HBS followers’ morning start with Okyuji (serving) and Okankin (chanting the Odaimoku) to the Gokaidan (family Buddhist altar of HBS). Okyuji includes the following two things.
- Cleaning the Gokaidan which is the dwelling of the Gohonzon (the Primordial Buddha, other Provisional Buddhas, Bodhisattvas and guardian deities of Buddhism) and the three great masters (Nichiren, Nichiryu and Nissen Shonin)
- Offerings of flowers, water and some food to the altar
The Gohonzon is well pleased with the both practices.
Okankin means “chanting the Odaimoku” in Japanese. Basically it is included in Okyuji because it is also the practice to please the Gohonzon. However, Japanese HBS members often use those two words separately, so I follow the rule here, too.
First: Preparation of Ohatsu-mizu (first-drawn water of the day for offering water)
In order to get ready for starting HBS followers’ day, we draw fresh water coming out of a faucet first thing in the morning. We, HBS members offer water that is the seat of vitality of human beings to the Gohonzon every morning. After turning on a faucet, leave the water flowing for a short while in order to draw clean water coming from the pipe outside the house. Do not actually try to draw water that comes out of your faucet when you first turn on the tap in the morning because the water has sat in the plumbing inside the house through the night and it may have take in lead or dust. This first-drawn water after flushing for a little while is for offering water to the Gohonzon after cleaing of the Gokaidan. I’ll talk about it later again.
Second: Preparation of Obuppan (offering of a bowl of plain rice)
Next, prepare another offering called “Obuppan.” We offer the first bowl of plain rice of the day to the Gohonzon because rice is the staple food of the Japanese and considered as the seat of vitality. Boil rice first thing in the morning for Obuppan, and offer it after cleaning. If bread is your usual breakfast, offer a bit of the bread before you eat.
Third: Cleaning of the Gokaidan (dwelling of the Gohonzon)
After preparing Ohatsu-mizu and Obuppan, next, clean the Gokaidan with a duster for cleaning dust away and a cloth for polishing. They are, of course, for the exclusive use for the Gokaidan. We take a bath, wash ourselves and clean our house every day, so we ought to clean the Gokaidan in which the Gohonzon is enshrined; in other words, we clean the house which Buddhas, Bodhisattvas, and deities live.
Finally: Okankin—the most important thing above all
After cleaning of the Gokaidan, finally offer the Ohatsu-mizu and Obuppan to the Gohonzon and have an Okankin. Okankin means “chanting the Odaimoku” in Japanese. Actually, when we say, “we hold an Okankin,” it means that we are going to hold a small Buddhist service focusing intensively on chanting the Odaimoku. We usually offer prayers to the Gohonzon for further propagation of HBS, our health, safety of family, Eko (transferring Kudoku [merit] to departed souls for their repose), and so on before and after Okankin as a whole. Okankin is also called Gohomi. Go is an honorific prefix, Ho literally means “Buddhism,” and Mi means a “taste.” Gohomi is the word that refined sentiment and profound meanings of Buddhism are compared to a deep flavor of foods. Therefore, Gohomi is an offering of the voice of chanting the Odaimoku. It is the best offering that is always pleasing to the Gohonzon.
Every member of our family can live a peace and tranquil life everyday under the protection of the Gohonzon by working hard on the morning Okyuji despite how busy we are or how we are sleepy in the early morning. Honmon Butsuryu Shu places great importance on the spirit of Ohatsuho. Hatsuho generally means ripe rice ears presented to God (Shinto and Buddhist deities) before autumn rice harvest. In HBS, offerings of food and drinks or money that we bought or gained at the beginning of the month or year are called Ohatsuho. Morning Okyuji is a symbol for Ohatsuho because we offer not only the first white rice and water of the day but also our first time of the day, whichi can be recognized as a part of our life span. This practice, morning Okyuji, makes us keep our modesty on walking the path of HBS faith for a long period of time and living a life mainly focused on the HBS faith. Thus, every member of a HBS family has breakfast and goes to school or work or starts doing housework after finishing morning Okyuji every day.