President Niwano Visits Two Dharma Centers in Disaster Areas
The president of Rissho Kosei-kai, Rev. Nichiko Niwano, visited Iwate Prefecture March 20-22, parts of which were devastated by the earthquake and tsunami that hit northeastern Japan on March 11, 2011. He was accompanied by Mrs. Niwano and Rev. Sadahide Murayama, director of the Ohu Division.
President Niwano visited the Kamaishi Dharma Center on the morning of March 21 and paid homage at the Buddhist altar and chanted the O-daimoku three times. He had visited the center once before, on March 28, 2011. At a welcoming ceremony attended by 141 members, Rev. Katsukuni Kobayashi, the center's minister, reviewed what had happened in the year since the disaster and stressed the importance of gratitude for the gift of life and of pledges to continue helping the victims. After that, two members testified to their faith. They recounted their experiences in the aftermath of the disaster; the current plight of most local members, who still live in temporary housing; their efforts for the enshrinement of an image of the Eternal Buddha and the Dharma titles of the founder and cofounder at every member household's home altar; and the merits of special pilgrimages for disaster victims to Rissho Kosei-kai's headquarters in Tokyo last October, arranged by the Rissho Kosei-kai's Pilgrimage Group.
In his Dharma talk, President Niwano said, "We will find joy in being useful to others." He emphasized that contentment with little and appreciation for everything are the greatest sources of human happiness. He concluded, "Let us diligently practice the Buddha's teachings together in a spirit of cheerfulness, kindness, and warmheartedness."
President Niwano visited the Hanamaki Dharma Center on the morning of March 22 and was welcomed by 236 members. It was his first visit there in 20 years. After worshipping at the Buddhist altar, he heard two members testify to their faith.
One member described what she had learned from contact with the family of an older member who perished in last year's disaster. The other member thanked fellow members of the sangha for their compassion in helping her and pledged further efforts to help the center celebrate its 20th anniversary.
In his Dharma talk, President Niwano said human survival depends on others' support and no one can get ahead solely by their own efforts. He concluded by saying that gratitude not only for other people but for everything that exists promotes an energetic, healthy way of life.
Rev. Yukiko Iwama, the center's minister, then made an address on the importance of gratitude and confirmed that the center's members have contributed to the welfare of disaster victims through the support of Zenyu-tai, Rissho Kosei-kai headquarters' relief team.
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