Indian Mission 2006
It file was onky draft of Speech in India.
Thank you very much for giving us this precious opportunity today. It is my greatest honor to speak on HBS’ main ideas and teachings at this wonderful place.
First of all, let me introduce myself. My name is Seijun Nagamatsu, head monk of the two temples in Yokohama and Kyoto, Japan. My family have been monks for many generations. We are one of the oldest monk families in Japan. I belong to the fifth generation from the Great Master Nissen Shonin, who established our Buddhism sect HBS exactly 150 years ago in Kyoto. In other words, my great, great, great grand father was the HBS founder, Great Master Nissen Nagamatsu. Simply put, my great grand father, my grand father and my father were also HBS monks. I was born into a traditional Buddhist family like this. However, I couldn’t tamely become a Buddhist monk. I was not able to develop pure faith when I was in my teens. The path that I followed to become a monk was a little rough and winding. I felt a little apathetic against the idea of becoming a monk at that time. That is why I have a rather strange profile for a Buddhist monk.
Today, I am going to talk about why and how I decided to become a monk, how I came to receive the meritorious benefits out of the chanting of Lotus Sutra and how I started to develop pure faith.
I was born in a Buddhist temple, which means that I knew the faith of HBS from my birth. Since my childhood, I had seen my parents live in a way like a Bodhisattva lifestyle. They were always saying, “For the Buddha”, “For the people”. These words of my parents gave me some special feelings and spiritual emotions in favor of HBS. Naturally, my dream as a child was to become a Buddhist monk, but it was only during the period of my low teens.
When I was growing up, Japan was in the high economic growth period. The growth rate was gradually diminishing, but Japan was already on a high plateau of economic development after the 15 years of frenzy growth. Along the way, I forgot my dream of becoming a monk while fully enjoying the life in this super-affluent, mass-consumption society. I became crazy about and got addicted to sports and high school and university life, paying much less attention to the importance of having faith. Even though I was a member of a traditional Buddhist family, I wasn’t able to make my mind up to be a monk. My parents sat back and kept waiting for me to grow up.
I LOVED sports. I had participated in two Jet Ski World Championships before I became a professional jet skier. This experience as a pro led me to an appearance in two movies as an actor. Actually, my student life was successful. But as far as faith is concerned, I think I was confused for so many years in my high teens and my early twenties.
Soon after graduating from my university, I decided to get enrolled in the HBS post-graduate school in the head temple of the HBS. I tried my best to practice and study Buddhism there. I studied various ancient wisdoms. Buddhism has about 84,000 sutras; there are various sects including Mahayana, Hinayana, Tibetan, Zen, Sokagakkai, Nichiren, etc. Each sect respects a different sutra; various sects pursue different styles or modes of practice and ritual. In the initial months of my two-year study at this graduate school, I was so confused about what the true intention of Shakyamuni Buddha is that I decided to study various points of view. I wondered which sutra best reveals the true intention of Buddha. I questioned myself, “Why Lotus Sutra?” “Why chanting of Lotus Sutra?” My study at the head temple was further extended to include Judaism, Christianity and Islam. These are all ancient wisdoms that have spread all over the world. I still strongly believe that religious people need to study and understand other religions different from their own school or sect. It was this questing mind that made me travel all the way to Jerusalem a few years ago.
In the head temple of HBS, I carried out various studies in pursuit of the true intention of Shakyamuni Buddha. My teacher was Rev. Nisso Fukuoka. A few years later, I felt it. I felt, “Oh, I have discovered Buddha’s intention!” With this realization, I returned to my Yokohama temple. My father was very glad to see me back. A bad son became a good monk, coming back home to work with his father in the same temple. My family is very warm. My father loved us; we loved him more than that.
Anyway, my faith was still only in my brains and it was mere knowledge. A week later, my father had a serious accident, which eventually made me realize that my faith was yet immature. He fell 6 meters down a bluff in the precinct of our temple in Yokohama. He got his skull fractured and his brains severely damaged. He lost consciousness. I panicked. He is our beloved father. His doctor blatantly declared to us, “There is no way to save his life”. This meant that no one was able to save our father.
As I’m not a medical doctor, there was nothing I could do for my father. Knowing that, I still wanted to help him out; I wanted to do something for him. Then I started chanting Lotus Sutra from the bottom of my heart and soul. I couldn’t pray gently or quietly, but rather wanted to scream. I prayed to Buddha, “Please help out my father”, and wholeheartedly chanted Namu Myoho Renge Kyo. We chanted for consecutive 49 days, 24 hours a day -- literally days and nights.
Forty-nine days later, he finally came out of a coma. Everybody here may understand the meaning of 49 days. In Buddhism, 49 days has a special meaning. After my father got thoroughly well, the doctor confessed to us, “This is a complete miracle!” After this incidence, my faith changed from that of mere knowledge to pure faith.
Great Master Nichiren gave us this sacred Mandara, object of worship. This is living Buddha himself. This is not mere Chinese characters inscribed on a sheet of paper.
My family was saved by the sacred Buddha, Mandara, Mantra chanting, the force of Buddha and his mercy. I myself was salvaged by Buddha through this accident of my father. I now knew the true intention of Buddha and the faith in Lotus Sutra. After this experience, I came to be able to engage in Bodhisattva work.
It does not only fulfill our desire. The title of Lotus Sutra, Namu Myoho Renge Kyo, is not only for healing people, for saving somebody’s life, or for gaining money. The person might not be saved through healing sick people or giving out money to poor people. Many people who apparently live happily can be actually trapped in the vicious circle of suffering, too. Even if their desires are fulfilled, they are likely to suffer more. The faith in Lotus Sutra, and above all, the faith in the true intention of Shakyamuni Buddha saves not only suffering persons but all people. We firmly believe that Buddha's teaching is not a mere philosophy.
Buddha's teaching is not anything like “social life should be thrown away” or “To become a priest, special training must be carried out”, and the comprehension is open either too. Lotus Sutra explains to people how to live their lives. It is a life led by Buddha.
We chant every morning and every evening. Even when you are extremely busy bringing up a child or you are very busy working at a company, please remember that your mind can be polished while you chant this Mantra.
Chanting reduces bad karma and increases good karma. Therefore, blessings visit you from the other side. We explain that the whole world can also be saved by such an individual experience of developing faith. It is like my experience.
If everyone can chant Namu Myoho Renge Kyo in unison, suffering will disappear from all over the world. Buddha's true intention is exactly this. What is necessary for the current world and our society is only this individual chanting as well as joint chanting.
I am now convinced that all the unbelievable things of old times were something that really happened. Therefore, for your happy life, for your suffering life and for your successful life, please try to chant the Mantra of Lotus Sutra, Namu Myoho Renge Kyo. That is the True Intention of Eternal Shakyamuni Buddha.
Thank you very much.