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Rissho Kosei-kai Observes Annual Ullambana Ceremony

August 2016

Ullambana ceremony held by Rissho Kosei-kai in Tokyo Great Sacred HallRissho Kosei-kai held the annual Ullambana ceremony in the Great Sacred Hall at the organization’s headquarters in Tokyo as well as Dharma centers across Japan on July 15. The ceremony is for all members to make offerings to their ancestors of the merit members gain from sutra recitation. It is also an opportunity for members to rededicate themselves to Dharma dissemination. Some 3,300 members from all over the country attended the ceremony in the Great Sacred Hall.

The ceremony began with offerings being carried by 16 young women members to the altar before the image of the Eternal Buddha Shakyamuni. President-designate Kosho Niwano led the sutra recitation, during which she and 256 representative members, who were certified by Rissho Kosei-kai as Dharma teachers, read out the posthumous Buddhist names of recently departed members. President-designate recited a prayer of merit transfer written by President Nichiko Niwano and then burned incense for the repose of the departed members.

After personal religious testimony by a chapter leader of the Saga Dharma Center, in Saga Prefecture, President Niwano burned incense and gave a Dharma talk.

In his Dharma talk, President Niwano referred to the meaning of the Sanskrit term ullambana (“hanging upside down,” suffered by the spirit of a deceased person). He then explained the teaching that “the saha world is itself a land of eternal tranquil light (the world of suffering is a world of complete and perfect peace).” He said although people’s lives and the world are filled with suffering and troubles, anyone can attain the Buddha’s enlightenment in this world. He also emphasized the need to learn the Buddha’s teachings through self-examination, and said although people suffer defilements, everyone is given the power to attain enlightenment.

Furthermore, President Niwano pointed out that practitioners of judo, kendo, and the tea ceremony follow katas (forms, or patterns), through which they are able to learn the principles of techniques. In the same way, keeping and following the forms of Rissho Kosei-kai practices, such as those we have inherited from senior members for sutra recitation and hoza counseling, help us overcome self-centeredness.

President Niwano added that it is also important for members to recognize that their participation in the organization’s yearly events, including the monthly memorial observances, is one of the forms they have to learn.

 

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