Attended the annual Oeshiki service at the Sacramento Nichiren Buddhist Church. During Ven. Kenjo Igarashi’s sermon he explained that 735 years ago Nichiren “returned to his original place.” That orginal place is as Jogyo, Superior Practice Bodhisattva, one of four leaders of the Buddha’s original desciples.
We decorate with paper flowers on bamboo branches in remembrance of the cherry tree that bloomed out of season on Oct. 13. 1282, when Nichiren died.
In Japan, Nichiren’s memorial is treated like a festival, with crowds parading with lanterns drapped in flowers, beating drums and ringing bells and dancing.
Why is everyone happy? Nichiren Shonin was a desciple of the original Sakyamuni Buddha, the Eternal Buddha. He was already a Bodhisattva. He chose to be born into this suffering world. It was his intention to enter this world to save people.
Everyone has causes and conditions that bring them to this suffering world. Everyone has a Buddha seed within them. If you don’t practice, you can’t get a good condition. The seed needs condition – soil, water, sun – otherwise it never grows. Everybody has a Buddha nature, this seed. That is why when you chant Namu-Myoho-Renge-Kyo you can approach enlightenment.
The Lotus Sutra is the supreme teaching of Sakyamuni Buddha. Today we can study the Lotus Sutra and chant Namu-Myoho-Renge-Kyo because Nichiren Shonin chose to come back to this suffering world. That’s why today the memorial service for Nichiren Shonin expresses our gratitude to him for his gift to us.