Nichiren Shoshu believers offer toba memorial tablets for the benefit of the deceased. The word “toba” is Japanese for the word stupa in Sanskrit. The original form of a stupa in ancient India was that of a burial mound. Many different forms of stupas developed over the years in both India and China. The five-story pagoda is one of the most commonly known forms of a stupa.
In Nichiren Shoshu, the toba memorial tablet also takes the form of five levels. The five levels signify the five elements of earth, water, fire, wind, and space. The bottom level of the toba is shaped like a square. This represents earth. The second level is in the shape of a circle, representing water. The third level, denoting fire, is a triangle. The fourth level, in the shape of a semicircle represents wind. At the top of the toba is the level representing space or ku. It is shaped like a jewel signifying the “treasure of fulfillment.” Nichiren Daishonin taught that all phenomena in the universe are composed of these five elements. This, of course, includes the human body. Therefore, the toba signifies the body of the deceased.
Ringing the bell three times signifies appreciation for the Three Treasures
The bell is considered butsugu or a Buddhist accessory used to make offerings to the Gohonzon (object of worship). When we ring the bell, we should do so with sincerity and serenity as we make an offering of sound to the Gohonzon.
The bell is used during our morning and evening prayers called Gongyo. When we place offerings on the altar (food, rice, water), we ring the bell three times and observe this silent prayer:
“I offer deepest gratitude to the Three Treasures of the Buddhism of Sowing. Nam Myoho Renge Kyo.”
Ringing the bell three times signifies appreciation for the Three Treasures – The Buddha – Nichiren Daishonin; The Law – Nam Myoho Renge Kyo; and the Priesthood – Nikko Shonin and successive High Priests.
You can read more about how to use the bell in the book, Nichiren Shoshu Basics of Practice.
Visit Myosenji Temple to learn more about how to become a Buddhist and begin your daily Buddhist practice.
Human suffering lies at the origin of the teachings of the Buddha. That is, as viewed by the Buddha, we are tormented within our lives by the four sufferings of birth, aging, sickness, and death and further by a multitude of other sufferings, such as the suffering of being separated from those whom we love, the suffering of not receiving what we seek, the suffering of meeting with those whom we despise, and the sufferings arising from the five components. The cause of those sufferings is that we try to obtain enjoyment according to self-centered erroneous desires, since we are unable to enter into the correct path of joy and suffering.
The Buddha preached a variety of teachings with great compassion. There are many paths taught in the teaching of Buddhism: to resolve suffering by the wisdom that we innately possess, or to transcend all suffering through genuine calming of the mind (which is known as meditation), or to accumulate true virtue by correctly making one’s way along the path of good and evil and making the virtue one gains by upholding the precepts a part of one’s life.*
Now is the time to awaken your Buddha nature, transcend the six lower paths and find joy and happiness far beyond the promise of meditation. Visit Myosenji Temple’s web site for more information about the Nichiren Shoshu practice of chanting and recitation of the Lotus Sutra.
*Excerpted: Sermons 1992-2002 by 67th High Priest Nikken Shonin, Pioneer the True Path of the Buddha.
Nichiren Shoshu’s Head Temple is located at Taisekiji, Japan. The buildings on the grounds of the Head Temple are decorated with abundant traditional symbols of Buddhism. The picture above shows a prominent Buddhist symbol:
The teachings of a Buddha are called the Dharma or Law because his enlightened words reveal his wisdom which is one with the essence of all life and nature.
Basics of Buddhism
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When one chants Myoho-Renge-Kyo, the Buddhahood inherent in one’s life will be manifested. Those who have the opportunity to hear it will be able to eradicate their negative karma that has been accumulating for infinite asamkhya kalpas. Those [who hear Myoho-Renge-Kyo] and rejoice for even a single life-moment, will attain Buddhahood in their present form. Even if they hear [Myoho-Renge-Kyo] but do not believe in it, since the seed of Buddhahood has been sown, and will become mature, one will attain Buddhahood without fail. written by Nichiren Daishonin, 13th century Japan
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