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The Dharma Flower Sutra seen through the Oral Transmission of Nichiren Daishōnin:The Sixteenth Chapter on the Lifespan of the Tathāgata

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


The first important point, with regard to the Sixteenth Chapter on the Lifespan of the Tathāgata, Nam Myōhō Renge Kyō.

In the Textual Explanation of the Dharma Flower Sutra (Hokke Mongu), it says that the term Tathāgata (which is one of the epithets of the Buddhas and means one who has arrived from the absolute essence that underlies all existence (shinnyo, tathatā) and returns to it after the expiry of his practice in the phenomenal world) is a general title for all the Buddhas of the past, present, and future – the two Buddhas that consist of his apparent physical body (ōjin, nirmāna-kāya) and his Dharma entity (hōshin, Dharma-kāya); the triple entities of the Buddha which are made up of his Dharma entity (hōshin, Dharma-kāya), the entity of his reward or wisdom (hōshin, sambhoga-kāya), and his manifestations to save all sentient beings (ōjin, nirmāna-kāya); the Buddha of the original archetypal teachings (honbutsu) or the Buddha teachings derived from Shākyamuni’s life and work to save humankind (shakubutsu). In particular, Tathāgata is the title of the three Buddha entities – (1) hōshin, Dharma-kāya), (2) hōshin, sambhoga-kāya), (3) ōjin, nirmāna-kāya) of the Buddha of the original archetypal state.

The Oral Transmission on the Meaning of the Dharma Flower Sutra (Ongi Kuden) says that the theme and title of this chapter is the all-embracing significance of the person of Nichiren. This is also expressed in the Twenty-first Chapter on the Reaches of the Mind of the Tathāgata (in the passage where the Bodhisattva Superior Practice (Jōgyō, Vishishtachāritra), along with other bodhisattvas who had swarmed up from the earth, was entrusted with the mission of propagating the Dharma Flower Sutra (Hokke-kyō) after the Buddha’s extinction into nirvana, during the final period of the Dharma of Shākyamuni (mappō)).

This particular passage runs: “Coming to the main point, the totality of the Dharma in the possession of the Tathāgata, the whole of the independently free reaches of the mind of the Tathāgata (which is entirely free from any resistance, also entirely free from any psychological impediments), the whole of the essential esoteric store of the Tathāgata, and the whole of the extremely profound undertakings that the Tathāgata puts into practice are all declared, revealed, made manifest, and discussed in this sutra.”

The Universal Teacher Tendai (T’ien T’ai) refers to this text as the “Binding of the Essentials of (the Dharma Flower Sutra (Hokke-kyō)) for entrusting it (to Jōgyō)”.

The word Tathāgata (nyorai) was one of the ten titles of Shākyamuni. Generally speaking, this title also applies to all the Buddhas of the past, present, and future of all the ten directions (north, south, east, west, northeast, northwest, southeast, and southwest, as well as above and below). In particular, this title applies to the triple entity – (1) hōshin, Dharma-kāya), (2) hōshin, sambhoga-kāya), (3) ōjin, nirmāna-kāya) – of the Buddha of the original archetypal state, who is eternally endowed with these three embodiments which neither come into being nor cease to exist.

Now Nichiren and those that follow him understand that the title Tathāgata (nyorai) is generally applicable to all sentient beings. In particular, it refers to Nichiren and his disciples (in the sense that all the people who follow Nichiren’s practices have already opened up their inherent Buddha nature, with their persons just as they are).

Therefore, the triple entity, which has never come into being and will never cease to exist, is in fact the practitioner of the Dharma Flower Sutra (Hokke-kyō) during the final period of the Dharma of Shākyamuni (i.e., Nichiren). (The triple entity refers to the following: 1) (hōshin, Dharma-kāya) the entity of the Dharma, which is the highest aspect of the Buddha, is the absolute nature of the Buddha mind which defies all description, is unmanifested, and is relativity (, shūnyatā) itself; 2) (hōshin, sambhoga-kāya) the entity of wisdom whereby one may fully understand the ultimate Dharma, the entity of the wisdom of the Buddha; 3) (ōjin, nirmana-kāya) the physical or manifest form which the Buddha uses to appear in the world, in order to save sentient beings, which have never come into being and will never cease to exist.)

The honorific title of this threefold entity that has never come into being and will never cease to exist 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).

This Chapter on the Lifespan of the Tathāgata implies the threefold all-embracing, esoteric Dharma – (1) the Fundamental Object of Veneration (gohonzon) that belongs to the teachings of the original archetypal state (honmon no honzon), 2) the title and theme that is the invocation of the wisdom of Nichiren Daishōnin as the Buddha of the original archetypal terrain (honmon no daimoku), and 3) the dais of the precept of the teachings of the original archetypal state (honmon no kaidan).

Setting up the six stages of the path to enlightenment in a row ((rokusoku), they are 1) the realisation that all existence is endowed with the Buddha nature which is life itself (risoku), 2) on realising this fact and learning the title and theme (daimoku) and that those who hold faith in it and begin to practise are potentially enlightened (myōjisoku), 3) the stage when people discover through their practice that the Buddha truth is in all existence and they themselves are no longer in contradiction with it (kangyōsoku), 4) the stage beyond which is the elimination of the first three stages and the arrival at a partial understanding of the Buddha truth (sojisoku); 5) the practitioners discriminate the truth as they progress; also they discover experiential proofs and a partial enlightenment (bunshin soku); 6) the final stage of enlightenment in which the practitioners become free of their fundamental unenlightenment and reveal their inherent Buddha nature (kukyōsoku).)

Now, on setting these six stages of practice in their sequence and trying to match them with the concept of the Tathāgata (nyorai), then the Tathāgata (nyorai), in this Chapter on the Lifespan, is an ordinary individual who realises that his whole existence is endowed with the Buddha nature (risoku no bonpu).

Then, on reverently taking Nam Myōhō Renge Kyō into our heads, we arrive at the stage of the comprehension of the title and theme (myōjisoku). Therefore, when we have listened to it with reverence and on our recitation of this title and theme (daimoku), we enter into the next stage of looking at the Fundamental Object of Veneration (gohonzon) of the one instant of thought containing three thousand existential spaces, as well as doing the necessary practices (kangyōsoku). In this way, we subjugate the hindrances that obstruct our lives and arrive at the stage where we have an understanding of the Buddha truth (kukyōsoku).

Generally speaking, the object of overcoming the hindrances that inhibit our lives is not the ultimate significance of the Chapter on the Lifespan. However, you should understand that the conclusive significance (gokuri) of this Chapter on the Lifespan of the Tathāgata is that the actuality (tōtai) of ordinary people, just as they are in their usual states of being, is the whereabouts of the realms of dharmas that they inhabit whose underlying white lotus flower-like mechanism of the interdependence of cause, concomitancy and effect permeates the entirety of existence (Myōhō Renge Kyō).

When we ask, “What does this threefold entity that has always existed and will never cease to exist do?”, then the reply is Nam Myōhō Renge Kyō, which implies devoting its life to and founding it on 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 in its whereabouts of the realms of dharmas.


At that time, the Buddha said to all the bodhisattvas as well as the vast assembly, “All you believing and convinced people must believe and comprehend the sincere and truthful discourses of the Tathāgata (nyorai).”

Again the Buddha said to the vast assembly, “You must believe and comprehend the sincere and truthful discourses of the Tathāgata (nyorai).”

Then again he said to the vast assembly, “You must believe and comprehend the sincere and truthful discourses of the Tathāgata (nyorai).”

Then the Bodhisattva Maitreya (Miroku) who was at the head of the vast assembly put the palms of his hands together and said to the Buddha, “Our only wish is that you explain this matter, and we do accept with faith the discourses of the Buddha.”

In the same way, they all said the same thing three times over.

Then they said again, “Our only wish is that you explain this matter, and we do accept with faith the discourses of the Buddha.”

Thereupon the Buddha, knowing that this thrice over request of the bodhisattvas would not stop there, then addressed them, saying: Listen carefully to what I have to say about the esoterically hidden reaches of the mind of the Tathāgata (nyorai himitsu shinzū shi riki).


The second important point, on the sentence in the sutric text, “Listen carefully to what I have to say about the esoterically hidden reaches of the mind of the Tathāgata.”

The Oral Transmission on the Meaning of the Dharma Flower Sutra (Ongi Kuden) says that this sentence supports the mental image of the threefold entity of the original archetypal Buddhahood that has, at no time, ever come into being and will never cease to exist. However, there are a number of other transmissions with regard to this passage. The reaches of the mind are entirely how we sentient beings behave from one instant to the next (and whatever our states of mind are at the time when they occur). All this is said to be the reaches of the mind. Even the commotions of the voices of the warders of hell chastising wrongdoers are also the reaches of the mind.

Everything that comes into being and lasts as long as it does, then falls apart at the seams and finally ceases to exist altogether, are all the workings of the intrinsic and fundamental nature of all dharmas, as well as being the real entity of the reaches of the mind. Now, what is in the minds of Nichiren and those that follow him, with regard to opening up the awareness of our inherent Buddha nature with our persons just as they are, is said to be the esoterically hidden reaches of the mind of the Tathāgata (within us). Apart from the attainment of Buddhahood (in the sense of opening up our inherent Buddha nature with our persons just as they are), there are neither these powers which cannot be known by ordinary people (jinszū, abhijña), nor are there any esoterically hidden secrets.

In order to attain a substantiation of this threefold entity of the original archetypal Buddhahood, which has never come into being nor will ever cease to exist (existence exists eternally), then the single word faith is needed (in order to be fully alive). In the present chapter of the Dharma Flower Sutra (Hokke-kyō), it says, “We do accept with faith the discourses of the Buddha.” So we should stop and think about the meaning of this expression of “accepting with faith”.


In all the realms of existence inhabited by the deva (ten), humankind, or the shura (ashura) (who are like the titans of Greek mythology or the giants in Northern European folklore), all think that the present Shākyamuni left the palace of the Shakya clan, then went not far from the town of Gāya (today’s Buddhagāya), and sat in the place of realisation of the Buddha path (i.e., under the bodhi tree) and attained the unexcelled, correct, and all-embracing enlightenment (anokutara sanmyaku sanbodai, anuttara-samyak-sambodhi). But, believing and convinced people, ever since I really became a Buddha, already an innumerable infinity of hundreds of thousands of myriads of myriads of myriads of kalpas have gone by.


The third important point, on the above passage where Shākyamuni says, “Since I really became a Buddha, already innumerable, infinite hundreds of thousands of myriads of myriads of myriads of kalpas have gone by.”

The Oral Transmission on the Meaning of the Dharma Flower Sutra (Ongi Kuden) says that the words “I really” mean that Shākyamuni really became enlightened at a time in the depths of our minds which, in the India of Shākyamuni, was expressed as the amount of granules that would be left over if someone were to grind five hundred universes, from their origins to their extinction, into powder (the ever-present infinite in time (kuon ganjo) – clocks move; astronomical entities move; but time stays where it is and existence exists eternally). Nevertheless, the significance of this present chapter is that the word “I” comprises each and every aspect of ourselves including the Buddha realm, throughout the ten (psychological) realms of dharmas.

(These ten (psychological) realms of dharmas are 1) people who are suffering in the sense that they are the denizens of the infinite numbers of hells and purgatories (jigokukai); 2) the craving of people who are enslaved by some new drug or old poison, or a schoolchild asking his or her parents for more pocket money (gakikai); 3) and, since we are mammals, we have all the requirements of our inherent animality (chikushōkai); 4) the element inside us that wants to be the centre of attention; the spoiled child in us that, when it doesn’t get what it wants, gets furiously angry (shurakai); 5) the part of us that says, in spite of previously mentioned psychological dimensions in our heads, everything is okay, i.e., ordinary human equanimity (jinkai); 6) the provisional joys and ecstasies we may have, that always come to an end (tenkai); 7) this mental wavelength starts with children asking “why?” and “what?”; it’s our innate curiosity of wanting to know (shōmonkai); 8) people who are partially enlightened due to a profound search for the meaning of existence (engakukai, pratyekabuddha); 9) the aspect of our personalities that wants to do something for other people or help them towards enlightenment (bosatsukai); 10) finally, the infinitely rarest of people who have attained complete enlightenment, who are full of compassion for all sentient beings and are aware that they themselves are Nam Myōhō Renge Kyō (bukkai). All of these ten (psychological) realms of dharmas are present all the time in every individual’s psychological makeup.)

This is the whole content of the word “I” that the Buddha used in this particular phrase.

The word “really” or the expression “in reality” implies that Buddhahood is fully endowed with its threefold entity, which has neither come into being nor will ever cease to exist. This is decidedly referred to as a reality. The word “became” refers to becoming what one has become. Also, the word “become” in the expression “becoming a Buddha” has the nuance of “opening up”. This means to open up an awareness that each one of the psychological potentialities of the ten (psychological) realms of dharmas mentioned above is endowed with the threefold entity of Buddhahood, that has never at any point come into existence nor will ever cease to exist. The word Buddha entails someone who fully knows and is aware of this fact.

(With regard to the words “ever since”, the word “ever”, as it is defined in the Oxford Dictionary, indicates that “ever” refers to the period “since”, which, in this particular passage indicates the past until now. However, we live in the progressively present now; “now” is always on the move and points towards the future.)

This calls attention to the hundred realms of dharmas (hyakkai), the thousand ways dharmas make themselves present to any of our six organs of sense (nyoze), which all amount to the three thousand existential realms (seken) that are existent in every single instant of our lives. The two words “hundred” and “thousand” are to be taken as the hundred realms of dharmas (hyakkai) and the thousand ways in which dharmas make themselves present to any of our six organs of sense (nyoze) which again allude to the one instant of thought containing three thousand existential spaces (ichinen sanzen), in pragmatic terms (the Fundamental Object of Veneration (gohonzon)).

Now, Nichiren and those that follow him are people who reverently recite Nam Myōhō Renge Kyō, which 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 makes Nichiren and his followers the real teachers (honshū) of the Chapter on the Lifespan of the Tathāgata.

Generally speaking, those bodhisattvas who were converted through the teaching derived from the external events of Buddha Shākyamuni’s life and work should never undertake to deal with this chapter. The people who follow such doctrines emphasize the outward events of Shākyamuni’s life and work, as well as reading this sutra according to its prosaic, literal interpretation, whereby the teachings of the original archetypal state are relegated to the distance in the background. On the other hand, Nichiren and those that follow him give priority to the teachings of the original archetypal state, as well as reading this sutra according to the meaning within the text (montei) and leaving the events of Shākyamuni’s life and work in the undersurface.

In any case, this chapter, such as it is, is not the essential Dharma for the end period of the Dharma of Shākyamuni (mappō). This chapter as it stands represents the Buddha teaching for the salvation of those who, in former lives, have accumulated sufficient merits to attain salvation through the teaching of Shākyamuni (i.e., the Buddha teaching of the harvest). But only the five ideograms for Myōhō Renge Kyō, which is the title and theme of this sutra, constitute the Buddha teaching of sowing the seeds of enlightenment in the lives of those who had never received them in the past and is the right teaching for the present time.

However, the Buddha teaching of the accumulation of merits (the Buddha teaching of the harvest) was for those who were in the realms of existence during the lifetime of Shākyamuni. But, after his extinction into nirvana (including his Dharma), it is the Buddha teaching in which the seeds of enlightenment are sown. That is the doctrine called for in the final period of the Dharma of Shākyamuni (mappō), (the reason being that Nam Myōhō Renge Kyō is the realisation and wisdom of all the Buddhas, as well as the unifying formula for all existence).


If, for example, there were a person who was to reduce to powder five thousands of myriads of myriads of myriads of times the amount of infinite three thousand great thousands of dimensions of existence, then going in an easterly direction beyond five hundred thousands of myriads of myriads of myriads of existential terrains, this person were to put down a grain of powder, from all these ground up dimensions of existence, then this person were to continue in the same way going in an easterly direction until all the grains of powder were finished, all you believing and convinced people, what do you think? Can you not speculate on, or figure out, or even know the number of all these dimensions of existence?

(This “five thousands of myriads of myriads of myriads of times the amount of infinite three thousand great thousands of dimensions of existence” is one of the cosmic systems in ancient Indian cosmology. Each realm of existence consists of a Mount Sumeru with all its surrounding chains of mountains, a sun and a moon, along with other heavenly bodies. Each realm of existence reaches upwards as far as the psychological limit where form still exists and extends downwards as far as the circle of winds which is the base of a realm of existence. A thousand of these realms of existence are one minor cosmic system and a thousand of these minor systems become one middle-sized cosmic system. Five thousand of these middle-sized systems become a great thousand of dimensions of existence.)

The Bodhisattva Maitreya (Miroku) and all those that were with him addressed the Buddha, saying, “World Honoured One, all these dimensions of existence are innumerable and infinite. No one can know their number through calculation, and no strength of mind can reach it.”

Even all those 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), as well as all those people who are partially enlightened due to a profound search for the meaning of life (hyakushibutsu, pratyekabuddha), with the help of their wisdom, free from any taint of troublesome worries (murochi, anāsrava-jñāna), cannot conceive or know their number. We, who are already entrenched in the terrain of never turning back, cannot have access to such a concept. World Honoured One, such dimensions of existence are innumerable and infinite.

Then the Buddha said to the enormous assembly of bodhisattvas: All you believing and convinced people, I will now tell you in all transparency that if someone were to reduce to powder the totality of all those realms of existence that had been passed and had had a grain of powder placed after them – including all those realms that had not received a granule of this powder, each grain being a kalpa – then, ever since I realised the state of Buddhahood, it would be more than hundreds of thousands of myriads of myriads of myriads of myriads of myriads of kalpas ago.

Since then, I have always been in this Dimension that has to be Endured (shaba sekai, sahā-lokadhātu), expounding the Dharma, teaching and converting. Or else, I have been in hundreds of thousands of myriads of myriads of myriads of myriads of other places where sentient beings live and have been guiding them for their benefit.

All you believing and convinced people, during this interval, I have discussed the Buddha Burning Lamp (Nentōbutsu, Dipamkara Buddha) and others, as well as their entry into extinction of nirvana. In this way, I have discerned and picked out such events and personages as an expedient means.

All you believing and convinced people, if there are sentient beings who come to the place where I am, it is with my eyes of a Buddha that I can look into their faith and the alertness or bluntness of all their abilities, as well as considering how I am to ferry them across the seas of living and dying to the shore of nirvana. I present myself in various places, under different names, for varied lengths of time. Furthermore, I reveal to them by saying that I have to enter into the extinction of nirvana. Also, through various kinds of expedient means, I explain what the subtle Utterness of the Dharma (Myōhō, Saddharma) is concerned with, in order to make the minds of sentient beings happy.

All you believing and convinced people, when the Tathāgata sees sentient beings with scanty merit and layers of uncleanliness taking pleasure in petty dharmas, then I explain to them: When I was young, I left home in order to take up the ascetic way of life and thereby attained the unexcelled, correct, and all-embracing enlightenment (anokutara sanmyaku sanbodai, anuttara-samyak-sambodhi).

Now, ever since I really became enlightened was in the eternity that is the ever-present infinity in time (and the fundamental of all existence). (When I said that I attained the state of Buddhahood in Buddhagāya it was) only as an expedient means, so as to teach and convert people and make them enter onto the path of Buddhahood. Therefore, I teach them in this way.

All you convinced and believing people, the sutras that are expounded by the Tathāgata, in which either I talk about my own person or talk about somebody else, or either I refer to my own person or I designate someone else, or I discuss my own conduct or else I discuss the conduct of another person, are all for the emancipation of sentient beings, as well as to ferry them from the shores of living and dying to the shore of nirvana.

All that the Buddha says is the truth and never baseless. Why is this so? The Tathāgata has the wisdom to perceive the phases of the threefold existential space (sangai) (1) where sentient beings have appetites and desires, 2) which are incarnated in a subjective materiality with physical surroundings, 3) who, at the same time, are endowed with the immateriality of the realms of fantasies, thoughts, dreams, and ideas) as they really are (so that, although being born and having to die are painful experiences, they are in fact the way the Dharma (existence) works and have no inherent properties or particular dispositions of their own). The Buddhas have the wisdom to see existence in terms of a perfect understanding of the one instant of thought containing three thousand existential spaces, as they undergo the conditioning of the interdependence of cause, concomitancy and effect. In other words, the Buddhas are capable of seeing existence from the point of view of its own intrinsicality.


The fourth important point, on the passage, “The Tathāgata has the wisdom to perceive the phases of the threefold existential space (sangai)” (1) where sentient beings have appetites and desires, 2) which are incarnated in a subjective materiality with physical surroundings, 3) who, at the same time, are endowed with the immateriality of the the realms of fantasies, thoughts, dreams, and ideas) “as they really are” (so that, although being born and having to die are painful experiences, they are in fact the way the Dharma (existence) works and have no inherent properties or particular dispositions of their own).

The Oral Transmission on the Meaning of the Dharma Flower Sutra (Ongi Kuden) says that the Tathāgata (nyorai) (which is one of the ten titles of a Buddha) means, one who has arrived thus at the absolute reality which transcends the multitude of phenomena and noumena of the dimension we inhabit. This absolute reality is understood as the entity of the Dharma (hosshin) and cannot be expressed in words by ordinary people. It is the realm of Buddhahood of the sentient beings who live in the threefold existential space (sangai) (1) where sentient beings have appetites and desires, 2) which are incarnated in a subjective materiality with physical surroundings, 3) who, at the same time, are endowed with the immateriality of the realms of fantasies, thoughts, dreams, and ideas).

However, when we look at all sentient beings from the viewpoint of the Chapter on the Lifespan of the Tathāgata, we see and realise that all sentient beings are fundamentally and eternally in possession of the ten (psychological) realms of dharmas – (1) hells (jigokukai), 2) hungry ghosts (gakikai), 3) animality (chikushōkai), 4) power complexes (shurakai), 5) human equanimity (ninkai), 6) ecstasy (tenkai), 7) intellectual search (shōmonkai), 8) partial enlightenment (engakukai, pratyekabuddha), 9) bodhisattvas (bosatsukai), and 10) Buddhahood (bukkai)).

The phases of the threefold existential space are birth and growing up (shō), maturity and old age (rō), sickness and decline (byō), and the finality of death (shi). But, if we look at the cycles of living and dying (shoji) as they really are, they are the way existence works, which has no inherent properties of its own. So, if the cycles of living and dying do not exist except as an illusion of karma, then they cannot be compared to emerging into existence or receding from it. But, at the same time, we cannot say that the cycles of living and dying just don’t exist.

To look upon the cycles of living and dying with dislike and to try and avoid them is a pointless delusion and a mental outlook of the enlightenment of the historical Shākyamuni in Buddhagāya, which, in this case, entails all the provisional doctrines (shikaku), as opposed to the Buddha enlightenment of the original archetypal state. Having the wisdom to see the cycles of living and dying as they have always existed and will always exist is an innate awakening to what the original archetypal enlightenment implies (hongaku).

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). In this way, they become fundamentally aware that the cycles of living and dying, inherent throughout existence, are simply coming forth into an incarnation or receding from one.

Also, The Oral Transmission on the Meaning of the Dharma Flower Sutra (Ongi Kuden) states that nonexistence (mu) and existing (u), living and dying, as well as coming forth into an incarnation or receding from one or even as Buddhas, are present in the dimensions of humankind or their demise into the extinction of nirvana and are all the functions of the eternal and inherent nature of existence or nonexistence (mu) (in the sense that it has all the implications of relativity (, shūnyatā)). This is none other than the behaviour of the Dharma realm and at the same time Myōhō Renge Kyō, which are the realms of dharmas whose underlying white lotus flower-like mechanism of the interdependence of cause, concomitancy and effect permeates the entirety of existence. Existence (u) implies all kinds of sufferings, just as they are in their stark reality of the eternally existing ten (psychological) realms of dharmas (or the dimensions where phenomena and noumena occur), which is the consistency of the whole of existence (Myōhō).

Life is when and where the Utterness of the Dharma (Myōhō, Saddharma) is alive (in the sense that we live all space and time, simultaneously and without effort) according to all the various karmic circumstances that bring about that particular life. As for death, when it is understood in terms of the Chapter on the Lifespan of the Tathāgata, it is the entity of the Dharma and, at the same time, the fundamental essence of existence (shinnyo, bhūtatathatā) (which is the absolute reality that transcends the multitude of phenomena and noumena in our perceptions of existence and is seen as being identical with the entity of the Dharma (hosshin) which cannot be expressed in words or even conceived by ordinary people such as us. Here shinnyo or bhūtatathatā is understood as the underlying reality upon which all phenomenal and noumenal existence depend).

Because there have to be withdrawals from our respective incarnations, there is also the demise of the Buddhas into the extinction of nirvana. Also, there have to be births into our respective incarnations, there are also Buddhas who come into existence in the dimensions of humankind. Therefore, from the viewpoint of the unobstructed accommodation of materiality and form (ke), relativity (, shūnyatā), and the combination of the two which is the middle way of reality (chūdō jissō), the extinctions of the Buddhas into nirvana are all relativity (, shūnyatā).

But then, existence, life, coming into our respective incarnations along with the Buddhas making their appearances in the dimensions of humankind, are all, according to this point of view, as in the previous paragraph, the aspect of materiality and form (ke). And, finally, the Tathāgata, who views existence as it really is, is the middle way of reality (chūdō). Nonexistence, death, withdrawal from our respective incarnations, and the extinction of the Buddhas into nirvana are the entity of the wisdom of the original Buddha who has always existed and will continue to exist in all eternity. Existence, life, coming into our respective incarnations, and the appearance of the Buddhas into the dimensions of humankind represent the way the original Buddha has eternally become manifest throughout the past and will manifest himself perpetually in the future. Finally, the Buddha, in the vision of existence as it really is in the Chapter on the Lifespan of the Tathāgata, is the entity of the Dharma, whose existence has always been and will always continue to be so.

These three entities are the embodiment of our own persons. One single body consists of these three aspects and is an esoteric concept, as well as these three aspects involving the singularity of our persons being a concept that is privately secret. As a result, the triple entity that exists throughout eternity is the Buddha of the actuality (tōtai) of the white lotus flower-like mechanism of cause, concomitancy and effect that pervades the entirety of existence and is the person of Nichiren along with his disciples and supporters, because they reverently hold to the title of Buddhahood (hōgō) which is Nam Myōhō Renge Kyō.


So, being born or having to die, or even withdrawing from our respective incarnations, or even being born into our incarnations do not really exist, let alone the appearances of the Buddhas in the dimensions of humankind or their demise into the extinction of nirvana. They are neither real, nor are they totally without foundation; nor are they as they seem to be; nor are they any different from what they seem. Nor does the Buddha see the threefold dimension where existence takes place (where 1) sentient beings have appetites and desires, 2) which are incarnated in a subjective materiality with physical surroundings, 3) who, at the same time, are endowed with the immateriality of the realms of fantasies, dreams, thoughts and ideas (sangai, triloka)) as this threefold dimension appears to be. (As Nichiren states, it is the oneness of the workings of existence (Dharma).)

With regard to these kinds of phenomena and noumena, the Tathāgata sees them with a clarity and understanding without any confusion or error. Because he distinguishes sentient beings as having various kinds of fundamental natures behind their appearances or the way they express themselves, he also sees them as having various kinds of desires and appetites, as well as natural tendencies and inclinations that are inherited from former lives, along with their different ways of thinking.

What the Buddha wants is for them to put down roots of goodness and merit. This implies an absence of greed, an absence of anger and hatred, and an absence of a fundamental ignorance. This he does by explaining various dharmas to them through various word pictures in which causes and concomitancies are pointed out, as well as parables and other forms of expression. The Buddha has never relented from his task, even for the shortest while.

Hence, ever since I attained the state of Buddhahood, it amounts to the eternally all-embracing ever-present infinite in time (kuon ganjo). My lifespan consists of astronomically innumerable myriads of myriads of myriads of kalpas, and I exist in an eternity that never expires.

All you believing and convinced people, since I practised the bodhisattva path in the archetypally original terrain of existence, my lifespan has not been exhausted. It will go on for twice the number of kalpas I have just mentioned.

But nevertheless, even though I have often said I am about to pass over to the extinction of nirvana, as yet I have never really done so. The Tathāgata teaches and converts sentient beings through expedient means.

Why is this so?

If the Buddha were to stay in the realms of existence forever, people with meagre good qualities would not put down roots of goodness and merit (which signifies an absence of greed, anger, and ignorance). Being ill-provided and low-lifers, they would attach themselves to the five desires for wealth, sex, eating and drinking, fame, and sleep. They would also fall into a net of views and thoughts that are deviant.


The fifth important point, on these last few lines: “If the Buddha were to stay in the realms of existence forever, people with meagre good qualities would not put down roots of goodness and merit (which signifies an absence of greed, anger and ignorance). Being ill-provided and low-lifers, they would attach themselves to the five desires for wealth, sex, eating and drinking, fame, and sleep. They would also fall into a net of views and thoughts that are deviant.”

The Oral Transmission on the Meaning of the Dharma Flower Sutra (Ongi Kuden) explains that, if the Buddha were to stay in the realms of existence forever, people with meagre good qualities would not put down roots of goodness and merit (which signifies an absence of greed, anger and ignorance). As a result, they would fall into a net of views and thoughts that are deviant.

The point in question is that these people with meagre good qualities are the sentient beings who could not assimilate the truth when the Buddha was in our realms of existence and now, after his demise into the extinction of nirvana, have been born here in this dimension of humankind. Such people are these who denigrate and belittle the ultimate teachings of the Buddha by following undeveloped and incomplete doctrines – such as the belief that the only way to attain enlightenment is to concentrate the mind on a precise point, so as to eliminate all delusions and reach an intuitive insight into the truth, i.e., Zen, or the school that meditates on the Buddha Amida (Amitābha) by reciting Namu Amida Butsu, i.e., Nembutsu, or the Mantra and Tantric esoteric School i.e., Shingon.

In the expression of “not putting down roots of goodness and merit”, the words “roots of goodness and merit” refer to the title and theme (daimoku) of the Dharma Flower Sutra (Hokke-kyō). The term “not having put down” or “plant” refers to those people who have yet to hold faith in this title and theme (daimoku).

The “views and thoughts” refer to the words of Hōnen who was the founder of the Pure Land School (Nembutsu), whose recommendation with regard to the Dharma Flower Sutra (Hokke-kyō) was “to throw it away, close it, ignore it, and think no more of it”, or even the declaration of Kobo Daishi, the founder of the Mantra and Tantric School (Shingon), which was to relegate the Dharma Flower Sutra (Hokke-kyō) to the third place among all the sutras. The word “deviant” takes on the meaning of the nonsensical prattle of the provisional teachings.

The wordviews” in this case should be understood as those that are deviant. For instance, to suppose that the Dharma Flower Sutra (Hokke-kyō), which is the foremost of all Buddha teachings, is actually only in the third place out of the whole of Buddhist literature is clearly an example of views that are deviant. Again, the words “into a net” refer to the individuals who disparage the Dharma and have no faith in it.

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). Such people are separated from those sutras that propound meaningless concepts, as well as being unaffiliated with those individuals who have fallen into a net of views that are deviant.


If sentient beings were to see the Tathāgata eternally present in the dimensions of existence, without ever passing into the extinction of nirvana, they would turn into egocentrics who would throw off all restraint, incapable of the thought of having any respect or reverence for such a difficult encounter. This is why the Tathāgata expounds in terms of expedient means, by saying: “Monks, you ought to know that, when the Buddhas come into the realms of existence, it is difficult to meet them.”

Why do I say this?

All these people with scant merits, even if they were to go through innumerable hundreds of thousands of myriads of myriads of myriads of myriads of kalpas, might experience seeing a Buddha or perhaps they might not. It is on this account that I continually say these words: “All you monks, it is difficult to get the chance of seeing the Tathāgata.”

Such sentient beings, on hearing these words, will indeed think that such an encounter is difficult. They will keep in their minds a craving and a yearning love to see the Buddha and thereby put down roots of goodness and merit (which signifies the absence of greed, anger, and ignorance). This is why the Tathāgata does not really pass into that extinction.

Furthermore, you convinced and believing people, the Dharma of all the Buddha Tathāgatas is always like this. They all have the goal of ferrying people from the shores of living and dying to the shore of nirvana, and all that they say is the truth and never in vain.

For example, the Buddha Tathāgatas are comparable to an excellent doctor who is wise, discerning, and who, with a keen understanding and prudence, puts together a medicine that would cure all illnesses. This doctor has many children; maybe there were ten, twenty, or even a hundred or so. Due to his affairs, he had to go away to a distant foreign country. After his departure, his children drank another herbal preparation. This vegetable remedy brought about painful convulsions, which made them writhe and roll about on the ground.


The sixth important point, on the passage above in the sutric text: “After his departure, his children drank another herbal preparation. This vegetable remedy brought about painful convulsions, which made them writhe and roll about on the ground.”

The Oral Transmission on the Meaning of the Dharma Flower Sutra (Ongi Kuden) says that the word “another” in this passage refers to those monks whose incomplete understanding of the Buddha teaching is a belittling distortion of it, such as those in the Pure Land School (Nembutsu) (whose practice is to invoke the Buddha Amida (Amitābha)), as well as the Zen School (whose essence is mental concentration in which the reasoning process is cut short, so that consciousness is heightened by the exclusion of extraneous thoughts, all except for an intuitive approach to enlightenment), along with the monks of the Mantra and Tantric School (Shingon) (whose practices are based on esoteric rites and the recitations of mantras, through which this School aspires to attain the state of Buddhahood).

The poisonous herbal preparation indicates the provisional teachings that are an expedient means. And since it produces painful convulsions, it is different from the good medicine of the Dharma Flower Sutra (Hokke-kyō).

Here in this context the wordpainful” means being unable to breathe properly and ultimately brings about death. This is because the practitioners are deprived of the life-giving strength that stems from this Chapter on the Lifespan of the Tathāgata, which is why the children writhe and roll about on the ground. In this text, the words “writhe and roll about” imply that they fall into the vicious confinement where suffering is incessant (abi-jigoku, avîchî). In the Textual Explanation of the Dharma Flower Sutra (Hokke Mongu), it alludes to the children drinking poison, which means to receive and hold faith in a Buddha teaching that is incomplete, that is taught by teachers who believe such doctrines, and means in fact to drink venom.

In this parable, all the children are those people whose understanding of the Buddha teaching is incomplete; hence they belittle and disparage the Dharma. Swallowing venom refers to those dharmas that are based solely on the Buddha Amida (Amitābha) or the Tathāgata Dainichi (Mahāvairochana).

Now, Nichiren and those that follow him reverently recite 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).


When the children’s father returned back home, it happened that, among all of the children, through having drunk the poisonous herbal concoction, some had lost the awareness that our real identity is life itself (honshin), whereas others had not.


The seventh important point, on the above short passage, “some had lost the awareness that our real identity is life itself (honshin), whereas others had not”.

The Oral Transmission on the Meaning of the Dharma Flower Sutra (Ongi Kuden) states that to lose the awareness that our real identity is life itself is a belittling derogation of the Dharma (hobo). The awareness that our real identity is life itself (honshin) refers to the seeds of enlightenment that eternally have been and will eternally be in the extreme innerness of the minds of sentient beings (geshu). Not to lose that identity implies those people who do the practice of the Dharma Flower Sutra (Hokke-kyō). To lose that awareness of our real identity being life itself means losing something that all sentient beings have done eternally.

Now, Nichiren and those that follow him reverently recite Nam Myōhō Renge Kyō which means to devote our lives to and found them on (Nam(u)) the Utterness of the Dharma (Myōhō) (entirety of existence) permeated by the underlying white lotus flower-like mechanism of the interdependence of cause, concomitancy and effect (Renge) in its whereabouts of the ten (psychological) realms of dharmas (Kyō). So they do not lose the awareness that our real identity is life itself (honshin).


Seeing their father in the distance, all of the children were filled with joy and welcomed him on their knees. They politely enquired after him, saying, “You have come back home safe and sound. But we have been stupid and mistakenly drunk a poisonous herbal concoction. We beg of you to save us by curing us, so that we can have a viable longevity.”

The father, on seeing how his children were anguished and suffering, researched all the canonical treatises and then looked for all the fine medicinal herbs that had excellent colour and fragrance and excellent taste, all of which were completely endowed with the necessary qualities. He pounded and sifted them together and then made his children swallow a draught of this potion.


The eight important point, on the sentence from the above sutric text: “He pounded and sifted them together and then made his children swallow a draught of this potion.”

The Oral Transmission on the Meaning of the Dharma Flower Sutra (Ongi Kuden) states that this sutric passage points to the three aspects of reality, which are 1) noumena and relativity (, shūnyatā), 2) materiality and physical appearance (ke), and 3) when the two of these aspects are combined together, they become the middle way of reality (chūdō), which is our usual perception of it; (For example, we see a chair much in the same way as a visual and tangible object, which is its physical appearance (ke); but, immediately on seeing the chair, all that we know about it and all our experience of chairs springs into our minds (, shūnyatā); however, when the two of these events happen concurrently, they become the middle way of reality (chūdō)).

Along with the three types of mental cultivation that will lead us to understanding what our lives are about (sangaku) – which are 1) personal restraint and moral values (kai), 2) perfect absorption of our minds into the one object of thought (jō), and 3) the power to discern the underlying principle of existence (Nam Myōhō Renge Kyō) and to be able to resolve doubts (e) – all of these are the sound and healthy medicine (rōyaku), whose colour, fragrance, and taste are excellent.

Here in this text, the verb “to pound” represents noumena and relativity (, shūnyatā). “To sift”, again in this text, suggests materiality and physical appearance (ke), and, again the word “together” in this context refers to the middle way (chūdō). “To give”, in this text, has the implication of handing down. The children are the people who do the practice of the Dharma Flower Sutra (Hokke-kyō), and “to swallow a draught” here means to accept and hold to (the Dharma Flower Sutra (Hokke-kyō)).

This all-embracing, excellent medicine, whose colour, fragrance, and taste are good, is fully endowed with utter fulfilment, along with the myriads of practices, the ten thousand virtues, as well as all the ten practices that carry the believer from these shores of living and dying to the shore of nirvana (pāramitā) – (1) charity (dāna), 2) moral conduct (shîla), 3) patience (kshānti), 4) resolution (vîrya), 5) concentration (dhyāna), 6) understanding (jñāna), 7) the use of expedient means (upāya), 8) vows for enlightenment and compassion (pranidhana), 9) strength of purpose (bala), 10) wisdom (prajñā). This all-embracing, excellent medicine is Nam Myōhō Renge Kyō.

The words “colour and fragrance” imply that there is not a single colour or a single fragrance that is not the middle way of our perception of reality. This concept also indicates that plants, trees, and the environment do open up their intrinsic Buddha nature. What this implies is that there is not a single dharma which is not covered by the five ideograms for the title and theme (or (daimoku), which is the whereabouts of the realms of dharmas whose underlying white lotus flower-like mechanism of the interdependence of cause, concomitancy and effect permeates the entirety of existence).

So those who swallow a draught of it have their sufferings and troubles quickly removed. Furthermore, on taking the all-embracing, excellent medicine of the Utterness of the Dharma (Myōhō, Saddharma), we can get rid of the afflictions of our troublesome worries (bonnō, klesha) that are brought about by our wanting things, inherent anger and the ignorance of not wanting to know what existence consists of (don, jin, chi).

The people who do the practice of reciting Nam Myōhō Renge Kyō do not accept offerings of those who disparage the Dharma and by such means are relieved of the malady of greedy wants. Again, these people who do the practice of the Dharma Flower Sutra (Hokke-kyō), through being reviled and having their feelings hurt, are exercising patience and forbearance. In this way, they free themselves from the sickness of anger and wrath.

The practitioners of the Dharma Flower Sutra (Hokke-kyō), who are people on the path of Buddhahood and whose determination is free from all doubt, know that by opening up their inherent Buddha nature, which is not separate from their respective personalities ((soku shinbutsu), they will be cured of the troublesome worries (bonnō, klesha) of the kind of ignorance of not knowing what existence is all about. As a result, this all-embracing, excellent medicine is the (honey dew) elixir for opening up our inherent Buddha nature, with our persons just as they are (soku shinbutsu), during the final episode of the Dharma of Shākyamuni (mappō).

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), whereby they become fundamentally the propagators of the all-embracing, excellent medicine.


Thereupon he said to them: “This all-embracing, excellent medicine, whose colour, fragrance, and fine taste are good, is endowed with everything all the way throughout. Now, you must take a draught of it, and you will be quickly rid of your troubles and suffering. Furthermore, you will have no more sicknesses.”

Among all the children who had not lost their real sense of identity or who liked the appearance of the colour and fragrance of this excellent medicine, some immediately took a draught of it. They found that their ailments had ceased, and they were completely restored.

The other children who had lost their fundamental identity (which is existence itself), on seeing their father arrive, seemed to be elated to see him and asked how he had fared abroad. They also begged him to treat their illness. But, when the father offered the herbal remedy he had made, the children did not want to take it, on account of the virulence of the poison having set in deeply, as well as their having lost their sense of identity.


The ninth important point, on the phrase in the above sutric text, “on account of the virulence of the poison having set in deeply, as well as their having lost their sense of identity”.

The Oral Transmission on the Meaning of the Dharma Flower Sutra (Ongi Kuden) says that the implications of the virulence of the poison having set in deeply refer to those people who are intensely and emotionally attached to the provisional teachings, which are a disparaging distortion of the Buddha truth. (This is because they were taught prior to the Dharma Flower Sutra (Hokke-kyō) and because these particular doctrines do not come up to the level of the Dharma Flower Sutra (Hokke-kyō) in either completeness or profundity.) This is why such people neither hold faith in nor accept the all-embracing, excellent medicine of the Dharma Flower Sutra (Hokke-kyō). Even if one were to give them a draught of it, they would vomit, because they do not think of it as being beneficial; also they find the taste unpleasant.

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). This makes Nichiren and his followers perceive that this all-embracing, excellent medicine is something that cannot be devoid of goodness.


Nor did they find this fragrantly good and delicious, excellent medicine very fine-tasting.

The thought then came into the father’s mind: “How unfortunate these children are! Due to the action of the poison, their minds are in a mess. Even though they were pleased to see me and asked me to extricate them from this poison and cure them right away, they did not want to take a draught of this good medicine. I must now invent an expedient means, in order to make them take this medicine.”

So he said to them: “I am now old and feeble, and the time has come for me to die. I will leave this good and excellent medicine here, so that you can take it. You must no longer be depressed about not being cured.”


The tenth important point, regarding the sutric passage, “I will leave this good and excellent medicine here, so that you can take it. You must no longer be depressed about not being cured.”

The Oral Transmission on the Meaning of the Dharma Flower Sutra (Ongi Kuden) says that this good and excellent medicine is the teaching of the sutra, or the relics left after the cremation of a Buddha or saintly person that are placed in a stupa and venerated. Now, in the present period of the final episode of the Dharma of Shākyamuni (mappō), this medicine becomes Nam Myōhō Renge Kyō. The word “good” in this sentence is the essential that is held in high esteem by all the Buddhas of the past, present, and future, which are the five ideograms for the theme and title of this sutra (Myōhō Renge Kyō).

I will now leave this (medicine) refers to the present time, which is the final phase of the Dharma of Shākyamuni (mappō), and the word “here” indicates the country of Japan, which is in the midst of the world of humankind. The word “you” implies all the sentient beings during the final episode of the Dharma of Shākyamuni (mappō). The verb “take it” means the ceremony we undergo when we accept to hold to the Dharma Flower Sutra (Hokke-kyō). The concept of taking a draught refers to the reverent recitation of the theme and title (daimoku), so that it becomes the triple entity of the original Buddha who has always existed and will continue to exist into eternity. In this way, we are cured of the illness of our attachment to the Buddha who was first enlightened under the bodhi tree in India three thousand years ago.

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).


Having left these instructions for his offspring, the father again departed for another country. Then he sent a message back to his homeland to tell his children, “Your father has died.”

When these children heard that their father had turned his back on them only to pass away, their minds were overtaken by a great distress and affliction. Thereupon they all thought that if their father were still alive he would console and pity them and would see to their protection. But now that he had abandoned them and died in a faraway country, the children saw themselves as orphans with nobody to trust in or depend on. They were continually filled with feelings of sadness.

Finally, they came out of their grief and fully realised that this medicine had a good colour, fragrance, and taste, after which they took a draught of it, and all the illnesses brought about by the poison were completely cured. Their father, on hearing that his children had been restored to health, then came home and presented himself to all of them.

All you believing and convinced people, what do you think? Could you say that this good doctor was guilty of some wily trick or could you not?

– No, World Honoured One.

The Buddha then said: It is the same with myself. Ever since I realised the state of Buddhahood (ji ga toku burrai), already uncountable, infinite hundreds of thousands of myriads of myriads of myriads of myriads of kalpas have gone by. For the sake of sentient beings, I use such expedient means as to announce that I shall enter into the extinction of nirvana. Moreover, by using these methods, there is nobody who can accuse me of using devious tricks.

There and then, the World Honoured One, wishing to reiterate the implications of what he had just said, expressed it in the form of a metric hymn.

Ever since I have realised
the state of Buddhahood (ji ga toku burrai) . . .


The eleventh important point, of the first lines of the well-known metric hymn: “Ever since I have realised the state of Buddhahood . . . .” (ji ga toku burrai).

The Oral Transmission on the Meaning of the Dharma Flower Sutra (Ongi Kuden) says that in this single phrase there is the theme of the triple entity of the Tathāgata. “Ever since” refers to the nine realms of dharmas of us ordinary people. The word “I” refers to the Dharma realm of the Buddha. This means that all these ten (psychological) realms of dharmas refer to the triple entity of the Buddhahood that has always existed in a past that is infinite and will continue to exist into eternity.

The words “ever since” and “I”, as well as “the state of Buddhahood that has been realised”, all point to the fundamental eternity of the ten (psychological) realms of dharmas (jikkai). The word “I” refers to the entity of the Dharma (hosshin, Dharma-kāya) (which is all space, all time, and the eternity of existence). The word Buddha (i.e., the enlightened one) entails the reward body (hōshin, sambhoga-kāya) of the Buddha (that is his all-embracing wisdom), and the verb “to realise” represents the entity of the Buddha that is incarnate and manifested (ōjin, nirmāna-kāya).

All three of these entities presuppose the archaic and fundamental realisation of Buddhahood that has neither a beginning nor an end. This makes us think of the passage, “the accumulation of unsurpassed treasures spontaneously falls into my hands without my ever looking for them” (from the Fourth Chapter on Faith Leading to Understanding – a phrase that implies that all living things and all non-sentient existence are endowed with the fundamental Buddha nature which can be opened up through practice). Hence, the revelation of the original Buddha enlightenment and its far distant and far-reaching lifespan has never been expounded in any of the other sutric teaching.

Now, Nichiren and those that follow him reverently recite Nam Myōhō Renge Kyō which means to devote our lives to and found them on (Nam(u)) the Utterness of the Dharma (Myōhō) (entirety of existence) permeated by the underlying white lotus flower-like mechanism of the interdependence of cause, concomitancy and effect (Renge) in its whereabouts of the ten (psychological) realms of dharmas (Kyō). And, in this way, the practitioners (open up the dimension that is within them that has all the implications of) “Ever since I realised the state of Buddhahood . . .”.


. . . . the vast numbers of kalpas
that have elapsed have been
uncountable hundreds of thousands
of myriads of myriads
of myriads of myriads,
during which I have always
expounded the Dharma,
in order to teach and convert
inestimable myriads
of myriads of myriads
of sentient beings,
so that they can enter
onto the path of Buddhahood.
Since then, these uncountable kalpas
have gone by.
With the intention
of inciting sentient beings
to cross over from the shores
of living and dying
to the shore of total extinction,
I revealed the existence
of nirvana to them
as an expedient means.
But, in actual fact,
I have not passed
into the extinction of nirvana.


The twelfth important point, on the lines in the above metric hymn: “With the intention of inciting sentient beings to cross over from the shores of living and dying to the shore of total extinction (nirvana), I revealed the existence of nirvana to them as an expedient means.”

The Oral Transmission on the Meaning of the Dharma Flower Sutra (Ongi Kuden) says that the origins of the Sutra on the Buddha’s Passing Over to the all-embracing Nirvana can be traced to the Dharma Flower Sutra (Hokke-kyō). That sutra is already alluded to as an expedient means.


I am always here present
to explain the Dharma.


The thirteenth important point, on the sentence of the above metric hymn, “I am always here present to explain the Dharma.”

The Oral Transmission on the Meaning of the Dharma Flower Sutra (Ongi Kuden) states that the words “here present” are the places where the practices of the Dharma Flower Sutra (Hokke-kyō) are situated. The word “here” indicates this Dimension that has to be Endured (shaba sekai, sahā-lokadhātu), which refers to the mountains, valleys, and open plains. This is what this text designates, when it is explaining the word “here”.

To explain and express the Dharma (in the sense of being alive) are the sounds and voices of all sentient beings, which is the wisdom that these beings use and have received from themselves that has existed since the beginningless past and will continue to exist into the infinite future. (This refers to the eternity of life and existence (honnu no jijūyūchi).)

Now that we have entered into the final phase of the Dharma of Shākyamuni (mappō), the Dharma to be expounded 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). At this present juncture, this is how Nichiren and those that follow him explain and express the Dharma.


I am always present here,
but, through the powers
of the reaches of my mind,
I try to incite sentient beings
whose thinking is topsy-turvy
to see and understand
that, even though I am nearby,
they do not see me.
The assembly verifies my passage
into the extinction of nirvana,
as well as making offerings
to my relics after my cremation.
They all have a mind
that is filled with adoration,
and, at the same time,
they miss and long for me,
holding faith in
and submitting themselves to my Dharma.
Their personalities
are then disentangled,
and their minds become meek and gentle.
Wholeheartedly they desire
to see the Buddha,
without having any pity
for their lives or destinies.
Then I and the assembly of monks
appear together
on Spirit Vulture Peak (Ryōjusen, Gridhrakūta).


The fourteenth important point, on the last lines in the above metric hymn, “Then I and the assembly of monks appear together on Spirit Vulture Peak (Ryōjusen, Gridhrakūta).”

The Oral Transmission on the Meaning of the Dharma Flower Sutra (Ongi Kuden) states that this passage means that the whole of the assembly on Spirit Vulture Peak (Ryōjusen, Gridhrakūta) continues with dignity and has not yet been disbanded. The word “then” in the lines implies the people’s response to the needs of the guidance of a Buddha, during this final phase of the Dharma of Shākyamuni. The word “I” implies the Shākyamuni of the eternal Buddhahood (which is the Dharma realm and the fundamental drive or urge for life and eternal existence within us). Again, in these lines the word “and” indicates the bodhisattvas, the assembly of those pure-hearted people who exert themselves to attain the highest stage of the teachings of the individual vehicle (shōmon, shrāvaka) (i.e., intellectual seekers), as well as those people who are partially enlightened due to a profound search for the meaning of existence (engaku, hyakushibutsu, pratyekabuddha).

In the same lines, the word “together” indicates the ten (psychological) realms of dharmas (jikkai). (These are 1) the sufferings of the hells (jigokukai), 2) the cravings and wanting of hungry ghosts (gakikai), 3) the limited possibilities of intelligence and instinctive qualities of animality (chikushōkai), 4) the extravagant behaviour and anger of the shura or titans (shurakai), 5) the ordinary level of human equanimity (jinkai), 6) the passing ecstasies of the deva (ten) and the fleeting quality of our personal joys (tenkai), 7) the various realms of the intellectual seekers (shōmonkai), 8) the psychological dimensions of people who are partially enlightened due to a profound search for the meaning of existence (engakukai, pratyekabuddha), 9) people who seek enlightenment not only for themselves but also for others (bosatsukai), 10) the fully enlightened state of the Buddha who knows the truth of all things (bukkai).) The place nameSpirit Vulture Peak” (Ryōjusen, Gridhrakūta) refers to the terrain of Eternal Enlightened Silence.

“Then” or “at that particular time” both “I” and the assembly of monks appear together on Spirit Vulture Peak (Ryōjusen, Gridhrakūta). This declaration is esoteric and must not be bandied about. This is clearly a passage that refers to the one instant of thought containing three thousand existential spaces (ichinen sanzen) in pragmatic terms. It is in this passage that the Fundamental Object of Veneration (gohonzon) stems from and is made manifest. In this case, the word “together” is the place from whence emerges the entirety of the unchangeable concept of what existence really consists of (fuhen, shinnyo) (the fixed principle of the true nature of existence) , as it is inscribed on the Fundamental Object of Veneration (gohonzon), whereas “to appear” refers to the wisdom that is brought about by the continual changes of karmic circumstances in our respective lives (zuien shinnyo). The word “together” implies a single instant of mental activity (ichinen), whilst the verb “appear” in this context indicates the three thousand existential spaces (sanzen) that are included in a single instant of our mental activities.

Again, The Oral Transmission on the Meaning of the Dharma Flower Sutra (Ongi Kuden) says that the word “then” in the title of this particular impartation also has the meaning of the time of the original archetypal doctrine (honmon) which takes place in this Sixteenth Chapter on the Lifespan of the Tathāgata, where we have the exposition of the concepts of the original universal cause (honnin), the original universal effect (honka), and the original idea for the terrain and location (honkokudo) that is the place in which these archetypal events are situated. All this occurs in the ever-present infinite in time (kuon ganjo).

But if we go a step deeper, then the implication that lies within the text (montei) is that the word “then” indicated the ever-present infinite in time (kuon ganjo), which is also this final episode of the Dharma of Shākyamuni (mappō) when the three all-embracing esoteric Dharmas (sandai hihō) are to be established. (These are 1) the Fundamental Object of Veneration (honmon no honzon), 2) the recitation of the theme and title Nam Myōhō Renge Kyō (honmon no daimoku), 3) and its emplacement in the altar for the Fundamental Object of Veneration (honmon no kaidan)). The rest of the sentence is obviously the revelation of the mandala of the ten (psychological) realms of dharmas (that are mentioned one by one above).

Therefore, this word “then” implies the fifth of the five consecutive five-hundred-year periods that come after the demise of Shākyamuni, which is also the final phase of his Dharma (mappō). Here the word “I” indicated Shākyamuni (in the sense of the original Buddhahood Nam Myōhō Renge Kyō). The word “and” refers to the bodhisattvas; “the assembly of monks” refers to the people of the two vehicles (i.e., the people who exerted themselves to attain the highest stage of the individual vehicle (shōjō, hīnayāna) through listening to the Buddha (shōmon, shrāvaka) or intellectuals, 2) the people who are partially enlightened due to a profound search for the meaning of existence (engaku, hyakushibutsu, pratyekabuddha)). The word “together” indicates the beings who are to be reborn into the six paths of sentient existence. (These paths are 1) suffering and hell (jigoku), 2) the wanting and craving of the hungry ghosts (gaki), 3) animal instinctiveness (chikushō), 4) the fundamentally angry person who wishes to control others (shura, ashura), 5) ordinary human equanimity (nin), 6) and the transient ecstasy of the deva (ten)). The word “appear” stands for the psychological dimensions of existence being lined up in order to indicate the totally immaculate terrain of Spirit Vulture Peak (Ryōjusen, Gridhrakūta).

Spirit Vulture Peak (Ryōjusen, Gridhrakūta) is the Fundamental Object of Veneration (gohonzon), as well as the immanent abode of Nichiren and those that follow him who 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).


Then I explain to sentient beings
that I am always here
and have not passed over
to the extinction of nirvana.
Due to my use of expedient means,
I manifest myself
as either being
in the extinction of nirvana
or not.
In other dimensions,
there are sentient beings
who make offerings with veneration
and a faith full of joy.
Then I am in the midst of these people,
explaining the highest Dharma to them.
But you do not listen
to these explanations at all,
because you simply have the notion
that I have passed over
to the extinction of nirvana.
I see all sentient beings
as floundering
in the seas of suffering.
But I do not reveal myself to them.
So that makes them have a longing
to look upon me,
and it is on account of this yearning
that becomes the cause
of my appearance
to be able to expound
the Dharma to them.
Such are the reaches of my mind.
Throughout the course
of myriads of myriads
of myriads of kalpas,
I have been continually
on Spirit Vulture Peak (Ryōjusen, Gridhrakūta)
or also in the other places
where I abide.
When sentient beings
see their kalpa coming to an end
and see themselves being burned
in an all-embracing fire,
then, I, the Buddha
am at peace and secure
on this terrain whereupon I depend,
which is constantly filled
with deva (ten) and humankind.
The mansions and bungalows
throughout its gardens and woods
are adorned with all kinds
of precious materials,
and trees of the rarest of substances
abound with fruit and flowers
which is where sentient beings
have pleasure and enjoyment.
All the deva (ten) beat
on their heavenly drums,
continually playing
all kinds of rhythms.
It rains coral tree flowers (mandarake)
that scatter over the Buddha
and the great assembly.
The Buddha’s immaculate terrain
is not destroyed,
even though sentient beings
perceive it as burning to nothing.
They are filled with wretchedness,
terror, and other bitter afflictions.
All these wrongly-behaved individuals,
on account of the karmic circumstances
of their various wrongdoings,
will spend myriads of myriads
of myriads of kalpas
without ever hearing words
for the Buddha Dharma
and the clerical community (sō, sangha).
But those people who do
all the meritorious ways of practice
and are gentle, conciliatory,
and upright in character
will all see my person
here and now expounding
the Dharma to them.


The fifteenth important point, with regard to the above and following passages: “When sentient beings see their kalpa coming to an end and see themselves being burned in an all-embracing fire, then, I, the Buddha am at peace and secure on this terrain whereupon I depend, which is constantly filled with deva (ten) and humankind. The mansions and bungalows throughout its gardens and woods are adorned with all kinds of precious materials, and trees of the rarest of substances abound with fruit and flowers which is where sentient beings have pleasure and enjoyment. All the deva (ten) beat on their heavenly drums, continually playing all kinds of rhythms. It rains coral tree flowers that scatter over the Buddha and the great assembly. The Buddha’s immaculate terrain is not destroyed, even though sentient beings perceive it as burning to nothing. They are filled with wretchedness, terror, and other bitter afflictions. All these wrongly-behaved individuals, on account of the karmic circumstances of their various wrongdoings, will spend myriads of myriads of myriads of kalpas without ever hearing words for the Buddha Dharma and the clerical community (sō, sangha). But those people who do all the meritorious ways of practice and are gentle, conciliatory, and upright in character will all see my person here and now expounding the Dharma to them.”

The Oral Transmission on the Meaning of the Dharma Flower Sutra (Ongi Kuden) says that this part of the metric hymn from the Chapter on the Lifespan of the Tathāgata, which is a part of the teachings that belong to the original archetypal state, is an exaltation of the single instant of mental activity being endowed with three thousand existential spaces (ichinen sanzen). The real significance of the words, “When sentient beings see their kalpa coming to an end and see themselves being burned in an all-embracing fire,” is the all-consuming, roaring fire of our troublesome worries (bonnō, klesha). The words, “Then, I, the Buddha am at peace and secure on this terrain whereupon I depend,” indicates the objective dimension of the terrain and surroundings upon which we rely for our existence (kokudo seken).

The lines “which is where sentient beings have pleasure and enjoyment” imply the dimension where sentient beings establish their identities as to what kind of category of being they are, in terms of the ten (psychological) realms of dharmas (shujō seken). The lines, “and trees of the rarest of substances abound with fruit and flowers”, refer to the dimension that has five components (aggregates), with which we are born, that accentuate our individualities. (These five aggregates are 1) our physical form (shiki, rūpa), 2) our means of perception which in turn makes us use our brains (jū, vedanā), 3) the way we think (sō, samjñā), 4) the way we act which is also conditioned by behaviour patterns inherited from former lives (gyō, samskāra), and 5) knowledge, since all living beings inherit the previous four aggregates, which influences us as to how we are to understand our respective existences (shiki, vijñāna).) This part of the metric hymn clearly alludes to the one instant of thought containing three thousand existential spaces (ichinen sanzen).

Furthermore, we may say that the examples in the text above stand for the ten (psychological) realms of dharmas (jikkai). “The all-embracing fire” points to the realms of suffering and hell (jigokukai), and the heavenly drums (the noise that animals make) allude to instinctive animal qualities (chikushōkai). The words “deva” and “humankind” imply the ten (psychological) realms of dharmas of human equanimity (ninkai) and the transient ecstasies of the deva (tenkai) that are constantly filled with their celestially idealised lives (i.e., movie and pop stars or supermodels, etc.) and average people (like ourselves).

The reference to “raining coral tree flowers” alludes to the persons who exerted themselves to attain the highest stage of the teachings of the individual vehicle through listening to the Buddha or the intellectuals of today (shōmon, shrāvaka). The concept of “mansions and bungalows throughout” (i.e., the terrain whereupon the Buddha or life itself depends for an existence, which here are) “gardens and woods”, signifies the psychological dimension of those people who are partially enlightened due to a profound search for the meaning of existence (engaku, hyakushibutsu, pratyekabuddha).

The single word “and” in the line “over the Buddha and the great assembly” alludes to the realm of dharmas of the bodhisattvas. The part of the phrase “that scatter over the Buddha” refers to the Dharma realm of the enlightenment of the Buddha. The realms of dharmas of the blustering and domineering shura (ashura) and the craving and wanting of the hungry ghosts are indicated in the following two lines of the metric hymn, “They are filled wretchedness, terror, and other bitter afflictions.” Also, these particular psychological dimensions are referred to in the line, “All these wrongly-behaved individuals”. However, what the exposition of this Chapter on the Lifespan of the Tathāgata reveals is that “(they) will all see my person”, in the sense of each single instant of mental activity containing three thousand existential spaces. This implies all the momentary combinations of the events of life itself, as they are inscribed on the Fundamental Object of Veneration (gohonzon).

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


Sometimes for this assembly
I explain that the lifespan of the Buddha
is without bounds.
And, for those who have not seen a Buddha
for a long period of time,
I explain to them
that Buddhas are not easily encountered.
Such is the strength of my wisdom,
whose dazzling brightness
cannot be measured.
My lifespan is
of innumerable kalpas,
which was attained
through putting my karma in order
over a long period of time.
Those of you who have the wisdom
must not foster any doubts
in this matter.
You must cut them away
once and for all.
What the Buddha says is the truth
and is never without foundation,
in the same way as the excellent doctor
who used expedient means
to cure his children
that had fundamental
psychological problems,
by saying that he was dead
but in reality
was mentally with them.
One cannot accuse him of fraud.
Yet, I, the Buddha
am the father
of this dimension of existence . . .


The sixteenth important point, on the last lines of the above metric hymn, “Yet, I, the Buddha am the father of this dimension of existence.”

The Oral Transmission on the Meaning of the Dharma Flower Sutra (Ongi Kuden) says that here the word “I” refers to the World Honoured One Shākyamuni, who is the father of all sentient beings. The Dharma Flower Sutra (Hokke-kyō) asserts that the three cardinal virtues of sovereign, teacher, and parent are to be found both in the enlightenment of the Buddha and in this particular sutra. This premise with regard to the Buddha’s three cardinal virtues is to be found in the Third Chapter on Similes and Parables of the teaching derived from the external events of the Buddha Shākyamuni’s life and work (shakumon).

This passage is as follows: “Now this three-dimensional space, where sentient beings have appetites and desires, which are incarnated in a subjective materiality with apparently physical surroundings, that, at the same time, are endowed with the immateriality of the realms of fantasies, thoughts and ideas (sangai, triloka), is all a part of the Tathāgata’s existence (sovereign) and is also seemingly real. Nevertheless, in this dimension there are a great deal of difficulties and suffering (parent). I am the only person who is able to save and protect them (teacher).” (In this text I have translated it as the Tathāgata being a part of our lives, in the same way as Nam Myōhō Renge Kyō covers all existence, rather than the Buddha being disconnected from who and what we are.)

With regard to the attestation of the three cardinal virtues of sovereign, teacher, and parent of the Buddha of the original archetypal state, there is, “Then, I, the Buddha am at peace and secure on this terrain whereupon I depend.” This is the assertion of the Buddha sovereignty. “During which I have always expounded the Dharma in order to teach and convert” is the affirmation of the cardinal virtue of teachership, and “Yet, I the Buddha am the father of this dimension of existence,” refers to the cardinal virtue of parenthood. The Universal Teacher Myōraku (Miao-lo) explained that any person who did not understand the implications of the text of the Chapter on the Lifespan of the Tathāgata was a disreputable and undesirable person who had no sense of gratitude”.

The assertion of these three cardinal virtues of sovereign, teacher, and parent in the Dharma Flower Sutra (Hokke-kyō) is as follows: “is the sovereign of all the sutras” stands for the virtue of sovereign; “is able to save all sentient beings” is the phrase that is the affirmation of the virtue of teachership; and in the same way “as the All-embracing Deva Sovereign Bonten (Brahmā) is the father of all sentient beings” is the attestation of this sutra having the virtue of father or elder.

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). This signifies that the followers of Nichiren are fatherly wise, because they can save sentient beings from the torments of the Hell of Incessant Suffering.

In the Sutra on the Buddha’s passing over to the extinction of nirvana (Nehan Kyō, nirvana Sutra), it says, “All the different kinds of suffering that all sentient beings may have to experience are altogether the suffering of the single person of the Tathāgata.” Nichiren states, “All the different kinds of suffering that all sentient beings may have to experience are altogether the sufferings of the single person of Nichiren.”


. . . . who is this person that can rescue
all those in pain and suffering.
For the sake of those crazy, mixed-up
ordinary people,
I pretend that I have entered
into the extinction of nirvana,
but in reality I am still present.
Even though they constantly see me
in their minds,
they still give way to their passions
and simply follow their inclinations,
by letting themselves go
and straying into the five desires (1) wealth, 2) sex, 3) eating and drinking, 4) fame, 5) sleep),
and fall into
one of the inauspicious paths
of reincarnation (i.e., hells, hungry ghosts, animality).


The seventeenth important point, on the above lines, “by letting themselves go and straying into the five desires”.

The Oral Transmission on the Meaning of the Dharma Flower Sutra (Ongi Kuden) says, “letting oneself go” is another expression for belittling the Dharma (hōbō), which entails ultimately that such people will be reborn in the psychological dimensions of incessant suffering (abijigoku, avîchî). 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). In this way, they are spared the consequences of falling into one of the inauspicious paths of reincarnation, as the sutric text points out.


I am always aware
as to whether sentient beings
practise or do not practise
on the path of enlightenment . . .


The eighteenth important point, on the above lines of the metric hymn from the sutric text, “I am always aware as to whether sentient beings practise or do not practise on the path of enlightenment . . .”

The Oral Transmission on the Meaning of the Dharma Flower Sutra (Ongi Kuden) says that these lines from the above metric hymn allude to the types of sentient beings that inhabit the ten (psychological) realms of dharmas (jikkai). The people who practise on the path of enlightenment are those of the four realms of dharmas, which are made up of 1) intellectual seekers (shōmon, shrāvaka), 2) people who are partially enlightened due to a profound search for the meaning of existence (engaku, hyakushibutsu, pratyekabuddha), 3) bodhisattvas, 4) Buddhas.

Those who do not practise on the path of enlightenment are those occupants of the following realms of dharmas, which are 1) suffering in the various hells (jigokukai), 2) the wanting and craving of hungry ghosts (gakikai), 3) the instinctive qualities of animality (chikushōkai), 4) the titan-like anger and the desire to control of overbearing people (shurakai), 5) ordinary human equanimity (ninkai), 6) the transient ecstasies and joys of the people who undergo such experiences (tenkai).

However, The Oral Transmission on the Meaning of the Dharma Flower Sutra (Ongi Kuden) then goes on to say that those who are (capable of) practising on the path of enlightenment are 1) those overbearing people who are swallowed up by their own inherent anger and desire to control (shurakai), 2) those who abide in the ordinary equanimity of normal human beings (ninkai), 3) and those people who spend much of their time engrossed in unenduring ecstasies and fickle joys (tenkai).

Those who do not practise on the path of enlightenment (are the people whose minds are muddled due to their anguish by) 1) the torments of the various degrees of their physical and mental sufferings (jigokukai), or 2) their hankering, craving, and being consumed with a desire for whatever they want (gakikai), or their instinctive animalistic mindlessness that smothers their whole being (chikushōkai).

The point of this argument is that now that we have entered the final period of the Dharma of Shākyamuni, those people who do the practice of the Dharma Flower Sutra (Hokke-kyō) are those who practise on the path of enlightenment.

The people who disparage the Dharma are those who do not practise on the way to enlightenment. The way to enlightenment is to be found in the Dharma Flower Sutra (Hokke-kyō). Tendai (T’ien T’ai) said, “The path to enlightenment refers to the present sutra (i.e., the Dharma Flower Sutra (Hokke-kyō)).”

Now, Nichiren and those that follow him reverently recite Nam Myōhō Renge Kyō which means to devote our lives to and found them on (Nam(u)) the Utterness of the Dharma (Myōhō) (entirety of existence) permeated by the underlying white lotus flower-like mechanism of the interdependence of cause, concomitancy and effect (Renge) in its whereabouts of the ten (psychological) realms of dharmas (Kyō). Those are the people who practise on the path of enlightenment, whereas those who do not recite it are the people who do not practise on the path to Buddhahood.


. . . . so that I know whom I can ferry
across the seas of living and dying
to the shore of nirvana
and to whom I can explain
the various nature of dharmas.
I continually reflect upon
this mental object
as to how I can induce
sentient beings . . .


The nineteenth important point, on the phrase, “I continually reflect upon this mental object”.

The Oral Transmission on the Meaning of the Dharma Flower Sutra (Ongi Kuden) says that the word “continually” implies the three tenses of past, present, and future. The verb “to reflect” specifically refers to our inherent Buddha nature and, in a more general sense, the ten (psychological) realms of dharmas (that are the makeup of our lives). “This mental object” is the one instant of mental activity that is not produced by any conditions, which always has been and always will exist. It is the devotion of our lives to and the founding of them on the whereabouts of the realms of dharmas whose underlying white lotus flower-like mechanism of the interdependence of cause, concomitancy and effect permeates the entirety of existence (since both the very essence of life itself and its intervals between one life and the next (chu’in, antarābhava, bardo) all constitute the inseparable ingredient Nam Myōhō Renge Kyō that has the implication of devoting our lives to and founding them on life itself).

The concept of “not being produced by conditions” here refers to that which has fundamentally and eternally existed, which is the inalienable quintessence of what existence really is. In the broadest of terms, the fundamental and eternal interplay of the ten (psychological) realms of dharmas and the word “reflect” (which is always a reflection of the various dimensions we find ourselves in) implies each and every item in all possible fluctuations of existence itself.


. . . . to enter onto the unsurpassed path
to enlightenment (mujōdō)
and quickly realise
the individuation of Buddhahood (busshin, buddhakāya).


The twentieth important point, on the last lines of the metric hymn that follows the prose section of this Sixteenth Chapter on the Lifespan of the Tathāgata: “to enter onto the unsurpassed path to enlightenment (mujōdō) and quickly realise the individuation of Buddhahood (busshin)”.

The Oral Transmission on the Meaning of the Dharma Flower Sutra (Ongi Kuden) says that the unsurpassed path of enlightenment (mujōdō) is the way towards the realisation of the triple entity of the Buddha of the original archetypal state within us – (1) the entity of the Dharma (hosshin, Dharma-kāya), 2) the reward or the entity of the wisdom of the Buddha (hōshin, sambhoga-kāya), 3) the entity of the Buddha as he manifests himself for the benefit of sentient beings (ōjin, nirmāna-kāya) – that is present due to no causation whatsoever and always has and will exist in eternity. This indicates the Buddha of the present Sixteenth Chapter on the Lifespan of the Tathāgata. Apart from this fundamental enlightenment, there is no other attainment of the individuation of Buddhahood to be realised.

Now, Nichiren and those that follow him, who 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), have no doubts about realising the fundamental enlightenment of the individuation of the interdependence of cause, concomitancy and effect i.e., which is in itself the relativity (, shūnyatā) of its white lotus flower-like mechanism (tōtai, renge) which makes our lives to be what they are.


The twenty-first important point, with regard to the whole of the metric hymn that follows the prose section in the Sixteenth Chapter on the Lifespan of the Tathāgata, which in Japanese is referred to as the Jigage, (i.e., the metric hymn that begins with, “Ever since I realised”).

The Oral Transmission on the Meaning of the Dharma Flower Sutra (Ongi Kuden) states that the words “ever since” refer to the nine realms of dharmas. (These are 1) hell or suffering (jigokukai), 2) hungry ghosts or craving (gakikai), 3) animality (chikushōkai), 4) the angry power complexes of the shura (shurakai), 5) the normal equanimity of humankind (jinkai), 6) the impermanent joy of the deva (tenkai), 7) intellectual seekers (shōmonkai), 8) people who due to karmic circumstances have attained partial enlightenment (engakukai, pratyekabuddha), 9) people who not only seek enlightenment for themselves but for others as well (bosatsukai).)

Whereas the word “I” refers to the fundamental enlightenment of the individuation of Buddhahood (busshin) as well as to the entity of the Dharma which is existence itself, the words for “metric hymn” indicate the all-embracing principle of each single instant of mental activity simultaneously containing the entirety of all possible psychological dimensions (ichinen sanzen) and that this metric hymn is the Buddha teaching with regard to the fundamental eternity of existence. You should ponder over this carefully.

This concept can be put into the words 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).


The twenty-second important point, on the first and last words of the metric hymn in the Sixteenth Chapter on the Lifespan of the Tathāgata.

The Oral Transmission on the Meaning of the Dharma Flower Sutra (Ongi Kuden) says that the words “ever since I realised” are the first words and “quickly realise the individuation of Buddhahood (busshin)” are the final words of this metric hymn. The word at the beginning of this metric hymn is “ji”. (I have interpreted it as “ever since”. In Classical Chinese, this is really a kind of preposition which marks the point from which something or someone comes. Hence, this ideogram can also express a self-deprecating term for “oneself”.)

So this metric hymn begins with the word “oneself” and ends with the words “the individuation of Buddhahood”. In between these first and last words, Nichiren suggests two more words for “receiving” and “use”. As a result, the implication of this metric hymn becomes the self-received entity of wisdom (that the Tathāgata uses for the salvation of humankind, i.e., the Fundamental Object of Veneration (gohonzon)).

Therefore, this metric hymn contains the representation of the self-received entity of wisdom (that the Tathāgata uses for the salvation of all beings). When we become open to the idea that the Dharma realm (i.e., the whole of both physical and mental existence) is the ultimate realisation of who and what we are, then, on the premise that the Dharma realm is reflected in the inscribed text of the self-received entity of wisdom that the Tathāgata uses for the salvation of all beings (gohonzon), there is not a single item that is not contained in the metric hymn of the Sixteenth Chapter on the Lifespan of the Tathāgata.

The entity that is received as the Tathāgata would wish (which is the same as the self-received entity of wisdom that the Tathāgata uses for the salvation of all beings, the former reading simply being an alternative rendering of the same ideograms which in this case was chosen by Nikkō himself) is the single instant of mental activity that comprises the whole of existence (ichinen sanzen) (in the sense that existence is all existence, as well as being the limits of the reaches of our minds).

Dengyō (Dengyō Daishi) said that the single instant of thought that comprises three thousand existential spaces (i.e., all physical and mental existence) is reflected on the self-received entity of wisdom that the Tathāgata uses for the salvation of all beings, i.e., the Fundamental Object of Veneration (gohonzon). The self-received entity of wisdom that the Tathāgata uses is the Buddha who has abandoned all the manifestations of revered eminence (that is commonly found in Buddha images).

The Buddha who had abandoned all manifestations of revered eminence is the triple entity – (1) the entity of the Dharma (hosshin, Dharma-kāya), 2) the entity of wisdom (hōshin, sambhoga-kāya), and 3) the manifestation that the Tathāgata uses for the salvation of sentient beings (ōjin, nirmāna-kāya)) – of the eternal Buddha that neither came into being nor will ever cease to exist.

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).


The twenty-third important point, on the concept of “the ever-present infinite in time (kuon ganjo)”.

The Oral Transmission on the Meaning of the Dharma Flower Sutra (Ongi Kuden) says that the focal point of this Chapter on the Lifespan of the Tathāgata is his being already enlightened in the ever-present infinite in time (kuon ganjo). The ever-present infinite in time (kuon ganjo) is not something that was brought about nor is it something that has been tinkered with, but just exists as it always does. Since we are talking about the triple entity of the Buddha that has eternally existed, exists and will exist into the interminable future, this triple entity has no specific beginning, nor is it the result of any effort.

(The triple entity consists of 1) the entity of the Dharma (hosshin, Dharma-kāya), which is the highest aspect of the triple entity of the Buddha that is imponderable, unmanifest, and is relativity (, shūnya) and is existence itself; 2) the entity of wisdom (hōshin, sambhoga-kāya), which in the case of the teaching of Nichiren is manifest as the Fundamental Object of Veneration (gohonzon); 3) the Buddha as he reveals himself for us who are unenlightened sentient beings (ōjin, nirmāna-kāya). In the teaching of Nichiren, this concept refers to the historical personage of Nichiren himself.)

This is not a Buddha who is fully endowed with the thirty-two characteristics and the eighty special marks (as is seen in Buddhist iconography). Nor does it need to be perfected in any way, since this Buddha has always fundamentally existed along with existence itself and will continue to exist into eternity.

This is what is meant by the concept of the ever-present infinite in time (kuon ganjo). This ever-present infinite in time (kuon ganjo) is our devotion to and the establishment of our lives on the whereabouts of the realms of dharmas whose underlying white lotus flower-like mechanism of the interdependence of cause, concomitancy and effect permeates the entirety of existence (Nam Myōhō Renge Kyō), which is the inception of the awareness that we ourselves are provided automatically with the triple entity of the Buddha that has eternally existed, exists, and will exist into the interminable future (which is the quintessence of the life within us and cannot be destroyed).


The twenty-fourth important point, as to which country is to be converted to the teaching of the Lifespan of the Tathāgata, as well as to how its practices are to be carried out.

The Oral Transmission on the Meaning of the Dharma Flower Sutra (Ongi Kuden) says the country where the teachings of this particular chapter are to be diffused is the country of Japan and then generally throughout the world of humankind. (In the thirteenth century, Japan was ostensibly a Buddhist country.) Those who are to be converted are all the sentient beings of the country of Japan. The specific observances to be carried out are a mind of faith that harbours no doubts about this teaching whatsoever. The people who are to impart this kind of faith are the (reincarnations of the) bodhisattvas who were converted in the original archetypal state that had swarmed up out of the earth (in the fifteenth chapter of this sutra).


The twenty-fifth important point, with regard to the justification of the Fundamental Object of Veneration (gohonzon).

The Oral Transmission on the Meaning of the Dharma Flower Sutra (Ongi Kuden) states that the textual citation whereupon the concept of the Fundamental Object of Veneration (gohonzon) hinged is “the esoterically hidden reaches of the mind of the Tathāgata” (Chapter Sixteen).

The three ways of imparting the Dharma (sangaku, tisrah shikshah) are incorporated in the threefold universal esoteric Dharma (san dai hihō).

(These three ways of imparting the Dharma (sangaku, tisrah shikshah) are 1) (kai, shila) learning through monastic types of rules, so as to guard against the more unfortunate consequences of unguided behaviour through words, deeds, and thoughts, 2) (jō, samādhi) perfect absorption into the one concept (or sutric text) that is the object of meditation, 3) (e, prajñā) solving doubts through an intense study of Buddhist principles, so as to acquire wisdom.)

(The threefold universal esoteric Dharma (san dai hihō) consists of 1) (honmon no honzon) the Fundamental Object of Veneration that belongs to the original archetypal state, 2) (honmon no daimoku) the recitation of the title and the theme (of the Dharma Flower Sutra (Hokke-kyō)) that belongs to the original archetypal state, 3) (honmon no kaidan) the altar of the precept of the teaching that belongs to the original archetypal state.)

All are included in the threefold all-embracing esoteric Dharma that is in the Sixteenth Chapter on the Lifespan of the Tathāgata.

Nichiren, without the slightest doubt, faced the Buddha on Spirit Vulture Peak (Ryōjusen, Gridhrakūta) and received the orally transmitted instructions, with regard to this threefold all-embracing esoteric Dharma. The Fundamental Object of Veneration (gohonzon) is the actual enlightened substance of the ascetic who does the practice of the Dharma Flower Sutra (Hokke-kyō).


The twenty-sixth important point, with regard to whom the Chapter on the Lifespan of the Tathāgata is to be expounded.

The Oral Transmission on the Meaning of the Dharma Flower Sutra (Ongi Kuden) says that the sutric text clearly indicates that the Bodhisattva Maitreya (Miroku), was the person to whom the Chapter on the Lifespan of the Tathāgata was expounded. However, since we are thinking in terms of the period when the Buddha had passed over to the extinction of nirvana, then this chapter is to be expounded to all sentient beings of the world of humankind.

Among all those sentient beings, there are Nichiren and those that follow him who 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).

Maitreya (Miroku) represents the ascetics who do the practice of the Dharma Flower Sutra (Hokke-kyō) during the final episode of the Dharma of Shākyamuni (mappō). The name Maitreya (Miroku) means those full of compassion and designates the ascetics who do the practice of the Dharma Flower Sutra (Hokke-kyō). The Universal Teacher Shōan (Chang An) said, “Anyone who rids another person of his plight is acting as that person’s parent.” How could this not be the Bodhisattva Maitreya (Miroku)?


The twenty-seventh important point, with regard to the threefold entity of the Buddhahood that has always existed and will perpetuate eternally into the future.

The seeds of enlightenment, as well as the appearances of all the Buddhas, bodhisattvas, and deva (ten) and such, along with their solemn vows, in iconography are symbols of their sincere promises (usually in their hands), that is to say, the stupa of Dainichi Nyorai (Mahāvairochana), the sword of Fudō Myō’ō (Achala), the lotus flower of Kannon (Avalokiteshvara), or the medicine pot of Yakushi Nyorai (Bhaishajya Guru), etc. In the case of the Dharma Flower Sutra (Hokke-kyō), the solemn vows are represented by the palms of the hands placed together. This is a gesture that signifies the fundamental vow to set right both mentally and physically the lives of all sentient beings.

The Oral Transmission on the Meaning of the Dharma Flower Sutra (Ongi Kuden) says that the form to be venerated of the Buddhas, bodhisattvas, deva (ten), and so forth, is essentially the appearance of the original archetypal state, modified by the ten psychological realms of dharmas (jikkai). Their individual solemn vows are fundamentally things that appertain to the ten psychological realms of dharmas. The “seeds” is the single word for faith.

All of this is said to be 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 verbal equation (Nam Myōhō Renge Kyō) is never to be changed. The solemn vow is to place the palms of the hands together. This teaching is esoteric and should be kept secret.

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