Dai Mandala Kaigen Shiki

Great Mandala Eye Opening Ceremony

There are two meanings to the term Kaigen or "eye-opening." It's primary meaning is our own awakening - our own eye-opening. That happens when we uphold the Wonderful Dharma in thought, word, and deed (and not merely when babbling in Sino-Japanese to scraps of paper with sumi squiggles).

The secondary meaning of "eye-opening" is to designate a special ceremony which is performed for the sake of designating an object (a statue or mandala or whatever) as something that will henceforth represent the Gohonzon (of whatever school). In Nichiren Shu Buddhism, the Gohonzon is the Eternal Shakyamuni Buddha who transmits the Wonderful Dharma to all sentient beings in the ongoing Ceremony in the Air. There are five different ways of presenting this Gohonzon:
1. A statue of the Eternal Shakyamuni Buddha

2. A statue of the Eternal Shakyamuni Buddha flanked by the Four Bodhisattvas of the Earth.

3. Statues of Shakyamuni Buddha and Prabhutaratna Tathagata (Jpn. Taho Nyorai) flanking the Stupa of Treasures inscribed with the Odaimoku (this is the one used most often in the main halls of temples).

4. An inscription of the Odaimoku alone.

5. The Mandala depicting the Odaimoku illuminating the Ten Worlds. Nichiren made many mandalas. I believe that 128 of them are extant (the Ita-mandala is NOT one of these authenticated mandalas made by Nichiren). Nichiren never designated any of them as special or better than the others. The Nichiren Shu has chosen the Shutei Mandala which Nichiren made in 1280 and had at his deathbed as the one that it officially bestows upon members.
So doing gongyo is an eye-opening in the primary (and most important sense) but it is not an eye-opening in the secondary sense of being performed specifically to activate the buddha-nature of said object in accordance with the teaching of ichinen sanzen and the enlightenment of plants and non-sentient beings. The argument for this is made in the Kanjin Honzon Sho.

Now each school of Buddhism has its own standards of who can perform this ceremony and how it should be done. Some of these standards are very formalized and some are amazingly informal. But this is still a universal ceremony which is taken for granted by all traditional schools of Buddhism throughout Asia. Nichiren never said to do away with it. He did argue that it should be done based on the principles of the Lotus Sutra in both of those gosho that discuss this ( Opening the Eyes of Wooden or Painted Images and Consecrating an Image of Shakyamuni Buddha Made by Shijo Kingo). Anyway, as I have said before, one should follow the standards and procedures of the school or sect that one is a member of. This ceremony is really not worth debating the pros and cons of - it is attachment to rites and rituals to be either for or against it. As a traditional Buddhist and a member of the Nichiren Shu I am happy to abide by our standards and practices, and I have yet to see any convincing argument that things should be done otherwise. What other schools do is their own business. We uphold our standards and do not compromise them. It is up to others to make of our example what they will - just as it was up to those who met Bodhisattva Never Despise to make of his teaching what they would.

Namu Myoho Renge Kyo, Ryuei

From the Manual of Nichiren Buddhism

1. Dojoge (Verse, Place of Enlightenment)

[Priest] This place of enlightenment is as luminous as the gems of the net of King Sakra,
[Together] All the Three Treasures of the worlds of the ten directions manifest themselves here. Now we are before them. We bow to the Buddhas and worship their feet with our heads.

2. Samborai (Bow to the Three Treasures)

[Priest] With our whole hearts,
[Together] we bow to the Eternal Buddha emanating the Buddhas of the worlds of the ten directions.
[Priest] With our whole hearts,
[Together] we bow to the Eternal Dharma establishing the teachings of the Buddhas of the worlds of the ten directions.
[Priest] With our whole hearts,
[Together] we bow to the Eternal Samgha comprising the devotees of the Buddhas of the worlds of the ten directions.

3. Kanjo (Invitation)

With reverence we adore the Great Mandala of the Most Venerable One, the Perfect Circle having never been revealed before the Age of Degeneration.
With reverence we adore Sakyamuni Buddha, the Great Benefactor, the Original Teacher who attained Buddhahood in the remotest past.
With reverence we adore Prabhutaratna Tathagata, who appeared in this world to bear witness to the truthfulness of the Sutra of the Lotus Flower of the Wonderful Dharma.
With reverence to adore the Buddhas of the worlds of the ten directions in the past, present and future, the emanations of the Original Sakyamuni Buddha.
With reverence we venerate Visistacarita, Anantacarita, Visuddhacarita, Supratisthitacarita, and the other great Bodhisattvas who appeared from underground, the disciples of the Original Sakyamuni Buddha.
With reverence we venerate Manjusri, Samantabhadra, Maitreya, Bhaisajyaraja, Bhaisajyassmudgata, Pradanasura, Gadgadasvara, Avoliketsvara and the other Bodhisattvas, the disciples either of the Historical Sakyamuni Buddha or of the Buddhas who have come from other worlds.
With reverence we venerate Mahabrahman, Sakra, the Kings of the Four Quarters and the other gods who protect the practicers of the One Vehicle.
With reverence we venerate the four kinds of devotees who joined the congregations of the Lotus Sutra.
With reverence we venerate the Great Bodhisattva Nichiren, the Founder of our Order, the Great Leader of us who live in the Age of Degeneration.
With reverence we venerate the Six Senior Disciples, the Nine Senior Disciples and the other disciples of Nichiren as well as the priests who contribued much to our Order.
May all Venerable Ones come to this place of enlightenment, see us with their eyes of wisdom, and receive the savor of the Dharma out of their compassion towards us.

Click here to visit other Great Mandalas by Nichiren

4. Kaikyoge (Sutra Opening Verse)

This sutra of the Supreme, Most Profound and Wonderful Dharma is difficult to meet in thousands of millions of kalpas. Now we have been able to see, hear, receive and keep it. May we understand the ultimate import of the teachings of the Tathagata. The Ultimate Truth of the Great Vehicle is, however, very difficult for us to understand. All who see, hear or touch this sutra shall come closer to Bodhi.
The expounder of this sutra is the Sambhogakaya aspect of the Buddha. What is expounded in this sutra is the Dharmakaya as of the Buddha. The characters of this sutra are the Nirmanakaya aspect of the Buddha.
Since innumerable merits are contained in this sutra, all living beings are benefited by this sutra without hindrance as implicitly as incense is perceived by a thing put nearby.
By merits of this sutra, anyone will be able to expiate his sin, do good deeds, and attain the enlightenment of the Buddha, whether he is wise or not, whether he believes or slanders this sutra.
The Dharma attained by the past, present and future Buddhas is expounded in this most profound and wonderful sutra. May our posterity, generation after generation, meet and receive this sutra with reverence.

Click here to peruse more Nichiren Gohonzons

5. Dokyo (Sutra Chanting)

6. Shodai (Daimoku Chanting)

7. Kaigen (Consecration)

8. Sokun (Nichiren's Instructions)

9. Eko (Dedication)

The present Buddhas as well as the past Buddhas have appeared in the worlds for the purpose of expounding the Wonderful Dharma. So will the future Buddhas. Lord Teacher Sakyamuni Buddha, the World-Honored One, and the Great Bodhisattva Nichiren, the Founder of our Order, are nothing without the Wonderful Dharma. When we chant the Sutra of the Lotus Flower of the Wonderful Dharma, all the Buddhas will immediately manifest themselves before us. When we chant the sutra before the Great Mandala inscribed on paper, the paper will instantly bear mind of its innate Buddha-nature, and the Great Mandala will reveal the Pure World of the Original Sakyamuni Buddha.
Now as we chant the Sutra of the Lotus Flower of the Wonderful Dharma and the Daimoku before this Great Mandala, the Great Mandala is consecrated. It will benefit us boundlessly.
May the Great Mandala do the work of the Buddha by releasing its brillant light so that we may be able to keep our faith firm and strong, serve the Great Mandala with sincerity, and fulfill our goals for our present and future lives.

10. Shisei (The Four Vows)

[Priest] We vow to save all living beings however countless they may be.
[Together] We vow to eliminate all illusions however numberless they may be. We vow to study all teachings however limitless they may be. We vow to attain the supreme enlightenment of the Buddha.

11. Sanki (The Three Refuges)

[Priest] With most reverence, we take refuge in the Buddha.
[Together] May all living beings understand the Great Way and aspire to supreme enlightenment.
[Priest] We take refuge in the Dharma.
[Together] May all living beings enter deep into the storehouse of sutras and their wisdom be as vast as the sea.
[Priest] We take refuge in the Samgha.
[Together] May all living beings forge one great congregation without hindrance.

12. Buso (Farewell)

[Priest] Venerable Ones!
[Together] Remember us, be where you like, and come again out of your great compassion toward us!

Click here to learn more about the Gohonzon from Senchu Murano.

Manual of Nichiren Buddhism by Rev. Senchu Murano.
Nichiren Shu HQ: Tokyo. 1995. pp. 17-20, 38-39
translating portions of the Nichiren Shu Hoyo Shiki.

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