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The Dharma Flower Sutra seen through the Oral Transmission of Nichiren Daishōnin: The Ninth Chapter on the Announcement of the Future Attainment to Buddhahood of Both Those who Need and Do Not Need Instruction

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


The first important point on the expressions of “who need instruction” and “do not need instruction” in the title of the Ninth Chapter on the Announcement of the Future Attainment to Buddhahood of Both Those who Need and Do Not Need Instruction.

The Oral Transmission on the Meaning of the Dharma Flower Sutra (Ongi Kuden) stipulates that those who “need instruction” refer to people who are lacking wisdom, and the persons who “do not need instruction” are those who possess wisdom. Now when Nichiren and those who follow him reverently recite Nam Myōhō Renge Kyō, which means to devote our lives to and found them on (Nam(u)) 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in its whereabouts of the ten (psychological) realms of dharmas (Kyō), would this not correspond to the quotation, “I originally made a vow to enlighten all people in the same way as myself, without any difference whatsoever?” This means that the Buddha has announced the future attainment of Buddhahood of both those who need and do not need instruction.

Those people who no longer need instruction are thought of in terms of the dharmas of physicality (shikihō), on account of their sublime behaviour. But those who need instruction are thought of in terms of the dharmas of the mind (shinpō), since learning is a mental process. These are people who think that existence consists of materiality only (shikihō) and therefore are in need of instruction. Also, there are people who perceive existence as mind only (shinpō) and feel they have no further need for instruction. But the dharmas of physicality (shikihō) are those that point to the need for no further instruction, on account of what these people really are.

Nevertheless, the people who need instruction and those who have no need for it are all the sentient beings in the realms of humankind. Broadly speaking, both the wise along with individuals with lesser propensities will have the announcement of their future path of enlightenment realised through reciting Nam Myōhō Renge Kyō, even if this title and theme have to be forced upon them and they react to it as though it were poison.


There and then, the thought ran across the minds of Anan (Ānanda) and Ragora (Rahula): Every day we think about how wonderful it would be if we could have the announcement of our future attainment to Buddhahood conferred upon us.

Thereupon they rose from their seats and stood in front of the Buddha. They bowed their heads in reverence towards his feet. Together they addressed the Buddha, saying:

World Honoured One, we would really like to have a part in this. We have always taken refuge in the Tathāgata. Also, we are better known by the deva (ten) and shura (ashura) throughout all the realms of existence. Anan (Ānanda) has always attended upon you, in order to hold to and protect the source of the Dharma (hōzō). Ragora (Rahula) is the son of the Buddha. If a Buddha could see a way to confer the announcement of our future realisation of the unexcelled, correct, and all-embracing enlightenment upon us, our wishes would be completely fulfilled, and the hopes of the people in the assembly would be satisfied.

At that moment, two thousand disciples who were also intellectual seekers (shōmon, shrāvaka), who either needed instruction or no longer needed any further tuition, all together got up from their seats. They uncovered their right shoulders in veneration and went straight in front of the Buddha. They put the palms of their hands together and looked up towards the World Honoured One. Then they expressed the same wish as Anan (Ānanda) and Ragora (Rahula).

Thereupon the Buddha said to Anan (Ānanda): In future ages you will certainly obtain the fruition of Buddhahood. Your name will be Sengai’e Jizai Tsū’ō nyorai, which is the Tathāgata King Mountains and Seas whose Reaches of Wisdom are Unrestricted (Sengai’e Jizai Tsū’ ō nyorai) . . .


The second important point concerning the future name of Anan (Ānanda) when he will attain the state of Buddhahood, which will be the Tathāgata King Mountains and Seas whose Reaches of Wisdom are Unrestricted (Sengai’e Jizai Tsū’ō nyorai).

The Oral Transmission on the Meaning of the Dharma Flower Sutra (Ongi Kuden) says that the word “Mountains” (sen) in this future name of Anan (Ānanda) refers to our troublesome worries (bonnō, klesha) not being separate from our enlightenment and that the word “Seas” (gai) in this name refers to our cycles of living and dying not being separate from nirvana. (This was originally the state of enlightenment realised by Shākyamuni Buddha. Such an enlightenment can be reached by eradicating all illusions and getting rid of all karma that is the cause for rebirth. In our teaching, it embodies neither coming into being (fushō), nor ever ceasing to exist (fumetsu). It is also equated with wisdom (chi’e, prajñā) and the entity of the Dharma (hosshin, Dharma-kāya). Nirvana has the four essential qualities of eternity, happiness, purity, and unchangingness.)

The Wisdom (e) in this particular name is the languages and words we use to express ourselves. Again, in this name the word “unrestricted” means without any obstruction or restraint. The “king whose Reaches (of Wisdom)” (Jizai Tsū’ō) in Anan’s (Ānanda) future name implies that, in the ten realms where dharmas occur, each single realm of dharmas contains the other ten, which amounts to a hundred realms where dharmas can take place. Then these hundred realms of dharmas are multiplied by the ten ways in which dharmas can make themselves present to any or all of our senses, which then become a thousand ways in which these dharmas can make themselves present to any or all of our six senses. These thousand ways in which dharmas can make themselves present need a dimension in which they can exist. These are the three existential spaces which are formulas for the differentiation between one person and another.

The first is the existential space of the five aggregates (go’on seken). From time to time, these five aggregates (go’on) join together in order to form an individual sentient being. (The five aggregates are the following: 1) Physicality (shiki) which is understood in Japanese as all that involves our five organs of senseeyes, ears, nose, tongue, and the body – which are the means with which we perceive the outside world. 2) Perception (ju) has the role of receiving outside information through the six organs of sense. This implies the five organs mentioned above, plus mind which is the faculty that coordinated the information received through the five senses. 3) Thought (sō) is the ability of turning things over in the mind of what has been sensed from the outside world. 4) Volition (gyō) is understood as that which induces a course of action, which, I will have to say, is always influenced by the experiences of our former lives or even the intervals between our deaths and rebirths. 5) Cognition (shiki) is the mechanism of how we conceive our respective lives.)

(However all this occurs in the existential space of what sort of sentient being we are (shujō seken). Are we a denizen of the hells? Are we craving, hungry ghosts? Are we simply urged along by animal instinct? Are we motivated by the inclination to be number one, which is when this desire is thwarted, it turns into anger? Are we just ordinary human beings who like peace and quiet? Or do we base our lives on all the fleeting pleasures that our societies offer? Are we intellectual seekers who want to find out the meaning of life? Or do we think we know it all, on account of our knowledge of the arts, sciences, philosophy, and all the other branches of learning we have delved into? Are we striving for our enlightenment and the enlightenment of others as well?)

(Finally, none of us are enlightened completely, but we do open up our inherent Buddha nature with our personalities and physical characteristics just as they are, through regular practise. We do not become Buddhas, but we certainly become aware that our Buddha realm exists, in the sense that it is the quintessence of life.)

(The existential space of the environment (kokudo seken) is where the existential spaces of sentient beings (shujō seken) take place. The denizens of the hells live in infernal conditions, which might well be in various war zones, but there are also many psychological hells as well. In Buddhist folklore, the hungry ghosts live under the ground. In human terms, this dimension points to the skid rows where addicts gather, where prostitution and porno shows take place. All these above-mentioned various physical and mental dimensions together are all the one instant of thought containing three thousand existential spaces (ichinen sanzen), which are present throughout the whole of our lives along with our respective deaths. All of these elements are what we call life.)

Again, the word Mountain (sen) in this name represents the teachings that are derived from the external events of the Buddha Shākyamuni’s life and work (shakumon). Here the word Seas (gai) in this name refers to the original archetypal state of all life (honmon). Then, the word wisdom (e) in this name embodies the five ideograms for Myōhō Renge Kyō that are the immateriality of relativity that lies under all existence (, shūnyatā).

Now Nichiren and those that follow him reverently recite Nam Myōhō Renge Kyō which means to devote our lives to and found them on (Nam(u)) 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).

Through this practise, they become the Buddha King Mountains and Seas whose Reaches of Wisdom are Unrestricted (Sengai’e Jizai Tsū’ō Butsu). (This implies that we who follow the teaching of Nichiren open up our inherent Buddha nature with our personalities and physical characteristics just as they are. This becomes the awareness that our real identities are the quintessence of all existence. Apart from us who do the practices of Nichiren, the disciple of Shākyamuni, Anan (Ānanda), does not exist. Anan is the joy of becoming aware that each instant of life consists of the one instant of thought that contains three thousand existential spaces.)


. . . who will be worthy of offerings, correctly and universally enlightened, whose knowledge and conduct will be perfect, who will be completely free from the cycles of living and dying, yet with a complete understanding of the realms of existence, lord supreme, the master who brings the passions and delusions of sentient beings into harmonious control, the teacher of humankind and the deva (ten), the Buddha, and the World Honoured One.

He must make offerings to sixty-two myriads of Buddhas. He will also have protected and held to the treasury of the Dharma (hōzō), after which he will attain the unexcelled, correct, and all-embracing enlightenment. He will convert through his teaching twenty thousand myriads of myriads of times the number of grains of sand in the Ganges of bodhisattvas and induce them to realise the unexcelled, correct, and all-embracing enlightenment.

His Buddha realm will have the name The Victorious Banner that Stands Forever (Jōryū Shōban). The ground will be of lapis lazuli, and his kalpas will be referred to as The Sound of Utterness that Fills Everything (Myō’on Henman). The lifespan of that Buddha will be boundless thousands of myriads of myriads of incalculable kalpas. Even if someone were to try to figure out this number, they would never really know what its numerals are. The age in which his Dharma will be in its correct and complete form will endure two times the length of his lifespan. The period in which his Dharma will degenerate into mere liturgical formalities will be twice as long as when his Dharma will have been in its correct and complete form.

Anan (Ānanda), this Buddha King Mountains and Seas whose Reaches of Wisdom are Unrestricted (Sengai’e Jizai Tsū’ ō nyorai) will be praised and admired for his merits by all the Buddhas of the ten directions who are as boundlessly numerous as thousands of myriads of myriads of times the number of grains of sand in the Ganges.

Then the World Honoured One, wishing to reiterate the significance of what he had said, expressed it in the form of a metric hymn.

I now say, in the midst
of the clerical community (sō, sangha),
that Anan (Ānanda) who holds to the Dharma
will make offerings to all the Buddhas,
after which he will realise
the correct enlightenment.
His name will be
the Buddha King Mountains and Seas
whose Reaches of Wisdom are Unrestricted (Sengai’e Jizai Tsū’ ō nyorai).
The terrain whereupon
he will depend for an existence
will be immaculately pure
and will have the name
of The Victorious Banner
that Stands Forever.
He will through his teaching
convert as many bodhisattvas
as there are grains of sand in the Ganges.
This Buddha will have
such an all-embracing majesty
that his renown will fill
all the ten directions of the universe.
His lifespan will be incalculable.
But because he pities
all sentient beings,
his Dharma, in its correct form,
from which one will be able
to attain enlightenment (shohō),
will perpetuate
for twice the length of his lifetime,
and, when his Dharma
becomes a routinised,
liturgical formality (zōbō),
it will perpetuate
for twice as long
as the correct form of the Dharma.
He will sow the seeds
of the cause and karmic relationships
of the path of Buddhahood
of as many individuals
as there are grains of sand in the Ganges.

Then, in the assembly, eight thousand bodhisattvas, who had newly resolved their intention to attain enlightenment, all had this thought: We have never yet heard any of the bodhisattvas whose wisdom is all-embracing have such an announcement of their future Buddhahood conferred upon them. What were the reasons and karmic circumstances for those people who exerted themselves to attain the highest stage of the teaching of the individual vehicle (shōjō, hīnayāna) through listening to the Buddha or the intellectual seekers (shōmon, shrāvaka) to have received such a confirmation?

At that moment, the World Honoured One, who was aware of what was going on in the minds of these bodhisattvas, told them the following: All you sons of good birth, both Anan (Ānanda) and myself were together in the presence of the Buddha Sovereign of Relativity (, shūnyatā). (The word relativity (, shūnyatā) has often been translated as “vacuity”, “void”, or “nothingness”. However, relativity does not deny our perception of existence as we experience it, but implies that the whole of existence and its constituent elements are analogous to the Lotus Flower as the archetype of the interdependence of cause, concomitancy and effect, even though this mechanism is not always apparent, and, at the same time, these elements of causation are changing every instant. Relativity (, shūnyatā) as a concept fundamentally denies any possibility of a static physical existence. All dharmas are relative and depend on all sorts of other dharmas, in order to be present. This word relativity (, shūnyatā) also implies the immateriality of our thoughts and ideas (sangai, triloka).) At the same time, we had vowed to attain the unexcelled, correct, and all-embracing enlightenment (anokutara sanmyaku sanbodai, anuttara-samyak-sambodhi). Anan (Ānanda) has always been dedicated to great learning, whereas for his part he had always committed himself to zeal and diligence. This is why I Shākyamuni have been able to realise the unexcelled, correct, and all-embracing enlightenment, while Anan (Ānanda) has always preserved my Dharma. And, again in the future, he will retain the source of the Dharma (hōzō) of all the Buddhas. Also, he will transform through his teaching and bring a multitude of bodhisattvas to an inner realisation. Such is Anan’s (Ānanda) original vow and the reason why I have agreed to bestow on him this announcement of his future attainment to Buddhahood.

Anan (Ānanda), who was standing face to face with the Buddha, listened to the announcement of his future Buddhahood being conferred upon him, along with the description of the adornments of his Buddha realm. His original vow had been fulfilled;, his heart was full of gladness; and he had a feeling of completeness that he had never experienced before. There and then, he remembered the source of the Dharma (hōzō) of incalculable thousands of myriads of myriads of Buddhas of the past. which he could bring to mind without obstacle whatsoever. It was as though he had only just heard these dharmas. Also, he recognised his original bodhisattva vow.

Then, at that moment, Anan (Ānanda) expressed himself in the form of a metric hymn.

The World Honoured One
is really extraordinary.
He has brought back to my memory
the Dharma of all the Buddhas
from my past.
It gives me the impression
that I have only heard these Dharmas
this very day.
Now, I have no doubts at all,
and I am firmly set
upon the path of enlightenment.
As a recourse,
in order to assimilate
the Dharma of the Buddhas,
I serve and wait upon
the Buddha Shākyamuni.

Then afterwards, the Buddha addressed Ragora (Rahula): In future ages you will substantiate the fruition of Buddhahood (sabutsu). You will be known by the name of the Tathāgata who stands upon the Flower of the Seven Precious Materials (Tōshippōke nyorai) (which are 1) gold, 2) silver, 3) lapis lazuli, 4) crystal, 5) agate, 6) ruby, 7) cornelian), worthy of offerings, correctly and universally enlightened, whose knowledge and conduct are perfect, completely free from the cycles of living and dying, yet with a complete understanding of the realms of existence, the master who brings the passions and delusions of sentient beings into harmonious control, the teacher of humankind and the deva (ten), the Buddha, and the World Honoured One.

He will have to make offerings to as many Buddha Tathāgatas as there are particles of dust in ten worlds where existence takes place and will always be the first born of all these Buddhas. In the same way as he is now my son, the adornments of the Buddha realm of the Tathāgata who stands upon the Flower of the Seven Precious Materials (Tōshippōke nyorai), along with the number of kalpas of his lifespan, the disciples whom he will convert, the length of time when his Dharma will be correct and capable of bringing sentient beings to enlightenment, and the length of time when his Dharma will degenerate into a liturgical routinization will be entirely the same as those of the Tathāgata Buddha King Mountains and Seas whose Reaches of Wisdom are Unrestricted (Sengai’e Jizai Tsū’ō), without any difference whatsoever. Moreover, the Tathāgata who stands upon the Flower of the Seven Precious Materials (Tōshippōke nyorai) will be the eldest son of the Buddha King Mountains and Seas whose Reaches of Wisdom are Unrestricted (Sengai’e Jizai Tsū’ō nyorai), after which he too will attain the unexcelled, correct, and all-embracing enlightenment.

The World Honoured One, wishing to reiterate the significance of what he had said, expressed it in terms of a metric hymn.

When I was a prince,
Ragora (Rahula) was my eldest son.
Now I have realised
the path of Buddhahood.
My son will receive the Dharma
and become a person
who will follow my teaching.
In ages to come,
he will encounter
boundless myriads
of myriads of Buddhas.
By being their eldest son,
he will seek with all his mind
the path of Buddhahood.
As for the esoteric practise
of Ragora (Rahula),
I am the only one
who really knows about it.
He has manifested himself
as my eldest son,
in order to show to sentient beings
his innumerable myriads
of myriads of merits
that cannot be calculated.
He abides firmly
in the Dharma of the Buddha,
so that he can seek
the unsurpassed path.

Then the World Honoured One looked upon the two thousand persons, among whom some needed to study further and others had no need to. Their minds were gentle, without troublesome worries (bonnō, klesha), and immaculately pure.

In like-mindedness, they all reverently looked up towards the Buddha, who then addressed Anan (Ānanda), saying: Do you not see these two thousand individuals, among whom some need to study and others who have no need to?

Yes, of course I see them.

Anan (Ānanda), when all these people have made offerings to and solemnly venerated, as well as holding to and preserving the source of the Dharma of as many Buddhas as there are particles of dust in fifty worlds, then afterwards, at the same time, throughout the terrains whereupon beings depend for an existence in all the ten directions, each individual will realise the state of enlightenment, and they will all have the same name, the Characteristics of a Jewel (Hōzō), as well as the ten titles of a Buddha. (They are 1) Tathāgata, 2) worthy of offerings, 3) correctly and universally enlightened, 4) whose knowledge and conduct are perfect, 5) completely free from the cycles of living and dying, 6) yet with a complete understanding of the realms of existence, 7) lord supreme, 8) the master who brings the passions and delusions of sentient beings into harmonious control, 9) the Buddha, and 10) the World Honoured One.) Their lifespan will be one kalpa. The adornments of the terrains upon which they will depend for an existence, the people who will listen to them in order to attain the highest stage of the teachings of the individual vehicle (shōjō, hīnayāna) or intellectual seekers (shōmon, shrāvaka), and the number of bodhisattvas in their respective assemblies, as well as how long the correct phase of their Dharma (shōhō) and their Dharma as liturgical routinisations (zōbō) will last, will all be the same.

Thereupon the World Honoured One, wishing to reiterate the significance of what he had said, expressed it again in the form of a metric hymn.

These two thousand intellectual seekers (shōmon, shrāvaka)
who are now standing before me,
I have announced their future
attainment to enlightenment,
and they will realise
the state of Buddhahood.
The Buddhas to whom
they have made offerings
are as numerous
as the particles of dust,
just as I have specified above.
They will hold
to the source of the Dharma (hōzō),
and, afterwards, they will realise
the correct enlightenment.
All of them,
each one in his Buddha terrain
that is spread out
through all the ten directions,
will be seated
at the same time in their seats,
where they will ultimately
become enlightened,
so that they can testify
to the peerless wisdom.
They will all be equally named
Characteristics of a Jewel (Hōzō),
and the terrain
whereupon they will depend
for an existence,
along with their respective disciples,
the length of time
their Dharma is in its correct phase (shōhō),
as well as when it degenerates into
a liturgical routinization (zōbō),
will all be equally the same,
without any difference whatsoever.
All of them, on account of
the reaches of their minds,
will ferry over
from the shores of living and dying
to the shore of nirvana
sentient beings
from all the ten directions.
Their renown will be
universally spread,
and finally they will all
pass over to nirvana.

There and then, the two thousand persons, among whom some needed to study and others had no need to, on having heard the Buddha confer upon them the prediction of their future attainment to Buddhahood, rejoiced jubilantly. Thereupon they expressed themselves in the form of the following metric hymn:

The World Honoured One
is the source of the light of wisdom.
On hearing the pronouncement
of our future enlightenment
it fills our hearts with joy
as though we had been
anointed with ambrosia (kanro).

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