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The Dharma Flower Sutra seen through the Oral Transmission of Nichiren Daishōnin: The Twenty-third Chapter on the Original Conduct of the Bodhisattva Sovereign Medicine (Yaku’ ō, Bhaishajya-rāja)

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


Then, at that time, the Bodhisattva Sovereign of the Constellations of Flowers (Shuku’ ō’ke, Nakshatrājasamkusumita) addressed the Buddha, saying: “World Honoured One, how is it that the Bodhisattva Sovereign Medicine has made his way into this Dimension that has to be Endured (shaba sekai, sahā-lokadhātu)? World Honoured One, the Bodhisattva Sovereign Medicine (Yaku’ ō, Bhaishajya-rāja) had accomplished several hundreds of thousands of myriads of myriads of myriads of different practices and painful austerities. Excellent, excellent, World Honoured One, but what we need is a concise explanation.”

There were also the deva (ten) (who are comparable to the various gods in pre-Christian mythologies), the dragons (ryū) (who as are depicted in Far Eastern art but are nevertheless similar to the elemental spirits that govern the seas, clouds, rain, and the weather in general), familiar spirits or genii (shin, kami) (who are the same as familiar spirits in other cultures), yasha (yaksha) (who are similar to gnomes, dwarves, and other earth spirits in Northern European folklore), kendabba (gandharva) (who were the musicians of the heavenly realms of Taishaku (Indra), shura (ashura) (who were comparable to the titans, giants, and ogres in Western mythology and folklore, and were not particularly well-disposed towards humankind and continually contended against the deva (ten) for power), karura (garuda) (who were mythical birds from the Brahmanic pantheon, later adopted by the Buddha teaching as protectors of the Dharma), kinnara (kimnara) (who were the celestial musicians at the court of Kuvera, a god of wealth and described as exotic birds with human torsos), mahoraga (magorāga) (who were enormous serpents that crawled on their chests), and there were other non-humans with human intelligence, as well as people who strove to become arhats (arakan) through listening to the Buddha, (shōmon, shrāvaka), along with bodhisattvas who had all come from other existential dimensions. All who had heard the Buddha’s discourse were filled with joy.

Thereupon the Buddha addressed the Bodhisattva Sovereign of the Constellations of the Flowers (Shuku’ ō’ke, Nakshatrājasamkusumita) and said: In the distant kalpas past, as many as there are grains of sand in the Ganges, there was a Buddha who was called Tathāgata of the Virtue of Pure Clarity of the Sun and Moon (Nichigatsu Jōmyōtoku Nyorai, Chandra Vimalasuryaprabhasa-shrī), who was worthy of offerings, correctly and universally enlightened, whose knowledge and conduct was perfect, completely free from the cycles of living and dying, Lord Supreme, the master who brings the passions and delusions of sentient beings in harmonious control, the teacher of humankind and the deva (ten), the Buddha and the World Honoured One. This Buddha had eighty myriads of myriads of myriads of 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), and an assembly of as many people who exerted themselves to attain the highest stage of the teachings of the individual vehicle (shōjō, hīnayāna) through listening to the Buddha (shōmon, shrāvaka) as seventy-two times the number of grains of sand in the Ganges. The lifespan of the Buddha lasted for forty-two thousand kalpas, and the lifespan of the bodhisattva was the same.

In this Buddha’s existential dimension, there were no females, hells, hungry ghosts, animals, shura (ashura) (titans or giants), nor any other difficult type of incarnation. The ground was as flat as the palm of the hand and consisted of lapis lazuli. It was adorned with trees of precious materials, and a jewelled canopy covered it from above, from which flowery tubular banners were suspended. Also, there were vases of precious materials that delimited the boundaries of this existential dimension. There were terraces that had been formed out of seven precious materials (gold, silver, lapis lazuli, crystal, agate, ruby, and cornelian). The terraces were alternated with trees and were separated from each other by the distance of a bow shot. At the foot of each tree, there was seated either a bodhisattva or a person who strove to attain the state of an arhat(arakan) through listening to the Buddha. Above all these terraces of precious materials, there were hundreds of myriads of deva (ten) who were either playing heavenly music or praising the Buddha with hymns, as a way of making offerings.

Then, at that time, this Buddha expounded the Dharma Flower Sutra (Hokke-kyō) for the benefit of the Bodhisattva Vision of Joy for All Sentient Beings (Issaishujōkiken, Sarvasattvapriyadarshana), along with the assembly of bodhisattvas and the people who exerted themselves to attain the highest stage of the teachings of the individual vehicle (shōjō, hīnayāna) through listening to the Buddha (shōmon, shrāvaka).

This Bodhisattva Vision of Joy for All Sentient Beings (Issaishujōkiken, Sarvasattvapriyadarshana) found a certain realisation through doing ascetic practices, within the bounds of the Dharma of the Buddha Virtue of the Pure Clarity of the Sun and the Moon (Nichigatsu Jōmyōtoku Nyorai, Chandra Vimalasuryaprabhasa-shrī). Also, this bodhisattva sought single-mindedly through fervent practice the attainment of Buddhahood, over a full hundred and twenty thousand years, whereupon he was able to realise the perfect absorption into the one object of his meditation (sanmai, samādhi) that was the compassion and understanding of all material entities (gen issai shikishin sanmai, sarva rūpasandarshana samādhi) (which is a real understanding and compassion for all physical entities which are in essence the relativity (, shūnyatā) of Nam Myōhō Renge Kyō), that brought about great joy in the mind of this bodhisattva.

Then he thought to himself, “I have arrived at the samādhi of compassion and insight into all physical entities, and this is entirely due to the fact that I have listened to the Dharma Flower Sutra (Hokke-kyō). I must indeed make an offering to the Buddha Virtue of the Pure Clarity of the Sun and the Moon (Nichigatsu Jōmyōtoku Nyorai, Chandra Vimalasuryaprabhasa-shrī).”

There and then, he reentered into this perfect absorption into the one object of his meditation (samādhi). From empty space, it rained coral tree flowers, giant coral tree flowers, and finely ground black sandalwood powder, all of which filled the whole of empty space like a cloud. Also it rained onto the seashore the perfume of sandalwood, whose value amounted to that of the whole Dimension that has to be Endured (shaba sekai, sahā-lokadhātu), as an offering to the Buddha.

After having made this offering, he then rose from his samādhi, when the thought came to him, and he said, “Even though I have made offerings to the Buddha through the reaches of my mind, it does not compare to making an offering of my body.”

He then absorbed various kinds of perfume, sandalwood, kunduruka (Indian frankincense, Boswellia serrata Roxb), olibanum (also known as frankincense or incense, Boswellia carterii, Boswellia sacra), trigonella cornicalata, aguru, and amber, as well as drinking the oils of flowers such as campaka (kalikā, fragrant flower worn by women as a garland) for a full thousand and two hundred years. He smeared his body with fragrant oils, and then, in the presence of the Buddha Virtue of the Pure Clarity of the Sun and the Moon (Nichigatsu Jōmyōtoku Nyorai, Chandra Vimalasuryaprabhasa-shrī), after he had enrobed himself in a precious garment of the deva (ten), he then soaked himself with fragrant oils.

His resolution reinforced by the reaches of his mind, he set himself alight. The clarity of the flames illuminated as many existential spaces as eighty myriads of myriads of times the number of grains of sand in the Ganges.

At the same time, all the Buddhas praised this bodhisattva and said: “Excellent, excellent, convinced and worthy person. This is really diligent progress; this is what constitutes a real offering to the Dharma and the Tathāgata. If someone were to offer perfumes, garlands, fragrant unguents, powdered perfumes, or silken wares of the deva (ten), or sandalwood from this shore of the sea of this present life – even if someone were to make offerings of such materials, it would not be equal to this. Or imagine that if a sentient being were to make a donation of a whole kingdom, or a city, or his wives and children, it would not amount to this. Worthy and convinced believer, this is what is called the most venerable and the most eminent of gifts, because these are offerings to the Dharma and all the Tathāgatas.”

Having said these words, each one remained silent. The roaring fire of his body blazed for one thousand two hundred years, after which it was completely consumed. Then, when the Bodhisattva Vision of Joy for All Sentient Beings (Issaishujōkiken, Sarvasattvapriyadarshana) had finished making an offering to the Dharma, his life came to an end. He was reborn in the existential dimension of the Buddha Virtue of the Pure Clarity of the Sun and Moon (Nichigatsu Jōmyōtoku Nyorai, Chandra Vimalasuryaprabhasa-shrī) in the family of the sovereign Pure Virtue. He came into existence by metamorphosis all of a sudden, with his legs crossed and soles upward, the left leg over the right, like ascetics in meditation.

Then, for the benefit of his father the king, he recited the following metric hymn:

Great King, this is something you should know:
I have wandered into such a place
through my ability
to concentrate my mind
on a single object of meditation
and to appear
in any bodily form I wish.
It is through the application
of my great zeal
that I have renounced
my former body
to which I was attached.

Having recited this metric hymn, he said to his father: “Since the Buddha Virtue of the Pure Clarity of the Sun and Moon (Nichigatsu Jōmyōtoku Nyorai, Chandra Vimalasuryaprabhasa-shrī) is at present among us, and because of my previously having made offerings to this Buddha, I have attained the formula (dhāranî) to be able to understand all the languages of sentient beings. Furthermore, I have listened to the eighty thousand myriads of myriads of myriads of metric hymns in the Dharma Flower Sutra (Hokke-kyō). Great King, I must now make an offering to this Buddha.”

Immediately after saying these words, he sat on a terrace of the seven precious substances (gold, silver, lapis lazuli, crystal, agate, ruby, and cornelian) and levitated into empty space to the height of seven fan palms. Then, when he arrived at the place where the Buddha Virtue of the Pure Clarity of the Sun and Moon (Nichigatsu Jōmyōtoku Nyorai, Chandra Vimalasuryaprabhasa-shrī) was, he bowed his head towards the Buddha’s feet, put the tips of his fingers together, and praised the Buddha, which he expressed in terms of a metric hymn.

You, whose appearance
is wonderful to the extreme
and whose radiance shines
into the ten directions,
having made offerings
to you in the past,
I have come back again
in order to be close to you.

Then, when the Bodhisattva Vision of Joy for All Sentient Beings (Issaishujōkiken, Sarvasattvapriyadarshana) had finished reciting this metric hymn, he said to the Buddha, “World Honoured One, I see that the World Honoured One is still in this dimension of existence.”

Then the Buddha Virtue of the Pure Clarity of the Sun and Moon (Nichigatsu Jōmyōtoku Nyorai, Chandra Vimalasuryaprabhasa-shrī) replied to the Bodhisattva Vision of Joy for All Sentient Beings (Issaishujōkiken, Sarvasattvapriyadarshana): “Convinced and believing bodhisattva, the time has come for me to enter into the extinction of nirvana. It is now time for my final and complete absorption into the workings of existence (which is Nam Myōhō Renge Kyō). You must get my couch ready, because tonight I must really pass over into the extinction of nirvana.”

Again the Buddha enjoined the Bodhisattva Vision of Joy for All Sentient Beings (Issaishujōkiken, Sarvasattvapriyadarshana): “Convinced and believing bodhisattva, I entrust you with my Dharma of Buddhahood, as well as to all the bodhisattvas who are my disciples. This also includes the Dharma of the unexcelled, correct, and all-embracing enlightenment and the three thousand existential spaces that are centred around a Mount Sumeru in the shape of a cross, made up of the seven precious materials, the terraces of rare materials, all the trees of precious materials, along with all the deva (ten) who attend to them. All of this I hand over to you. I also entrust you with the relics that remain after my passing into the extinction of nirvana. These you must distribute, as well as receiving all the offerings. All these relics must be placed in several thousand stupas that you must build.”

The Buddha Virtue of the Pure Clarity of the Sun and Moon (Nichigatsu Jōmyōtoku Nyorai, Chandra Vimalasuryaprabhasa-shrī) had instructed the Bodhisattva Vision of Joy for All Sentient Beings (Issaishujōkiken, Sarvasattvapriyadarshana). This Buddha, during the last watch of the night, entered into the extinction of nirvana. The Bodhisattva Vision of Joy for All Sentient Beings (Issaishujōkiken, Sarvasattvapriyadarshana) having seen the Buddha’s passing over to the extinction of nirvana, was overtaken with emotions of grief, sorrow, and a sense of loss, as well as a great yearning for him.

Then the Bodhisattva Vision of Joy for All Sentient Beings (Issaishujōkiken, Sarvasattvapriyadarshana) used sandalwood from the seashore as firewood and made an offering to the Dharma of the Buddha’s body, by cremating it. After the funeral pyre had gone out, he collected the relics and put them in eighty-four thousand urns made of rare and valuable materials. Thereupon he had eighty-four thousand stupas erected, as tall as three dimensions of existence and adorned with flagpoles (surmounted by gilt balls or pearls, symbolical of the Buddha teaching). Tubular banners hung from the stupas, to which there were attached quantities of bells made of precious substances.

Thereupon the Bodhisattva Vision of Joy for All Sentient Beings (Issaishujōkiken, Sarvasattvapriyadarshana) thought to himself and said, “In spite of my having made further offerings, my mind is not yet at ease. I must now make a further offering to these Buddha relics.”

After that, he said to all the bodhisattvas, major disciples, as well as deva (ten) (godlike beings), dragons (ryū, nāga) (as depicted in Far Eastern art), Yasha (Yaksha) (who were earth spirits rather like gnomes or dwarves in Northern European folklore), along with the whole of the great assembly: “You must focus your minds entirely on this matter. I am now going to make an offering to the relics of the Buddha Virtue of the Clarity of the Sun and Moon (Nichigatsu Jōmyōtoku Nyorai, Chandra Vimalasuryaprabhasa-shrī) .”

Then, in front of the eighty-four thousand stupas, he burned his forearms adorned with a hundred auspicious marks, as an offering, for a period of seventy-two thousand years, thereby causing uncountable numbers of people who were seeking the highest stage of the individual vehicle (shōjō, hīnayāna) through listening to the Buddha (shōmon, shrāvaka), as well as those who exert themselves to attain the highest state of the teachings of the universal vehicle (daijō, mahāyāna), to arrive at the unexcelled, correct, and all-embracing enlightenment (anokutara sanmyaku sambodai, anuttara samyak sambodhi) and, at the same time, to attain the particular concentration (sanmai, samādhi) to be able to manifest themselves in any bodily form that they wished.

Then, all the bodhisattvas, deva (ten) (godlike beings), humankind, shura (ashura) (titans, giants, etc.), on seeing that the Bodhisattva Vision of Joy for All Sentient Beings (Issaishujōkiken, Sarvasattvapriyadarshana) was without his forearms, were all grievously troubled, distressed, and sorrowful. They then muttered these words, “The Bodhisattva Vision of Joy for All Sentient Beings (Issaishujōkiken, Sarvasattvapriyadarshana) is our teacher. He resolved our doubts and taught the proper true, faith. But now he has incinerated his arms, and his body is mutilated.”

At that moment, the Bodhisattva Vision of Joy for All Sentient Beings (Issaishujōkiken, Sarvasattvapriyadarshana), who was then in the midst of the vast assembly, made the following assertion: “I may have lost my forearms, but I will certainly receive the golden body of the Buddha. If this is true and not in vain, then my two arms will be restored as before.”

After he had made this declaration, his arms were spontaneously replaced, due to this bodhisattva’s purity, wisdom, and abundance of felicitous, immaculate qualities (fukutoku).

Then, just at that moment, the entirety of a billion existential dimensions, all centred around a Mount Sumeru and spread out in the shape of a cross (sanzen daisen kokudo, trisāhasra mahāsāhasra loka), shook in the manner of six kinds of earthquake. (These are the following: 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.) Exotic flowers rained down from the heavens, and the deva (ten) and humankind received something that they had never had before.

Shākyamuni Buddha said to the Bodhisattva Sovereign of the Constellations of Flowers (Shuku’ ō’ke, Nakshatrājasamkusumita): “What do you think? Would this Bodhisattva Vision of Joy of All Sentient Beings (Issaishujōkiken, Sarvasattvapriyadarshana) be anyone else? At present, he is the Bodhisattva Sovereign Medicine (Yaku’ ō, Bhaishajya-rāja). It is this person who gave up his body as a donation of which there are countless hundreds of thousands of myriads of myriads of myriads of examples.

“Sovereign of the Constellations of Flowers (Shuku’ ō’ke, Nakshatrājasamkusumita), if somebody who really decided to attain the unexcelled, correct, and all-embracing enlightenment (anokutara sanmyaku sambodai, anuttara samyak sambodhi) were to burn either a finger or a toe as an offering to a stupa containing Buddha relics, then this individual would surpass in meritorious virtues the person who offers a kingdom, a city, wives, children, or even the mountains, forests, rivers, lakes, of the whole of a billion existential dimensions, all centred around a Mount Sumeru and spread out in the shape of a cross (sanzen daisen kokudo, trisāhasra mahāsāhasra loka).

“Again, if another person were to make an offering of a billion existential dimensions all centred around a Mount Sumeru and spread out in the shape of a cross (sanzen daisen kokudo, trisāhasra mahāsāhasra loka), all fitted with the seven precious substances (gold, silver, lapis lazuli, crystal, agate, ruby, and cornelian), to the Buddha, bodhisattvas, people who are partially enlightened due to a profound search for the meaning of existence (engaku, hyakushibutsu, pratyekabuddha), or persons who have attained the highest degree of the individual vehicle (shōjō, hīnayāna), the meritorious virtues of the person who could accept and hold to, or who could even only learn four lines from one of its metric hymns, would be so much greater.”


The first important point, regarding the passage: “Again, if another person were to make an offering of a billion existential dimensions all centred around a Mount Sumeru and spread out in the shape of a cross (sanzen daisen kokudo, trisāhasra mahāsāhasra loka), all fitted with the seven precious substances (gold, silver, lapis lazuli, crystal, agate, ruby, and cornelian), to the Buddha, bodhisattvas, people who are partially enlightened due to a profound search for the meaning of existence (engaku, hyakushibutsu, pratyekabuddha), or persons who have attained the highest degree of the individual vehicle (shōjō, hīnayāna), the meritorious virtues of the person who could accept and hold to this suta (Dharma Flower Sutra (Hokke-kyō)), or who could even only learns four lines from one of its metric hymns, would be so much greater.”

The Oral Transmission on the Meaning of the Dharma Flower Sutra (Ongi Kuden) states that, within the context of this important point, the expression, “this Dharma Flower Sutra (Hokke-kyō)”, refers to the whole of the twenty-eight chapters of this sutra. You are supposed to know that here the somewhat vague phrase, “four lines from one of its metric hymns”, alludes to the five ideograms of the title and theme (daimoku) (Myōhō Renge Kyō).


The second important point, on the ten examples that show the superiority of the Dharma Flower Sutra (Hokke-kyō). Whilst the Bodhisattva Sovereign of the Constellations of Flowers (Shuku’ ō’ke, Nakshatrājasamkusumita) was seated in front of Shākyamuni Buddha, the Buddha praised the meritorious virtues of the Dharma Flower Sutra (Hokke-kyō), by means of ten examples – 1) the example of water, 2) the example of mountains, 3) the example of the clusters of stars, 5) the example of the sovereign whose chariot wheels roll everywhere (tenrinnō, chakravartin), 6) the example of Taishaku (Indra), 7) the example of the Universal Sovereign Brahmā (DaiBonten’nō), 8) the example of the four hyakushibutsu (engakukai, pratyekabuddha), 9) the example of the bodhisattvas, 10) the example of the Buddhas.

The Oral Transmission on the Meaning of the Dharma Flower Sutra (Ongi Kuden) says that those ten examples are an allusion to the ten (psychological) realms of dharmas (jikkai) that are present in all sentient life. (These are 1) the suffering of every possible kind (jigokukai), 2) the cravings and wanting of hungry ghosts (gakikai), 3) animality and the emphasis on our own physical behaviour (chikushōkai), 4) anger and pretentiousness (shurakai), 5) normal human equanimity (jinkai), 6) all the feelings of rapture and ecstasies (tenkai), 7) the mental dimension of intellectual seekers (shōmonkai), 8) partial enlightenment due to a profound search for the meaning of existence (engakukai, pratyekabuddha), 9) the condition of persons who are altruists and whose essence is the search for the highest wisdom for the benefit of all (bosatsukai), 10) perfect enlightenment as to what the meaning of life is and to life itself (bukkai).)

In this way, we might understand the examples of the mountains under which all psychological realms of suffering lie, or as the location of the various sorts of hells. The example of water implies that hungry spirits or our cravings and wants are comparable to brooks, streams, estuaries, and rivers. In places under the sun and moon is where our anger and pretentiousness become apparent, whereas the example of the Taishaku (Indra) and Bonten (Brahmā), who are heavenly deities, is where our feelings of rapture and ecstasy must be.

Common mortals are ordinary human beings. The dimension of the intellectual seekers (shōmonkai) refers to people who have attained the higher stages of the teachings of the individual vehicle (shōjō, hīnayāna) and have prepared themselves to be people who have entered the stream of sage-like living (shudaon, srotāpanna) or will only return one more time to an incarnate existence (shidagon, sakrdāgāmin), or as a person who will not return to an incarnate existence (anagon, anāgamin), or as those who even attain the highest stage of teachings of the individual vehicle (shōjō, hīnayāna), which is the liberation from all craving and rebirth for themselves (arakan, arhat).

People who are partially enlightened are said to be individuals that are enlightened to a degree, due to their having made efforts to have a deeper insight into the meaning of life for themselves only (hyakushibutsu, pratyekabuddha). Bodhisattvas are most important (since they are unselfish and strive to save humankind from itself through the Buddha teaching). Insomuch as the Dharma realm of the Buddha is perceived as the sovereign of all the Dharma, these ten examples are set alongside the various doctrines of the Buddha teaching.

The Sutra on the White Lotus Flower-like Mechanism of the Utterness of the Dharma (Myōhō Renge Kyō) is the sole vehicle for attaining enlightenment. This sutra was formally taught in terms of the three vehicles to Buddhahood. (These are 1) (shōmon, shrāvaka) people who exerted themselves to attain the highest stage of the teachings of the individual vehicle (shōjō, hīnayāna) through listening to the Buddha (shōmon, shrāvaka), 2) (engakukai, pratyekabuddha) people who are enlightened to a degree, due to their having made efforts to have deeper insights into the meaning of life for themselves, 3) (bosatsu, bodhisattvas) those who, due to Buddhist practise over a number of years, become altruistic and strive to save humanity from itself through the Buddha teaching).

The Dharma Flower Sutra (Hokke-kyō) is a teaching that each single instant of mental activity contains all the possible dimensions of our minds (ichinen sanzen) and that this verbal equation (daimoku) is the means to take away people’s suffering and to make them happy.


For instance, Sovereign of the Constellations of Flowers (Shuku’ ō’ke, Nakshatrājasamkusumita), among all the waters, such as waterways, streams, rivers, and estuaries, the sea is the most important. It is just the same with the Dharma Flower Sutra (Hokke-kyō); out of all the sutras expounded by the Tathāgata, it is the most important and profound of all. Again, among the mountains, the Earth Mountains, the Black Mountains, the Lesser Circle of Iron Mountains, the Major Circle of Iron Mountains, and the Ten Treasure Mountains, Mount Sumeru is the most important. It is just the same with the Dharma Flower Sutra (Hokke-kyō); out of all the sutras, it is the most eminent.

Furthermore, out of all the stars, it is the Deva Prince of the Moon that is foremost. It is also the same with this Dharma Flower Sutra (Hokke-kyō). Among the thousands of myriads of myriads of myriads of sutras on the Dharma, it is the one that shines the brightest. Again, just as the Deva Prince of the Sun can take away all darkness, it is just the same with this sutra that is capable of destroying all that is not right and unenlightenment.

Again, among all the lesser sovereigns, the sage-like sovereign whose chariot wheels roll everywhere without hindrance (tenrinnō, chakravartin) takes precedence over all. It is just the same with this sutra. Out of all the sutras that exist, this is the most venerated. Again, in the same way as Taishaku (Indra) is the sovereign of the thirty-three heavens (it being the second of the heavens of form where he rules over his thirty-two deva (ten)), it is just the same with this sutra. It is the sovereign of all sutras. In the same way as the Great Deva Sovereign Bonten (Brahmā) is the father of all sentient beings, it is just the same with this sutra.

It is just the same with this sutra as regards Bonten (Brahmā) who is the father of all wise and sage-like individuals, people who are studying and those beyond the stage of learning, as well as those who have set their minds on the attainment of enlightenment. It is the same situation when we come to discuss ordinary common mortals, or those who have entered into the stream of sage-like living (shudaon, srotāpanna), or people that will only return once to an incarnate existence (shidagon, sakrdāgāmin), or persons who will not return to another incarnate existence (anagon, anāgamin), or even those persons who have attained the highest stage of the teachings of the individual vehicle (shōjō, hīnayāna). It is the people who are enlightened to a certain degree, due to their having made efforts to have deeper insights into the meaning of life (engaku, hyakushibutsu, pratyekabuddha), that are the most outstanding.

It is the same way when it comes to this sutra, which is the most authoritative of all the teachings of the Dharma that have been expounded by all the Tathāgatas, or by bodhisattvas, or any of the people who exerted themselves to attain the highest stage of the individual vehicle (shōjō, hīnayāna) through listening to the Buddha (shōmon, shrāvaka).

It is also the same for people who are capable of accepting and holding to this sutra. These are the foremost among all sentient beings. Out of all the people who exert themselves to attain the highest stage of the teachings of the individual vehicle (shōjō, hīnayāna) through listening to the Buddha (shōmon, shrāvaka), or those people who are enlightened to a certain degree due to their having made efforts to have deeper insights into the meaning of life (engaku, hyakushibutsu, pratyekabuddha), it is the bodhisattvas, who, on account of their practice over a number of years, have become altruists that strive to save humanity from itself through the teaching of the Buddha (bosatsu, bodhisattva), that are the most outstanding.

It is just the same with this sutra. Among all the sutras on the Dharma, this sutra is by far the most important. In the same way that the Buddha is sovereign of the whole of the Dharma, it is just the same with this sutra. Out of all the sutras, this is the one that is paramount. Sovereign of the Constellations of Flowers (Shuku’ ō’ke, Nakshatrājasamkusumita), this sutra is capable of benefitting all sentient beings and can deliver them from their troublesome worries (bonnō, klesha).


The third important point, that focuses on the above sutric text: The Dharma Flower Sutra (Hokke-kyō) can release people from all suffering, all illness, and pain. It can also unloosen all emotional problems with regard to continually being born, which inevitably leads to repetitious deaths.

The Oral Transmission on the Meaning of the Dharma Flower Sutra (Ongi Kuden) states that the intention of this sutra implies that our troublesome worries (bonnō, klesha) are not separate from the Buddha enlightenment (or life itself) and that the cycles of living and dying are not separate from the fundamental nature of existence (nehan = hosshin, nirvana = Dharma-kāya).

It would appear that the verbs “release” and “unloosen” are in contradiction to these psychological equations. Nevertheless, the word “release” has the need for clarification. If we try to understand this in terms of the wisdom that is inherent in the Chapter on the Lifespan of the Tathāgata that belongs to the teachings of the original archetypal state, then it becomes clear that illness, pain, and troublesome worries (bonnō, klesha) have always existed, as long as existence exists and, in that case, is the wisdom of the self-received entity of the Tathāgata that is used for the enlightenment of sentient beings (gohonzon). The phrase, “it can unloosen all emotional problems with regard to continually being born, which inevitably leads to repetitious deaths”, means to extricate us from the misconception that we are now living and facing death for the very first time and also to help us understand that living and dying are an intrinsic aspect of incarnate existence.

The two verbs “to release” and “to unloosen” are, to all intents and purposes, implicit in the title and theme (daimoku) of 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).


This sutra can give sentient beings an abundance of merits and fulfil their wishes. In the same way as a cool and refreshing pond call alleviate people’s thirst and fatigue, or in the same way as fire can become like warm clothing for people who are cold and naked, or in the same way as a shopkeeper needs customers or trade, or a child needs a mother, or as people who have to cross a stretch of water need a ferryboat, or as a sick person needs a physician, or as a lamp is needed to penetrate the dark, or as poor people who need sustenance, or the people who need a sovereign, or as travelling merchants need seas to cross, or as a candle that can take away the darkness, it is just the same with the Dharma Flower Sutra (Hokke-kyō) that is capable of releasing people from all suffering, all illness, and pain. It can also unloosen all emotional problems with regard to being continually reborn, which inevitably leads to repetitious deaths.

If people get to listen to the Dharma Flower Sutra (Hokke-kyō), or copy it out themselves, or get somebody to write it out for them, then even if people could enumerate the various kinds of the Buddhas, they would never be able to fully calculate the meritorious virtues that such believers would acquire. If someone were to copy out these sutric scrolls and then were to make offerings to it of perfumes from flowers, garlands, incense, fragrant pigments, scented ointments, tubular-shaped banners, apparel of various kinds, as well as various kinds of lamps, such as those that burn with ghee along with other oils, such as gardenia, sumanā, begonia, and jasmine, the meritorious virtues that this person would receive would be without bounds.

Sovereign of the Constellations of Flowers (Shuku’ ō’ke, Nakshatrājasamkusumita), if somebody were to listen to this Chapter on the Original Conduct of the Bodhisattva Sovereign Medicine (Yaku’ ō, Bhaishajya-rāja), such a person would also receive boundlessly infinite meritorious virtues. If there is a woman who listens to this Chapter on the Original Conduct of the Bodhisattva Sovereign Medicine (Yaku’ ō, Bhaishajya-rāja) and is able to accept and hold to it, when this woman’s life comes to its end, she will never receive a female body again. If during the final five hundred year period after the Tathāgata’s extinction into nirvana, there is a woman who, on having listened to this sutric canon, heeds its observances just as it has been expounded, when her life comes to its end, she will go to the dimension of happiness where the Buddha Amida (Amitābha) dwells surrounded by a vast assembly of bodhisattvas and will be born seated on a throne of precious materials in the centre of a lotus flower. She will never again be tormented by greed, anger, or stupidity, or even be troubled with delusions of self-indulgence, self-conceit, or even jealousy. She will be born with the reaches of the mind of the bodhisattvas (the eyes capable of seeing everything (in terms of the one instant of mental activity that contain three thousand existential spaces), ears capable of perceiving all sounds (in terms of the one instant of mental activity that contain three thousand existential spaces), insights into other people’s minds capable of the deepest thoughts, remembrance of former lives, and perfect mental freedom). She will also be able to fully understand that there is neither rebirth nor death (as defined in the Sixteenth Chapter on the Lifespan of the Tathāgata).

When she has attained this understanding, her sight will become immediately pure. She will be able to gaze upon all the seven hundred thousands of myriads of myriads of myriads of Buddha Tathāgatas, as many as there are grains of sand in as many River Ganges. (This means the ability to be aware of the Buddha nature that pervades the whole of existence.) At that moment, all the Buddhas from afar will in unison express their praise: “Excellent, excellent, believing and convinced sentient being, you have been able with the Dharma of Shākyamuni to accept, hold to, read and recite this sutric text, as well as being able to ponder over its meaning and explain it to other people. The virtues of happiness will be infinitely immeasurable and without bounds, which fire will not be able to burn nor water wash away.”


The fourth important point, with regard to the above passage of the sutric text, “The virtues of happiness will be infinitely immeasurable and without bounds, which fire will not be able to burn nor water wash away.”

The Oral Transmission on the Meaning of the Dharma Flower Sutra (Ongi Kuden) says that the wordfire” refers to the flames of the Hell of Incessant Suffering (Muken jigoku, Avîchî) (the worst hell in which sentient beings suffer incessantly), and the wordwater” refers to the ice of the Red Lotus Hell, the seventh of the eight cold hells where flesh of the sufferers bursts open like red lotuses.

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, as the sutric text indicates, “fire” will not be able to burn them nor “water” wash them away.


Your meritorious virtues could not be exhausted, even if they were all recounted by a thousand Buddhas. Now, you have destroyed all the psychologically destructive thieves. You have entirely reduced to nothing all other disagreeable and negative forces everywhere.


The fifth important point, on the sentence, “You have entirely reduced to nothing all other disagreeable and negative forces everywhere.”

The Oral Transmission on the Meaning of the Dharma Flower Sutra (Ongi Kuden) explains that the expression “disagreeable and negative forces” are references to those who vilify the Dharma (due to their superstitious outlooks), such as the followers of the Nembutsu School who take refuge in and recite the name of the Buddha Amida (Amitābha) (a ‘pie in the sky’ type of belief), the Zen School which has not really understood the notion of relativity (, shūnyatā), as well as the tantric and Mantra School (Shingon) which is a mixture of superstition and magic invocations.

The idea of ‘reducing to nothing’ implies the technique of propagating the Dharma Flower Sutra (Hokke-kyō), by means of refuting erroneous beliefs in some of the teachings of Shākyamuni which he simply used as an expedient means. This is 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).


Convinced and believing bodhisattva, a hundred thousand Buddhas will all together keep and protect you, by means of the reaches of their minds. You cannot be compared to any of the deva (ten) or humankind throughout any of the spaces where existence takes place. Apart from the Tathāgata, there are none equal to you among the people who exert themselves to attain the highest stage of the teachings of the individual vehicle (shōjō, hīnayāna) through listening to the Buddha (shōmon, shrāvaka), or the people who are partially enlightened due to a profound search for the meaning of existence (engaku, hyakushibutsu, pratyekabuddha), or persons who due to their religious practices over a number of years have become altruists that try to save humanity from itself through the teaching of the Buddha (bosatsu, bodhisattva). There is no one equal to you in wisdom or discernment nor people that are capable of a perfect absorption into their objects of meditation (zenjo).

Sovereign of the Constellations of Flowers (Shuku’ ō’ke, Nakshatrājasamkusumita), such is the strength of the meritorious virtues accomplished by such bodhisattvas. If there are persons who listen to this Chapter on the Original Conduct of the Bodhisattva Sovereign Medicine (Yaku’ ō, Bhaishajya-rāja), are filled with joy as a consequence, praise it, then such persons’ breaths, from then on in their present lives, will continually exhale the fragrance of blue lotuses from their mouths, and from the pores of their skin they will always emit the odour of ox-head sandalwood and will benefit from the meritorious virtues I have already mentioned.

This is why, Sovereign of the Constellations of Flowers (Shuku’ ō’ke, Nakshatrājasamkusumita), I am giving you the assignment to spread far and wide, without any interruption whatsoever, this Chapter on the Original Conduct of the Bodhisattva Sovereign Medicine (Yaku’ ō, Bhaishajya-rāja), during the final fifth five-hundred-year period after my extinction into nirvana. Lest evil and evil-minded people, deva (ten), dragons (ryū, nāga), yasha (yaksha) (who are like gnomes), kumbhanda (who are demons with enormous testicles) should try and prevent this from happening, Sovereign of the Constellation of Flowers (Shuku’ ō’ke, Nakshatrājasamkusumita), you must, by means of the reaches of your mind, defend and protect this sutra.

What is the reason for this?

It is because this sutra, in the realms of humankind, is the excellent remedy for the illnesses of the people living there. If there are people who are ill and get to listen to this sutra, then those people’s illnesses will be wiped out, along with their deline and dying.


The sixth important point, with regard to the above sentence in the sutric text, “If there are people who are ill and get to listen to this sutra, then those people’s illnesses will be wiped out along with their decline and dying.”

In the tenth volume of the Textual Explanation of the Dharma Flower Sutra (Hokke Mongu), it is pointed out that the reader must by all means ponder over the ultimate meaning of this sentence and understand all its implications.

The Oral Transmission on the Meaning of the Dharma Flower Sutra (Ongi Kuden) states that the expression “If there are people” must include all the people who, at the highest level, are those of the Dharma realm of the Buddha down to the lowest category of the wrongdoers in the hellish dimensions. The illness is the troublesome worries (bonnō, klesha) provoked by the three poisons of greed, anger, and the stupidity of not wanting to know what existence is all about. These are negative qualities that are shared even by the Buddhas and bodhisattvas alike. The words “wiped out along with their decline” refer to the Shākyamuni Buddha (of the original archetypal state) and, regarding the words “wiped out along with their decline and dying”, the word “dying” in this context refers to the bodhisattvas who swarm up out of the earth (whose realisation is the indestructibility and eternity of life).

In the Thesis on the Hundred and Six Items, it says “the Utterness of the original fruition (honka myō)” refers to the Shākyamuni of the original archetypal state. The mission of the Bodhisattva Superior Practice (Jōgyō, Vishitacharîta) of the Utterness of the original cause (honin myō) is, in all seriousness, the act of mercy of the Buddha for the final phase of the Dharma of Shākyamuni (mappō) after his extinction into nirvana (Goshō Zenshū, p. 864). Another concept of illness is the vilification of the Dharma. The people who reverently accept and hold to this sutra without a doubt find their illnesses wiped out at the same time.

Now Nichiren and the people who follow him are those that 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).


Sovereign of the Constellation of Flowers (Shuku’ ō’ke, Nakshatrājasamkusumita), if you see somebody accept and hold to this sutra, you must scatter over this person an offering of blue lotuses sprinkled with powdered incense. Then, after you have scattered them, you should bear in mind and say to this person, who before long will certainly pick them up and sit in the place of enlightenment, “You must annihilate the army of unrighteousness.” Afterwards, you must collect grass upon which this person can sit in the place of enlightenment. Then, you must blow the conch shell of the Dharma and beat upon the drum of the all-embracing teaching, in order to deliver all sentient beings from the ocean of old age, sickness, and death.

This is why the persons who seek the path of Buddhahood, on seeing people who accept and hold to this sutra, should indeed give rise to a mind of veneration and respect. When you expound the Chapter on the Original Conduct of Bodhisattva Sovereign Medicine (Yaku’ ō, Bhaishajya-rāja), eighty-four thousand bodhisattvas will bestow the prescribed incantation (dhāranî) for understanding the languages of all sentient beings.

Thereupon the Tathāgata Abundant Treasure (Tahō Nyorai, Prabhūtaratna) in his stupa of precious materials praised the Bodhisattva Sovereign of the Constellations of Flowers (Shuku’ ō’ke, Nakshatrājasamkusumita), saying, “Excellent, excellent, Sovereign of the Constellations of Flowers (Shuku’ ō’ke, Nakshatrājasamkusumita), you have accomplished an inconceivable number of meritorious virtues, through being able to have a dialogue with the Buddha Shākyamuni, that will benefit innumerable sentient beings.”

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