January 1, 2022

Wishing for You to Become a Bodhisattva

In this early spring of 2022, I give my sincere compliments of the New Year season to all priests and devotees of Nichiren Shu, I truly wish all of you pure and restful happiness. 

An epidemic disease caused by the COVID-19 virus has been prevailing for two years. Though we receive vaccination for it and a treatment drug has been developed, all proper caution is still required, just as an old proverb says, “A little neglect may breed great mischief.” 

The coronavirus epidemic teaches us two important lessons, both good and bad. The dark side is that many people have selfish desires, caring only about themselves, or act with discrimination against those infected by the virus, and that, under the pretext of the coronavirus epidemic, we tend to slacken in our efforts and let up on our duties. 

How about the bright side? We have our eyes opened to the stern realities and have been awakened to what should be done. Nothing can be accomplished on our own. Whatever effort you may make, you cannot protect yourself against the coronavirus epidemic. It is difficult to achieve our goal just by following precedent. Just observing time-honored customs and streamlining duties are not what we are all about.

The tendency for Buddhist rituals and events to be simplified is marked these days. It is unavoidable to limit attendance or cancel a luncheon, but it is not good to minimize or simplify the sutra chanting. It is essential to chant a sutra for the deceased to lead to the great Nirvana. 

Another bright aspect is that we have an opportunity to reconsider how the original role as a Buddhist should be played. If we are bound too much to old manners for a Buddhist ritual, we are liable to forget or set aside the way it should be. The great purpose of sutra chanting is not only for the departed ones but also for bringing peace of mind to living beings. We must not forget to make ourselves attain Buddhahood! 

In Nichiren Shonin’s treatise, the Rissho Ankoku-ron, he said, “If you wish to have peace for yourself, you should first of all pray for the peace of the country.” You cannot reach the state of true tranquility just by seeking our own bliss. You need to pray for other people. When you take in his important lesson and put it into practice in daily life, you are already starting on the road to reach Buddhahood. I truly hope that all the people in the world will find the way of Bodhisattvas leading up to attain Buddhahood under such a coronavirus crisis. 

At the beginning of 2022, I hereby offer my New Year Greetings, wishing for each of us to lead the way in becoming a Bodhisattva.

With Gassho
Honorable Rev. Nissho Kanno, Archbishop of Nichiren Shu, Chief Abbot of Ikegami Honmonji Temple, Tokyo