stated: “Not encountering penalty is a true penalty. Unless penalty is provided, a soul of religion will not arise". The Buddha and Nichiren Shonin have abandoned those people who slandered the Dharma.
In answer to why outsiders are not penalized, Nissen Shonin stated:“It is beyond argument for non-students or a person that does not want to learn anything". Only by entering into a path of learning, one can learn. Since non-believers have no affinity for religion there is no way to provide them with a penalty.
There is also a penalty that is “Provided to oneself by oneself". Because one has ignored the rules of living, by retribution they encounter misfortunes and must undergo hardships. There are numerous examples of self-inflicted penalties.
Self-inflicted penalties and penalties provided by Buddha's compassion must be considered separately.