January 1, 2021

Always Spare a Thought for Each Other

Rev. Hosei Nakagawa, Chief Administrator of Nichiren Shu

I would like to extend my New Year Greetings. In my New Year Greetings last year, I mentioned that the year of 2019 was the pre-final year of the 800th anniversary of our Founder’s birth, hoping that everyone would deeply appreciate how miraculous it was that Nichiren Shonin came into being 800 years ago. Seeing what has happened since, however, I find unexpectedly difficult days waiting for us. Today the whole world has been plunged into chaos due to an unseen enemy — the novel coronavirus.

As the serious disease is creeping up on us, fears eat away at our hearts. All of the elaborately prepared commemorating events and memorial services were left with no alternative but to be reduced or canceled. I am sure that this extraordinary situation will allow us to find some better ways of honoring the 800th anniversary of his birth. I hope that you will be able to spend your precious time with gratitude and affection, far away from worries and anxiety.

It is now the auspicious year of the 800th anniversary of our Founder’s birth. It may be difficult to celebrate his birth as we originally planned, but I think that it will repay our debt of gratitude towards Nichiren Shonin to realize how he lived while facing grief and woes in the Age of Degeneration, and to have as ardent a passion as he had to spread the Dharma teachings in this period of uncertainty. The Lotus Sutra says that it is difficult to keep this sutra, but Nichiren Shonin kept his faith in the Lotus Sutra even at the risk of his life. He lived up to the Lotus Sutra. If we can follow the way he lived his life, we can live up to the Lotus Sutra.

We are now facing unprecedented difficulties. We have to overcome this harsh reality with the heart of being in one mind. This will let us deeply appreciate the miracle of his birth. Be aware that we are the practitioners of the Lotus Sutra and that we can attain peace of mind filled with his compassion toward us. I truly hope that all of you can put into practice our slogan of Inochi Ni Gassho, Praying to Life, to realize a peaceful land of the Buddha through the Odaimoku. May the New Year be full of success and happiness for you.