Merit of Memorial Services By Rev. Teinyo Kunugi

K lost her husband seven years ago and since then she earnestly continued to hold memorial services for him, and she memorialized him at the monthly hungry ghost service at Jorinji.

The year before last when she collapsed from heart illness and was being hospitalized, her late husband appeared in her dream.

“Thank you for always holding a memorial service for me. You will be alright because I made a request to St. Nichiren of Jorinji.” He clearly said this to her in her dream.

After her dream, K’s condition improved by the day.

She spoke about her precious experience saying: “It was a blessing to know that a memorial service truly reaches the deceased person.”

When the Ancestors Suffer, the Descendants Suffer

I believe that there are many causes for illness—the weakening of the body from age, a physical defect, the effect of bad bacteria or perhaps an illness that is caused by an accident. I believe that these can be solved by the advanced modern medicine of today. Yet from my long life experience, I believe that there is also probably illness where the descendants suffer because the ancestors are suffering.

Our blood is blood that is carried on from and joined with our ancestors. Therefore when our ancestors are happy, our blood is also happy, and when our ancestors suffer, our blood also becomes ill.

Why can I say this? A family that is totally uninterested in memorial services lacks brightness. This is perhaps the lack of the light of gratitude for the favors received from those they have a karmic relationship with beginning with their ancestors. Since this is a matter of what we call religious faith, we could probably say that the only way is for the individuals to open their eyes to the unseen world.

I believe that the people of today must not forget the merit of offering memorial services for all spirits in the universe beginning with one’s deceased parents, one’s ancestors as well as those who have died in wars, natural disasters and accidents.

Not My Child but a Good Friend

Among the disciples of St. Nichiren there was one by the name of Horen Shonin

After the passing of his father, Horen Shonin continued to memorialize his father by reading the verse section of chapter sixteen for him each day. When the thirteenth anniversary of his passing came, Horen Shonin requested a memorial service from St. Nichiren on Mt. Minobu.

St. Nichiren was struck with admiration when he heard that Horen Shonin had conducted a memorial service for his father for as long as thirteen years by daily reading the verse section of chapter sixteen and what is more on the thirteenth anniversary he read the entire Lotus Sutra five times. He wrote a letter to Horen Shonin.

“Buddhist monk Horen daily manifested golden words from his mouth for his father’s memorial service. Each of the words changed into the sun and the sun transformed into Shakyamuni Buddha, whom became a great light that penetrated the earth, illuminated the world of hell, even illuminated the world of the ten directions and searched for your father’s whereabouts. That light turned to your father’s spirit and said: ‘Who do you think that I am? I am the words of the verse section of chapter sixteen of the Lotus Sutra that your son, the Buddhist monk Horen, chanted for your sake. For your sake, I now become your eyes, ears, legs and hands, and make your free to accept your son’s trueheartedness.’ When this happened, your father’s soul rejoiced and he faced this world with his hands in prayer and surely worshiped you saying: ‘My son Horen is not my child by my good friend.’ Isn’t this wonderful.” This is what St. Nichiren wrote in his letter.

A “good friend” is a person with a mind of the Lotus Sutra that leads one to the Buddha’s path so that one may find happiness. That person is an honored teacher.

Isn’t there no greater happiness than being worshiped by another? The person that worships and the person that is worshiped are both people of merit that will both be saved.


Translated by Mr. Dean Makinodan