Zennichimaro Is Born: Nichiren
by Henry Landry
Statue of Nichiren
The following is an email received by Henri Landry, from The Buddha List:
“I am a Fisherman’s Son”
The Ontanjo-e Ceremony celebrates the birth and advent of Nichiren Daishonin,
Great Sage, Messenger, Bodhisattva, almost 800 years ago.
It is significant that the man who would give birth to a new Buddhist School, as predicted by Shakyamuni, “after the fifth five hundred years after my passing,” would be born on the calendar day following Shakyamuni Buddha’s passing. Gautama Shakyamuni, died on February 15 and on the 16th some 2,120 years later, a fishermans sons who was destined to become the Sun Lotus Messenger was born. An accident? I think not. In the Twenty First Chapter of the Lotus Sutra we are told, “Just as the light of the sun and moon illuminates all obscurity, this person will practice among the people and dispel the darkness…”
The Otanjo-e Ceremony which celebrates the advent of Nichiren Sun-Lotus Daishonin Great Sage naturally is a big event annually at the major Nichiren Temples. The celebration begins with a procession of the priesthood, the monastic community and lay persons coming before the Head Priest, who is sitting facing West, asymbol of the next phase of the spread of the Buddha Dahrma wisdom spreading throughout the World. Together everyone asks three times that the universal Law be taught to help relieve the sufferings of the sentient BE-ings.
The ceremony is symbolic of the Eleventh Chapter of the Lotus Sutra in which the historical first earthly Buddha who manifests as a human Being, Shakyamuni reveals the profound teachings of the Buddha-way. In this chapter an Immense Treasure Tower emerges from the ground and remains suspended in the air, then Taho Buddha from a far distant Eastern Universe appears and tells everyone, “Excellent, excellent. You Shakyamuni have expounded the Lotus Sutra, the teaching of equality and great wisdom, to this great multitude. Thus it is, what you, Shakyamuni, have expounded is true.”
With the advent of Nichiren in the 13th Century, the gate of the Western world opened to the compassionate, peaceful Buddhist philosophy teachings, signifying the spread of the Buddha Dharma through the Sound Meditation, chanting of the Infinite Title of the Lotus Sutra.
Nichiren lived in the middle dark ages and, history records that nearly one half the population died of the plague, political power struggles, war and natural causes in his lifetime. By the time he was 35 he was convinced that the Buddhist gods had abandoned his country of Japan, and could see that other countries were also in the throws of darkness, illusion, power struggles and death. He questioned why his country was in turmoil and realized the times were such that no one was practicing life on the basis of sincere spiritual sustain-ability and correct Buddha-way as explained within the Lotus Sutra regarding time, space and practice.
Nichiren leaves us with three practical Ways of Method, Practice and Place; method is wisdom to take One’s vows and embrace the Nichiren tradition, local Community Sangha and closest Regional Temple. Practice is the daily offerings of chanting and meditation. And the place is found within Oneself, the high sanctuary of our life; in a Buddha Centre in the spiritual space in our homes.
Nichiren Daishonin showed that as predicted historically, the Latter Day of the Law had begun about 220 years earlier and that the ways of the Buddha Dharma of earlier Ages no longer held the energy force for the current times. Following the predictions of the Lotus Sutra he recog- nized that the 10,000 years of the Buddha Dharma of Sowing as the time for all humans to obtain answers to all of life’s challenges, obtaining peaceful means in this life-time; finding happiness, wisdom and enlightenment through faith, practice and study. From the Lotus Sutra’s perspective and Nichiren’s perspective; Earth is the pure land, we need to protect the environment and
empower ourselves and others through experience and wisdom.
This is the Buddha-way of today, a time called the Buddha-way of Sowing. The freeway to help end suffering and to seek wisdom that leads to Nirvana. Nichiren Buddhist’s daily chant the words: “this is my constant thought, how can I cause all living beings to gain entry to the highest Way and quickly attain Buddhahood,” a personal offering, giving back to the Buddha his own words as a reminder of our goal and desire for peace in our neighbourhood and on mother Earth.
With the birth of Zennichimaro in a small fishing village in Japan, the Messenger who became Nichiren the doors to the Buddha Dharma began in earnest, for the time was correct as predicted by Shakyamuni, after the fifth five hundred years of his passing, for the Buddha-way to be open to All humanity on the pathway to freedom. How happy we are to celebrate the Birth-date of Nichiren Daishonin each February and everyday as we seek wisdom and enlightenment, through the teachings, daily practice and personal Realization.
Thus It Has Been Shared, Respectfully, Henry