by Reverend Hiroyasu Hosoyama Minister of Rissho Kosei-kai Los Angeles
After the Setsubun (Seasonal Division), we have welcomed a new year on the Chinese Statistical Calendar. It is natural to hope that the new year will be bright and peaceful for ourselves, society, and the world. However, the news that comes in is filled with child abuse, murders, robberies, and even wars that show mass killings and other heartbreaking things. We have learned that all life is connected and that we are living only one life. The absence of conflict and confrontation is the true nature of human beings, but why is this happening and what should we, the practitioner of the Lotus Sutra, do about it?
In his New Year Guidance and in his Goshinkyo (the First Dharma Talk), Our President has given us some suggestions regarding those questions. The following is a summary of what he wanted to deliver to us in each of his Dharma guidance.
According to “the New year Guidance”:
INNER PEACE ⑴ What each of us must strive for, first and foremost is inner peace.” It can be said that even war is ultimately triggered by the working of the human heart. It is important to regularly look inside ourselves, and ask, “How am I? Do I have a peaceful frame of mind?” And we should break the habit of always complaining or looking at things in a negative way.
FAMILY ⑵ The family, the smallest unit of society, is to realize "Seika" (to prepare the family), in which solid human education and character building are conducted with the Gohozen as the core. This will lead to the governance of the nation and peace in the world.
COMPASSION for ALL
⑶ Each of us must continue to take an interest in faraway countries. And from our thoughts about those who are facing difficult realities and sharing their suffering and sorrow, deep prayer and action for the next step should emerge.
GRATITUDE ⑷ Every morning during our sutra recitation we are filled with gratitude, with the feeling of “I am truly grateful" or "thanks to you.” Each morning is the source of living each day carefully and to the best of one's ability. The accumulation of these feelings will lead to a fulfilling life.
SEEK ⑸ It is vital that we live our lives with the feeling that we are always incomplete, that we will always be pushing and seeking, saying "I don't know, I don't know," and that is what it means “cultivating the fields in the hearts and minds of each person.
Next, in “the Goshinkyo (the First Dharma Talk), when asked what is the fundamental nature of human life, he quotes the words of Masahiro Yasuoka, Japanese thinker and philosopher.
⑴ The universe is a microcosm. Daily vigorous work and new creations are the “human instincts.”
⑵ The universe opens the mind through human beings, and virtue arises. Learning and virtuous deeds (i.e., moral and good deeds) are the “essence of human beings.”
⑶ The universe creates human beings, and human beings create families, relatives, and peoples, and through their interactions create societies, nations, and the world. What makes creation flourish is good, and what harms it is evil. It is the “duty of human beings” to love one another, help one another, and protect one another in order to advance the good and save the bad. “The world is not moving in that direction, but I believe that we must move forward with this in mind," he said, “comparing the ‘fundamental nature of human beings’ with the universe in order to realize world peace.”
Furthermore, our president must have been deeply impressed by the dialogue between Dr. Haruo Saji, Doctor of astrophysicist, and Professor Emeritus Kazuo Murakami of Tsukuba University, titled "The World of the Universe Connecting Everything," which showed that the most advanced results of quantum phisics and genetic engineering today and the spirit of the Lotus Sutra as taught by Buddha Shakyamuni 2,500 years ago are in perfect agreement in regard to the relationship between the universe and humans.
For example, Dr. Saji's words, "More than 10 billion years have passed since the birth of the universe, and I cannot help but feel that I, who am here now, am not living alone, but am being kept alive by all things," and "All living things use the same gene number. I have come to believe that all living things are connected from this point on," said Professor Emeritus Murakami. At the end of their discussion, both of them concluded with saying, “Everything in the universe is fundamentally connected.”
Our president said “How we view life is very important to us as followers of Buddhism. Seeing the wonders of the universe motivates us to learn everything we can. I hope to devote myself together with all of you without losing your soshin (original mind).” He concluded his guidance by explaining the terms （soshin and genki）in two scrolls used as the first writing of the new year by saying, "Let us continue our efforts to build a world of peace with joy and “genki (good energy)".
Now, looking back to the “Circulatory Fortune of the Star and Reference in 2023” that we handed out at the Setsubun-e as a guide. As you know, this year is the year of the Four Green from the Nine Stars. The Founder said that in order to make this year a year of hope, we must follow the will of gods and buddhas, be well aware of the truth, “three thousand realms in one mind”, and strive to make all human beings truly honest and upright. This doctrine also known as "abbreviated Lotus," is a simple expression of the spirit of the Lotus Sutra, which teaches that the state of one's mind at a given moment affects the whole of the three thousand worlds (all the worlds of this world and the entire universe).
If this is the case, then we need to look inside ourselves daily to see if our own mind is truly peaceful, refreshing, and clear. Looking at the Ten Celestial signs and Twelve Zodiac of the year. In the Celestial sign, it is said to be "a time for a fresh start, a time for washing away worldly values, setting a straight path, and developing a pure and innocent spirit." In the zodiac signs, "Change will become even more serious and imminent than last year. Those signs also indicate that the door will open only when we help each other. This suggests that everyone will make a fresh start, help and support each other, renew their own minds, and devote themselves to the path of renovation.
Already, our president has shown us how our hearts and minds should be toward peace. This year we need to take a hard look at what true peace, joy, and abundance are. In the midst of difficult and challenging circumstances, we need to renew ourselves, fulfill our roles as members of a family, and build warm relationships and a secure society by being a bridge of goodwill, caring for others, and offering kind words. Our slogan for this year at Los Angeles Dharma center Faith Renewal Building Local Community through Sangha Harmony.
I believe that working toward this goal with the “many in body and one in spirit” is precisely what is in line with this year's fortunes.