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The Dharma Flower Sutra seen through the Oral Transmission of Nichiren Daishōnin: The Fifth Chapter on The Parable of the Medicinal Herbs

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The Dharma Flower Sutra
seen through the Oral Transmission of
Nichiren Daishōnin


The first important point, with regard to the Fifth Chapter on the Parable of Medicinal Herbs.

It says, in the seventh volume of the Notes on the Textual Explanation of the Meaning of the Dharma Flower Sutra, that our inherent propensity for innocence or our fidelity to the fundamental nature of the Dharma, which like life itself has neither a beginning nor end, is comparable to the soil in which seeds are to be sown, whereas the resolution to really understand what life is all about, through the teaching of the universal vehicle (daijō, mahāyāna), is an analogy for sowing those seeds. When the mind is awakened to enquire into what life consists of (shōmon, shrāvaka) or even the profound search for the meaning of existence (engaku, hyakushibutsu, pratyekabuddha), this becomes similar to the stems of the seedlings. This would be the equivalent of the first of the ten stages of bodhisattva development, in the practices of the teachings of Shākyamuni Buddha, or the growth of the stalks of the seedlings of the Buddha vehicle to enlightenment.

The Oral Transmission on the Meaning of the Dharma Flower Sutra (Ongi Kuden) says that faith in the underlying meaning of the whereabouts of the interdependence of cause, concomitancy and effect that pervades the whole of existence (Myōhō Renge Kyō) is comparable to seeds – when people come to physically and mentally understand that the real aspect of all dharmas, in terms of the principle of the one instant of thought containing three thousand existential spaces, is the pointer to the fruition of Buddhahood.

Here, the medicinal herbs refer to the minds and dharmas of the sentient beings who inhabit the nine dimensions of 1) suffering, 2) craving and hungry ghosts, 3) animality, 4) the titanic qualities of boastfulness and anger, 5) human equanimity, 6) provisional ecstasies, 7) intellectual seekers (shōmon, shrāvaka), 8) people who are partially enlightened, due to the sciences, arts, literature, or music, (engaku, hyakushibutsu, pratyekabuddha), and 9) the altruistic dimension of the bodhisattvas. Therefore, the minds that are dedicated to the provisional teachings of Shākyamuni are like plants that are poisonous.

But, when we come across and look into the Dharma Flower Sutra (Hokke-kyō), the troublesome worries (bonnō, klesha) that are caused by our greed, anger, and ignorance, which pollute the spiritual soil that is our own minds are then sown again with the seeds of the all-inclusive replenished whole of the one instant of thought containing three thousand existential spaces of the triple entity of the Buddha. (This is (1) the body of the highest aspect of the triple entity (hosshin, Dharma-kāya) that is Utterness itself, unmanifested and non-substantial, 2) the entity that is the entirety of the Buddha wisdom (hōshin, samboga kāya), which entails the Fundamental Object of Veneration (gohonzon), and 3) the entity that consists of the various manifestations of the Buddha (ōjin, nirmana kāya), in order to benefit unenlightened sentient beings.) When we become awakened to the significance of all of this, then, in this particular context, it is the meaning of the medicinal herb.

Now Nichiren and those that follow him put the remedy of the Utterness of the Dharma (Myōhō, Saddharma) to work on the weeds of our troublesome worries (bonnō, klesha). This, to all intents and purposes, is a parable to remind us that our troublesome worries (bonnō, klesha) are not something apart from our inherent enlightenment and that the recurrent cycles of our lives and deaths are not separate from the underlying immateriality of the total extinction into nirvana and the way existence functions, which originally was the state of enlightenment attained by Shākyamuni.

This concept of Buddhahood could be reached by extinguishing all delusions, thereby destroying karma as the cause of rebirth. Nirvana is equalled with the Dharma entity of the Buddha, which, in itself, is an immaculate independence that implies non-production (fushō) and non-destruction (fumetsu). It has the essential qualities of eternity, purity, and bliss; it also includes the theme and title of the Dharma Flower Sutra (Hokke-kyō). There is an explanation of the word parable in the fifth volume of the Textual Explanation of the Dharma Flower Sutra (Hokke Mongu) that says, “A parable is something that teaches us, in order to induce an understanding.”


The second important point, concerning the Chapter on the Parable of the Medicinal Herbs that deals with the part where Makakashō (Mahākāshyapa) conforms to the enlightenment of the Buddha.

The Oral Transmission on the Meaning of the Dharma Flower Sutra (Ongi Kuden) says that the words “conforms to” refer to Makakashō (Mahākāshyapa), whereas the words “the attainment of the enlightenment of the Buddha” are applicable to Shākyamuni. The expression of “conforming to the attainment of the enlightenment of the Buddha” means that both Makakashō (Makākashyapa) and Shākyamuni had attained an identical understanding of the implications of Buddhahood. Therefore, the word “conform” means that the disciple had fully understood what had been taught and that “the attainment of the enlightenment of the Buddha” refers to the hand gesture (mudra) that Shākyamuni made to show his approval, after Makakashō (Mahākāshyapa) had recounted the parable of “The elder and the indigent son”.

Now, those who follow Nichiren and are fully aware of the implications of Nam Myōhō Renge Kyō (which means to devote our lives to and found them on the Utterness of the Dharma (Myōhō, Saddharma) permeated by the underlying white lotus flower-like mechanism of the interdependence of cause, concomitancy and effect in its whereabouts of the ten (psychological) realms of dharmas ) are those who conform to the Buddha enlightenment of Nichiren, who in turn praises them.

This particular Chapter on the Parable of the Medicinal Herbs makes us fully understand that we can open up our inherent Buddha nature with our persons just as they are. The fact of conforming to the enlightenment of the Buddha is comparable to the two halves of a written agreement, whose one half tallies with the other. Thus, conforming to the enlightenment of the Buddha means that all the people who inhabit the three thousand dimensions where existence takes place are able to attain Buddhahood.


At that time, the World Honoured One said to Makakashō (Mahākāshyapa) along with his major disciples: Excellent, excellent, Makakashō (Mahākāshyapa). The true merits of the Tathāgata are indeed just as you have said. Furthermore, the Tathāgata is in possession of boundlessly uncountable merits. Even if you were to discuss them for myriads of kalpas, you could not exhaust the subject.

You ought to know, Makakashō (Mahākāshyapa), that the Tathāgata is the sovereign of all dharmas, so that, when he explains them, none can be without purpose or meaning. All the dharmas that were expounded through the medium of the expedient means are all sustained by the wisdom of enlightenment. All those dharmas that were expounded all led up to the foundations where all the wisdom of those people who are partially enlightened due to a profound search for the meaning of existence (engaku, hyakushibutsu, pratyekabuddha) is based upon that which is the total enlightenment of all the implications of the real aspect of all dharmas (shohō jissō).

On account of the Tathāgata’s discernment, he is able to see where all teachings lead, in the same way as he knows what is going on in the depths of the minds of all sentient beings, and with a consummate clarity of understanding of what all dharmas are. He is therefore able to teach all sentient beings all his wisdom and discernment.

Makakashō (Mahākāshyapa), take for example all the grass, trees, woodlands, as well as all the medicinal herbs that grow in the soil of the hills, riverbanks, and valleys of the three thousand universes where existence takes place, where there are all sorts of different kinds of vegetation, and each sort has a different name. Then there comes a dense cloud, which spreads out and covers all of the three thousand universes where existence takes place.

All of a sudden it pours with rain whose moisture equally nourishes all the grasses and trees, the woodlands, and all the medicinal herbs with small roots, small stalks, branches, and broad leaves. Each one of these plants and trees whether they are either big or small – each one, according to its tall, medium, or low height, receives its adequate measure of water. So that with one cloud of rain, each plant, according to its kind, receives sufficient moisture to be able to grow, flower, and bear fruit.

Although the oneness of the soil is moistened by the one and the same rain, each one of these plants and trees is different.


The third important point, regarding the passage, “Although the oneness of the soil is moistened by the one and the same rain, each one of these plants and trees is different.”

The Oral Transmission on the Meaning of the Dharma Flower Sutra (Ongi Kuden) says that the concepts of the principle of what the real nature of existence is (fuhen shinnyo) (the fixed principle of the true nature of existence) and that existence is continually changing according to various karmic circumstances (zuien shinnyo) come from this particular quotation.

The Universal Teacher Myōraku (Miao-lo) says that the two concepts of 1) the unchanging principle of what the real nature of existence is (fuhen shinnyo) (the fixed principle of the true nature of existence) and 2) reality in a continual flux of change due to various karmic circumstances (zuien shinnyo) stem from the all-embracing teaching of the universal vehicle (daijō, mahāyāna). Such teachings, that stipulate stones and trees as being without psyches or karma, come from those doctrines that are smaller in scope. The words “all-embracing teaching” do not refer to the Dharma Flower Sutra (Hokke-kyō) as a whole (but only to the twenty-four words of the English version of the passage quoted above or the seventeen ideograms of the Chinese text).

“The soil is moistened by the one and the same rain” is an analogy to express the idea of existence as such, without any distinctions whatsoever. The phrase “each one of these plants and trees is different” refers to existences that are differentiated according to their karma. Therefore, the concept of existence without any distinctions is its Utterness (Myō) or the totality of existence itself, whereas existences that are differentiated according to their separate karmas are referred to as dharmas. (Existence as a whole and the teaching of the truth that underlies that existence is called the Dharma with a capital “D”.)

Now when Nichiren and his followers reverently recite Nam Myōhō Renge Kyō, they are putting aside all differentiation. “The oneness of the soil” is the vast dimension that involves the teachings that are derived from the external events of Shākyamuni’s life and work (shakumon), and “the one and the same rain” is the undeniable fact of the sky that is the original archetypal teaching (honmon). “The oneness of the soil” points to the idea of plants coming out of the earth, which has the undertone of cause. (In the teaching of Shākyamuni, this is the struggle to attain Buddhahood which leads to the effect that is enlightenment.) “The one and the same rain” expresses the notion of rain coming down from the sky, which suggests effect turning towards its causes. (In the teaching of Nichiren, we open up our inherent Buddha nature immediately through our first practices, which, in this discourse, is “effect”, even though our persons remain the same, as we go about our lives in the nine realms of dharmas, which are the “cause” for our search for greater happiness and awareness.)

Now that we have arrived at the age of the final phase of the Dharma of Shākyamuni, we now propagate the teaching that alludes to “the one and the same rain”, which is the Buddha doctrine (i.e., Nichiren) wherein the concept of effect is propounded that our Buddha realm, having been opened up through practice, now faces into the direction of its cause that is the nine realms of dharmas. (The nine realms are 1) suffering, 2) craving, wanting and needing, 3) the instinctive and involuntary behaviours of animality, 4) the arrogance and anger of the shura (ashura), 5) human equanimity, 6) provisional ecstatic joys, 7) learning and research for oneself, 8) partial enlightenment for oneself, as acquired through learning and research, 9) people who seek enlightenment not only for themselves, but for others as well (bosatsu).) "The one and the same rain" is the recitation of the title and theme (daimoku), without mixing it with any other teaching or practice.

The First and Introductory Chapter of the Dharma Flower Sutra (Hokke-kyō) teaches how the Buddha was about to explain the all-embracing Dharma and was going to make the rain of this all-embracing Dharma come streaming down. Now, at the time of this particular Chapter on the Parable of the Medicinal Herbs, this sutra makes it clear how this “one and the same rain” irrigates and waters all the plants and trees. The rain that nourishes all the vegetation is the same rain of the all-embracing Dharma, which the Buddha mentions in the First and Introductory Chapter of the Dharma Flower Sutra (Hokke-kyō). “The oneness of the soil”, when correlated with the title of the Sutra on the White Lotus Flower-like Mechanism of the Utterness of the Dharma” (Myōhō Renge Kyō), is specified by the word “Utterness” or Myō.

In just the same way as the two previous examples, the words “Lotus Flower” and “Dharma” take on the meaning of all dharmas of the three thousand existential spaces. These three thousand existential spaces include our respective environments as well as the three vehicles to enlightenment: 1) the hearers of the Buddha’s voice or intellectual seekers (shōmon, shrāvaka), 2) those who are partially enlightened due to a profound search for the meaning of existence and 3) the bodhisattvas. All these existential realms also include the five vehicles for the enlightenment of the deva (ten), humankind, intellectual seekers (shōmon, shrāvaka), the partially enlightened and the bodhisattvas.

Again, all the existential spaces must include the seven categories of individuals who had to receive teachings that were an expedient means and were expounded prior to the Dharma Flower Sutra (Hokke-kyō), which are the teachings of the individual vehicle (shōjō, hīnayāna) that were for the 1) intellectual seekers (shōmon, shrāvaka), 2) partially enlightened, and 3) the bodhisattvas, as well as the interrelated teachings that connected the doctrines of the individual vehicle (shōjō, hīnayāna) to those of the universal vehicle (daijō, mahāyāna) that were also for 4) the intellectual seekers (shōmon, shrāvaka), 5) the partially enlightened and 6) the bodhisattvas, along with the particular teaching that was 7) only for bodhisattvas. All those three thousand existential spaces, with the totality of dharmas that they contain, must imply the nine realms of dharmas of ordinary people like us.


Makakashō (Mahākāshyapa), you should be aware that it is the same for the Tathāgata, who comes into the realms of existence like the ascent of a great cloud and whose all-embracing voice extends over the three thousand universes where existence takes place, so as to reach the deva (ten), humankind, and the shura (ashura) (who are similar to the titans) who dwell in them.

In the midst of the great assembly, he proclaims the following words: “I am the person who has arrived at and comes from the essence of reality (Nyorai, Tathāgata), who is worthy of offerings and is correctly and universally enlightened, whose knowledge and conduct is perfect, who is completely free from the cycles of living and dying, yet with a complete understanding of the realms of existence, and lord supreme. I am the master who brings the passions and delusions of sentient beings into a harmonious order, the teacher of humankind and the deva (ten), and the Buddha who brings all sentient beings to enlightenment and the World Honoured One.

“I am the liberator of all sentient beings from the pains of existence and who are not yet freed from such agonies, as well as giving peace to all those who do not experience it. For those who have not yet passed over to the extinction of nirvana, I lead them to that extinction that is beyond all existence. In all the present aspects of this as a reality, I am he who knows the path to the liberation of enlightenment and makes that path available, through explaining what that path is. All you deva (ten) and humankind must come here, in order to listen to the Dharma.”

Then, at that moment, all kinds of sentient beings, in uncountable thousands of myriads, came to the place where the Buddha was, in order to listen to the Dharma. When the Tathāgata, who is able to discern as to whether the propensities of sentient beings are alert or obtuse or whether they are diligent or unenterprising, explained to them as much of the Dharma as they were able to take in, he also expounded it in uncountable, different ways, so as to make them joyful and receive pleasure from their good fortune.

All those sentient beings on hearing the Dharma, were immediately at peace with themselves for their present incarnations, as well as having the chance of being born in better circumstances in their future lives. On account of their having been set upon the path towards enlightenment, these sentient beings would find happiness and be able to listen to the Dharma in their future lives. They would be freed from the drawbacks inherent in other teachings, and, according to their various abilities, they would find again the path towards enlightenment.

In the same way as this all-embracing cloud spread its rain over the plants, trees, woodlands, and medicinal herbs, so that each kind fully benefitted from the downpour and was able to flourish.

The Dharma that the Tathāgata expounds is endowed with the single consistency of mind that is common to all sentient beings (issō), the oneness of its flavour (ichimi) that runs through the whole of existence, and also has the quality of complete psychological emancipation that is separate from any manifestation (sō) whatsoever. It is, in itself, the fact of the total extinction of nirvana. Since this Dharma refers to the ultimate reality, it is also the wisdom of all wisdom, which is that of perfect enlightenment (issaishuchi).

Those people who listen to the Dharma of the Tathāgata whether, they hold to it, recite, read, or practise it, in the same way as it was expounded, will acquire merits that they will be incapable of understanding.

How can this be so?

Only the Tathāgata knows what sort of sentient beings individuals are – in what way they become manifest (sō), what they really are (tai), what their inner nature (shō) is, what goes on in their minds, what they think about, what practices they do, in what way they ponder over things, how they think, what they think about their practises, what sort of dharmas they are involved with, also, what they think about such dharmas and how they came across them. Sentient beings live in all sorts of environments and terrains. Only the Tathāgata can see these things as realities, with clear insight and without hindrance.

In the same way as the plants, woodlands, and all the medicinal herbs are unaware of their superior, average, or lesser qualities, the Tathāgata knows them to be the oneness of mind, which, in reality, is what they are. And the oneness of their flavour is the Dharma itself. The Dharma is its own total emancipation and its own total extinction, which is the reality of nirvana. Since all these dharmas are in fact the eternal silence of extinction, they all, in the end, converge into the immateriality of the relativety (, shūnyatā) that underlies all existence

While the Buddha is completely conscious of this fact, he then took into consideration the mentalities and appetites of sentient beings. With the wish to protect them, the Buddha decided not to explain to them forthwith the wisdom of all wisdom which is the wisdom of the enlightenment of the Buddha.

Makakashō (Mahākāshyapa) and the rest of you have the rarest of opportunities to be able to listen to and get to know the Dharma as the Tathāgata himself understands it.

Why is this so?

It is because, when all the Buddhas explain the Dharma as they themselves understand it, it is difficult to comprehend, and it is difficult to assimilate.

Thereupon the World Honoured One, again wishing to reiterate the meaning of this discourse, expressed it in the terms of a metric hymn.

The sovereign of the Dharma who refutes the belief in what seems to be real, when he appears in the realms where existence takes place . . . .


The fourth important point, concerning the passage: “The sovereign of the Dharma who refutes the belief in what seems to be real, when he appears in the realms where existence takes place, he expounds the Dharma in various ways accommodated to the needs of sentient beings.”

In The Oral Transmission on the Meaning of the Dharma Flower Sutra (Ongi Kuden), it says, “what seems to be real” refers to those people who think that this teaching is a flagrant falsehood; “the destroyer” means “to put to silence such ways of thinking so as to teach the Buddha truth”; ‘the sovereign of Dharma is the advocate of the Dharma Flower Sutra (Hokke-kyō)”; and “the realms where existence takes place” are “where humankind abides”.

Again, The Oral Transmission on the Meaning of the Dharma Flower Sutra (Ongi Kuden) says that the idea of “refuting” suggests the immateriality of relativity that underlies existence (, shūnyatā); the idea of “seeming to be real” refers to the physical aspect of existence (ke); and the sovereign of the Dharma is the middle way of reality (chūdō jissō) that combines these two concepts together, so as to make existence an actuality. This particular phrase conveys the seeds for the enlightenment of the Tathāgata Shākyamuni.

Generally speaking, it is due to this phrase quoted in the title of this important point that all the Buddhas of the past, present, and future come to make their appearance in this dimension of existence. The three realms, where 1) sentient beings have appetites and desires, 2) which are incarnated in a subjective materiality with physical surroundings, 3) who, at the same time, are endowed with the immateriality of the realms of fantasies, thoughts and ideas (sangai, triloka), consist of twenty-five different kinds of existences, wherein sentient beings are continually overwhelmed by total bewilderment and various kinds of suffering.

(These twenty-five different kinds of existences are an analysis of the six paths of sentient existence that comes about in the three-dimensional space (sangai), where 1) sentient beings have appetites and desires (yokkai), 2) which are incarnated in a subjective materiality with physical surroundings (shikikai), 3) who, at the same time, are endowed with the immateriality of the realms of fantasies, thoughts and ideas (mushikikai). First, in the realms where sentient beings have appetites and desires, there are the four continents that circumscribe Mount Sumeru itself – 1) Hotsubadai that faces towards the east, 2) Kuyani that faces towards the west, 3) Uttanotsu that faces towards the north, and 4) Embudai which is the world of humankind and faces south.)

(Then, there are the four destinations of less fortunate rebirth (shi’akushu) – 1) the hells (jigoku) or suffering, 2) hungry ghosts or craving (gaki), 3) animality or animal propensities (chikushō), and the shura or titans (ashura). Next, we have the six heavens where the dwellers still have appetites and desires (rokuyokuten) – 1) Shiōten, 2) Tōriten, 3) Yamaten, 4) Tosotsuten, 5) Kerakuten, and 6) Takejizaiten, which all together make up fourteen different kinds of existences. Then, we come to the five realms of existence, where sentient beings still have material incarnations with physical surroundings, the Mahābrahma heaven (Dai Bonten), and the four (dhyana, zen) heavens of the dimensions of form, which come from the practises of mental concentration, in which the reasoning process of the intellect is cut short and consciousness is heightened by the exclusion of wandering thoughts from our personal lives, except for the single thought which is taken as the subject of meditation. In this way, it is said that one approaches the plane of pure thought only.)

(Last, we come to the four heavens that are completely devoid of any apparent presence at all – 1) the abode of infinite space or emptiness, the formless or immaterial world, 2) the dimension of limitless knowing, 3) the third dimension of formlessness and yet, at the same time, there being existence, and 4) the dimension of no thought and yet the dimension where no non-thought exists, along with the heaven devoid of thought, and the state in the practices of the teachings of Shākyamuni where they will, in their next existences, attain the total extinction of nirvana).

This means that sentient beings go round and round through the cycles of living and dying and that these dimensions are the Dimension to be Endured (shaba sekai, sahā-lokadhātu).

The idea of refuting means to refute one’s attachment to what seems to be real. The sovereign of the Dharma is the mind, as a whole, or all things (dharmas) in the minds of all the sentient beings of the ten realms of existence. The sovereign of the Dharma is the whole of our minds, which involves all the experiences of our lives. When we really understand what the real aspect of all dharmas is, which means that we really perceive life according to the principle of the one instant of thought containing three thousand existential spaces, then the sovereign of the Dharma becomes the sovereign who refutes all that is seemingly real.

Now, when Nichiren along with those that follow him reverently chant Nam Myōhō Renge Kyō, they are cutting off their attachment to the concept that this teaching is a flagrant falsehood and evolve into becoming like the Tathāgata Shākyamuni who is the sovereign of the Dharma.

The two ideas of 1) refuting, as well as 2) what seems to be real, are the seeds for the enlightenment of the original archetypal state of the Tathāgata Shākyamuni. Again, The Oral Transmission on the Meaning of the Dharma Flower Sutra (Ongi Kuden) says that all that seems to be real is the mainspring of the troublesome worries (bonnō, klesha) that accompany our respective lives and deaths. The doctrinal intention of the gateway of the provisional teachings prior to the Dharma Flower Sutra (Hokke-kyō) was to reject our troublesome worries (bonnō, klesha) along with our cycles of living and dying, so as to attain the perfect wisdom of enlightenment and enter into the total extinction of nirvana.

But now the object of the teaching of the Dharma Flower Sutra (Hokke-kyō) is simply to leave our troublesome worries (bonnō, klesha), that accompany our respective lives and deaths, just as they are and to open up and realise (through practice) the eternity of happiness, and purity of the enlightenment of nirvana. This is what is meant by the refutation of what seems to be real. What seems to be real are our troublesome worries (bonnō, klesha); the refutation of them is the recitation of and the meaning of Nam Myōhō Renge Kyō which is our devotion to and the foundation of our lives (Namu) the Utterness of the Dharma (Myōhō) (entirety of existence) permeated by the underlying white lotus flower-like mechanism of the interdependence of cause, concomitancy and effect (Renge) in its whereabouts of the ten (psychological) realms of dharmas (Kyō). This is the implication of what the rejection is of what seems to be real. Both what is refuted and that which refutes are the one intrinsic truth of the real aspect of all dharmas.

In the First and Introductory Chapter of the Dharma Flower Sutra (Hokke-kyō), there is a reference to “those who have refuted and repulsed all the bonds that seem to be real”. In the present chapter, we have “the sovereign of the Dharma who refutes what seems to be real”. In the Chapter on Similes and Parables of the same sutra, we have Shākyamuni’s declaration: “Now these three realms, where 1) sentient beings have appetites and desires, 2) which are incarnated in a subjective materiality with apparently physical surroundings who, 3) at the same time, are endowed with immateriality of the realms of fantasies, thoughts and ideas (sangai, triloka), are all something that the Tathāgata possesses and are also seemingly real.”


. . . . according to the wishes
of sentient beings,
he expounds the Dharma
in different ways.
The Tathāgata
is the most venerable,
and his wisdom
is profound and far-reaching.
For a long time,
he never spoke
about the fundamental point
of this Dharma,
as well as not seeking
to expound it on impulse,
because those who might have wisdom,
on hearing it,
would neither understand it
nor have faith in it.
But for those with no wisdom
who are full of doubts,
through their searching compunctions,
such a Dharma
would be lost forever.
This is why, Makakashō (Mahākāshyapa),
I explain things
according to the capacities
of those I teach.
By means of parables and similes,
I got them to see things
in the correct way.
Makakashō (Mahākāshyapa), you ought to know
that once there was a great cloud
that rose above the realms
of existence,
covering every single thing
everywhere.
It was a cloud filled
with the moisture of wisdom.
There were bright flashes
of lightning
and peals of thunder
rumbling in the distance.
These peals of thunder
gave joy to all beings and things,
even though the rays of the sun
were hidden by cloud
in a way that the ground
became cool.
The clouds hung in long streaks
above the ground.
It would seem that the earth
could almost catch them.
The rain streamed down
beyond measure,
so that the whole of the earth
was completely soaked.
In the mountains
and along the rivers,
in the precipitous valleys
and ravines
whose depths were out of sight,
there grew plants, trees,
medicinal herbs,
and all the different kinds
of woodlands,
where a hundred kinds
of grasses and cereals
sprouted and flourished,
along with sugarcane and vines.
There was not a place
where the rain did not suffice.
The parched ground
was moistened everywhere,
so that both plants and trees
could thrive.
The water that came
from this cloud
had but a single flavour.
All the grasses, trees,
woods and forests
were irrigated,
according to their measure.
All the trees,
whether they were tall,
medium-sized, or little,
each one, consistent with its size,
was able to grow and flourish.
Their roots, trunks,
branches, and foliage
and their flowers
and brightly-coloured fruit,
as soon as the rain fell on them,
they all took on the look
of shiny freshness.
Then all, according to their entities
as vegetation(tai),
their physical aspects(sō),
and their varying essences (shō),
also as to whether
they were big or small,
each one received the one moisture
and was able to become luxuriant
in its own manner.
It is just the same with the Buddha
who, like this all-embracing cloud,
manifests himself
in the dimensions
where existence takes place,
a cloud that covers everything
everywhere.
When the Buddha comes
into the dimensions
where existence takes place,
it is for the benefit
of all the sentient beings
who inhabit those dimensions.
His intention is to pick out
from the relativity and noumena
that lie behind all existence (, shūnyatā)
and expound the real aspect
of all dharmas.
The World Honoured One,
who is universally wise,
good, and upright
in all his character (daishō),
in the midst of the assembly
of deva (ten) and humankind,
says out loud:
I am the Tathāgata,
venerated by all humankind
on two legs.
I have come into the dimensions
where existence takes place,
just like the all-embracing cloud
which moistened and reanimated
all that grew.
I now do the same
for sentient beings,
so as to release them
from all suffering,
and so that they may find
the happiness of the remedy
that is the fulfilment
of the existential spaces,
or even the eternity
of happiness,
unsubstantiality,
and pureness of nirvana.
Now, listen hard.
All of you in the assembly
of deva (ten) and humankind,
have you really come here
to look upon
the World Honoured One
who has no superior?
I am that World Honoured One
whom nobody can equal.
It is for the relief and peace
of sentient beings
that I come into their realms
of existence.
It is for all the people
in the assembly
that I explain
this immortal nectar
of the pure Dharma itself (Nam Myōhō Renge Kyō).
This Dharma is
of the single flavour,
that is applicable
to everything
whose total extinction
is that of nirvana.
With the vocal teaching
that involves Utterness (myō’on),
I expound and disclose
its implications.
It is always for the purpose
of the universal vehicle (daijō, mahāyāna)
that I construct stories
that have a karmic relationship
which coincides
with this single intention.
When I look upon
the dharmas that exist,
I see them as being
of the same consistency everywhere.
I have no mind
to favour this or that;
nor have I a mind
to love one and hate the other.
I have no self-interest or attachment
for any of them.
And I am also free
of any obstacles
that can hinder me.


The fifth important point, concerning the content of the following lines of metric hymn (with regard to Shākyamuni’s enlightenment): “When I look upon the dharmas that exist, I see them as being of the same consistency everywhere. I have no mind to favour this or that; nor have I a mind to love one and hate the other. I have no self-interest or attachment for any of them. And I am also free of any obstacles that can hinder me.”

The Oral Transmission on the Meaning of the Dharma Flower Sutra (Ongi Kuden) states that those lines of metric hymn refer to five of the deepest profundities of perceptions of the mind or the senses that can evolve into consciousness (shiki, vijñāna). The lines, “When I look upon the dharmas that exist, I see them as being of the same consistency everywhere,” refer to the deepest of the profundities of perception (kyushiki, amarashiki, amala-vijñāna). This is the completely untainted perception of the very essence of life itself (which is the same as the content of the Fundamental Object of Veneration (gohonzon)).

The lines, “I have no mind to favour this or that” represent the eighth of the nine profundities of perception, which is the foundation upon which consciousness is based. It is seemingly, but not, in reality, the basic aspect of each individual. It is also the source of the other profundities of perception and has the power to conjure up all dharmas (arayashiki, zōshiki, ālaya- vijñāna). This perception that can evolve into consciousness is often thought of as the “storehouse consciousness”.

The phrase, “I have no mind to love one or hate the other.” refers to the seventh of these perceptions that can evolve into consciousness (manashiki, manas), which is the activity of the mind as thinking or measuring. It is the root of all illusion and is always functioning. The lines, “I have no self-interest or attachment for any of them,” refer to the sixth of these perceptions that are consciousness (ishiki, mano-vijñāna). When this perception becomes a conscious activity it is ordinary thought and depends upon the organ of thought.

The last of these perceptions that can evolve into consciousness is the one that collectively has its own organs for being able to become aware of what is sensed, which are the eyes, ears, nose, tongue, body, and mind. It is only since the last few centuries that we conceive our thoughts as coming from the brain. In the last lines that refer to Shākyamuni’s enlightenment, in the passage, “and I am also free of any obstacles that can hinder me”, this points to the last of these five perceptions that can evolve into consciousness, which collectively are sight, hearing, smell, taste, touch, and mental perception. These six perceptions are, on the whole, the way we sentient beings are able to become aware of dharmas.

Now Nichiren and those that follow him, who reverently recite Nam Myōhō Renge Kyō, do they not see dharmas as being of the same consistency everywhere? Is this not the ninth perception that can evolve into consciousness, which is the completely untainted awareness or cognition of the very essence of life itself (amarashiki)? Then, do they have no mind to favour this or that? Or do they not have a mind to love one and hate the other? Have they no self-interest nor attachment to any dharmas? Or are there no obstacles that can hinder them?


Without varying, I expound
that the Dharma
is equal everywhere,
for the benefit
of each and every person.
Just as though I were teaching
a single individual,
I do the same
for the multitude of the assembly.
I continually expound
the Dharma
and never preach
about other subjects.
Whether I am coming or going,
sitting or standing,
I feel no tiredness
nor dislike for teaching.
In the same way that the rain
moistens everything everywhere,
I bestow satisfaction
on all the realms
where existence takes place.
No matter whether they are nobles
or simply ordinary people,
nor does it matter whether they
are aristocrats or commoners,
or even if they have taken
the monastic precepts or not,
or whether they have
any authority or not,
or whether their views
are correct or not,
or even if their propensities
are keen or dull,
I make the rain of the Dharma
fall equally on all,
without any negligence
or fatigue.
All the sentient beings
who listen to my Dharma
assimilate it,
according to their abilities.
Also they live
in all kinds of dimensions.
Either they are humankind or deva (ten),
or sage-like sovereigns whose chariot wheels
roll everywhere without hindrance (tenrinnō, chakravartin),
or even deva sovereigns (ten’ ō, deva-rāja)
such as Indra or Brahma.
These sentient beings
are comparable
to the smaller medicinal herbs.
Those who get to know this Dharma,
that has no vagaries,
nor fantasies,
nor troublesome worries (bonnō, klesha),
are able to attain nirvana,
or simply the six reaches
of the mind of the deva (ten) (which are 1) their sight, 2) their hearing, 3) their ability to penetrate the minds of other people, 4) their ability to understand the inherent karma of sentient beings, 5) their ability to manifest themselves according to the capacities of other people and the ability to travel mentally elsewhere, 6) their ability to cut off all troublesome worries (bonnō, klesha)),
along with the three insights (which are 1) the insight into the mortal conditions of oneself and others in previous lives, 2) the ability to foresee future mortal conditions, and 3) the cognisance of nirvana, which is the ability to overcome all temptation and suffering).
Those who got to know this Dharma,
that has no vagaries, nor fantasies,
nor troublesome worries (bonnō, klesha),
live on their own
in the mountains and forests
and always spend their time
perfectly absorbed
into the one object
of their meditation,
concentration and abstraction,
reaching to the ultimate
beyond emotion or thinking (zenjō),
and attain the substantiation
of those who are partially enlightened (in this case, due to their Vedic and Brahmanic Studies).
Such people are comparable
to the middle-sized
medicinal herbs.
Those who seek the place
where the World Honoured One
is residing
and say that they wish to attain
the fruition of Buddhahood,
who also practise with zeal
and concentration
such people are comparable
to the tallest
of the medicinal herbs.
Again, those who hold faith
in the Buddha teaching
and dedicate themselves
to the Buddha path,
as well as practising
universal loving-kindness,
knowing that they themselves,
in their determination,
have no doubts,
are comparable
to the smaller trees.
Such people
whose reaches of the mind
are perfectly settled
and turn the wheel
of never turning back,
who ferry boundless myriads
from the shores of living and dying
to that of nirvana,
are bodhisattvas
who are comparable
to the greatest of trees.
The exposition of the Buddha
is equal for everybody,
just like the rain
that has but a single flavour.
Just as sentient beings
have different characters,
so the rain is not absorbed
in the same manner,
in the same way
as each plant or tree
has a different way
of receiving moisture.
The Buddha uses this parable
as a means that is expedient,
to reveal and make
the Dharma apparent.
Also using various ways
of expressing himself,
he propagates and expounds
the one Dharma.
The wisdom and discernment
of the Buddha
is comparable
to the uniform taste
of each single drop
of water from the ocean.
(It is not separate from the realities of the whole of existence.)
I make the rain of the Dharma
come pouring down
and fill each existential space.
The Dharma that has
the same savour everywhere
is practised
according to the capacities
of each individual,
in the same way
as all the trees and plants
in the forest
gradually grow and flourish
in size and beauty.
The Dharma of all the Buddhas
is always of the one flavour,
in order to give fulfilment
to all the dimensions
everywhere where existence takes place.
Then, by practising through stages,
each one will obtain
the realisation of the path.
Those people who exert themselves
to attain the highest stage
of the individual vehicle (shōjō, hīnayāna)
through listening to the Buddha (shōmon, shrāvaka),
along with those
who are partially enlightened
due to various kinds
of karmic circumstances (engaku, hyakushibutsu, pratyekabuddha),
who dwell in the forests
and the mountains,
are abiding
in their last incarnations
and have obtained
the fruition of the Dharma
through listening to its discourse.
These people are like
the medicinal herbs
who have grown
and come to their fulfilment.
When it comes to the bodhisattvas
who are steadfast
in their wisdom and discernment,
whose minds can penetrate
into the three realms (where 1) sentient beings have appetites and desires, 2) which are incarnated in a subjective materiality with physical surroundings, and 3) who, at the same time, are endowed with the immateriality of the realms of fantasies, thoughts and ideas (sangai, triloka)),
who are on the quest
for the supreme vehicle
to enlightenment,
then these people
are like smaller trees
that will thrive and grow.
Furthermore, there are those people
who spend their time
in contemplation (zen)
and discover the far reaches
of their minds (jinzūriki).
When they hear that all dharmas
are the relativity
of noumena (, shūnyatā),
their minds are filled
with an all-embracing gladness.
They emit
innumerable rays of light (which are good vibrations),
so as to ferry sentient beings
across the seas of living and dying
to the shore of nirvana.
Such people are like big trees
that grow, thrive, and flourish.
Makakashō (Mahākāshyapa), it is all just like this.
The Dharma which the Buddha expounds
is like an enormous cloud
which, through its moisture of rain
that has but a single flavour,
irrigates and enriches
the flowers that are real people,
so that all can attain
their own realisation.
Makakashō (Mahākāshyapa), you should indeed know
that by means of stories,
whose causes and karmic circumstances
correspond with each other (innen),
as well as all sorts of parables,
the Buddha opens
and reveals his path.
It is by such expedient means
that are also put to use
by all Buddhas.
Now I am explaining to you
a matter that is most real.
Not one of those individuals,
who exert themselves
to attain the highest stage
of the individual vehicle (shōjō, hīnayāna)
through listening to the Buddha (shōmon, shrāvaka),
has ever passed over to nirvana.
What should be practised
is the path of the bodhisattvas.
Through gradually studying
and practising along the path,
all of you everywhere
must become Buddhas (jōbutsu) (which is for people to open up their inherent Buddha nature with their persons just as they are).

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