Her Holiness Shinso Ito Commemorates the Feast of Nirvana and Offers Prayers for the Victims of the Earthquake in Turkey and Syria

February 20, 2023
Tokyo, Japan

On February 15th, at Shinnyo-en’s Ogen Center in Tokyo, Japan, Her Holiness Shinso Ito commemorated the annual Mahayana Buddhist celebration of the Feast of Nirvana, the day Buddha Shakyamuni entered final nirvana.

Reverend Nishikawa opened the ceremony by expressing condolences and prayers to the victims of the earthquake in Turkey and Syria and spoke to those gathered of the relief efforts undertaken by Shinnyo-en.  These endeavors include donations to the Turkish Disaster and Emergency Management Authority (AFAD) through the Embassy of the Republic of Turkey in Japan and in Syria through the  World Food Programme in support of humanitarian efforts in the region.

Her Holiness Shinso Ito then took the stage to lead the ceremony. As in past years, Her Holiness spoke in front of a great scroll of the Nirvana congregation. The Great Nirvana scroll was a gift from the Shingon Daigo-ji monastery in Kyoto on the 100th anniversary of the birth of Shinnyo-en's founder, Shinjo Ito, in 2006. The scroll dates from the early Edo era (1603-1868) and depicts the moments of Shakyamuni's final teaching, which, as described in the Mahaparinirvana Sutra, was attended by all living earthly and celestial beings.

The service also marked 85 years since the Shinnyo founders envisioned the sacred site for the founding temple. “The true significance of today’s service is to offer praise to the eminent virtue of the founder of Buddhism as well as to strengthen our devotion to the source of our awakening, that is, the Shinnyo Masters, heartfully chanting ‘Namu Shinnyo’”, said Her Holiness.

She then recounted the story of Chunda, a young disciple who, with 15 fellow seekers, attended the final gathering with the Buddha and made the last offering to the Buddha Shakyamuni. Chunda is depicted in the Great Nirvana scroll as being of an advanced age but young in spirit - a concept, Her Holiness says, that symbolically describes us all who pursue the buddhas’ teachings.

“Master Tomoji wished for us to enhance our hearts, minds, and actions with the spirit of Chunda. When we uphold and protect the dharma, we are embodying Chunda. We are like a contemporary Chunda to the Shinnyo Founders,” said Her Holiness.

She closed the ceremony by saying, “We are truly fortunate to have encountered the Shinnyo Path which encompasses not only the merit of the Mahaparinirvana Sutra, but also the traditional dharma lineage and transcendent spiritual workings. With gratitude, let us be spiritually reborn, away from transmigration, and engage in practice.”