Last year, marking the centennial of Founder Nikkyo Niwano's birth,
was a major turning point for Rissho Kosei-kai. This year can be said
to represent a new start. Let us ensure that this year is a year in
which we focus on what is most important and strive toward it.
The year 2006, the centennial of the founder's birth, was punctuated
by various activities and ceremonies, including ceremonies to mark the
completion of renovation of the Great Sacred Hall and the opening of
the Nikkyo Niwano Memorial Museum in the Horin-kaku Guest Hall, and
commemorative group pilgrimages. I understand that branches around the
country also held a variety of events and workshops. I am sure all this
made all members profoundly aware of having been saved through the
I myself regard this year as a time in which to transmit the joy of
being saved by the founder to ever more people. Let us vow to one
another to endeavor to unite our hearts to save others, in the spirit
of the Buddha's dictum to "make the self your light, make the Law your
Last year, too, the Eighth World Assembly of the World Conference of
Religions for Peace was held in Kyoto. I wish to express my deep
gratitude for all the cooperation provided by members. Taking part in
the assembly, I felt anew that true peace will be brought about on the
basis of religion. As I listened to the discussions and debates, I was
struck by the importance of what Buddhism calls "right view"
(recognition of truth). My belief that transmitting Buddhism as a world
religion to more countries is essential to peace was reconfirmed.
In view of this, Rissho Kosei-kai decided to establish a new office,
Kosei-kai International, this year. This will be a longterm initiative,
but I believe that if we propagate the teachings with a firm grasp of
the heart of Buddhism, in the course of time we will see a great ripple
The heart of Buddhism, in brief, is compassion, which is to say the
transmission of truth to others. Also essential is mindfulness. Without
mindfulness we are left simply with clashing opinions; that is not
religion. It is mindfulness that illuminates our commonalities, binds
us together, and leads to peace in the true sense. It is important that
we proceed with international propagation with a firm grasp of this
Awakening to and Transmitting the Law
In meetings with Rissho Kosei-kai leaders last year, I presented the
guiding principle for 2007. Here, in essence, is what I said: This year
 is an "ordinary year." In such a time I would like to see us
address the important proposition of "cultivating the field of the
heart and mind" and engage in endeavor while studying the essence of
Buddhism as a teaching and a religion of awakening. The first step is
found in the Dhammapada: "Difficult is the attainment of the human
state. / Difficult the life of mortals."* Let us begin by understanding
the meaning of this verse, which leads to realizing the truth of the
law of impermanence, the fact that everything in the world undergoes
constant change. That leads in turn to awakening to the wonder,
preciousness, and rarity of the lives of ourselves and others. For us,
living here and now, this means the all-important discovery of the
worth of life, and of joy. Conveying that joy to others is the
important mission of those who have received the Mahayana teaching. In
order to fulfill this mission, this year too let us all impress upon
our hearts the Lotus Sutra's teaching of "birth by aspiration" and walk
the Way of the Buddha together in a big-hearted, forthright manner.
All this is what I am always saying to members; it is nothing new.
But I reemphasized it in the wish that, having passed the major
milestone of the centennial of the founder's birth and greeted a year
that signals a new start, we will concentrate on that which is most
Buddhism is the teaching of awakening. This is not something others
do to us; it is something we achieve, and savor the joy of, for
ourselves. Only when we can convey that joy to others can we say that
we have a self-reliant faith. If we simply savor joy ourselves, we have
not truly become self-reliant as believers in the Mahayana principle of
benefiting both oneself and others.
In 1998, the sixtieth anniversary of the foundation of Rissho
Kosei-kai, we made "cultivating the field of the heart and mind" our
objective. That year I also published a book with the same title. There
is a saying, "The peach and chestnut take three years to bear fruit,
the persimmon eight years." Over the past several years members
nationwide have understood the meaning of "cultivating the field of the
heart and mind." Members' personal testimonies reveal that many have
interpreted these words in truly magnificent ways. I hope that we will
elucidate that direction still more and engage in further endeavor
Kneeling before and Taking Refuge in the Buddha
At meetings with leaders last year Rissho Kosei-kai's objectives for
the new year were also set forth. I find it extremely important that
priority was given to "faith in saving and being saved centered on hoza" and "enhanced youth development."
I believe that transmission of the Law in the course of everyday conversation and dialogue is the ideal. Rissho Kosei-kai's hoza represents one structure for doing so. In hoza,
people convey faith in ordinary language by honestly relating personal
experiences and frankly confessing shortcomings. That is where
salvation is found. It is a wonderful thing.
What is important for people is to know. This process is the most
salient human characteristic and action. Through knowing, faith in the
Buddha is born. And faith and only faith leads to spontaneous practice.
The Buddha taught the Law using a variety of parables so that his
hearers could know the truth. It is said that those listening
experienced immediate conversion, bowed their heads in thanksgiving,
and were filled with joy. Those occasions were the prototype of the hoza, where people are saved on the spot.
By knowing the truth the heart is converted. Innumerable people who
have been worrying over their children have had the experience of being
able to think from the bottom of the heart, "It is thanks to this child
that I have been led to the teaching of the Buddha; I am truly
grateful." Even if the phenomena do not change, suffering ceases to be
suffering. Instead, people are able to give thanks for what they had
felt to be suffering and to see the working of the Buddha in suffering.
It is a case of "if it weren't for this child" or "thanks to this
child." Hoza attempts to bring about that conversion. Let us further develop hoza, where warm hearts commune and where the experience of saving and being saved is to be found.
Meanwhile, youth development is always an important issue. Recently,
in Japan, there has been a succession of suicides by children as a
result of bullying. This is an extremely grave issue, and one that we
must all address earnestly. To do so, it is important to interact
directly with young people in various ways. But approaching parents is
also essential. Most important is the attitude of mothers, who give
birth to and rear children, since swelling the ranks of mothers who are
resolved to protect their children at all costs and bring them up
properly leads to youth development in the true sense. Of course the
role of fathers is also important. It is vital that the entire family
tackle youth development.
In Buddhist terms, the ultimate aim of education is to foster people
who kneel before and take refuge in the Buddha. As indicated by the
guiding principle for 2007, this is achieved through realization of the
essence of Buddhism. Transmitting the joy of having been saved through
the founder to others, international propagation, hoza, and
youth development-in the end, all result in increasing the number of
people who kneel before and take refuge in the Buddha. Focusing on
this, let us engage in endeavor together this year.
* John Ross Carter and Mahinda Palihawadana, trans., The Dhammapada (Oxford:
Oxford University Press, 1987), p. 34.
This article was originally published in the April-June 2007 issue of
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