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Seiko Oda (left) and Kōji Morita (right) in front of the Buddhist altar in their office
Seiko Oda (left) and Kōji Morita (right) in front of the Buddhist altar in their office

My name is Seiko Oda and I have been a HBS follower belonging to Kōsenji 廣宣寺 temple in Nishinomiya in Hyogo Prefecture, Japan for 10 years. I would like to tell you about why a woman like me who was prejudiced against religion suddenly turned into a devoted Honmon Butsuryū Shū 本門佛立宗 follower.

For a long time I have been working for a company which produces nutritional supplements in the U.S. and distributes them to doctors in Japan. Recently our company also started importing medicine that you can’t obtain in Japan. Kōji Morita, the president of the company, has been a member of Honmon Butsuryū Shū since long ago because his father has been a devout follower who was the head of lay followers at Gyokusenji 玉泉寺 temple in Sakai in Ōsaka Prefecture and the director of HBS Head Office Finance Department. I remember I was really disgusted when I saw a Buddhist altar in the office. I told Kōji many times, “Why do you need a Buddhist altar in our office? It looks so weird! Our customers will probably think we are psychos following some strange cult!”, but he never listened to me.

The facade of Kosenji
The facade of Kosenji

In January 2007 my daughter was preparing for her high school entrance exam. She really wanted to go to a high school in Nishinomiya where she could study music. There are not many high school like that so it was difficult to enter. That was a turning point for me. I suddenly felt like asking someone for help and instinctively asked Kōji if he happened to know where to pray for her success. He introduced me to the nearest HBS temple which is in Nishinomiya, a city neighbouring Takarazuka where our office was located at the time. On New Year’s Day of 2007 he took me to Kosenji and asked a priest how I could pray to Buddha for my daughter’s entrance exam. The priest said, “Please come and join our everyday morning service called Asasankei 朝参詣. Your prayer will surely be answered if you keep attending.” The following morning I went to the temple alone and joined the morning service and continued to do so everyday.

My first impression of the morning service was actuallly negative. People sitting in the main hall chanted Namu Myōhō Renge Kyō 南無妙法蓮華経 while noisily beating wooden clappers. It looked really strange to me because I had imagined that Buddhist services were calm and quiet. At first I was too embarrassed to loudly chant Odaimoku 御題目 with other members. While listening to sermons, I couldn’t understand what they were about because there were a lot of technical terms I didn’t know. I remember I was overwhelmed by the atmosphere and felt out of place for some time after I started attending Asasankei.

As time went by, I gradually got used to everything.I started to chant Odaimoku without shyness and after listening to sermons every morning, I was able to more or less understand what priests say and what HBS teachings are about. What I was really impressed with though, were other members’ warm personalities. Every time I visited the temple, they were very kind to me and always asked, “Is everything going well?” or offered, “Let me help you with…” Why are they so kind? The answer is really simple. Buddhist teachings tell us how we should live our lives and put emphasis on the importance of helping others and being kind to everyone. If you keep listening to sermons HBS priests preach, you will surely notice that.

As I kept attending the morning service, amazing things started happening to me one after another. Whenever I visited the temple in the morning, work, relations with people, my physical and mental condition… everything was going great on that day. In addition, I felt grateful to everyone who had something to do with me. I could feel I was changing day by day. When I realized the wonders of Asasankei, my biggest wish that I had been praying for most was finally answered. Yes, my daughter passed her dream high school entrance exam! Actually, at first when I went to pick her up just after the exam, she was crying and said, “I ruined everything! I played horribly at the practical exam…” I cheered her up as I never doubted that Buddha would support her. And in the end it turned out she passed! You cannot imagine how happy we were, my daughter and me!

Rev. Ryosetsu Ikemoto now cleans the innermost chamber every morning instead of Rev. Nichikai Yamauchi
Rev. Ryosetsu Ikemoto now cleans the innermost chamber every morning instead of Rev. Nichikai Yamauchi

After that I told Kōji how wonderful Asasankei is and that everything was changing around me since I started attending it. Then, the following day, I invited him to start going to Kōsenji together with me every morning. At first Kōji was not really religious compared to his father. He always asked me, “Why do you go to the temple so early in the morning everyday? What for?” However, he suddenly changed on the first day he visited the temple with me. He saw Rev. Nichikai Yamauchi, the head priest of Kōsenji, who is quite an old man, cleaning the statues of Three Great Masters 三祖聖人 in the innermost chamber which is the highest place in the Hondō 本堂, the main practice hall. As Kōji never saw the head priest coming so early in the morning to clean at other temples, he was really impressed with the way Rev. Yamauchi served Three Great Masters. So, Kōji thought that to show his respect he should come to the temple before Rev. Yamauchi starts cleaning. He started to wake up at 4:30 every morningand take a one hour train journey from Takarazuka to visit the temple really early.

Morita and Oda working in their new office in Nishinomiya
Morita and Oda working in their new office in Nishinomiya

After a while Kōji also received a blessing from Buddha. He kept attending Asasankei with me and all of a sudden his company started to grow rapidly! He was really surprised at what happened after he started attending Asasankei. The company is still growing and we are always very busy and shorthanded. Moreover, he managed to find a good place to relocate our office. The new location is in Nishinomiya, a 5-minute drive from Kōsenji! We are really happy with that, because we have plenty of time to chant Odaimoku and listen to sermons. That means we can now accumulate more merit visiting Kōsenji whenever we want! Both of us also enjoy taking part in the temple cleaning duty once a month.

After graduating from high school, my daughter entered the Tokyo National University of Fine Arts and Music, which was much more competitive to enter than the high school in Nishinomiya. I believe this was also Buddha’s blessing. Now, she is in Germany. She moved there to attend graduate school of music in Munich. After that, her teacher recommended her to enter a two-year master course, and she recently got a diploma of master pianist in Germany. She decided to stay there working as a professional pianist and teacher. Now that she realizes what she owes to HBS faith, she chants Odaimoku and takes care of her Gohonzon 御本尊 even while being so far from Japan. There is nothing else I want for my daughter. I started her on her path of faith and she has already achieved what she wanted in her life. Whenever we face problems in our life, Buddha and Guardian Deities will definitely protect and support us. This is one of the benefits of upholding the faith in Odaimoku.Iwould like to keep improving my faith in order to live an even happier life.

Follow Ryosetsu Ikemoto:

Buddhist Priest of Honmon Butsuryū Shū (HBS), belongs to Kosenji temple in Nishinomiya, Hyogo Pref., Japan. Secretary to the 25th HBS head priest.

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2 Responses

  1. Jesse Lee
    | Reply

    南無妙法蓮華経!
    What a great and inspiring story.
    But its true, the gift of faith in the Gohonzon and the Buddhas teachings is the best gift anyone can give to another. If one continues to have unwavering faith, like Mrs Oda, you will receive merits.
    As long as your request to the Gohonzon is within the Buddhas will, and you carry out your practice diligently and with no doubt, it will be answered.

    Nissen Shonin said:
    There are parishioners whose prayer for a wish is granted and some that are not. Why?
    Answer:How earnestly one prays will determine how quickly favorable rewards can or cannot be
    received.
    – A Guide to HBS. Chater 4: Selected Writings of Nissen Shonin

    南無妙法蓮華経

    • Ryosetsu Ikemoto
      | Reply

      It is said that novices receive reward smoothy because the Buddha wants to tell them He really exists and protects them night and day even though they can’t see His figure in Mappo period. After they realize it, they move on to the next step: helping others and accumulating merit by spreading Odaimoku.

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