On the 22nd and 23rd of October, six new leaders gathered at the LA Dharma center to receive “the Dharma Teacher Qualification” certificate. On the 22nd, a preliminary study session was held at 2:00 p.m. on the theme of “Determination as a Dharma Teacher”. They were ordered in advance to write a “Vow", whichhad already submitted to the HQs office, and we reviewed it again on this occasion. In addition, each of them had practiced the three-fold Lotus Sutra recitation at home before coming to the ceremony, so I believe that they had already developed a new awareness of becoming teachers.
On the 23rd, they participated in the 44th PresentationCeremony of the Dharma Teacher Qualification at the Great Sacred Hall via online video, which was broadcasted in advance, followed by the “Local Presentation Ceremony of the Dharma Teacher Qualification" at the LA Dharma Center. I, the minister handed a "Teacher Certificate," a "purple prayer beads for the teachers," and a “Sash for the Teachers" in a Paulownia wood box to each recipient. Two of the recipients came all the way from Dallas, so we believe that everyone at the Dallas Districtwas earnestly praying for them from there.
In Buddhisｍ terms, a "teacher" is a "dharma teacher," which can be understood as "one who preaches teachings" and "one who guides sentient beings," as stated in the “Teachers of The Dharma", Chapter 10 in the Lotus Sutra. A dharma teacher is also characterized as a "bodhisattva who wishes to be born," meaning that he or she was born into this world with the wish for liberation and happiness of others while already being pure, having practiced the Bodhisattva way in past lives, and having made offerings to many Buddhas in accordance with the teachings of the Lotus Sutra.
When we look back on the history of Rissho Kosei-kai from its founding to the present, we are reminded of the many people who have dedicated themselves to the liberation and happiness of others, who have emphasizedwith the Founder's wish that all people should know the true way of human life as revealed in the Lotus Sutra and make happiness their own. I believe that these people are referred to as those who have awakened themselves as the Dharma Teacher. We should follow in the footsteps of our predecessors and fulfill our noble role in this world with the awareness of being Dharma teachersourselves.
However, many of us may feel that we are not able to do such a practice without sacrificing ourselves. It is true that we have many things to fulfill in our families, workplaces, and homes. It is not possible to live the life of an ordained monk without fulfilling the duties and responsibilities that arise in our daily lives. This is why the phrase “in the spirit of lay Buddhists" in our Members’ Vow is so important.
The "spirit of lay Buddhists" is, so to speak, the “living of Buddhism”. In contrast to “monastic Buddhism," which is a way of life that is separate from the secular world, our faith is “layBuddhism," or “everyday Buddhism," in which we apply the teachings of the Buddha to our social life. Each of us, as a family member and a member of society, practices the teachings of Buddha in our daily lives. When we wake up in the morning to wash our face, when we serve the family altar and make offerings, when we serve at church, when we work or do household work, when we go home to sit around the table, and when we go to sleep, we can observe faith and learn and practice the Dharma in all of these activities. It can be said that "faith is life, life is faith”. Our daily life itself is the place of our practice, and faith and life are inseparable.
Our president expressed the importance of training in the home. The family is the most fundamental place for their character development. During the course of a long life, problems arise for children, husbands and wives, and parents. By experiencing these problems and suffering, we can look at ourselves, earnestly seek the Buddha Dharma, and search for the true way of life as human beings. And eventually, the most important part of lay Buddhism is that the family members love, respect, and support each other, and can always praise with putting palms together."