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The Dharma Flower Sutra seen through the Oral Transmission of Nichiren Daishōnin: The Twenty-eighth Chapter on the Persuasiveness and Quest (for Buddhahood) of the Bodhisattva Universally Worthy (Samantabhadra, Fugen)

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


The first important point, with regard to the Bodhisattva Universally Worthy (Samantabhadra, Fugen).

In the tenth volume of the Textual Explanation of the Dharma Flower Sutra (Hokke Mongu), it says that the expression “persuasiveness and quest (for Buddhahood)” are words in the title of this chapter that define his fervour for the Dharma.

The Oral Transmission on the Meaning of the Dharma Flower Sutra (Ongi Kuden) says that, regarding the term “persuasiveness and quest (for Buddhahood)” in the title of this chapter, the “persuasiveness” refers to the conversion of other people, and the words “quest (for Buddhahood)” indicate our personal practise. The word “universally”, in the name of the Bodhisattva Universally Worthy (Samantabhadra, Fugen), implies the real aspect of all dharmas.

This is the principle of the unchanging, real form of things (fuhen shinnyo) (the fixed principle of the true nature of existence) – absolute reality, which transcends the multitude of forms in the phenomenal and noumenal worlds. It is regarded as being identical with the entity of the Dharma (hosshin, Dharma-kāya), which is the highest aspect of the triple body of the Buddha. It is the real nature of the Buddha mind. It is ineffable, unmanifested and is the immateriality of relativity (, shūnyatā) or Nam Myōhō Renge Kyō,m as it was expounded in the teachings derived from the external events of Shākyamuni’s life and work (shakumon).

The word “Good” in his name entails wisdom and discernment that is the judiciousness of functioning according to karmic circumstances and is a teaching that belongs to those of the original archetypal state.

(“This refers to the silence and the shining light that are in fact the fundamental nature of life itself.” The wordsilence” involves “the one instant of thought containing three thousand existential spaces” (ichinen sanzen) in the lives of us who are sentient beings. And both the “silence” and “shining light” together refer to the judiciousness of functioning according to karmic circumstance. See the Introductory Chapter.)

Nonetheless, now we are coming towards the end of the sutra. The two teachings of 1) those that are derived from the external events of Shākyamuni’s life and work (shakumon), 2) as well as those that are founded on the original archetypal state (honmon), both represent strong feelings for the Dharma.

What this all boils down to is that 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), and, in this way, are protected and guarded by the Bodhisattva Universally Worthy (Fugen, Samantabhadra).


At that time, the Bodhisattva Universally Worthy (Samantabhadra, Fugen), who was endowed with the sovereignty of the reaches of the mind, majesty, and renown, came from the easterly direction with boundless, innumerable, uncountable, completely evolved bodhisattvas who had refused their own extinction into nirvana for the sake of the Buddha enlightenment of all sentient beings (bosatsu makasatsu, bodhisattva mahāsattva). Everywhere, in all the existential dimensions over which they passed, the ground trembled. It rained precious white lotus flowers, to the sound of boundless hundreds of thousands of myriads of myriads of myriads of different kinds of music.

Furthermore, he was surrounded by the enormous multitude of deva (ten) (who are celestial, shining beings like the gods and angels in various mythologies), dragons (as depicted in Far Eastern art), yasha (yaksha) (who are similar to gnomes in Northern European folklore), kendabba (who are the musicians of the paradise of Taishaku (Indra)), shura (ashura) (who are beings that are similar to the titans in Mediterranean mythology or giants and ogres in Northern European folklore), karura (garuda) (who are represented as having human heads with ferocious expressions and an eagle-like body), kinnara (kimnara) (who are the celestial musicians to the court of Kuvera and described as exotic birds with human torsos), and magoraga (mahorāga) (who are enormous serpents that crawl on their chests), as well as other non-humans with human intelligence. All of them manifested their majesty through the reaches of their minds (miraculous powers).

On their arrival at the Dimension that has to be Endured (shaba sekai, sahā-lokadhātu) on Spirit Vulture Peak (Ryōjusen, Gridhrakūta), they bowed their heads towards the Buddha Shākyamuni, and made seven circumambulations towards his right-hand side, and then addressed him with these words: “World Honoured One in the realm of the Buddha Sovereign Superior Awe Inspiring Virtue, we heard from afar that, in the Dimension that has to be Endured (shaba sekai, sahā-lokadhātu), the Dharma Flower Sutra (Hokke-kyō) was being expounded. I have come in the company of boundlessly infinitely hundreds of thousands of myriads of myriads of myriads of bodhisattvas, in order to listen to it and accept it. All that we desire, World Honoured One, is that you expound it to us. If there are convinced and believing men and women at the time after the extinction of the Tathāgata into nirvana, then how will they be able to acquire the Dharma Flower Sutra (Hokke-kyō)?”

The Buddha then said to the Bodhisattva Universally Worthy (Samantabhadra, Fugen): “If there are convinced and believing men and women who can fulfil the cultivation of these four dharmas after the Buddha’s demise into the extinction of nirvana, they will certainly acquire the Dharma Flower Sutra (Hokke-kyō). The four dharmas are 1) to be aware of the protection of all the Buddhas (to be aware of the indestructibility of living and dying, as expounded in the Sixteenth Chapter on the Lifespan of the Tathāgata), 2) to put down a base of meritorious virtues, 3) to be able to fix one’s mind on the single object of one’s meditation, and 4) to have a mind of wanting to save all sentient beings. If there are convinced and believing men and women who are able to fulfill these four dharmas, then, after the Tathāgata’s demise into the extinction of nirvana, they will without a doubt acquire this sutra.”

Thereupon the Bodhisattva Universally Worthy (Samantabhadra, Fugen) said to the Buddha: World Honoured One, during the decadent age after the (fifth) five hundred years following the extinction of the Buddha into nirvana, if there are people who can receive and hold to this sutra, I will protect those people and get rid of such people’s instabilities and unsound qualities and give these people serenity and peace.

I will also stop those who seek to take possession of such practitioners, whether they be the powers of harm, the offshoots of both male and female aspects of harm, harmful people, or those who are taken over by harmful intentions – whether they be gnomes (yasha), whether they be cannibal demons, or whether they be demons whose testicles are the same size as their bodies, or whether they be the small and harmful beings that exist in our heads, or any other harmful entity that has taken hold of our imaginations.

If such practitioners read and recite the sutra, either standing or walking, I will immediately come to the place where they are, mounted upon a white elephant with six tusks, and in the company of the assembly of bodhisattvas. I will appear to them in person, so as to make offerings and protect them, as well as giving them solace. I will also make them an offering of the Dharma Flower Sutra (Hokke-kyō).

If such practitioners are seated, pondering over the implications of this sutra, I will thereupon appear to them, mounted on a white elephant. Should any of these practitioners forget either a sentence or a metric hymn from the Dharma Flower Sutra (Hokke-kyō), I will teach it, by reading it and reciting it with them, and even sharpen their penetration of it. The people who, in those (future) times, will hold to the Dharma Flower Sutra (Hokke-kyō), by reading it and reciting it, will be able to see my person abounding with joy, so that they will increase their zeal even more.

Through having seen me, they will acquire dhāranī and increased powers of concentration (samādhi). These dhāranī are called, “Those Which Endow Extensive Powers of Evolution”, dhāranī “That give Hundreds of Thousands of Myriads of Myriads of Myriads of Powers of Evolution” and dhāranī “That are the Expedient Means of the Phonetics of the Dharma”. Those are the sorts of dhāranī that the practitioners of the Dharma Flower Sutra (Hokke-kyō) will acquire.

World Honoured One, if, in the ages that follow the final five hundred years that are in the midst of the decadent and harmful world, fully ordained monks (bhikshu) and nuns (bhikshuni), and male and female lay practitioners make endeavours to find the Dharma Flower Sutra (Hokke-kyō), so as to accept and hold to it, as well as reading and reciting it, those who wish to put the teaching of the Dharma Flower Sutra (Hokke-kyō) into practise must, with all their minds, muster up the mental function of pursuing the right doctrines diligently and disregarding harmful teachings, for a period of three times seven days. After these three times seven days have passed, I will appear to these practitioners, mounted on a white elephant with six tusks, surrounded by innumerable bodhisattvas. (All such Indian concepts are applicable to the historical period of Shākyamuni and his teaching.)

I will explain the Dharma to them, reveal it, teach it, and get them to benefit from it, as well as making them rejoice over it. Furthermore, I will give them this incantation which is a dhāranī. There is not a single non-human entity that can destroy them. Or again, they will not be seduced away from the ascetic path by any woman whatsoever. (For various historical and cultural reasons, all the teachings of Shākyamuni have this misogynous trait.) I will protect them continuously with my own person. All I wish is for the World Honoured One to listen to the dhāranī that I am about to pronounce.

There and then, in front of the Buddha, he imparted the following dhāranī: “Atandai, tandahadai, tandahate, tandakushara, tandashudare, shudare, shudarahachi, bodahasene, serubadaraniabatani, sarubabasha, abatatani, shurabatani, sōgyabishani, sōgyane, kyadani, asōgi, sōgyahagyadai, teireiadasogyatoriya, arade, harate, sarubasōgya, sanmaji, kyrandai, sarubadaruma, shuharisetsute, sarubasatsuta, rodakyōshariya, atogyadai, shinabikiritaite.

World Honoured One, if there is a bodhisattva who hears this dhāranī, he will know that it is the extent of the reaches of the mind of Universally Worthy (Samantabhadra, Fugen). Should the Dharma Flower Sutra (Hokke-kyō) be spread abroad throughout the world of humankind, and if there are people who accept it and hold to it, then they should realise that this is due to the awe-inspiring majesty of Universally Worthy (Samantabhadra, Fugen).”


The second important point, on the passage in the above sutric text, “Should the Dharma Flower Sutra (Hokke-kyō) be spread abroad throughout the world of humankind, and if there are people who accept it and hold to it, then they should realise that this is due to the inspiring majesty of Universally Worthy (Samantabhadra, Fugen).”

The Oral Transmission on the Meaning of the Dharma Flower Sutra (Ongi Kuden) says that the Dharma Flower Sutra (Hokke-kyō) is practised in the world of humankind, due to the inspiring majesty of the Bodhisattva Universally Worthy (Samantabhadra, Fugen). Therefore, it is the broad proclamation and diffusion of this sutra that is under the protection and safekeeping of the Bodhisattva Universally Worthy (Samantabhadra, Fugen).


If there are people who can hold to this sutra, read it, recite it, remember it correctly, and understand where its meaning leads to, as well as practising it in the same way as it has been expounded, then you should know that such people are carrying out the practises of Universally Worthy (Samantabhadra, Fugen). They will be putting down deep and excellent roots with boundlessly innumerable Buddhas, as well as having their heads caressed by the hands of all the Tathāgatas. Even if such people only copy out this text, when their lives come to an end, they will be reborn in the heaven of the thirty-three deva (ten). (This is located on top of Mount Sumeru where there is a palace inhabited by Taishaku (Indra). On each of the four corners of the plateau on top of Mount Sumeru, there are smaller mountains upon which eight deva (ten) have their dwelling, so that all together thirty-three deva (ten) live on the summit of this mountain.) Then at the time of their demise, eighty-four thousand female deva-like persons (apsara), playing various kinds of music, will come and greet them.


The third important point, on the above sentence in the sutric text, “Then at the time of their demise, eighty-four thousand female deva-like persons (apsara), playing various kinds of music, will come to greet them.”

The Oral Transmission on the Meaning of the Dharma Flower Sutra (Ongi Kuden) says that the number “eighty-four thousand” refers to the quantity of troublesome worries (bonnō, klesha) that plague our existence. This means that our troublesome worries (bonnō, klesha) are not separate from our enlightenment and that the cycles of living and dying are not separate from nirvana, which is the relativity, unmanifested and non-substantial aspect of the whole of existence ().

The crowns, made of the seven precious materials, represent the seven openings in our heads (two eyes, two ears, two nostrils, and one mouth).

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), and are people who wear such crowns.

(The female deva-like persons (tenjo, devakanyā, apsara) are the female deva (tennyo, devi) in general. They are often attendants of the deva of the sun and moon. They are sometimes thought of as the wives of the kendabba (gandharva), the division of the sexes being maintained throughout the realms of the deva. The apsara are definitely erotic.)


They will place crowns made of the seven precious materials (gold, silver, lapis lazuli, crystal, agate, ruby, and cornelian) on the heads of these practitioners. Then, in the midst of these erotic beings, they will enjoy themselves ecstatically. (Even in times prior to the Buddha teaching, the deva realms have been associated with sexual ecstasy, as depicted in the famous sculptures in Khajuraho.)

So how will it be for those who accept and hold to this sutra, read and recite it, remember it correctly, as well as understanding its meaning and carrying out its practices as they have been expounded? At the end of such people’s lives, a thousand Buddhas, with a gesture of their hands, will prevent all fear of falling into the negative paths of reincarnation.


The fourth important point, with regard to the passage, “So how will it be for those who accept and hold to this sutra, read and recite it, remember it correctly, as well as understanding its meaning, and carrying out its practices as they have been expounded? At the end of such people’s lives, a thousand Buddhas, with a gesture of their hands, will prevent all fear of falling into the negative paths of reincarnation.”

The Oral Transmission on the Meaning of the Dharma Flower Sutra (Ongi Kuden) says that the persons who hold no faith in the Dharma Flower Sutra (Hokke-kyō) will, at the end of their lives, fall into the realms of suffering (because they do not want to know how existence works). In the sutra, it states, “If a person does not hold faith in this sutra, but instead execrates it, then this person will immediately cut off all possibilities for the attainment of enlightenment in any of the existential dimensions whatsoever. When such a person’s life comes to its end, that person will fall into the dimension of incessant suffering.”

However, when the lives of the practitioners of the Dharma Flower Sutra (Hokke-kyō) come to their end, they will open up their inherent Buddha nature, so that in this text, we have, “such people, at the end of their lives, a thousand Buddhas with a gesture of their hands . . . .” The thousand Buddhas, are the gateway to the Dharma (enlightenment) that is in any way dharmas make themselves present to any of our six organs of sense (eyes, ears, nose, tongue, body, and mind (nyoze)).

Nevertheless, the lictors of hell will come and meet the people who disparage this Dharma. But, on the demise of the practitioners of the Dharma Flower Sutra (Hokke-kyō), they will be greeted by a thousand Buddhas. (This implies the realisation of what existence is all about.)

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), and without any doubt will be greeted by a thousand Buddhas.


They will be born where the Bodhisattva Maitreya (Miroku) abides in the Tushita Heaven (the fourth of the six heavens where desires still exist (yokkai, kāmadhātu)). The Bodhisattva Maitreya (Miroku), being endowed with thirty-two characteristics of a Buddha (the Buddha having thirty-three), will be surrounded by a huge assembly of bodhisattvas that will have a following of hundreds of thousands of myriads of myriads of myriads of female deva-like persons (apsara). Practitioners of the Dharma Flower Sutra (Hokke-kyō) will be reborn in their midst and will have the benefits of meritorious virtues such as these. This is why those who are empowered with wisdom must, with all their mind, copy out this sutra, or have it copied out, accept and hold to it, read and recite it, remember it correctly, as well as practising it just as it has been expounded.

I will now, by means of the reaches of my mind, protect and safeguard this sutra after the extinction of the Tathāgata into nirvana, as well as having it propagated throughout the world of humankind, without any interruption whatsoever.


The fifth important point, on the sentence in the above sutric text, “I will, by means of the reaches of my mind, protect and safeguard this sutra after the extinction of the Tathāgata into nirvana, as well as having it propagated throughout the world of humankind, without any interruption whatsoever.”

The Oral Transmission on the Meaning of the Dharma Flower Sutra (Ongi Kuden) says that the word “throughout”, or more literally “within the southern continent of Jambudvīpa” (the world of humankind), has the undertone that the continents in the east, west, and north of Mount Sumeru are those that tend to be excluded. The sutric text says that the propagation of the Dharma Flower Sutra (Hokke-kyō) is only to take place within the southern continent of Jambudvīpa. Here it is suggested that special thought be given to the word “within”.

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). They should ponder deeply over the implications of the word “within” (which is to open up the inherent Buddha nature within each and every individual).


Thereupon Shākyamuni expressed his admiration: Excellent, excellent, Universally Worthy (Samantabhadra, Fugen), you are able to protect and lend yourself to this sutra and to bring about the benefits of peace and joy to a number of sentient beings. You have already attained inconceivable meritorious virtues, along with a deep, all-embracing compassion. Ever since the beginningless past, you have deployed the ultimate aim of the unexcelled, correct, and all-embracing enlightenment (anokutara sanmyaku sambodai, anuttara samyak sambodhi), as well as vowing, by means of the reaches of your mind, to protect and keep safe this sutra.

So, for my part, by means of the reaches of my mind, I will protect those who will be able to bear in mind the name of the Bodhisattva Universally Worthy (Samantabhadra, Fugen). Universally Gold (Samantabhadra, Fugen), if there is anybody who can accept and hold to this Dharma Flower Sutra (Hokke-kyō), read and recite it, memorise it correctly, carrying out its practices, as well as copying it out, you must be fully aware that this amounts to seeing the Buddha Shākyamuni, as well as hearing this sutric text from the mouth of the Tathāgata.

You should know that those who make offerings to the Buddha Shākyamuni, such people will be praised, by his saying, “Excellent, excellent indeed.” You should know that the Buddha Shākyamuni will stroke the tops of the heads of such individuals with his hand. You should also know that such people will be covered with the clothing of the Buddha. Such people will no longer be attached to or long for the pleasures of this world, nor will they appreciate the writings of those outside the Buddha teaching.

Again, they will no longer wish to frequent such misguided people as butchers, people who breed pigs, dogs, or chickens, or people who hunt, or even those who make a living out of exposing the beauty of women. Instead, the people who have straightforward qualities and intentions will have a correct memory, as well as the strength of their happy merits. These people will not be tormented by the three poisons (of covetousness, anger, and delusion), nor will they be plagued by jealousy, selfishness, hypocrisy, or arrogance. Such people will have few desires and will know when they are satisfied. Also, they will be able to carry out the practises of the Bodhisattva Universally Worthy (Samantabhadra, Fugen).

Bodhisattva Universally Worthy (Samantabhadra, Fugen), if, after the fifth five-hundred-year period after the Buddha’s extinction into nirvana, you see people who will accept and hold to the Dharma Flower Sutra (Hokke-kyō), and will read it and recite it, you must have this notion in your head – that such people will before long arrive at the place of enlightenment under the bodhi tree, destroy the hordes of negativity, and transform this negativity into the unexcelled, correct, and all-embracing enlightenment (anokutara sanmyaku sambodai, anuttara samyak sambodhi).


The sixth important point, with regard to the passage in the above sutric text, “such people will before long arrive at the place of enlightenment (under the bodhi tree), destroy the hordes of negativity, and transform this negativity into the unexcelled, correct, and all-embracing enlightenment (anokutara sanmyaku sambodai, anuttara samyak sambodhi)”.

The Oral Transmission on the Meaning of the Dharma Flower Sutra (Ongi Kuden) says that “such people” refer to the Dharma Flower Sutra (Hokke-kyō) (or in this case “this person” refers to Nichiren Daishōnin as the practitioner of the Dharma Flower Sutra (Hokke-kyō)). The place where people reverently hold to the Dharma Flower Sutra (Hokke-kyō) can be referred to as the place of enlightenment (under the bodhi tree). It does not mean that the practitioner or practitioners arrive at another place. The place of enlightenment (under the bodhi tree) is where the inhabitants of the ten psychological realms of dharmas live.

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), whose dwelling places are either the hills, valleys, or the wide backcountry, which are in fact the silence and clear, shining light. All of this is what is meant by the “place of enlightenment”.

The explanation for this is that, since the cause for enlightenment does not change, practitioners go directly to the place of enlightenment. (This refers to the interdependence of cause, concomitancy and effect.) Hence, this Dimension that has to be Endured (shaba sekai, sahā-lokadhātu) is not separate from and can lead (soku) to the silence and shining light of Buddhahood. At the time of this particular chapter on the Bodhisattva Universally Worthy (Samantabhadra, Fugen), we have the most important transmission of the Buddha.

He explained the Dharma Flower Sutra (Hokke-kyō) over a period of eight years and that its essential message is contained in eight Chinese ideograms for the sentient beings of the final era of the Dharma of Shākyamuni (mappō). (In English this reads), “The reason for this Universally Worthy (Samantabhadra, Fugen) is that, if you do see a person who accepts and holds to this sutra, you should stand up and go and greet this person in the distance, showing the same veneration as you would for a Buddha.” A little after this passage, the sutra ends.

Accordingly, the word “do” refers to the future. “You should stand up and greet this person in the distance, showing the same veneration as you would for a Buddha” is to say that one should show the practitioners of the Dharma Flower Sutra (Hokke-kyō) the same kind of veneration as one would show to the Tathāgata.

Likewise, in the Tenth Chapter on the Dharma as a Teacher, we have the passage, “If there are other people who can receive and hold to, read and recite, explain and discuss, or copy out even one metric hymn of the Sutra on the White Lotus Flower-like Mechanism of the Utterness of the Dharma (Myōhō Renge Kyō), who can look upon this sutric canon with the same undoubting reverence as though it were the Buddha himself . . . .”

Over a period of eight years, the Buddha explained the Dharma. This opens with the Chapter on Expedient Means, in the second chapter on 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). (The title embraces the whole of existence, including both subjectivity and objectivity.) The Buddha refers to this chapter as the wisdom and discernment of all the Buddhas.

This sutra ends with the following eight ideograms of the sutric text (which in English reads), “You should stand up and greet this person in the distance, showing the same veneration as you would for a Buddha.”

With these eight ideograms, the Buddha reveals the essential point of the whole of the Dharma Flower Sutra (Hokke-kyō). This is why, in the tenth volume of the Textual Explanation of the Dharma Flower Sutra (Hokke Mongu) (composed by Tendai (T’ien T’ai) and written down by Shoan (Chang-an) 561-632 C.E.), it says, “‘You should stand up and go and greet this person in the distance, showing the same veneration as you would for a Buddha.’ This is the result that describes the meritorious virtues of those who hold faith in this teaching.”

The whole of the Dharma Flower Sutra (Hokke-kyō) has its foundation on the wordfaith”. The question asked in the First and Introductory Chapter of the Dharma Flower Sutra (Hokke-kyō) begins with the words, “in this way” (nyoze), and in the final chapter on Universally Worthy (Samantabhadra, Fugen), it ends with the words, “went away” (ko).

What was on the mind of Kumārajīva (Kumarajū), who was well-versed in the tenets of the Buddha teaching and the gateway to the Dharma, and what was he trying to express?

The answer is stated: In the present version of this sutra, both of the two implications of the correct entity of the Dharma lie in the real aspect of all dharmas (which is the noumena of perceptions brought about by our six organs of sense) and the ever-present infinite of existence (which has existed and will continue to exist forever).

The words at the beginning of this sutra, “in this way”, express the idea of the real aspect of all dharmas, whereas the words “went away” express the notion of a beginningless past as being the ever-present infinite of time (kuon ganjo). The reason for this is that the real aspect of all dharmas is the axiomatic principle (ri). And, since the fact that existence has always existed as well as the awareness of how it works has to be its practical foundation (ji), the significance of the axiomatic principle is relativity (, shūnyatā). (The real aspect of all dharmas is continually changing.)

Relativity has the same undertone as the first words of this sutra “in this way”. According to these concepts, the words “in this way” (nyo), the “axiomatic principle” (ri), and “relativity” (, shūnyatā) are all mutually the same concept. There is an explanation for the words we have translated as “in this way” (nyo) – which is said to have the meaning of being undifferentiated (so that nothing can be distinguished) and therefore has the implication of relativity (, shūnyatā) and that the ever-present infinity of existence is the fundamental of the way existence itself works.

The intention of the Chapter on the Lifespan of the Tathāgata that belongs to the original archetypal state is to bring about the all-inclusive and practical application of the single instant of mental activity containing three thousand existential spaces (that is to say, to establish the Fundamental Object of Veneration (gohonzon)).

The ideogram for the verb “to go away” or “depart” tallies perfectly with the idea of an infinite past (which is a long way from the present) or the ever-present infinite of existence. “To go away” suggests the idea of “separation”.

Regarding the idea of “emphasizing the space between one thing and another”, while the words “in this way” (nyo) tend to string together the concept of the way things happen to be, emphasizing the space between one thing and another (which is to make distinctions between one dharma and the next) is the mind that discriminates one object from all the others. On the other hand, the concept of the whole of existence being strung together refers to the mind not being able to particularise the dharmas that surround us and are within us, which is relativity (, shūnyatā).

When the distinguishing of one item from another (as phenomena and noumena appear to us), as well as the concept of the whole of existence being strung together (as noumena or relativity), are allotted to sentient beings and the Buddha, then existence seen as everything strung together or as the oneness of relativity (, shūnyatā) is the realm of the Buddha. The emphasis on the distinction of one thing and another or the discrimination between one dharma and the next is the mental domain of sentient beings.

In the First and Introductory Chapter of the Dharma Flower Sutra (Hokke-kyō), the very first words are “I heard it in this way”. The words “in this way” or “thus” imply that sentient beings and the Buddha are not separate from each other. This is because, in the teachings derived from the external events of the Buddha Shākyamuni’s life and work (shakumon), the divisive expression “not two” has the meanings of the unchangeability of the way existence functions (fuhen shinnyo) (the fixed principle of the true nature of existence). In the expression “I heard it in this way”, the words “in this way” (nyoze) take on the meaning of the infinity and unchangeability of how existence works (fuhen shinnyo) (the fixed principle of the true nature of existence).

When we talk of the triple axiom of existencerelativity (, shūnyatā), temporary phenomenal existence (ke), and the middle way of our perception of reality (chū) – then as regards the expression, “I heard it in this way (nyoze)”, the words “in this way” indicate relativity (, shūnyatā) and noumena. The teachings that were derived from the external events of the Buddha Shākyamuni’s life and work (shakumon) tend to emphasize existence (which is its interdependence of cause, concomitancy and effect) as being relativity (, shūnyatā) and noumena, and thus over and above this concept of oneness, or not distinguishing one thing from another, or discriminating one dharma from the next.

However, when this concept of duality or distinguishing one dharma from another is being explained, the explanation deals with the people in the assembly who are listening (to the Buddha’s exposition in the First and Introductory Chapter) as separate individuals, as well as giving their names and titles.

Now, at the end of the original archetypal state, the last words of this text are “went away” or “departed”, which entail the reality of things as they change according to karmic circumstances. Here, the idea is that sentient beings and the enlightenment of the Buddha are two different realities. So, in order to stress this point, the words “went away” or “departed” are used.

In the final words of this sutra, “they bowed in obeisance” refers to the reality that changes according to its karmic circumstances. In the teachings of the original archetypal state, over and above the duality of discriminating between one dharma and another, there exists also the non-duality that is not a differentiation (that is the underlying cause, concomitancy and effect which is the relativity (, shūnyatā) that pervades the whole of existence). All dharmas are the same, but they are not separate entities. This has been so since the archetypal origins and is also valid for the present. We should ponder over the implications of this explanation.

This ideogram for “to depart”, or “go away”, or even, as in our translation, “left” also appears in the Chapter on Expedient Means (where it recounts how five thousand individuals got up from their seats, made obeisance to the Buddha, then “left”). Therefore, the number “five thousand” represents our five fundamental troublesome worries (bonnō, klesha). (These are 1) wrong views which are common to the threefold realms of existence; 2) clinging and attachment in the dimension where sentient beings have appetites and desires; 3) attachments and holding on to dharmas in the dimension of materiality; 4) attachments to thoughts, fantasies, and ideas in the dimensions of immateriality; 5) and the basic condition of unenlightenment within the threefold realms of existence.)

These five fundamental types of troublesome worries (bonnō, klesha) have already been stated in The Oral Transmission on the Meaning of the Dharma Flower Sutra (Ongi Kuden). What this passage in the Chapter on Expedient Means implies is that these five types of troublesome worries (bonnō, klesha) rose from their seats, made obeisance to the Buddha, then left. The two expressions, “in this way” and “to go away” are the two dharmas of living and dying. Dengyō (Dengyō Daishi) said, “The Tathāgata who comes from suchness does not actually come at all.”

The life with which we are endowed does not come from outside us. And the Tathāgata, who does not depart, implies that, when we die, we do not leave. Both of these two facets of living and dying are simply the way existence works.

The ideogram for the words “in this way” has the significance of all dharmas being (the various perceptions of the) mind. The ideogram for “to go away”, “leave”, or “depart” has the implication that what we are capable of perceiving entails all dharmas – all dharmas being the various perceptions of the mind in the unchangeability of reality (all that the Fundamental Object of Veneration (gohonzon) entails). This is a concept that belongs to the teachings derived from the external events of the Buddha Shākyamuni’s life and work (shakumon).

The mind being capable of perceiving all dharmas is the fundamental reality that continually changes according to karmic circumstance. Be that as it may, when all the realms of dharmas or the Dharma realm is compressed into a single mind, it has the meaning “in this way” or “thus” (nyo). But when the realms of dharmas or the Dharma realm is opened up (and understood as Nam Myōhō Renge Kyō), then this is the significance of the ideogram for “to go away”, “leave”, or “depart”.

This is the same as what is implied in the Orally Transmitted Instructions with regard to the Three Insights (San Kan) and the triple axiom of existencerelativity (, shūnyatā), materiality (ke), and the middle way (chū) – of the Tendai School (i.e., 1) the insight that everything is relativity (, shūnyatā); 2) everything is transient and impermanent (ke); and 3) the middle way of reality (chū) that spans both of the aforementioned viewpoints).

Another way of understanding this ideogram for “in this way” or “thus” (nyo), which is the first ideogram of this sutra, (is the subjective view of existence for what it is or the real aspect of all dharmas). But the ideogram for the concept of “going away, departing”, or “leaving”, which is the last ideogram of this sutra, stands for the way dharmas make themselves present to any of our six organs of sense (eyes, ears, nose, tongue, body, and mind).

(Here the ideogram for “in this way” (nyo) implies the way existence appears to us according to our various states of mind. The ideogram for “to go away”, “depart”, or “leave” is also the manner in which dharmas make themselves present due to the workings of our individual minds.)

The real “aspect” is the multifariousness of the workings of our minds. “All dharmas”, as equated with the ideogram “to go away” or “depart” or “leave”, is the final ideogram of this sutra. The “real aspect” is our respective perception of existence and is always “in this way” (nyo) or “thus”. This is why we learn that the whole of the Dharma Flower Sutra (Hokke-kyō) deals with the four words “real aspect of all dharmas”.

There exists the following explanatory remark by Dengyō (Dengyō Daishi): “Now what is the substance of the present sutra? The substance is the real aspect of all dharmas.” Now, if we dig a layer deeper and try to define the practise of Nichiren, the phrase “in this way” (nyo) is to carry out the practise of the sutra, in the way the Buddha taught us.

(In spite of the fact that the Buddha teaching of Tendai (T’ien T’ai) gives weight to the doctrine derived from the external events of Shākyamuni’s life and work (shakumon), whereas the teaching of the original archetypal state (honmon) is placed under the surface, the real aspect of all dharmas that belongs to the teachings derived from the external events of the Buddha Shākyamuni’s life and work (shakumon) is the culminating point of the Dharma Flower Sutra (Hokke-kyō). Again, we have to state that, in actual fact, the real aspect of all dharmas is Nam Myōhō Renge Kyō, which means to devote our lives to and found them on (Nam(u)) the Utterness of the Dharma (Myōhō, Saddharma) permeated by the underlying white lotus flower-like mechanism of the interdependence of cause, concomitancy and effect (Renge) in its whereabouts of the ten realms of dharmas (Kyō). This is the universal equation which includes both subject and object. Here Nichiren, is explaining the ideograms for “in this way” (nyo) and “to go away”, “leave”, or “depart” (ko), uses this quotation from Dengyō (Dengyō Daishi).)

Accordingly, the time, when the consignment of the five ideograms that bind together the essentials of the enlightenment of the Buddha (the three esoteric Dharmas of Nam Myōhō Renge Kyō) (ketchō) occurred, began in the Eleventh Chapter on Seeing the Vision of the Stupa made of Precious Materials, when Shākyamuni used a voice that reached the lower dimensions of existence and said, to both those who were near and those that were far away, “Is there anyone who is able to propagate and expound the Dharma Flower Sutra (Hokke-kyō)?”

With these two words “propagate” and “expound”, the Buddha declared that he would entrust all the implications of this sutra to both the bodhisattvas who were converted by the teachings derived from the external events of the Buddha Shākyamuni’s life and work (shakumon), as well as those who were converted by the teachings of the original archetypal state (honmon). As a result, we learned to think of this passage as an esoteric introduction to the teachings of the original archetypal state (honmon).

Now, when the two Buddhas Shākyamuni and Abundant Treasure (Taho) were sitting next to each other in the stupa made of precious materials, along with all the emanations of Shākyamuni they had assembled, then Shākyamuni set about revealing and explaining Myōhō Renge Kyō, which he referred to as “this good medicine”.

Then, in the Twenty-first Chapter on the Reaches of the Mind of the Tathāgata, Shākyamuni revealed the ten different kinds of the reaches of his mind.

(These are 1) protruding his long, broad tongue which stretched upwards as far as the world of the Brahmanic deva; 2) the Buddha emitting innumerable rays of coloured light from all the pores of his skin boundlessly, which penetrated everywhere throughout all existential dimensions of the ten directions; 3) clearing his throat; 4) snapping his fingers in a way that the sound penetrates all the existential spaces of the ten directions; 5) bringing about six kinds of earthquake –i. the east rises and the west sinks; ii. the west rises and the east sinks; iii. the north rises and the borders sink; iv. the south rises and the north sinks; v. the middle rises and the borders sink; vi. the borders rise and the middle sinks – 6) all beings seeing the innumerable Buddhas seated on their lion thrones under the multitude of trees of precious materials in this Dimension we have to Endure (shaba sekai, sahā-lokadhātu); 7) all the deva (ten) in empty space expressing their praise loudly; 8) all the deva (ten) making oaths, such as devoting their lives to and founding them on Shākyamuni; 9) the deva (ten) scattering various flowers, perfumes, garlands, and other rare treasures onto this Dimension we have to Endure (shaba sekai, sahā-lokadhātu); 10) all the realms of existence becoming in perfect contact with each other, free from any obstacles.)

All these reaches of the mind of the Tathāgata were recapitulated in the following four phrases: 1) “but if I should state that the essential of all the Dharma in the possession of the Tathāgata”; 2) “all the reaches of the mind of the Tathāgata”; 3) “the whole of the esoteric and quintessential ingredient (of the enlightenment) of the Tathāgata (Nam Myōhō Renge Kyō)”; 4) “as well as the other extremely profound matters of the Tathāgata are all proclaimed, revealed, disclosed and made clear in this sutra”.

The Utterness of the Dharma (Myōhō, Saddharma) was transmitted to the Bodhisattva Superior Practice (Jōgyō, Vishishtachāritra). What this consignment consisted of was the title and subject matter of the Utterness of the Dharma (Myōhō, Saddharma). This specific consignment was made in the stupa made of precious substances in the Twenty-first Chapter on the Reaches of the Mind of the Tathāgata, where the Buddha hands over the teaching of the Utterness of the Dharma (Myōhō, Saddharma) only to the bodhisattvas who swarmed up out of the earth and who had been converted in the original archetypal state of existence (honmon). On the other hand, the nonspecific consignment takes place in the Twenty-second Chapter on the Assignment of the Mission to the bodhisattvas who were converted by the teachings derived from the external events of the Buddha Shākyamuni’s life and work (shakumon) and is known as the horizontal consignment (sama no fuzoku).

In this way, the ceremony of consigning the Utterness of the Dharma (Myōhō, Saddharma) to the Bodhisattva Superior Practice (Jōgyō, Vishishtachāritra) that began in the Chapter on Seeing the Vision of the Stupa made of Precious Materials is made clearer, as to what was transmitted in the Chapter on the Lifespan of the Tathāgata, where the Buddha Shākyamuni explains the undestroyable quality of existence.

Then, earlier on, the person to whom this Dharma was to be transferred is accounted for in the Chapter on the Bodhisattvas who Swarm up out of the Earth. The whole of this ceremony is brought to a completion in the Chapter on the Reaches of the Mind of the Tathāgata and the Chapter on the Assignment of the Mission. (With regard to the five ideograms for Myōhō Renge Kyō, here they are used as a shortened form for Nam Myōhō Renge Kyō, which means to devote our lives to and found them on (Nam(u)) the Utterness of the Dharma (Myōhō, Saddharma) permeated by the underlying white lotus flower-like mechanism of the interdependence of cause, concomitancy and effect (Renge) in its whereabouts of the ten realms of dharmas (Kyō).)

During the final phase of the Dharma of Shākyamuni, after he has entered into the extinction of nirvana and when the Pure Dharma of the Buddha has faded away, the Bodhisattva Superior Practice (Jōgyō, Vishishtachāritra) will appear in the world of existence, in order to promulgate these five or seven ideograms that make up the title and theme (daimoku) of this sutra, along with the five kinds of practice urged by Shākyamuni in various places in this sutra. (The five kinds of practice are 1) to accept this teaching, 2) to hold to it, 3) to read and recite it, 4) to explain it so as to make its meaning clear, 5) to copy it out.)

However, these practises can be shortened to only two – 1) to accept this teaching, and 2) to hold to it, in order to become aware that our respective personalities are not separate from and can lead to the opening up of our inherent Buddha nature (soku shinbutsu).

This is what is meant in the final lines of the metric hymn in the Chapter on the Reaches of the Mind of the Tathāgata, “when I have passed into the extinction of nirvana and the people who hold to this sutra will decidedly and with no doubts whatsoever realise what the path of Buddhahood consists of”. The meaning of these lines is perfectly clear. Here we learn that this passage refers to how the Buddha devotes his meritorious virtues to those who hold to this sutra. Nonetheless, the way of thinking of those who hold to this sutra is like the word “as” in the expression “practise as I have instructed”.

By using this basic mental attitude to reverently accept and hold to the ideograms of the theme and title (daimoku) of the Utterness of the Dharma (Myōhō, Saddharma), as well as reverently reciting “Nam Myōhō Renge Kyō”, then, without further delay, the troublesome worries (bonnō, klesha) and everything that is not quite right in our lives will altogether go away, so that we will manifest ourselves with the aureole radiance of the ultimate fruition of being awakened to Utterness (myōgaku).

This is the reason why the ideogram for “to depart” or “to go away” has been used as concluding words for this sutra. As a result, just as the Buddha has previously stated that people should accept and hold to this sutra, then, in the event of when the light of the real aspect of all dharmas – in the sense of the one instant of thought containing three thousand existential spaces (i.e., the Fundamental Object of Veneration (gohonzon)) – illuminates the iniquitously unenlightened, negative forces (within us) along with the troublesome worries (bonnō, klesha) (that they bring), these negative forces will attain the perceptive way of seeing that their whole being and thoughts consist of nothing but the whole of the Dharma realm or the realms of dharmas. Then those iniquitously unenlightened forces will realise this and pay homage to the Buddha (i.e., Nam Myōhō Renge Kyō).

Because in the sutra it says, “they made their obeisance and then went away”, this should make us think of the explanation, “It is also natural that the three thousand existential realms inherent in our lives, as well as those on the Fundamental Object of Veneration (gohonzon), should be the coalescence of our subjective and objective existences”. This is an esoteric teaching only to be transmitted from one person to another and must not be spoken of to other people.

In any event, when it comes to the words “go away” or “depart”, there is a Buddha transmission that says, “they go away, but they do not depart”. (This implies that the wholeness of eternity does not move and is the essence of existence.)


They will set in motion the wheel of the Dharma, beat the drum of the Dharma, blow the conch shell of the Dharma, and make the rain of the Dharma come falling down. They will sit upon the lion throne in the midst of a vast assembly of deva (ten) and humankind.

Universally Worthy (Fugen, Samantabhadra), if there is a person who, in the final ages, accepts, holds to, reads and recites this sutra, and no longer hankers after clothing, bedding, food and drink, or the items necessary for ordinary living, this person’s aspirations will not be in vain. In his present existence this person will be rewarded with happiness. Then, if there is another person who denigrates the former – by saying, “all that you are doing is tomfoolery; it is completely useless that you dedicate yourself to these practises; you will get nothing from them,” – the retribution for such wrongdoing will be that this person will be reborn from one lifetime to the next without any real intelligence whatsoever. On the other hand, if there is yet another individual who makes offerings to this practitioner as well as praising this individual, this other person will, in his present life, be rewarded with the fruition that is visible.

Then, furthermore, if someone is seen to apparently accept and hold to this sutra, then to emphasize this person’s faults, whether they are real or not, this slanderer will contract leprosy in this present existence. Again, if there is another person who makes fun of or looks down on the practitioners of this teaching, then this person will, from one lifetime to the next, have bad teeth, an ugly nose, protruding lips, malformed hands and feet, an unpleasant squint, a body that smells bad with sores that are infected, a stomach full of water, along with various dangerous illnesses.

This is why, Universally Worthy (Fugen, Samantabhadra), if one sees someone who accepts and holds to this sutra, one should stand up and greet that person from afar, as though to render homage to the Buddha. While this Chapter on the Persuasiveness and Quest (for Buddhahood) of the Bodhisattva Universally Worthy (Fugen, Samantabhadra) was being expounded, an infinity of bodhisattvas, as many as the grains of sand of the Ganges, came into possession of a hundred thousand myriads of myriads of myriads of dhāranī. As many bodhisattvas as there are in the atoms that make up one thousand times one thousand realms of existence completed all the precepts of the religious practice of the Bodhisattva Universally Worthy (Fugen, Samantabhadra).

When the Buddha had expounded this sutra, the Bodhisattva Universally Worthy (Fugen, Samantabhadra), Sharihotsu (Shariputra), as well as all the people who exerted themselves to attain the highest stage of the teachings of the individual vehicle (shōjō, hīnayāna), along with the deva (ten), dragons (ryū, nāga), and also non-humans with human intelligence, and all of the vast assembly were filled with joy. They all accepted and held to the words of the Buddha, making their obeisance to him, and then went away.


End of the eighth fascicle

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