Priest — Part 1
Kodo Yoshikawa describes his training for the priesthood at Taisekiji. He is the brother of Rendo Yoshikawa, former chief priest of Myosenji Temple.
"We were all burning with hope for the future when we began our lives at the head temple," Mr. Yoshikawa said. "It became increasingly apparent that what was actually awaiting us was the incessant effort by senior priests to destroy our pure and innocent faith." The first things the young acolytes were taught was that the act of becoming a priest proved the depths of their faith.
"They said to us: 'Therefore, you don't have to think about deepening your faith from now on. You also don't have to introduce others to this faith, nor should you chant much daimoku.'"
Despite this admonishment, most of the acolytes persisted in doing gongyo and chanting daimoku every day. The senior priests "commented on our attitude: 'Priests should not chant so much daimoku. If believers see a priest chanting so diligently, they may wonder what is troubling this priest. Priests should not do things that may cause believers to become suspicious.'"
After a year
at the acolytes' lodging, Mr. Yoshikawa picked up a copy of the Seikyo
Shimbun that had been left in the tea room. He was impressed by a believer's
experience in faith, which he read over and over with tears in his eyes.
When his fellow acolytes caught him reading it, they ridiculed him until
he put it down. Later, he smuggled it into his room, locked the door and
continued to read.