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The Dharma Flower Sutra seen through the Oral Transmission of Nichiren Daishōnin: The Twenty-seventh Chapter on the Original Conduct of King Utterly Embellished (Myōshōgonnō, Shubhavyūha)

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


The first important point, concerning King Utterly Embellished (Myōshōgonnō, Subhavyūha).

The Textual Explanation of the Dharma Flower Sutra (Hokke Mongu) states that the concept of being “utterly embellished” refers to how the meritorious virtues of the Utterness of the Dharma (Myōhō, Saddharma) embellish all the organs of perception (eyes, ears, nose, tongue, body, and mind).

The Oral Transmission on the Meaning of the Dharma Flower Sutra (Ongi Kuden) says that the words “utterness” or “utterly” here refer to the meritorious virtues of the Utterness of the Dharma (Myōhō, Saddharma). All the various organs of perception (eyes, ears, nose, tongue, body, and mind) indicate these six specific faculties, and it is (through the application of the Utterness of the Dharma (Myōhō, Saddharma), i.e., devoting our lives to and founding them on it) that our six organs of sense must become embellished.

The essential point of this is that the words “utterly” or “utterness” represent the axiom of the immateriality and relativity of noumena (, shūnyatā). The terms “embellish”, “adorn”, or “enrich” refer to their phenomenal quality of transient existence (ke), and the word for “king” here stands for the middle way of reality (chūdō).

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), so that all of them everywhere are King Utterly Embellished (Myōshōgonnō, Subhavyūha).


Thereupon the Buddha told the vast assembly: In ancient times, innumerable, boundless, imponderably distant kalpas ago, there was a Buddha called Bright Wisdom of the Sound of the Sovereign Abode of the Thunder Clouds, with the titles Tathāgata, Worthy of Offerings (arhat), Correctly and Universally Enlightened (samyak sambuddha), etc. The terrain upon which he depended for an existence was called Embellishment of Shining Brightness, and his kalpas were called Joyful Vision.

Now there was a sovereign who was a practitioner of the Dharma of the Buddha whose name was Utterly Embellished (Myōshōgonō, Subhavyūha). His royal queen had the name Pure Virtue and there were two sons. One was called Pure Receptacle and the other was called Pure Insight. These two princes were endowed with various all-embracing reaches of the mind, felicitous virtues, as well as wisdom and discernment.

They had also practised on the bodhisattva path, all of which they had penetrated in total lucidity. This bodhisattva path entails the perfection of altruism to the extent of being able to ferry others and themselves from the shores of mortality to that of enlightenment (haramitsu, pāramitā), the perfection of keeping the precepts to the extent of being able to ferry others and themselves from the shores of mortality to that of enlightenment, the perfection of patience to the extent of being able to ferry others and themselves from the shores of mortality to that of enlightenment, the perfection of zealously pursuing enlightenment to the extent of being able to ferry others and themselves from the shores of mortality to that of nirvana, the perfection of being able to concentrate on a single object of meditation to the extent of being able to ferry others and themselves from the shores of mortality to that of enlightenment, the perfection of the ability to use expedient means to the extent of being able to ferry others and themselves from the shores of mortality to that of enlightenment, as well as a loving-kindness, so as to be able to relinquish all attachments with joy, and the thirty-seven conditions that lead to enlightenment (which are four states of memory, four proper lines of exertion, four steps towards supernatural power, five spiritual faculties, the five powers, the seven degrees of enlightenment, and the eightfold noble path).

Furthermore, they had reached complete mastery of the pure Samādhi of bodhisattvas, the Samādhi of the Sun and the constellations of the stars, the Samādhi of pure light, the Samādhi of pure form, the Samādhi of pure shining brightness, the Samādhi of enduring embellishment, the Samādhi of the virtuous receptacle of all-embracing awe, all of which they had penetrated with complete lucidity.

At that time, this Buddha, wishing to guide King Utterly Embellished (Myōshōgonnō, Subhavyūha) and bearing in mind his compassion for sentient beings, intended to explain the Dharma Flower Sutra (Hokke-kyō) to them.

Then the two sons Pure Receptacle and Pure Insight went to where their mother was, placed the tips of their ten fingers together, and said to her, “Mother, we ask you to let us go to the Buddha Wisdom of the Sound of the Sovereign Abode of Thunder Clouds. We wish to place ourselves in his service as his personal attendants. We must make offerings to him. Yet what is the reason for this? It is because this Buddha, in the midst of an assembly of deva (ten) and humankind, is going to explain the Dharma Flower Sutra (Hokke-kyō). It would be better that we listen to it and accept it.”

The queen said to her sons, “Your father is faithful to and accepts teachings outside the Buddha doctrine and is deeply attached to the Brahmanical teachings. You must go to your father and say that you both wish to go together.”

Pure Receptacle and Pure Insight put the tips of their ten fingers together, and said to their mother, “Although we are the sons of this Dharma King, nevertheless, we were born into a family that holds erroneous views.”

The queen said to her sons, “Instead of having resentful thoughts about your father, you must show him some kind of amazing feat. If he is able to see such a prodigy, his way of thinking will be clarified. Then perhaps he will allow us to go to the place where the Buddha is and listen to him.”

Hence, in order to attract the attention of their father, they jumped into empty space to the height of seven fan (Tala) palms. They manifested various prodigious acts, such as walking, standing still, sitting, and lying down in empty space. Water came out of the upper part of their bodies, and they emitted fire from the lower part, or from the upper part of their bodies sent out fire and from the lower part ejected water. They manifested their bodies to an enormity that filled empty space, or again they became their normal size and then suddenly became huge. Then they disappeared from space and once again they were on the ground. They trickled into the ground, as though they were made of water, and walked on water as if it were the ground. In this way, they showed various prodigious feats, so as to clarify the thinking of their father and make him believe and understand.

Then the king, on seeing the reaches of the minds of his sons, rejoiced in his heart as never before. He then faced his sons, putting the palms of his hands together, and said, “Who is your master then? Whose disciples are you?”

The two sons answered, “Great King, we are disciples of the Buddha Wisdom of the Sound of the Sovereign Abode of the Thunder Clouds, who is at present sitting on the Dharma throne at the foot of the Tree of Enlightenment (bodhi) of the seven precious materials (gold, silver, lapis lazuli, crystal, agate, ruby, and cornelian) and is in the midst of the assembly of all the deva (ten) and humankind of every existential dimension, extensively explaining the Dharma Flower Sutra (Hokke-kyō). This Buddha is our master, and we are his disciples.”

The father said to his sons, “I also would like to see your master now. Can we go together?”

Thereupon the two sons descended from empty space and went to where their mother was. With the palms of their hands pressed together, they addressed her, saying, “Now our father the king believes and understands us. He is ready for the attainment of the unexcelled, correct, and all-embracing enlightenment (anokutara sanmyaku sambodai, anuttara samyak sambodhi). We have already practised and said prayers for the sake of our father. We beg our mother to allow us to leave the family and practise on the path of enlightenment under the supervision of this Buddha.”

Thereupon the two sons, in order to reiterate their intention, appealed to their mother in the form of a metric hymn.

We beg our mother to let us go, in order to leave the family, so as to become novice monks (shamon, shramana). It is extremely difficult to encounter a Buddha and to go and study under him. It is the same with the blossom of the udumbara tree(which is supposed to produce fruit without flowers and is said to flower once in three thousand years (Ficus glomerata)). It is also as difficult to meet a Buddha, and also hard to deliver (people) from adversity. We beg our mother to let us leave the family.

Then the two sons said to their parents, “Excellent, excellent, father and mother. It is now the moment, and our deepest wish is to go to have a personal audience with Buddha Wisdom of the Sound of the Sovereign Abode of the Thunder Clouds and also to make offerings to him. What is the reason for this? It is because it is difficult to encounter a Buddha, in the same way as the blossom of the udumbara tree, or for a one-eyed turtle to find a floating piece of wood with a hole in it.”

The second important point, on the above sutric phrase, “a one-eyed turtle to find a floating piece of wood with a hole in it”.

The Oral Transmission on the Meaning of the Dharma Flower Sutra (Ongi Kuden) states that there are two kinds of hole – a small hole and one that is all-embracing. The small hole is comparable to the forty or so years of Shākyamuni’s sutric teaching, whereas the aperture that is all-embracing is analogous to the subject matter and title (daimoku) of the Dharma Flower Sutra (Hokke-kyō).

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 like the one-eyed turtle in the sutric text who finds an all-embracing opening.

This one-eyed turtle typifies all sentient beings, but the floating piece of sandalwood (Santalum album) entails the Dharma Flower Sutra (Hokke-kyō). The enormous ocean of living and dying is none other than devoting our lives to and founding them on the entirety of existence permeated by the white lotus flower-like mechanism of the interdependence of cause, concomitancy and effect in its whereabouts of the ten (psychological) realms of dharmas, which is what life and death consists of and is the Dharma Flower Sutra (Hokke-kyō) itself.


“However, on account of the depth and the amount of happiness accumulated from former lives, we were born with the destiny of encountering the Dharma of the Buddha. It is for this reason, dear parents, that you should at all events listen to our plea and allow us to leave the family, in order to take up the ascetic path. What is the reason for this? It is difficult to meet a Buddha, and it is also difficult to find the right moment.”

There and then, eighty-four thousand people from the women’s apartments of the palace of King Utterly Embellished (Myōshōgonnō, Subhavyūha) accepted and held to the Dharma Flower Sutra (Hokke-kyō).

The Bodhisattva Pure Insight (Jōgen, Vimalanatra), who for a long time had already penetrated and understood the samādhi of the Dharma Flower Sutra (Hokke-kyō) since boundless hundreds of thousands of myriads of myriads of myriads of kalpas ago, became capable of penetrating and understanding the samādhi of the extrication of negative birth destinies, on account of his own desire to extricate all sentient beings from the various destinies of birth. The royal consort of the king attained the samādhi of the assembly of all the Buddhas and also became capable of knowing the esoteric and secret receptacle of all the Buddhas. In this way, the two sons, through expedient means, were able to lead their father’s mind to understand, through holding faith in and loving, as well as enjoying, the Buddha Dharma.

Subsequently, the King Utterly Embellished (Myōshōgonnō, Subhavyūha), accompanied by a procession of all his ministers, his consort Pure Insight (Jōgen, Vimalanatra), who was also followed by various ladies from the women’s quarters at the back of the palace, the two sons who were escorted by forty-two thousand individuals, arrived all together and, at the same time at the place, where the Buddha was. When they arrived, they bowed their heads towards the Buddha’s feet and walked in a procession three times around him, and then they waited on the side.

Thereupon that Buddha expounded the Dharma for the benefit of the king, instructing him, as well as pointing out details from which the king benefitted (for his future lives) and was filled with joy (the present). Then the King Utterly Embellished (Myōshōgonnō, Subhavyūha) and his consort unfastened the pearl necklaces around their necks that had the value of thousands and hundreds. These they scattered over the Buddha.

Then all of a sudden there appeared the hallucination in empty space of a terrace made of precious materials with four pillars, upon which there was a dais spread with a hundred thousand myriads of fabrics of the deva (ten), whereupon the Buddha was seated with his legs crossed, emitting a great clear light.

At that moment, the King Utterly Adorened (Myōshōgonnō, Subhavyūha) thought to himself: The person of the Buddha is extremely prodigious; it is majestic in his special qualities and is the attainment of the subtlety of the shape of Utterness.

At that moment, the Buddha Bright Wisdom of the Sound of the Sovereign Abode of the Thunder Clouds said to the monks, nuns, and both male and female laity, “You see this King Utterly Embellished (Myōshōgonnō, Subhavyūha) standing here before me, with the palms of his hands placed together, do you not? This sovereign will become a fully ordained monk (bhikshu) within my Dharma; he will carry out with zeal the auxiliary disciplines of the path to enlightenment and will become a Buddha. He will be called the Buddha Sovereign of the Teak (Sala) Trees. The terrain upon which he will depend for an existence (kuni) will be called All-embracing Light. And his kalpa will be called the Sovereign that is Universally High. He will have an assembly of innumerable bodhisattvas, as well as countless followers who exert themselves to attain the highest stage of the teachings of the individual vehicle (shōjō, hīnayāna) through listening to the Buddha (shōmon, shrāvaka) (i.e., intellectuals). The terrain whereupon he will depend for an existence (kuni) will be equally flat all around. His meritorious virtues will be such.”

The king immediately entrusted his kingdom to his younger brother, and, at the same time, the king’s consort and his two sons along with their retinues left their families, in order to practise on the path of Buddhahood. Having left his family, the king continuously and zealously practised over a period of eighty-four thousand years the Dharma Flower Sutra (Hokke-kyō). After this stretch of time, he obtained the samādhi of the embellishment of all the meritorious virtues.

He then levitated to the height of the seven fan (Tala) palms and said to the Buddha: “World Honoured One, my two sons have already carried out the various practices that lead to enlightenment and, through their prodigious powers and penetrations of their minds, have converted my perverse thinking and have given me the chance of serenely abiding within the Buddha Dharma, as well as the possibility of seeing the World Honoured One. These two sons have been for me particularly good friends and have put me onto the path of the Buddha teaching, so as to bring about roots of good for my future lives, as well as to carry over such benefits for those who will be born into my family.”

Then the Buddha Bright Wisdom of the Sound of the Sovereign Abode of the Thunder Clouds addressed the King Utterly Embellished (Myōshōgonnō, Subhavyūha) with these words: “It is as you say, just as you say it. If there is a believing and convinced man or woman who, on account of having put down roots of goodness, will, from one life to the next, encounter a good friend who will put them onto the path of the Buddha teaching, such good friends who put others onto the path of the Buddha teaching are capable of carrying out the mission of the Buddha, by revealing and teaching them about the advantage and joys, so that they can enter into the psychological dimension of the unexcelled, correct, and all-embracing enlightenment (anokutara sanmyaku sambodai, anuttara samyak sambodhi).

“Great king, you should know that being friends who put others onto the path of enlightenment is an enormous cause and concomitancy. The reason is that such a friend guides, converts, and shows the way the Buddha sees things, so as to entice them towards the psychological dimension of the unexcelled, correct, and all-embracing enlightenment.

“Great king, do you see these two sons of yours? Already they have made offerings to Buddhas sixty-five hundred thousands of myriads of times the number of grains of sand in the Ganges. They have personally approached them with veneration and have accepted to hold to the Dharma Flower Sutra (Hokke-kyō), as well as bearing in mind compassion for the sentient beings with distorted views and getting them to continue into the dimension of a correct understanding of existence.”


The third important point, on the above sutric phrase, “as well as bearing in mind compassion for the sentient beings with distorted views and enticing them to rectify their thinking, so as to continue into the dimension of a correct understanding of existence”.

The Oral Transmission on the Meaning of the Dharma Flower Sutra (Ongi Kuden) says that King Utterly Embellished (Myōshōgonnō, Subhavyūha) held distorted views. But due to the instruction and his conversion to the Buddha teaching by his two sons, this king attained the meritorious virtue of being able to correct what was distorted in his thinking so as to continue into the dimension of correct understanding of existence.

This is what the first volume (scroll) of the Universal Desistance from Troublesome Worries in order to See Clearly means, where it says, “projected obsessions and distorted views, that is to say, such views that run counter to the Buddhist understanding of life as our devotion to as well as its being founded upon the entirety of existence permeated by the interdependence of cause, concomitancy and effect in its whereabouts of our respective psychological frames of reference. This includes both the subjective and objective concepts and is the correct understanding of it”. All the sentient beings in the world of humankind hold distorted views, like King Utterly Embellished (Myōshōgonnō, Subhavyūha).

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 comparable to the two sons of the king. The followers of Nichiren are finally able to entice sentient beings to continue their lives in the single (bodhisattva) vehicle, with a correct understanding of what their lives consist of.


The King Utterly Embellished (Myōshōgonnō, Subhavyūha) descended from empty space and addressed the Buddha, saying, “World Honoured One, the existence of a Tathāgata is extremely rare. It is on account of his meritorious virtues that the fleshy protrusion on the top of his head gives out a clear light. His long and broad eyes are the colour of deep ultramarine blue, and the tuft of white hair between his eyebrows is like a white agate moon. (These are a few of the special features of a Buddha.) His teeth are white, well-aligned, and always brilliant. His lips are scarlet, like the fruit of the bimba tree (a bright red gourd (Momordica mondelphia)).”

When King Utterly Embellished (Myōshōgonnō, Subhavyūha) had finished praising the boundless hundreds of thousands of myriads of myriads of myriads of meritorious virtues of the Buddha, he then, with all his mind, placed the palms of his hands together in reverence to the Tathāgata, and addressed him with these words: “World Honoured One, this is without an antecedent. The Dharma of the Tathāgata has led to the accomplishment of imponderably and utterly sublime meritorious virtues. Through his instruction and moral precepts, people quickly attain a sense of well-being and peace of mind. From today onwards, I will no longer live according to my ways of thinking. I will no longer hold perverse views, become arrogant, or get angry, or have any other negative states of mind.”

After the king had said these words, he made obeisance to the Buddha and stepped to the side. The Buddha then told the vast assembly:

What do you think about all this? Could King Utterly Embellished (Myōshōgonnō, Subhavyūha) be anyone else than the actual Bodhisattva Virtue of the Lotus Flower (Katoku, Padmashrī)? His consort Queen Pure Virtue (Jōtoku, Vimalaguna) is now the Bodhisattva Embellished Appearance (Shōgonsō) and is present before the Buddha. It is due to her compassion and pity for the King Utterly Embellished (Myōshōgonnō, Subhavyūha), along with that of her retinue, which caused her to be born in his midst.

The two sons are now the King Utterly Embellished (Myōshōgonnō, Subhavyūha), which caused her to be born in his midst. The two sons are now the Bodhisattva Sovereign Remedy (Yaku’ ō, Bhaishajya-rāja) and the Bodhisattva Superior Remedy (Yakujō, Bhaishaja-samudgata). These bodhisattvas, Sovereign Remedy (Yaku’ ō, Bhaishajya-rāja) and Superior Remedy (Yakujō, Bhaishaja-samudgata), have brought about such all-embracing meritorious virtues and accomplishments, as well as having set down foundations with hundreds of thousands of myriads of myriads of myriads of Buddhas. Also, they have achieved imponderably many meritorious virtues of good. If there are any persons who know the names of these two bodhisattvas, all the deva (ten) and humankind of all dimensions of existence should indeed show reverence to them.

After the Buddha had expounded this Chapter on the Original Conduct of the King Utterly Embellished (Myōshōgonnō, Subhavyūha), eighty-four thousands of individuals were freed from the dust and dirt of unenlightenment and, in the midst of all dharmas, attained the perceptive vision of the Dharma.

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