President Delivers First Dharma Talk of New Year
President Nichiko Niwano delivered his first Dharma talk of 2011 on January 7 in the Great Sacred Hall at Rissho Kosei-kai headquarters in Tokyo before a gathering of some 3,400 members. Members rededicated themselves to spiritual progress throughout the new year. The event was relayed by satellite TV to all of the organization's Dharma Centers across Japan.
The ceremony began with offerings of lighted candles and flowers at the altar before the image of the Eternal Buddha Shakyamuni. President-designate Kosho Niwano then led the assembly in the sutra chanting, and Rev. Yasutaka Watanabe, chair of the board of trustees, offered New Year's greetings, observing that 2011 brings the twentieth anniversary of President Niwano's inheritance of the Lamp of the Dharma from Founder Nikkyo Niwano. Rev. Watanabe said it was important for every member to follow the president's guidance and the wishes of the Buddha and the founder.
Two members stood before the assembly to rededicate themselves to practice of the Buddha's teachings.
Two hanging scrolls of President Niwano's first traditional Japanese calligraphy of the New Year were displayed above the stage. One scroll bore the characters for gassho (the respectful gesture of greeting with the hands joined in prayer) and the other the characters for hoto (the Lamp of the Dharma).
In his first Dharma talk of the year, President Niwano began by saying that a lamp has symbolized the Buddha's teachings since his death 2,500 ago and that twenty years had passed since he himself had inherited the Lamp of the Dharma from his father. He said that as he wrote his first calligraphy of the year, he decided to share with all members his thoughts on the meaning of the Lamp of the Dharma.
President Niwano went on to say that the purpose of walking the Buddha Way is to perfect ourselves, and that success in this depends on our way of life. He added that it is good to read many books and learn a lot, but he emphasized that while reading many books can help us perfect ourselves, it is important to apply in daily life all the things we learn from reading books and chanting the sutra.
Furthermore, referring to the Buddha's last words, "All phenomena are always changing. Endeavor to practice my teachings diligently," he emphasized that self-perfection requires lifelong commitment. He said that after finding happiness through the teachings, we should share what we have learned with our children and grandchildren and everyone around us. He said Buddhists have done this throughout the 2,500 years since the Buddha's time, and that countless people have made the Dharma the light of their lives.
President Niwano said that members of Rissho Kosei-kai, inheriting the teachings from the founder and bequeathing them from one generation to the next, will bring true happiness to all people. He said each member who carries the Lamp of the Dharma and shares it with other people helps fulfill the Buddha's wish, spreading happiness and contributing to world peace.
After the service in the Great Sacred Hall, members were treated to traditional rice porridge with seven kinds of spring herbs outside the entrance.
[back to News Archive]