Today is April 28th, the birthday of Namu-myoho-renge-kyo.
It was at age 12 when Nichiren Daishonin began his study and practice of
Buddhism at Seicho-ji temple on Mt. Kiyosumi near his home in Tojo
Village, Awa Prefecture. For twenty years, until the age of 32, the pursuit of
his study of Buddhism, the
Lotus Sutra in particular, as well as other
religions, took him from Tojo Village to the temples and centers of religious
studies in Kamakura, Kyoto, Osaka and their surrounding areas. When his
studies were complete he returned to his homeland where the people who
loved him - his parents, his teacher and his brothers - lived. Back at
Seicho-ji he consolidated his realization into an absolute certainty that the
Lotus Sutra was the true teaching for all mankind.
In the very early morning on this day in the year 1253, 750 years ago, Nichiren Daishonin climbed to the
hilltop in the Kasagamori forest near Seicho-ji temple. The rays of sunlight were at the horizon just
before sunrise. The Daishonin trained his eyes on that point on the horizon and as the sun rose his voice
rose and intoned Namu-myo-ho-ren-ge-kyo. It was the first Namu-myoho-renge-kyo to be voiced in the
world. Since that day, in these 750 years, everything in the world has changed: our way of life,
developments in science and technology, our surroundings and environment, etc. Nevertheless, the
human heart and life itself have not changed -- they have remained the same.

At the time of his ordination as a priest, the Daishonin had been given the name Rencho by his master
Dozenbo who practiced the Shingon teachings. On the day that he proclaimed Namu-myoho-renge-kyo
as the true teaching for all mankind he renamed himself Nichiren.
Nichi represents the symbol of the sun.
Ren indicates the lotus blossom. The name Nichiren is based on passages in the Jinriki (21st) chapter of
the Lotus Sutra and the Yujutsu (15th ) chapter of the Lotus Sutra.

In the Jinriki chapter it read, "Just as the light of the sun and moon illuminates all obscurity, this person
will practice among the people and dispel the darkness of all mankind." The last two characters of this
passage are the word
seken             , which means the whole world -- "this person will practice for the
whole world." Think about this phrase. We can also find this passage in the
gosho "Letter to
Jakunichi-bo," "Giving myself the name Nichiren signifies that I attained enlightenment by myself. This
may sound boastful, but there are specific reasons for what I say. The sutra reads, 'Just as the light of the
sun and moon illuminates all obscurity, this person will practice among the people and dispel the darkness
of all mankind.' Consider exactly what this passage reveals. 'This person will practice among the people'
means that the first five hundred years of the
Latter Day of the Law will witness the advent of
Bodhisattva Jogyo, who will illuminate the darkness of human ignorance and earthly desires with the
torch of Namu-myoho-renge-kyo."

The Yujutsu (15th) chapter of the Lotus Sutra states, "They are not defiled by worldliness just as the
lotus-flower is not defiled by water."

Shakyamuni created the Lotus Sutra but he was not able to practice it or put it into a form for practical
use. In the
Maka Shikan T'ien-t'ai (538-597AD) put forth a philosophical theory explaining a  principle in
the Lotus Sutra which he called
ichinen sanzen, but this only partially and indistinctly revealed some
teachings of the Lotus Sutra. T'ien-t'ai was unable to expound the true meaning and establish the essential
practice of the Lotus Sutra. It was only Nichiren Daishonin who was able to live the Lotus Sutra and
establish a clear, precise and simple practice of the Lotus Sutra for the entire world.

It is now the Latter Day of the Law and Bodhisattva Jogyo has appeared. Now is our time to practice as
Nichiren Daishonin did and to save the world. In order to save the world we must chant the
daimoku of
the Lotus Sutra and tell others. This is the only way to attain enlightenment. In this age of the Latter Day
the Daishonin shows us what to do and how to do it. He is called the Buddha because it is he who has
given us the direct path to enlightenment. In the gosho the Daishonin warns that "if you understand that
you have the Buddha nature within you but you do not practice and live according to my teaching, then it
is as if you do not possess the Buddha nature at all." Therefore it is essential that we follow the Daishonin
and chant Namu-myoho-renge-kyo, especially on this day, April 28,which is the celebration of
Translated and edited by Udumbara Foundation volunteers.
By Reverend Raido Hirota
April 28, 2002
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the Nichiren Shoshu Shoshin-kai
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