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The Dharma Flower Sutra seen through the Oral Transmission of Nichiren Daishōnin:The Fourteenth Chapter on Practising in Peace and with Joy

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


The first important point, on the chapter, On Practising in Peace and with Joy.

The Oral Transmission on the Meaning of the Dharma Flower Sutra (Ongi Kuden) says that those who would do the practice of the Dharma Flower Sutra (Hokke-kyō) in peace and with joy are those who do the practices observed by Nichiren and also those that follow him during this final period of the Dharma of Shākyamuni (mappō). Their practice is to 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). When troubles arise, we must realise that this is normal for those who practise in peace and with joy.


At that time, Mañjushrī (Monjushiri), Prince of the Dharma, who was also a completely evolved bodhisattva who had refused his own extinction into nirvana for the sake of the Buddha enlightenment of all sentient beings (bosatsu makasatsu, bodhisattva mahāsattva), addressed the Buddha, saying: “World Honoured One, it is very difficult to find bodhisattvas such as these who, out of respect and of obeisance and deference to the Buddha, reverently have expressed a great vow that afterwards, in the iniquitous age, they will hold to and protect the Dharma Flower Sutra (Hokke-kyō); they will read and recite it, as well as explain its meaning. World Honoured One, how are the completely evolved bodhisattvas who have refused their own extinction into nirvana for the sake of the Buddha enlightenment of all sentient beings (bosatsu makasatsu, bodhisattva mahāsattva) going to be able to expound this sutra?”

The Buddha replied: Monjushiri (Mañjushrî), if there are completely evolved beings who have refused their own extinction into nirvana for the sake of the Buddha enlightenment of all sentient beings, who, in the iniquitous age to come, wish to expound this sutra, they must peacefully abide with the four dharmas (that are rules for practice). In the first place, they must hold firmly to their dimension of bodhisattva practice and to their circle of personal frequentations; then they will be capable of expounding and explaining this sutra to sentient beings.

Mañjushrī (Monjushiri), what is meant by the concept of the dimension of the practice of the completely evolved bodhisattvas who have renounced their own extinction into nirvana for the sake of all sentient beings (bosatsu makasatsu, bodhisattva mahāsattva)?

It means that, if there are completely evolved bodhisattvas who have refused their own extinction into nirvana for the sake of the Buddha enlightenment of all sentient beings, who abide in the dimension of patient forbearance, in the dimension of mildness and docility, along with an appropriate compliance to the monastic order, without any brusque behaviour or thoughts, nor ever being startled, this is what is called the behaviour of the completely evolved bodhisattva who has refused his own extinction into nirvana for the sake of the Buddha enlightenment of all sentient beings (bosatsu makasatsu, bodhisattva mahāsattva). Furthermore, with regard to dharmas outside our practice, there should be no reaction whatsoever, either physical or mental. All dharmas should be looked upon in terms of the real aspect of all dharmas (i.e., the one instant of thought containing three thousand existential spaces (ichinen sanzen)), without further reaction whatsoever, or without differentiating them (funbetsu) from all other dharmas.

What do I mean by the personal frequentations of completely evolved bodhisattvas who have refused their own extinction into nirvana for the sake of the Buddha enlightenment of all sentient beings?

They should not frequent the rulers of sovereign states, princes, ministers nor high-ranking officials, nor should they frequent Brahmins outside of our teaching, or naked mendicants who are free from all ties and cover themselves with ashes. Nor should they frequent those who compose unseemly literature, nor those who sing the praises of the Brahmanical texts, or frequent epicureans who believe that the soul perishes with the body, and also anti-materialists, pugilists, wrestlers, dancers, or any sort of conjuror or sleight of hand performer.

Again, they must not frequent people without caste, or people who raise pigs, goats, chickens, or dogs, or people who indulge in hunting, fishing, or other activities that are forbidden by the monastic precepts. If such people come to the fully evolved bodhisattvas who have refused their own extinction into nirvana for the sake of the Buddha enlightenment of all sentient beings (bosatsu makasatsu, bodhisattva mahāsattva), they will expound the Dharma to them. But they must not flatter them with false hopes.

In addition to this, they must not frequent those people who strive to attain the full realisation of the individual vehicle (shōjō, hīnayāna) through listening to the Buddha (shōmon, shrāvaka), nor monks, nuns, nor lay practitioners both male and female. They must not exchange greetings with members of the monastic order, either in a house, the courtyard of a monastery, or in a hall where lectures are given; nor should they live in the same place. If at times those persons of the monastic order approach the fully evolved bodhisattvas, then these must expound the Dharma according to their propensities, without flattering them with false hopes.

Mañjushrī (Monjushiri), a fully evolved bodhisattva who has refused his own extinction into nirvana for the sake of the Buddha enlightenment of all sentient beings (bosatsu makasatsu, bodhisattva mahāsattva) must explain the Dharma to women, without having thoughts of carnal desires or even deriving pleasure from looking at them. Should they enter somebody’s house, if according to the circumstances it is necessary to enter it, then they must not enter into conversation with any young girls, girls who are virgins, or widows. Neither should they approach any of the five kinds of males who have virility deficiencies (i.e., eunuchs or impotent males by birth, emasculation, uncontrollable emission, hermaphrodites, or those who are impotent for half a month) lest they become intimate with them. They should not enter another person’s house alone. If the reasons and circumstances allow, they must wholeheartedly bear in mind the Buddha. If they are to explain the Dharma to a woman, they must not smile in a way that shows their teeth or show their bare chests.

Even for the sake of the Dharma they must take no pleasure in cultivating novices or novice monks of a tender age. Nor should they derive any pleasure from being their teacher. They should always enjoy sitting perfectly absorbed in the object of their meditation and live in a deserted place suitable for practice. Also, they must exercise in controlling their thoughts. Mañjushrī (Monjushiri), this is what is called the first sphere of frequentation.

Furthermore, the fully evolved bodhisattvas who have refused their own extinction into nirvana for the sake of the Buddha enlightenment of all sentient beings (bosatsu makasatsu, bodhisattva mahāsattva) should look upon all dharmas as being relativity (, shūnyatā) . . .


The second important point, on the passage, “Furthermore, the fully evolved bodhisattvas who have refused their own extinction into nirvana for the sake of the Buddha enlightenment of all sentient beings (bosatsu makasatsu, bodhisattva mahāsattva) should look upon all dharmas as being relativity (, shūnyatā).”

The Oral Transmission on the Meaning of the Dharma Flower Sutra (Ongi Kuden) says that this passage lists the eighteen essential qualities of relativity (, shūnyatā) as 1) the immateriality of noumena or the interdependence of cause, concomitancy and effect that underlies all existence, 2) that is the real aspect of all that exists 3) and is not contrary to reality. 4) This essential quality is immutable; 5) it cannot be turned back; 6) nor can it be turned around into something else. 7) It is like the emptiness of space. 8) It possesses no inherent nature of its own. 9) It is beyond the bounds of linguistic expression. 10) Neither does it come into being on its own; 11) nor does it derive from anything else; 12) nor is it even the result of anything. 13) It is psychologically beyond concept and 14) is imperceptible to any of our senses. 15) It has no qualities of its own, 16) nor any quantity, 17) nor any dimension. 18) It is also devoid of any restriction or obstruction.

All of these are 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). What these eighteen aspects of relativity really are, are all that concerns the Utterness of the Dharma (Myōhō, Saddharma) or the entirety of existence.


. . . . or the immateriality of noumena or the interdependence of cause, concomitancy and effect that underlies all existence, that is the real aspect of all that exists and is not contrary to reality.

The essential quality is immutable; it cannot be turned back; nor can it be turned around into something else. It is like the emptiness of space (or the vacuity between one atomic particle and another). It possesses no inherent nature of its own. It is beyond the bounds of linguistic expression. Neither does it come into being on its own; nor does it derive from anything else; nor is it even the result of anything. It is psychologically beyond concept and is imperceptible to any of our senses. It is also devoid of any restriction or obstruction. It only exists on account of cause and concomitancies, which gives us the illusion that things are as they seem to be, which is why we enjoy understanding them this way.

This is what the fully evolved bodhisattva who has refused his own extinction into nirvana for the sake of the Buddha enlightenment of all sentient beings (bosatsu makasatsu, bodhisattva mahāsattva) should understand as the second sphere of frequentations towards enlightenment.

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

If there are bodhisattvas
who, in the ages of iniquity
that are yet to come,
who with a fearless heart
would wish to expound this sutra,
they will have to enter
the spheres of practices,
such as the spheres
of frequentations towards enlightenment.
They should constantly stay away
from sovereigns and also princes,
ministers and high functionaries,
along with acrobats, clowns,
and people that have no caste,
along with individuals
outside the Buddha teaching,
as well as those
who aspire to be Brahmins.
Nor should they frequent
arrogant and boastful individuals
or people who study the Pali Canon,
monks who have broken the monastic rules,
or even those who claim to have attained
the highest fruition
of the individual vehicle (shōjō, hīnayāna),
or monks or nuns who like to fool around
and are attached to the five desires (wealth, sex, eating and drinking, fame, and sleep),
who try to keep up the appearance
that they are seeking
extinction in nirvana.
Nor should they approach either male
or female lay practitioners.
If such people with good intentions
go to where the bodhisattvas are,
in order to listen to the teaching
of the path to Buddhahood,
then the bodhisattvas
with no fear in their hearts
should without deluding them
with false hopes,
teach the Dharma to such people.
The bodhisattvas should never frequent
widows, virgins,
and males who are not masculine,
lest they become intimate with them.
Nor should they frequent
slaughterhouses or butchers,
hunters or fisherman,
or any person who kills for profit
or even sells meat to make a living,
or those who parade
female sexuality for sale.
The bodhisattvas should never
frequent any such people.
Wrestlers, seductive women, or prostitutes
should definitely not be frequented.
They must never go into
a closed-off place,
in order to teach the Dharma to women.
If and when they must
expound the Dharma to them,
monks should not play around and laugh.
On going into villages
to beg for food,
clerics have to be accompanied
by another monk.
If there is no other monk,
then such a cleric should wholeheartedly
bear in mind the teaching of the Buddha.
These are what are called the practices
of the spheres of frequentation
towards enlightenment.
Whether these practices
are brought about by karma,
or whether they are not subject
to cause or conditions at all,
or even if they are endowed
with these two aspects,
bodhisattvas can expound the Dharma
with joy and ease of mind;
otherwise they will not do
any practices at all.
Again, there are no superior,
intermediate,
or inferior dharmas.
Either they are brought about
by conditions,
or they are completely untouched
by conditions.
Either they are real,
or they are not real.
Nor should bodhisattvas
make a distinction
between male and female.
There are no dharmas
that can be got hold of.
They cannot be known,
nor can they be perceived,
since basically they are all
the relativity of the noumena (, shūnyatā).
This is what is called
the sphere of the practices
of the bodhisattvas.
All dharmas, by being relativity (, shūnyatā),
are devoid of any permanence
and have no existence
that either arises
or ever ceases to exist.

(This reference to dharmas arising or ceasing to exist is one of the arguments in the Yuima Kyō (Vimalakirti Sutra), as well as other sutric texts. In the Buddha teaching of Shākyamuni, dharmas come into being or cease to exist, due to the provisional combination of causes and concomitancies. When these causes and concomitancies scatter and break up, then such dharmas cease to exist.)

(In the fifth fascicle (scroll) of the Universal Desistance from Troublesome Worries in Order to See Clearly (Maka Shikan), it says, “All arising is the arising of the nature of dharmas (the nature of existence which is the mind or experiences) and ceasing to exist is when the nature of dharmas also ceases to exist. This nature of dharmas or the Dharma nature only points to our total immersion into delusive thinking. It is through the nature of dharmas (the fundamental nature of existence which is Nam Myōhō Renge Kyō) that our thoughts are forcibly dragged along with it; hence we create our own karma. When we ponder over this nature of dharmas, then this nature of dharmas, which is the Dharma nature, is eternally present. There is no instant that it is not.”)

(In this way, we should understand that the arising or the extinction of phenomena of all kinds along with noumena is fundamentally due to the principle of the nature of dharmas (which is the fundamental nature of existence that is mind or experiences). It is also mentioned in various Buddha teachings that the nature of existence is none other than experience (all dharmas being only mind). The only thing that remains permanent is the nature of Dharma or the Dharma nature which is when we really understand what it is, and then this is total enlightenment. Nevertheless, in the Buddha teaching of Nichiren Daishōnin, there is the concept of phenomena (ke), relativity (, shūnyatā), and the bridge between the two with the reality of the middle way (chūdō jissō).)


This is the sphere of frequentations
towards enlightenment
of those who are wise.
We distinguish the various elements
of our respective existence,
on account of our deluded way
of thinking that things
are as they seem to be
and that all dharmas
either exist or do not exist.
They are either real,
or they are not.
The bodhisattvas residing
in deserted places
suitable for practising meditation
rehearse holding their thoughts together.
They remain firm and immutable (not giving way to the workings of their own minds)
and as firm as Mount Sumeru.
They look upon all dharmas
as having no existence of their own,
as though they were empty space,
devoid of any density.
Neither being produced
or simply appearing,
neither is their essence on the move
or receding into nothing.
All dharmas eternally abide
in the one aspect of the Dharma realm.
This is what is called
the sphere of frequentations
towards enlightenment,
If there are monks who,
after my extinction into nirvana,
engage themselves into these practices,
as well as the spheres of frequentations
towards enlightenment,
then when they expound this sutra,
they will have no weaknesses
or fears in doing so.
Bodhisattvas who, at the right moment,
enter into quiet rooms
and collect their thoughts in the right manner
and look upon dharmas
according to their real significance,
when they emerge
from their meditative states,
they will go to all the sovereigns,
princes, ministers,
the people, and the Brahmins.
They will be at peace
and without any fears or pulling back.
Mañjushrī (Monjushiri), this refers
to the bodhisattvas
who are firmly settled
at the beginning of their understanding
of the Dharma,
who in later ages,
will be able to explain this sutra,
which is the Sutra on the White Lotus
Flower-like Mechanism
of the Utterness of the Dharma (Myōhō, Saddharma).

Furthermore, Mañjushrī (Monjushiri), any person who, after my extinction into nirvana during the final period of my Dharma (i.e., the end period of the Dharma of Shākyamuni (Mappō)), that wishes to expound this sutra must hold to practising in peace and with joy. Whether they propagate this sutra orally, or when these persons just read it, they will take no pleasure in mentioning the faults of other people, or errors in the sutra, or even slightly look down on other teachers of the Dharma, or even point out the qualities and faults or the strong points and weaknesses of different individuals.

With regard to those people who strive to attain the highest realisation of the teachings of the individual vehicle (shōjō, hīnayāna) through listening to the Buddha (shōmon, shrāvaka), the persons who wish to teach this sutra must not mention the names of those seekers of realisation of the individual vehicle (shōjō, hīnayāna) when talking about their errors and faults. Neither should they mention any names when praising the virtues of people who strive for the highest realisation of the individual vehicle (shōjō, hīnayāna). Moreover, the people who wish to expound this sutra must not have any thoughts of resentment or dislike.

Because it is beneficial to exercise a mind of peace and joy, also, all the people who listen to this sutra must not have thoughts on the contrary. If there are difficult questions, the person who expounds this sutra must not reply in terms of the individual vehicle (shōjō, hînāyāna), but must explain and discuss these questions in terms of the universal vehicle (daijō, mahāyāna), so that the questioner may acquire the insight of the Buddha (issai-shu-chi), which is the capability to attain the wisdom to penetrate all dharmas.

(According to numerous sutric texts, there are three categories of wisdom, which are also defined in Nāgārjuna’s (Ryūju) encyclopedic work, “The Discourse on the Universal Insight that carries people from the shores of mortality to the shore of nirvana” (Dai chido ron), as follows: 1) the total insight of the people who exerted themselves to attain the highest stage of teachings of the individual vehicle (shōjō, hīnayāna) through listening to the Buddha or the intellectuals of today (issai chi); also the insight of people who are writers, artists, musicians, or scholars, as well as people who understand the various branches of science, technology, or medicine; 2) the religious insight of the bodhisattvas who, in terms of the Buddha teaching, have a grip on the concept of the real aspect of all dharmas (dōshuchi), and, finally, 3) the sum total of every category of insight (issaishuchi), which is the fundamental wisdom of the Buddhas and is capable of attaining enlightenment as to every single dharma.)


The third important point, on the sentence, “If there are difficult questions, then the person who expounds this sutra must not reply in terms of the individual vehicle (shōjō, hînāyāna), but must explain and discuss these questions in terms of the universal vehicle (daijō, mahāyāna).”

The Oral Transmission on the Meaning of the Dharma Flower Sutra (Ongi Kuden) states that, when one is facing up to erroneous ideas with the idea of putting them right, one must not use the provisional doctrines in order to get people to understand our teaching. The sum total of every category of insight (issaishuchi) (which is the fundamental wisdom of the Buddhas and is capable of attaining enlightenment as to every aspect of sentient existence) is Nam Myōhō Renge Kyō. The words “sum total” in this expression refer to all matters, and the words “every category” refer to the variety of dharmas whose underlying white lotus flower-like mechanism of the interdependence of cause, concomitancy and effect permeates the entirety of existence (Myōhō Renge Kyō).

Also, The Oral Transmission on the Meaning of the Dharma Flower Sutra (Ongi Kuden) points out that the sum total of every category of insight (issaishuchi) is the whole of our minds. The whole of our minds is the totality of all of our minds. The whole of our minds is the totality of all phenomena and all that goes on in our heads. You must ponder over this.


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

The constant pleasure of the bodhisattvas
is to expound the Dharma
with mental composure,
in places that are pure
where they will establish their seats
and rub their bodies with oil,
so as to wash away all dirt and grime.
They will put on fresh, clean clothes,
and be inwardly pure,
as well as on the outside.
They will take their places
on seats of the Dharma
and will expound it
according to the questions
that are put to them.
If there are monks or nuns
or male lay practitioners,
or female lay practitioners,
or kings or princes or their ministers,
educated people,
or ordinary commoners,
they will explain the meaning
of the subtlety of Utterness (Myō),
with a pacifying look on their faces.
And if there are difficult questions,
then they will reply
according to the meaning of the Dharma.
They will explain the causes
and concomitancies
with similes and metaphors,
or develop their discourses further,
by pointing out
various subtle differences.
It is by such expedient means
that will make people give rise
to a mind to seek enlightenment,
whereby they will gradually
amplify their positive qualities
and enter onto
the path of Buddhahood.
The bodhisattvas will eliminate
their own mental laziness,
along with their thoughts of negligence.
They will free themselves
from personal worries,
so as to expound the Dharma
with a mind of benevolence.
Day and night,
they will continue to preach
the teaching of the Dharma
that cannot be surpassed,
by explaining all the causes
and concomitancies,
illustrating them
with innumerable similes
and metaphors,
in order to reveal
to sentient beings
their personal perceptive wisdom
and give them a measure of happiness.
The bodhisattvas have no longing
for clothes, garments, bedclothes or beds,
or drinks, fine foods, or medical remedies.
But they will fix their minds
with a singularity of attention
on the causes and concomitances
expounded in the Dharma
and their aspirations of realising
the path of Buddhahood,
along with all sentient beings.
These are the all-embracing benefits
of making offerings
for happiness and peace.
If, after my extinction
into nirvana,
there is a monk who can expound
this Dharma Flower Sutra (Hokke-kyō),
with no jealousy or anger,
and free from the hindrance
of personal worries,
as well as all unhappiness
and anxiety,
yet for whom nobody shows disrespect,
again, this monk has no fear
of being assaulted with blades
or staves of wood . . .


The fourth important point, on the last lines of the above metric hymn, “again, this monk has no fear of being assaulted with blades and staves of wood”.

The Oral Transmission on the Meaning of the Dharma Flower Sutra (Ongi Kuden) says that the bodhisattvas who were instructed and converted through the teachings derived from the external events of the Buddha Shākyamuni’s life and work (shakumon) will not be subjected to being assaulted with blades or staves of wood. However, in the Thirteenth Chapter of the Dharma Flower Sutra on Exhorting the Disciples to Receive and Hold to the Buddha Teaching, it does say that, during the final period o f the Dharma of Shākyamuni, the practitioner of the Dharma Flower Sutra (Hokke-kyō) (i.e., Nichiren) “will also be subjected to being assaulted with blades or staves of wood and will be banished on various occasions.”

Nevertheless in the chapter we are dealing with now, which is the Fourteenth Chapter on Practising in Peace and with Joy, it makes no mention of this prophecy. This is because that particular chapter is referring to the people who propagate the Buddha teaching by means of suppressing and refuting the points of view to which people are attached to, in order to guide them towards a correct way of understanding what the Dharma of the Buddha should be about (shakubuku), during the final period of the Dharma of Shākyamuni (mappō). In contrast, the present Chapter on Practising in Peace and with Joy refers to the people who propagated the Buddha teaching, by a method which consisted of gradually leading people towards the correct Buddha teaching, without refuting other people’s attachment to doctrines that were either inferior or misguided (shōju), during the period when the Buddha Dharma was mainly featured by formal pomp and ceremonies, and with rather less inward searching for the truth (zōhō).


. . . or even being exiled,
because he peacefully dwells
in a mind of patience.
The person who is wise
exercises his mind in this manner,
and is able to reside in peace
and with joy,
just as I have already said.
The merits of such a person
will endure for a thousand kalpas,
which cannot be counted or exemplified;
nor can one exhaustively recount them.

What is more, Mañjushrī (Monjushiri), is that completely evolved bodhisattvas who have renounced their extinction into nirvana for the sake of the Buddha enlightenment of all sentient beings (bosatsu makasatsu, bodhisattva mahāsattva) – who, during the final age when the Dharma is about to disappear, receive, hold to, read and recite this sutra without any jealousy, base fawning, or deceit in their minds – these bodhisattvas do not look down on nor hold in contempt those who are just learning about the path of Buddhahood, nor look for their good qualities or shortcomings.

If there are monks, nuns, or either male or female lay believers who are seeking to be among those who exert themselves to attain the highest stage of the teachings of the individual vehicle through listening to the Buddha (shōmon, shrāvaka), or those people who are partially enlightened due to a profound search for the meaning of existence (engaku, hyakushibutsu, pratyekabuddha), or even in quest of the path of the bodhisattvas, these completely evolved bodhisattvas will in no way tease them or make them hold doubts or regrets, by saying: “You are a long way away from the path. In the end, you will never acquire all the kinds of wisdom of the Buddha that is capable of attaining enlightenment as to every aspect of existence (issaishuchi). What do I mean by this? It is because you are idle, lazy, and disregardful of the path of enlightenment.”

At the same time, these practitioners must not pay any attention to superficial discussions about the Dharma, nor partake in any debates. But they must bear in mind a strong sentiment of compassion for all sentient beings. And, with regard to all the Tathāgatas, they look upon them as compassionate fathers. And all the bodisattvas must be regarded as universal teachers. Again, when it comes to fully evolved bodhisattvas who have renounced their own extinction into nirvania for the sake of the Buddha enlightenment of all sentieint beings (bosatsu makasatsu, bodhisattva mahāsattva) of the ten directions, they must have deep feelings of reverence and respect for them. These practitioners must explain the Dharma to all sentient beings without distinction. But because they are faithful to the Dharma, they will neither supplement anything to it, nor deduct anything from it, even for the benefit of those who are deeply attached to the Dharma. They should not expound it in excess.

Mañjushrī (Monjushiri), in the final age when the Dharma is about to disappear, the fully evolved bodhisattvas who have renounced their own extinction into nirvana for the sake of the Buddha enlightenment of all sentient beings (bosatsu makasatsu, bodhisattva mahāsattva) will have added to their accomplishment the third way of practising in peace and with joy. They will not have any disturbing worries, but will have good study companions with whom they can recite this sutra.

Again there will be large multitudes that will come to listen to it and accept it. Then, having listened to it, they will be able to hold to it; having held to it, they will be able to explain its meaning; being able to explain its meaning, they will be able to copy out this sutra; having copied it out, they will get other people to copy it and make offerings to those sutric scrolls, show their fidelity to them, venerate and praise them. (Ancient Indian books were piles of loose paper leaves, but, at the time of Kumārajîva (Kumarajū) Buddhist texts existed in the form of scrolls made of paper.)

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

Those who wish to expound this sutra
must give up their jealousies,
anger and pride,
as well as all thoughts of flattery
and hypocrisy.
They must constantly do their practices,
with a disposition
of going straight ahead.
They must not look down on other people,
nor hold discussions on the Dharma,
and not cause other people
to have doubts or regrets,
saying that they cannot
attain enlightenment.
When these believers
expound the Dharma,
it will be with a constant gentleness
and patience,
with loving-kindness for all,
without any thoughts of indolence
or laziness.
When it comes to the bodhisattvas
of the ten directions,
they will practise the path,
out of compassion
for all sentient beings.
Practitioners should have a mind
of respect for them
and think of them as
“my universal teachers”.
As for all the Buddhas
who are World Honoured Ones,
practitioners should think of them
as sovereign fathers
who will get rid of the proud, selfish thoughts
of the practitioners,
so they can expound the Dharma
without hindrance.
The third method is as follows,
which the person who is wise will observe
and single-mindedly practise in peace
and with joy,
and thus be revered
by uncountable multitudes.

Furthermore, the Bodhisattva Mañjushrī (Monjushiri), the Bodhisattva Mahāsattva (bosatsu makasatsu) (which is a fully evolved bodhisattva who has renounced his own extinction into nirvana for the sake of the Buddha enlightenment of all sentient beings, here this term being used as a title), in the final period when the Dharma is about to become extinct, practitioners must hold to this Dharma Flower Sutra (Hokke-kyō), for both the people who are still with their families as well as those who have left home to take up the ascetic way of life. They must give rise to a mind of all-embracing compassion for them. For those people who are not bodhisattvas, practitioners must give rise to a mind of loving-kindness and have this thought in their minds.

All those above categories of people have lost something extremely important. When the Tathāgata explained this sutra, either through various expedient means or according to his own enlightenment, they did not listen; nor did they know about it; nor were they aware of it. They neither asked about this sutra, nor did they believe in it; nor did they even try to unravel its significance. Eeven though such people never asked about this sutra, nor believed in it, nor even tried to fathom its implications, when I had arrived at the unexcelled, correct, and all-embracing enlightenment, I decided that whatever dimension there may exist, I would, by using the reaches of my mind and the strength of my wisdom, lead them, so as to make them abide in this Dharma.

Mañjushrī (Monjushiri), those fully evolved bodhisattvas, who have renounced their own extinction into nirvana for the sake of the Buddha enlightenment of all sentient beings (bosatsu makasatsu, bodhisattva mahāsattva), after the extinction of the Tathāgata into nirvana will have accomplished the fourth method of practising in peace and with joy. They will make no mistakes or overlook anything, whilst they are explaining the Dharma. They will receive offerings, veneration, respect, deep devotion, and praise from monks, nuns, male and female lay people, as well as sovereigns of states, princes, their ministers, ordinary people, Brahmins, householders who practise at home, etc. The deva (ten) in empty space will always follow these fully evolved bodhisattvas and render services to them, in order to listen to the Dharma, whether they might be in villages, towns, or in deserted places in the forests. If anyone comes along with obnoxious and awkward questions, all the deva (ten) will constantly, night and day, for the sake of the Dharma, protect and guard these fully evolved bodhisattvas, as well as making all those who are listening joyfully glad. Why should this be so? This sutra is protected with the reaches of the mind of all the Buddhas of the past, present, and future.


The fifth important point, on the passage, “If anyone comes along with obnoxious and awkward questions, all the deva (ten) will constantly, night and day, for the sake of the Dharma . . . ”

The Oral Transmission on the Meaning of the Dharma Flower Sutra (Ongi Kuden) says that, during the final period of the Buddha teaching of Shākyamuni, the people who do the practices of the Dharma Flower Sutra (Hokke-kyō) will constantly be guarded and protected by all the deva (ten) for the sake of the Dharma. The Dharma is Nam Myōhō Renge Kyōwhich 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).


Mañjushrī (Monjushiri), in uncountable dimensions of existence, it is impossible to hear the title of this Dharma Flower Sutra (Hokke-kyō), let alone have a chance to see it, accept it, hold to it, or even read and recite it. Mañjushrī (Monjushiri), for instance, it is like a very powerful sovereign whose chariot wheels roll everywhere without hindrance (tenrinnō, chakravartin), who wishes to submit all the other countries to his authority. All the lesser sovereigns do not obey this powerful sovereign, so that this powerful sovereign raises all sorts of warriors in order to subjugate his opponents. The powerful sovereign, on seeing the qualities of his armies in combat, is filled with great joy and rewards them according to their merits, either by giving his warriors gifts of villages and towns, or with clothing and bodily ornaments of rare and precious materials such as gold, silver, lapis lazuli, mother-of-pearl, agate, coral, and amber, or by giving them elephants, horses, chariots, slaves, and even ordinary people.

But in the topknot of his hair there is a brilliant pearl, which this powerful sovereign never gives away. What is the reason for this? This unique pearl is only to be found on the head of a sovereign. If he were to part with it all the following of this sovereign would be shocked and amazed.

Mañjushrī (Monjushiri), it is the same with the Tathāgata. Due to his powers of absorption into his one object of meditation (zenjō) and the strength of his wisdom, he has attained sovereignty in the dimension of the Dharma and is the ruler of the threefold dimension, where sentient beings have appetites and desires, which are incarnated in subjective materialities with physical surroundings, who, at the same time, are endowed with the immateriality of the realms of fantasies, dreams, thoughts and ideas (sangai, triloka).

Now the demon kings (ma’ō) take it upon themselves not to submit to the Buddha. The people who are wise and correct in all their actions are comparable to having the roles of generals under the Tathāgata and engage in combat with the demon sovereigns. For those who have merited it, the Buddha’s heart is filled with joy.

In the midst of the four kinds of congregations, which consist of monks, nuns, male and female lay practitioners, the Tathāgata expounds various sutras, so as to give them pleasure and joy. Also, he gives them the gift of perfect absorption into the objects of their meditation (zenjō), freedom from the bonds of delusion and suffering in the threefold dimension, and sense organs that produce the consciousness of the five faculties of seeing, hearing, smelling, tasting, and touching completely free from any unintended misinterpretation, the treasure of the strength of the entirety of the Dharma; and, in addition, the Buddha presents all sentient beings with the largess of the dimension of total extinction into nirvana. Also, he insists that all sentient beings will cross over from the shores of living and dying to the shore of ceasing to exist altogether, thereby leading the minds of all sentient beings towards greater happiness.

Yet for a long time the Buddha did not expound the Dharma Flower Sutra (Hokke-kyō).

Mañjushrī (Monjushiri), it is the same way as the powerful sovereign whose chariot wheels roll everywhere without hindrance (tenrinnō, chakravartin) rejoices, on seeing the effectiveness of his assembled armies, along with the incredibly marvellous pearl, which, for a very long time, he would not give away without deep consideration, but, on this occasion, he gives it away. It is exactly the same with the Tathāgata, in the triple dimension where sentient beings have appetites and desires, which are incarnated in a subjective materiality with physical surroundings, who, at the same time, are endowed with the immateriality of the realms of fantasies, dreams, thoughts and ideas (sangai, triloka). He is the universal sovereign.

It is by means of the Dharma that he teaches and transforms the lives of all sentient beings, with his army of wise people who are correct in every way. He wages war on the demons that control the five aggregates (go’on) that darken the awareness of our original enlightenment – which are our respective physical bodies, the ways we perceive existence outside us, our ways of thinking, our ways of acting which are influenced by our karma and the totality of how our minds work, the demons that control our troublesome worries (bonnō, klesha), and the demons that cause our anxieties about death.

These wise people who are correct in every way distinguish themselves with great merits, by annihilating the three poisons of greed, anger, and stupidity, and with a release from the triple dimension (as mentioned above), as well as the entanglements that negative forces use to ensnare us, so that when the Tathāgata sees these merits he is also overjoyed.

The Buddha is also overjoyed with the Dharma Flower Sutra (Hokke-kyō), which is capable of leading sentient beings towards the wisdom of those who exert themselves to attain the highest stage of the teachings of the individual vehicle through listening to the Buddha (shōmon, shrāvaka) (who are the intellectuals of today), as well as the people who have affinities with the a profound search for meaning of life (issai chi).

This sutra has numerous adversaries, as well as being more difficult to hold faith in than the sutras I have expounded previously. In addition, this sutra has never been explained before, Mañjushrī (Monjushiri). This particular sutra is the foremost out of all those I have already expounded. It is the most profound and therefore is the final reward, just in the same way as the powerful sovereign whose chariot wheels roll everywhere without hindrance (tenrinnō, chakravartin), who had kept the pearl in the topknot of his hair for so long now, gives it away as a reward.

Mañjushrī (Monjushiri), this Dharma Flower Sutra (Hokke-kyō) is the enduring, esoteric content of the wisdom of all the Buddha Tathāgatas. Out of all the sutras, this is the most authoritative, preeminent sutra which has been safeguarded throughout the long night of the ages and is never expounded without due consideration.

Starting with today, I finally disclose it for you.

The World Honoured One, wishing to reiterate the meaning of what he had expounded, expressed it in the form of a metric hymn.

Those who practise patience and forgiveness
have pity for all sentient beings
and can expound this sutra
that is praised by the Buddhas.
Those who are capable
of holding to this sutra
in the final ages,
whether they are still with their family
or have left home
to lead the life of an ascetic,
or those who are not yet bodhisattvas,
must give rise to mercy
and benevolence.
For those who do not listen to
or do not hold faith in this sutra,
it becomes a total loss.
On attaining to the path
of Buddhahood,
I expound this Dharma
through various expedient means,
in order that those who hold faith in it
remain within its bounds.
For instance,
there was a powerful sovereign
whose chariot wheels roll everywhere
without hindrance (tenrinnō, chakravartin),
whose warriors
distinguished themselves in combat.
He offered them rewards,
such as elephants, horses, chariots,
along with various estates and buildings,
villages and towns;
or he even gave his warriors
clothing, or various precious jewels,
slaves, and other material assets –
all with which he rewards them, with joy.
If there is
an astoundingly valiant warrior
who was capable
of difficult exploits,
he rewards this hero with the bright pearl
that is in the topknot of this king’s hair.
It is exactly the same
with the Tathāgata,
who is the sovereign of all dharmas (i.e., the Utterness of the Dharma (Myōhō, Saddharma))
and whose powers of patience
are all-embracing,
as well as being the receptacle
of his wealth of wisdom.
By means of his loving-kindness
which is as vast as the Dharma,
he converts, through his instruction,
the world that is immersed
in the cycles of mortality.
Since the Buddha perceives all humankind
as a container of hardships
and worries,
he aims at their release
and deliverance from them,
by waging war
on those cruel and destructive forces
that bring such troubles about.
For the benefit of sentient beings,
he expounds the various facets
of the Dharma,
by using expedient means
that allude to the entirety
of the Dharma.
He expounded the sutra,
by being aware
that sentient beings
have acquired sufficient strength.
He finally explains
the Dharma Flower Sutra (Hokke-kyō) to them,
in the same way
as the powerful sovereign
unties the topknot on his head,
in order to make a gift
of the rarest of pearls.
This particular sutra is numinous
and to be venerated (since it contains the wisdom of what existence is about),
and is the consummate sutra
out of all the others.
I have always held on to it
and not unwisely revealed it
until now, which is the right moment
for explaining it to you.
After my extinction into nirvana,
for those who seek the path of Buddhahood,
that also wish to attain it
in peace and tranquillity
I have expounded this sutra,
so that they may personally
get to know these four approaches
to the path of Buddhahood.
Those who read this sutra
will never have troubles or depression,
nor even sickness nor pain.
Neither will such people
be born in poverty,
base, lowly, ugly, and squalid.
But they will have clear and fresh complexions,
and people will be pleased to meet them,
with the same eagerness
due to sages and saints.
All the celestial protective forces
will be at their service.
Blades and sticks will not harm them,
and poisons will have no effect.
Those people who would insult
and abuse them
will have their mouths stopped up.
The people who read this sutra
will go without fear
wherever they wish,
just like the brightness of the sun.
Even in such person's dreams,
they will only see what is sublime.
Also, they will see
all the Tathāgatas
seated upon their lion thrones,
surrounded by their assemblies of monks,
expounding the Dharma to them.
They will also see deva (ten) and dragons (ryū, nāga),
as well as titanic shura (ashura),
as many as there are grains of sand
in the Ganges,
who all have their palms together
in reverence.
Thereupon they will see themselves
explaining the Dharma to them.
Furthermore, they will see all the Buddhas,
with their bodies and features
all gold in colour,
emitting uncountable rays of light
that shine upon all beings and things,
and with their Brahmanical voices
expounding all the Dharma (i.e., the Utterness of the Dharma (Myōhō, Saddharma)).
The Buddhas expound,
for the four congregations
of monks, nuns,
male and female practitioners,
the Dharma that has no superior (Nam Myōhō Renge Kyō),
with the palms of their hands pressed together
in praise of the Buddha,
and listening to the Dharma with joy,
as well as making offerings
to the Tathāgata,
when they receive dhāranī (which are very often understood as the quintessence of a sutra rather like a mantra in Brahmanism; a deep power being said to be embodied in these syllables, which very often have no verbal or literal meaning),
which bear witness to their
wisdom that does not regress.
The Buddha knows that their minds
are profoundly entered
upon the Buddha path,
and that they will receive the announcement
of their attainment
to the supreme and correct enlightenment.
The Buddha will say,
“Believing and convinced practitioner,
in an age to come,
you will become boundlessly wise
upon the all-embracing path
of the Buddha.
The terrain upon which you will depend
for an existence
will be ornate, pure,
and vast beyond comparison.
Also, the four congregations
of monks, nuns,
male and female practitioners
will listen to the Dharma,
with the palms of their hands pressed together.”
Again, those people who read this sutra
will see themselves residing
in the mountains or forests,
practising the correct Dharma,
in order to experience
the real aspect of all dharmas,
deep in concentration
on the single object
of their meditation,
as well as seeing
the Buddhas of the ten directions.
The bodies of these Buddhas
are gold in colour,
adorned with a hundred
auspicious bodily features.
They have listened to the Dharma,
which they now explain for other people.
And those who read this sutra
will constantly have such beautiful dreams.
Otherwise, they dream
that they are a sovereign king
who abandons his palace and courtiers,
as well as the five most subtle desires (for 1) property and wealth, 2) sexual love, 3) eating and drinking, 4) renown, 5) sleep),
and goes straight to the place
of enlightenment
under the bodhi tree,
where he seats himself
on the lion throne
and seeks the path
for more than seven days,
when finally he attains
all the wisdom of a Buddha.
Having realised the highest path,
he then gets up and sets in motion
the wheel of the Dharma,
in order to expound it
for the four congregations
of monks, nuns, and lay followers
both male and female.
For myriads of myriads
of myriads of kalpas,
the Buddhas have expounded the Dharma,
free of troublesome worries (bonnō, klesha),
in order to ferry
countless sentient beings
from the shores of living and dying
to the shore of nirvana.
Afterwards, the Buddha must enter
into the extinction of nirvana,
in the same way as smoke dissipates
and lamps go out.
If in iniquitous ages,
someone expounds
this primordial Dharma (Nam Myōhō Renge Kyō),
such a person will have
enormous benefits
like the merits described above.

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