Address by Her Holiness Shinso Ito - Saisho Homa

October 23, 2010
USA Head Temple (Redwood City, California)

I have just successfully conducted the Saisho Homa ritual here at our U.S.Head Temple. First, I would like to express my deepest gratitude to the Buddha Shakyamuni, and to our revered founders, Shinjo, Shojushinin, and the Two Dojis, for extending to us the loving support of saisho.

Let me also express my heartfelt appreciation to the many honored guests who have joined us despite their busy schedules. And, of course, I would like to thank the many people attending today's service from across the Americas, as well as all the volunteers giving of their time to make today's events possible.

The Saisho Homa is a special fire ritual we began holding 18 years ago to pray for the harmony and wellbeing of all people. Shinnyo-en created the Saisho Homa to bring Master Shinjo's wish of peace to the world. In a speech he gave during his first trip to the United States forty years ago, Master Shinjo stressed: "Peace is everyone's wish, and it forms the spiritual backbone of Shinnyo-en. I wish for peace to come to the heart of each and every one of us." The Saisho Homa ceremony is intended to strengthen our will to make concrete changes, deepen harmony between individuals,and enhance dialogue by transcending the boundaries of nation, language, culture, and religion.

This is the first time that Shinnyo-en has held the Saisho Homa in the United States,where peace, freedom,and tolerance of difference form an integral part of the nation's fabric. I have conducted the fire rite today with the wish that the Saisho Homa will help each individual recognize and reaffirm these universal values in their hearts.

The natural forces of earth, water, wind, and fire have nurtured many great civilizations. The Saisho Homa embraces the elements of water and fire to symbolize the two complementary aspects of spiritual awakening:wisdom and loving compassion.

The water element of the Saisho Homa symbolically cleanses the heart and reveals the purity of our true nature. The ceremonial water of lovingkindness spreads the merit of the Nirvana Sutra far and wide to heal all living beings of the past, present, and future and brings out the deep gratitude in our heart.

The Nirvana Sutra teaches that living under the principle of putting others first allows us to realize a state of "permanence-bliss-self-purity." In Shinnyo Buddhism, the primary meaning of the fire is to spark the joy of serving others. The wisdom symbolized in the homa flames burns away delusion, awakens lovingkindness, and invokes spiritual support for our altruistic acts. It ignites the light of hope and courage in our hearts, allowing our individual spirits to shine. The flames unite our prayers to create a world of harmony amid diversity.

As we walk our spiritual path, Shinnyo-en practitioners embrace the three altruistic practices of generosity, service to others, and sharing the Dharma. This effort both nurtures our inner goodness and helps enhance our sacred site of Oyasono,where our founders started their journey with unconditional devotion.

The flames from today's Saisho Homa will be used to kindle the special homa fires at our foundational temple on December 28th, thus extending the love and support of saisho into the future.

Right after this, we will hold a ceremony of Water and Fire together. We will wholeheartedly offer water and light before the Buddha, vowing to turn our gratitude into action. We will expand the circle of harmony that we've created today, and the joy that arises will empower us to go out into the world as "bodhisattvas," helping others on the path to enlightenment. Starting with those around us, I invite you to join me in reaching out and stepping forward with wisdom and compassion.

Thank you very much.