(Member of Kōsenji temple, Nishinomiya, Hyogo Pref., Japan)
I have been an HBS follower for 10 years at Kōsenji temple. 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 follower.
For a long time, I have been working for a company that 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 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.
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 schools 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 neighboring 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. 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 actually negative. People sitting in the main hall chanted Namu Myōhō Renge Kyō 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 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!
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 in the innermost chamber which is the highest place in the Hondō, 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 morning and take a one-hour train journey from Takarazuka to visit the temple really early.
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 the 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 the 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 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.