— Buddhist Apology
In 1976 the idea of "Buddhist apology" was circulating through SGI-USA.
Everyone was talking about it, but none of us knew what it was. Little sheets with different formulas for "Buddhist apology" appeared on altars everywhere. Some of these formulas had as many as 16 steps. Many Buddhist went down their checklist each time they chanted. I was not one of them.
The idea of apologizing sounded more Christian than Buddhist. Who am I apologizing to? Da Big Benevolent Buddha in Da Sky? What am I apologizing for? Being a Baaaaaad Boy?
Inscribed on the Gohonzon is the phrase "For now and the future." Isn't apology dwelling in the past?
Did we need another layer of ritual separating us from the Gohonzon?
Would you believe that a top SGI leader once accused me of having a criticizing mind?
I had suffered from allergies since my pre-teens. Every spring and fall, my eyes would itch, get red, and sore, my nose would run constantly, and occasionally, I became asthmatic, gasping for breath.
My dad and siblings have the same condition. It must be hereditary. Can't change your genes. Can you?
One fine spring day I had rubbed my eyes until they were puffy, my nose and upper lip were red and sore. I was aggravated to the core of my being.
I was so angry, I visualized chopping off my nose to keep it from dripping.
I sat down to chant to get some composure. I noticed the little Buddhist apology list next to the incense burner. I stuffed it under the Butsugyo table so I would not be distracted by seeing it. I wanted to connect to the Gohonzon. I did not want to go through a stilted apology ritual.
Each time I touched my Rudolphian nose with a tissue, it stung. Aggravating. Aggravating. Aggravating.
As I chanted, I tried to think of what cause I made to deserve this. I imagined that I may have suffocated, or oppressed someone. I couldn't think of anyone, but maybe I did in another life. Looking back on history, the odds are that we all did stuff that was less than pleasurable to others.
From the bottom of my heart I felt that if I did cause anyone the anguish I was enduring, I was truly sorry.
As I chanted unreservedly for the happiness of anyone that I have ever caused to suffer, my eyes and nose cleared up.
I have not had
allergies since. That was more than 20 years ago.