Members Pray for Earthquake Victims on Buddha's Birthday
A ceremony celebrating Shakyamuni Buddha's birthday was held April 8 in the Great Sacred Hall at Rissho Kosei-kai headquarters in Tokyo, attended by some 3,000 members of the Tokyo District.
President-designate Kosho Niwano led the sutra recitation, and she included in the liturgy a prayer for the repose of the spirits of the victims of the earthquake and tsunami on March 11. She also prayed for the quick recovery of the survivors and their communities. After that, she read out a pledge of dedication to the Buddha written by President Nichiko Niwano and poured sweet hydrangea tea over an image of the infant Buddha in a small pagoda decorated with flowers, on the stage of the hall.
Children performed a dance in honor of the Buddha's birthday. After that, Rev. Yasutaka Watanabe, chair of the board of trustees, gave an address. He began by referring to his recent visit to the disaster areas. He said members in the disaster areas extended the circle of bodhisattva practice by helping their neighbors. He said it was important to cope with hardship by showing cheerfulness and kindness, which, he said, are inherent in every human being.
After that, President Niwano poured sweet hydrangea tea over the image of the infant Buddha on the stage of the hall and gave a Dharma talk.
President Niwano emphasized the importance of the Buddha's appearance in this world, saying that because of the birth of Shakyamuni some 2,500 years ago, people can be diligent in following his teachings. He described the wide range of the Buddha’s teachings, which include the five lay precepts, which forbid unnecessary killing, stealing, adultery, lying, and intemperance. He said observance of these precepts contributed to the formation of the Japanese national character. Furthermore, referring to the Genshi shiroku, a collection of essays by the Confucian scholar Sato Issai (1772-1859), President Niwano emphasized the need to recognize the importance of human relationships for leading a worthwhile life. He said people should examine their consciences on awakening each morning. In conclusion, he said the disasters of the earthquake and tsunami are an important opportunity for people to review what is most important in life, to avoid waste, make the most of others, and support one another as members of one family.
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