Introducing Beggars into the Reiyukai
“No matter how dirty a beggar may look, he is trying to practice the teachings of the Reiyukai and to do the act of ancestor remembrance, so wash his feet,
and let him into your home.”
We When I first started introducing others to the teachings, I was told to begin with the beggars living under the bridges and on the benches of Asakusa. Among those beggars, was one whose child later became one of the most important branch directors of the Reiyukai.
It was that parents' karma that he become a beggar just as it was his child's karma to become a major branch director. This father, no matter how fine the clothes he was given to wear, often ran away from home, because he preferred to spend a care-free life outdoors rather than stay at home and feel restricted. But in the latter part of his life, he returned home. As he slipped away to the Spiritual World, his children were at his bedside, holding his hand bidding him farewell.
Introducing those beggars into the Reiyukai was no easy job. First of all, they were very hard to get a hold of because they roamed about the city. One day they might be found in Ueno and the next day they might be in Asakusa. If they lived in a house, it would be much easier to fins them. When I told Mr. Kubo this, he said, “You cannot find them because of your unenlightened attitude during practice.” I recited the Sutra and did the practice of Sange*, and then went out again to try introducing them to the teachings.
I eventually succeeded in introducing some of these beggars into the Reiyukai. They did not have enough money to purchase a Register of Posthumous Names, so I pasted together 30 sheets of calligraphy paper to make a Register and gave it to them saying, “Recite the Sutra, even if you must do it on the benches in the park.” Of course those beggars didn't have money to buy a copy of the Sutra either, so in my poor handwriting I would make two copies a night. The next time went out to guide them in their practice, I brought along the copies I had made and told them to recite the Sutra. I asked those wanderers who accepted a copy when they would be here again. These beggars, whose clothes were worn out and whose hair was infested with lice, gradually began coming to visit us and to pray at our family altar.
Mr. Kubo said, “No matter how dirty a beggar may look, he is trying to practice the teachings of the Reiyukai and to do the act of ancestor remembrance, so wash his feet, and let him into your home.” I washed the beggars' feet and shared what little food I had with them.
Among the members I introduced into the Reiyukai, some were killed during the war, others disappeared, and yet others became rich. Thus, as the Sutra says, each person's Karmic hindrances are different. As one practices the teachings of the Buddha, those who have nothing become men of fortune, blessed with both spiritual and material wealth.
So as I mentioned before, when each of us tries to persevere and make the effort to practice the teachings of the Reiyukai, we can bring forth virtuous merits and can create great power. It is not the kind of power that can lift heavy things; it is the power of Lotus Sutra, which can bring forth its blessings and virtuous merits.
Returning to the story of the beggars, even thought they were infested with lice, they never itched. They had become used to the lice. But when they began reciting the Sutra, they gradually began to feel the itchiness, so much in fact that they naturally began washing their own clothes.
When I first started practice, there was no one else but myself. Now we have many Reiyukai members, so introducing people to the teachings and guiding them in their practice has become much easier. In my days there were no meeting places. Today we have our headquarters, Mirokusan and various branch offices. But in those days my house was too small, so I had to go out to the beggars, or to people's homes. On the occasions when I visited a big house I suggested that they do the act of ancestor remembrance. I told them that if they didn't practice ancestor remembrance, their house would become as worthless as that of a beggar's. They became angry and shouted at me but since it was part of my training, I carried on with my efforts. Thanks to Mr. Kubo, I was able to cultivate my heart and mind so as to remain calm even in situations like this.
Since the people I visited did not know me and I looked like a beggar, it was natural for them to kick me out of their houses. But even so I copied the family name from the nameplates on the house, and inscribed a Sokaimyo** for those families I visited. Though they never became members, even to this day I continue to pray for them using these Sokaimyo.
- From Sounds of Heaven - Ch.21
* Sange – Practice of repenting one's errors and eradicating negative thoughts.
** Sokaimyo – Inscription of Posthumous Names.