Rissho Kosei-kai Commemorates First Anniversary of March 11 Earthquake and Tsunami
On March 11 Rissho Kosei-kai members observed the first anniversary of the massive earthquake and tsunami that devastated parts of northeastern Japan. At memorial services they prayed not only for the dead but for reconstruction of the disaster areas.
The service in the Great Sacred Hall at the organization's headquarters in Tokyo, attended by some 3,500 members, was relayed by satellite TV to all Dharma centers throughout Japan and webcast to Dharma centers overseas. In the Great Sacred Hall, 4,500 paper cranes were placed along the rim of the altar before the image of the Eternal Buddha Shakyamuni. The cranes symbolized members' prayers for the repose of all those missing and presumed dead.
The service opened with a video, shown on a screen above the altar, of Dharma centers damaged by the disaster and of the organization's relief activities. After that, Rev. Waichiro Izumita, director of the Youth Department, and 26 youth members representing each of Rissho Kosei-kai's 26 divisions across Japan placed a list of the dead on the altar. The name of each deceased person was handwritten with a writing brush. Then 36 young women members of the Tokyo District brought offerings to the altar, and President-designate Kosho Niwano and 181 youth subleaders led the assembly in sutra recitation. Following this, the president-designate recited a prayer for merit transfer written by President Nichiko Niwano.
In his prayer, President Niwano referred to the devastation caused by the earthquake and tsunami and described how Rissho Kosei-kai members should help rebuild the disaster areas. He wrote, "By following in the footsteps of our forefathers, we can overcome the difficulties we are now facing. We must firmly recognize that we were born in this world to perfect ourselves and reveal our buddha-nature and that we live in a time when we should use our creativity to improve our communities and our country."
Another video was then shown of how people in the disaster areas were getting along. After that two members testified to their faith, and President Niwano burned incense and gave his Dharma talk. He described the importance of the Sangha, in which members have supported the disaster victims like "good friends" to help them overcome their hardships. He emphasized the importance of keeping in mind, especially in times of great difficulty, the significance of being born human. He encouraged members to be diligent in their practice of the teachings by realizing the preciousness and meaning of the gift of life. Referring to the government's role in rebuilding the disaster areas, he urged members to take a religious perspective in influencing politicians to work for the country's true benefit.
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