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The Dharma Flower Sutra seen through the Oral Transmission of Nichiren Daishōnin: The Second Chapter on Expedient Means

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


The Second Chapter on Expedient Means

The first important point concerning the Chapter on Expedient Means.

In the Textual Explanation of the Dharma Flower Sutra (Hokke Mongu) it says the “means” of the Expedient Means has the implication of being esoteric and that the appropriateness of what is “expedient” in the Dharma is its Utterness. Therefore the means to effectuate Utterness is not separate from the esoteric quality of the Buddha truth.

If we are to underline the priceless jewel that was sown into the lining of the clothes of the man who was drunk on slander that is in the parable in the Eighth Chapter on the Prediction of Enlightenment for Five Hundred Disciples of the Dharma Flower Sutra (Hokke-kyō), then this one and only jewel is neither separate nor is it different from the one in the king’s chignon in the Fourteenth Chapter on Practicing in Peace with Joy. This would point to the man that was hired as a menial who was neither different nor separate from the son of the elder in the parable in the Fourth Chapter on Faith Leading to Understanding of the Dharma Flower Sutra (Hokke-kyō). These stories are referred to as being both esoteric and utterly all-embracing.

Just as it says in the Dharma Flower Sutra (Hokke-kyō), “It is only I the Buddha who understands the real aspect of all dharmas, which is their Utterness (Myō) or the one instant of thought containing three thousand existential spaces”, the Buddhas of the ten directions understand in exactly the same way. This is the same as when the Buddha said to Sharihotsu (Shariputra), “Stop, stop, there is no need to say anything since my Dharma is Utterness; it is difficult to think it out or ponder it over.” Both of these quotations come from the Second Chapter on Expedient Means of the Dharma Flower Sutra (Hokke-kyō)..

Accordingly those parables are explained as their means () being esoteric (hi) and their all-embracing quality or Utterness (Myō) being thought of as their expediency (ben).

No doubt this is the underlying significance of this chapter; hence it is called the Chapter on Expedient Means.

In the third volume of the Notes on the Textual Explanation of the Dharma Flower it says that the last of the three definitions of expedient means – 1) an expedient means as an application of the Dharma (hōyū), 2) an expedient means that can lead people towards the Buddha truth (nōtsū), and 3) an expedient means that is esoterically and utterly all-embracing (himyō) – is on account of its Utterness (Myō) its own implication of it (soku).

Also because the all-inclusive teachings are not separate from Utterness (Myō), the three provisional vehicles for the instruction of 1) the people who exert themselves to attain the highest stage of the teachings of the individual vehicle (shōjō, hīnayāna) through listening to the Buddha (shōmon, shrāvaka), 2) people who are partially enlightened due to a profound search for the meaning of existence (engaku, hyakushibutsu, pratyekabuddha) and 3) bodhisattvas who live, practise, and study for the benefit of other people or likewise the two doctrines of 1) the individual vehicle (zōkyō) and 2) the teachings that connect those of the individual vehicle (shōjō, hīnayāna) to those of the universal vehicle (tsūkyō) are all in contrast to the all-embracing quality of Utterness (Myō). Since there is the Dharma Flower Sutra (Hokke-kyō) that is the doctrine that is not separate from Utterness (Myō), these other teachings are in fact in contradiction to it.

It says in The Oral Transmission on the Meaning of the Dharma Flower Sutra (Ongi Kuden) that, in these commentaries, the priceless jewel sewn into the lining of the clothes of the man who got drunk is the same as the jewel in the sovereign’s chignon. The person who was hired as a menial is in no way different from the son of the elder. However, when we get to the bottom of things the people who vilify the Dharma and who have no faith in it are those who follow the provisional teachings that are outside the reality of what the Buddha teaching is about.

In fact there are two sorts of expedient means. They are 1) as an application of the Dharma which is an expedient means of using various dharmas that correspond to people’s propensities and biased views in order to lead them to the truth (hōyū) and 2) those expedient means of expounding the Dharma according to people’s propensities that can lead them towards the Buddha truth (nōtsū).

Here in the teaching of Nichiren the implication of “being neither different nor separate” as it is expressed in the Textual Explanation of the Dharma Flower (Hokke Mongu) has the undertone of the nine realms of dharmas not being separate from the Buddha Dharma and that the Dharma of the Buddha is not separate from the dharmas of the other nine realms of existence.

Now Nichiren and those that follow him reverently recite Nam Myōhō Renge Kyō and are within the bounds of the expedient means that are esoterically and utterly all-embracing (himyō) which is the ultimate reality of the Buddha truth. As a result it can be said that, after captioning the subject matter of the, “Sutra on the Lotus Flower of the Utterness of the Dharma (Myōhō Renge Kyō)”, it is followed by the specification of the “Chapter on Expedient Means”.

Myōraku (Miao-lo) makes this clear in his Notes on the Textual Explanation of the Dharma Flower (Hokke Mongu) where Tendai (T’ien T’ai) states that the “not separate (soku)”, in the phrase “not separate from (soku) reality”, implies that the all-inclusive teachings are not separate from Utterness; (soku) implies that which is all-inclusive, so it must be another name for the Dharma Flower Sutra (Hokke-kyō). Not separate from Utterness means that ordinary people are not separate from the ultimate state of being, which is to be the Buddha of the real aspect of all dharmas. All-inclusive (en) means the one instant of thought containing three thousand existential spaces (ichinen sanzen). If the words for “not separate from Utterness (soku)” and “all-inclusive (en)” were to be exchanged with each other, they would be just another term for “Utterness (Myō)”.

All sentient beings being the Buddha of the real aspect of all dharmas are in fact Utterness itself and is something that cannot be thought out or deliberated over. But because the people who malign the Dharma are as yet ignorant of how things are, it is something that is referred to as being esoteric. The word esoteric implies the unsparing rigidity of the array of the three thousand existential spaces within our lives. There is nothing more imponderably unthinkable than this.

Even for people who are designated as those who belittle the Dharma in a big way, their decision to receive and hold to the Sutra on the Lotus Flower of the Utterness of the Dharma can also be thought of as the expedient means which is the esoteric Utterness of this sutra.

Now that we have entered the final period of the Dharma of Shākyamuni (mappō), this age undoubtedly involves Nichiren and his followers. The intention of the Chapter on Expedient Means is to induce the people who follow the teachings that came before the Dharma Flower Sutra (Hokke-kyō) along with their understanding of these doctrines to come round to the all-inclusive enlightenment of Nam Myōhō Renge Kyō by way of such expedient means. This process would imply becoming aware of our inherent Buddha nature with our persons just as they are, or, as is inferred from the Second Chapter on Expedient Means, from such an appearance (nyo ze sō) to such a consequence (nyo ze ). In addition the Chapter on Expedient Means deals with the ten realms of dharmas (jikkai), as well as our unclearness and unenlightenment with regard to them.

The Sutra on the Lotus Flower of the Utterness of the Dharma (Myōhō Renge Kyō) stands at the top of the ten (psychological) realms of dharmas, and at the same time it is what all dharmas really are. This sutra implies that our troublesome worries (bonnō, klesha) are not separate from our inherent enlightenment and the cycles of living and dying are not separate from the workings of existence.

“The all-inclusive teachings not being separate from Utterness (soku)” means that they are the one instant of thought containing three thousand existential spaces. Both Utterness (Myō) and the inseparability from it (soku) are the same concept. In other words, the one instant of thought containing three thousand existential spaces can be expressed by the concepts of “all-inclusiveness” and “Utterness.” All-inclusiveness means that it is the real aspect of all dharmas.

One of the explanations of all-inclusiveness points out that “All-inclusiveness refers to the all-inclusive unobstructed accommodation of materiality and form (ke), relativity of the mind (, shūnyatā) and noumena, and the reality of the middle way (chudō). At the same time all-inclusiveness is also the all-inclusive replenished whole of the one instant of thought containing three thousand existential spaces.”

The all-inclusiveness of the unobstructed accommodation of the materiality of form (ke), the relativity of the mind (, shūnyatā) and the reality of the middle way (chudō), which combines the two, alludes to the provisionality of the teachings that are derived from the external events of Shākyamuni’s life and work. On the other hand, the all-inclusiveness of the replenished whole of the one instant of thought containing three thousand existential spaces belongs to the archetypal truth of the teachings that deal with the original state.

Also the Universal Desistance from Troublesome Worries in order to See Clearly (Maka Shikan) explains these two dharmas as being the impermanency of physical existence (shiki) and the permanent quality of mind (shin). Putting the one instant of thought containing three thousand existential spaces into a single word is the esoteric property of the Tendai School (Eshin).

With regard to the Chinese ideogram for “all-inclusiveness (en)” the surrounding outer square represents a single instant of mental activity or thought, whereas the middle part of this ideogram which literally means “a number (kazu)” stands for the three thousand existential spaces that are contained in each single flash of mental activity. The one instant of thought containing three thousand existential spaces is in itself imponderably inexplicable.

The concept of Utterness was never expounded, in neither the straightforward teachings (ton), nor the gradual teachings (zen), nor even inthose that were a bit of both (fujō), all of which came before the Dharma Flower Sutra (Hokke-kyō). Hence this concept is said to be esoteric. So you should understand that Nam Myōhō Renge Kyō is an expedient means for expressing an instant of mind as the whole of existence and therefore contains for expediency three thousand existential spaces.

The Sutra on the Lotus Flower of the Utterness of the Dharma (Myōhō Renge Kyō) is the ninth cognition (daikushiki, amarashiki, amala-vijñāna) that is the immaculate essential of life itself. The ten (psychological) realms of dharmas describe the eighth consciousness as the storehouse of the mind, as well as the faculty of thought. This also includes the other seven mental faculties and perceptions that follow.

I suggest you take this all into account. The “means” () as in “expedient means” implies the ten directions of north, south, east, west, northwest, northeast, southeast, and southwest as well as above and below. What goes on in these ten directions is not separate from the ten (psychological) realms of dharmas and the expediency (ben) which is present everywhere indicates something that cannot be pondered over or even explained.


At that time the World Honoured One arose out of his total absorption into the Sutra on the Boundless Implications of the Dharma serenely and with a clear and precise mind. Then he informed Sharihotsu (Shariputra) that the wisdom and discernment of all the Buddhas is exceedingly deep and immeasurably wide. The gateway to that wisdom and discernment is difficult to fathom and difficult to enter.


The second important point concerning that the wisdom and discernment of all the Buddhas is exceedingly deep and immeasurably profound. The gateway to that wisdom and discernment is difficult to fathom and difficult to enter. None of those people who exert themselves to attain the highest stage of the individual vehicle (shōjō, hīnayāna) through listening to the Buddha or intellectual seekers (shōmon, shrāvaka) or even those who seek diligently enlightenment for themselves (engaku, hyakushibutsu, pratyekabuddha) are able to understand it.

The third volume of the Textual Explanation of the Dharma Flower Sutra (Hokke Mongu) says, “The first part of the sentence on the wisdom and discernment of all the Buddhas being exceedingly deep and immeasurably wide pays tribute to the fundamental wisdom of the teachings that refer to reality.” Then this sentence goes on to pay regard to the wisdom and discernment of the provisional teachings by saying the gateway to that wisdom and discernment is difficult to fathom and it is difficult to see what it really is.

Reality or the teachings that refer to it is the wisdom and discernment of all the Buddhas. Such teachings are not the three kinds of teaching that were simply used for getting people to think in the direction of the Buddha truths: 1) the teachings of the individual vehicle (zōkyo), 2) those doctrines that connect the individual vehicle (shōjō, hīnayāna) to the universal vehicle (tsūgyō), and 3) those teachings that were specifically for bodhisattvas (bekkyō). Therefore the sutra refers to all the Buddhas in particular, since this wisdom and discernment is the manifestation and reality that every Buddha had cultivated.

The substance of this wisdom and discernment comprises the three kinds of wisdom in a single mind: 1) the wisdom of intellectual seekers (shōmon, shrāvaka, shrāvaka) and those who have a measure of individual enlightenment which helps them comprehend something of the real aspect of all dharmas (issai-chi), 2) the wisdom of the bodhisattvas who are able to lead other people onto the Buddha path on account of their understanding of what life is about (dōshu-chi) and 3) the wisdom of the Buddha who understands the whole and the individual aspects of life and death, as well as the real principle (Myō) that runs through everything (issaishu-chi).

Exceedingly deep and immeasurably profound are the words of esteem that refer to this wisdom and discernment. The Buddha’s mental grasp of reality can vertically penetrate the base and reveal the inherent principle in all things. Therefore it is referred to as being exceedingly deep. Horizontally this wisdom and discernment reaches the utter boundaries of the realms of dharmas, so that it is referred to as being immeasurable. Being exceedingly deep and immeasurably profound are the vertical height and horizontal breadth of this wisdom and discernment.

To illustrate this, if the roots of a tree reach down deep, then the foliage on its branches will be profuse in growth. If the source of the river is deep down then its flow will be far-reaching. The wisdom that applies to reality follows a similar pattern and so do the references to the wisdom of the provisional teachings.

The gateway to that wisdom and discernment which is mentioned in the title of this text is a sign of approval of the wisdom and discernment of the gateway of the doctrines that are provisional. After all, it is the strength of the wisdom of the path of expedient means that leads up to the enlightenment which the Buddha experienced himself.

For this reason it is called a gateway. It is a gateway through which one enters onto the path. Being on the path entails the teachings that deal with reality. Before arriving at the path indicates the doctrines that were provisionally taught for the time being. Difficult to understand and difficult to enter are again words of approval of the provisional doctrines.

What is difficult to understand and get into is Nam Myōhō Renge Kyō which is beyond our comprehension. But even though we can really grasp this concept, by means of the single word faith we can also become aware of its implications, as well as its innumerable practical applications.

Even for the people who are familiar with the wisdom embedded in the seven kinds of expedient means, it is overwhelming. Those people are the intellectual seekers (shōmon, shrāvaka,); the partially enlightened due to a profound search for the meaning of existence (engaku, hyakushibutsu, pratyekabuddha), and the bodhisattvas of both the teachings of the individual vehicle (zokyō), the teachings that connect the individual vehicle (shōjō, hīnayāna) to the universal vehicle (tsūgyō), and also bodhisattvas of the teachings that were specifically preached for them (bekkyō).

The wisdom and discernment of the Buddha, by being exceedingly deep and immeasurably profound, cannot be gauged in any way whatsoever.

Out of the traditional fifty-two stages which people had to practise in order to become enlightened, it was only when they reached the third set of ten stages, which was that of bodhisattva wisdom, that they could begin to perceive what the Buddha wisdom and discernment was all about. When they arrived at the fifth set of ten stages, which was the grade of approaching Buddhahood, could they possibly say they were entering the wisdom and discernment of all the Buddhas? Out of the first and last of these series of ten stages, it is during the stages in between, where people realised that this wisdom and discernment is difficult to attain and to become enlightened to.

Nevertheless the Second Chapter of the Dharma Flower Sutra (Hokke-kyō) specifically points out that none of those people who exert themselves to attain the highest stage of the individual vehicle (shōjō, hīnayāna) through listening to the Buddha or intellectual seekers (shōmon, shrāvaka) or even those who diligently seek enlightenment for themselves or are partially enlightened due to a profound search for the meaning of existence (engaku, hyakushibutsu, pratyekabuddha) are able to understand or are able to comprehend the wisdom and discernment of the Buddha, on account of the fact that such people are hampered by their heavy attachments. Therefore such impediments have to be eradicated.

In the third volume of the Notes on the Textual Explanation of the Dharma Flower Sutra, where it says, “being exceedingly deep and immeasurably wide refers to the vertical height and the horizontal breadth of this wisdom and discernment,” this means that in the midst of this exceeding height and immeasurable breadth there is the combination of Dharma parable and discourses that expound the wisdom of the teachings that refer to reality, as well as those of the provisional doctrines. Hence, this is an example to be followed.

Now, the teachings that refer to reality being the utmost vertical and horizontal reaches in all directions have already been stated, so it must follow that the provisional teachings are a theory that covers the facts and is identical in its extremities of dimension. The explanation of what the provisional teachings are is as follows, even though their particular qualities have been described earlier on. It is for this reason that the quotation of the commentary goes on to point out the following:

In the phrase where it says, “the gateway to that wisdom and discernment”, the word “that” points to the wisdom and discernment that was the cause of the ultimate realisation of concrete reality, which is the wisdom and discernment of all the Buddhas. If that wisdom and discernment mentioned here is, in other words, its own gateway then that wisdom and discernment must be that of the provisional doctrines that came before the Dharma Flower Sutra (Hokke-kyō). But if it is the gateway of wisdom and discernment then it must be the fruition of the provisional doctrines.

Therefore, between the two standpoints of the cause of the ultimate realisation in reality and the fruition of the cause, there are necessarily the ten particular stages of approaching Buddhahood. They are the last of the set of ten practises of the fifty-two stages in the process of becoming enlightened according to the practises of the Buddha teaching of Shākyamuni. These sets of ten kinds of practice out of fifty-two should be understood as an approach before entering the path.

Becoming awakened to Utterness is what happens on the path and is the proof of our efforts that manifests itself, after we have reached the path. Therefore you should understand that the meaning of the selected passage is to reveal that the cause is the new awareness that produces the change from doubt to faith.

The Oral Transmission on the Meaning of the Dharma Flower Sutra (Ongi Kuden) says that the text of the Textual Explanation of the Dharma Flower Sutra (Hokke Mongu) by Tendai (T’ien T’ai) and the commentary on it which is the Notes on the Textual Explanation of the Dharma Flower Sutra by Myōraku (Miao-lo) are transparently understandable. In the expressions, “vertically penetrates the base and reveals the inherent principle in all things” and “horizontally this wisdom and discernment reaches the utmost boundaries of the realms of dharmas”, the vertical capacity of these reaches refers to the teachings of the original state (honmon) and the horizontal vastness of this wisdom and discernment appertains to the teachings that are derived from the external events of Shākyamuni’s life and work (shakumon). (Since this horizontal vastness is referred to as being the realms of dharmas (hōkai) in the text which are in themselves impermanent, this is existence as we know it.)

The roots referred to earlier are those of plants and trees. Plants and trees grow upwards. Here this concept also entails the teachings that are derived from the external events of Shākyamuni’s life and work (shakumon). (These teachings lead us upwards from their seed cause towards their fruition or enlightenment, in the same way as Shākyamuni’s ascetic practises led him to his historical Buddhahood.)

The source mentioned earlier on alludes to the teachings of the original state (honmon). Being a headwater it is water itself and runs downwards. This source implies the original state. (It is true reality according to a profound search for the meaning of existence. The principle upon which the original enlightenment is based is that the fruition or the result faces towards the cause or is itself the uncreated principle independent of all action which is the very foundation of our lives.)

The profound growth of foliage on the branches represents the fourteen chapters of the Dharma Flower Sutra (Hokke-kyō) that are derived from the external events of Shākyamuni’s life and work (shakumon). The far-reaching flow from the source stands for the fourteen chapters of the Dharma Flower Sutra (Hokke-kyō) that refer to the archetypal original state (honmon). The wisdom and discernment of the Buddha is made up of the three kinds of wisdom in a single mind: 1) the wisdom of intellectual seekers (shōmon, shrāvaka) as well as those people who have a measure of individual enlightenment which helps them take in the real aspect of all dharmas (issai-chi), 2) the wisdom of bodhisattvas who are able to lead people onto the Buddha path on account of their understanding of what life is about and 3) the wisdom of the Buddha who understands the whole of and individual aspects of life, as well as the real principle (Myō) that runs through everything (issaishu-chi).

The gateway is the place where we are able to enter this wisdom and discernment. What the essential content of the three kinds of wisdom in a single mind consists of is Nam Myōhō Renge Kyō which is the devotion of our lives to and their foundation on (Namu=Kimyō) the whereabouts (Kyō) of the interdependence of cause, concomitancy and effect (Renge) of the entirety of existence (Myōhō).

The gateway is a mind of faith, in the same way as it says in the third chapter of the Dharma Flower Sutra (Hokke-kyō), “Sharihotsu (Shariputra) even you could by means of faith get into this particular sutra, not to mention other intellectual seekers (shōmon, shrāvaka) . . .” In this instance the word gateway has the same meaning as ‘going into’.

Now, when Nichiren and his followers reverently recite Nam Myōhō Renge Kyō, it is said to be their wisdom and discernment. As it says in the Third Chapter on Similes and Parables, “There is only a single gateway.”

With regard to gateways to the Dharma, there is the gateway that, in many of the teachings of the individual vehicle (zōkyō), suggests that existence is as it appears to be, simply as materiality (umon).

There is another gateway to the Dharma, in which many of its teachings which are those that connect those of the individual vehicle (shōjō, hīnayāna) to those of the universal vehicle (tsūgyō), that points out that existence is in fact the emptiness of the relativity (, shūnyatā) can only be reached through the mind (kūmon).

Also there is another gateway to the Dharma, which consists of teachings specifically for bodhisattvas (bekkyō), that proposes that existence is both just as it is or appears to be and at the same time it is the emptiness of relativity (, shūnyatā) that can only be reached through the mind (yaku’u yaku kūmon).

Furthermore there is the gateway to the Dharma of the all-inclusive teachings (engyō), that says that existence is neither just as it is or appears to be nor is it the emptiness of relativity (, shūnyatā), that can only be reached through the mind (hi’u hi kūmon).

The gateway to the Dharma, that suggests existence is just as it is, is life as it appears to be. The gateway to the Dharma that suggests that existence is the emptiness of relativity (, shūnyatā), that can only be reached by the mind, is death because of the absence of any materiality. The gateway to the Dharma, that states that existence is just as it appears to be, and, at the same time, it is the emptiness of relativity (, shūnyatā) that can only be reached through the mind entails the cycles of living and dying which are latent in every instant of the mind.

The gateway to the Dharma as propounded by the Dharma Flower Sutra (Hokke-kyō) is that existence is neither just as it is nor as it appears to be; nor is it the emptiness of the relativity (, shūnyatā) that can only be reached through the mind. It is neither paradoxically being alive nor dead but the quintessence of life itself.

The gateway to the Dharma, that points to existence being just as it is, is implied in the ideograms of the theme and title (daimoku) Nam Myōhō Renge Kyō, which is to devote our lives to and, at the same time, to establish them on (Namu=Kimyō) 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 gateway to the Dharma that points out that existence is the emptiness of relativity (, shūnyatā) that can only be reached through the mind, in light of the five ideograms of the title and theme, is that which lies underneath all the dharmas of existence without ignoring any single dimension whatsoever.

The gateway to the Dharma that proposes existence is both just as it is and what it appears to be and simultaneously includes the emptiness of relativity (, shūnyatā), which can only be reached through the mind, possesses the dual gateway of the teachings that are derived from the external events of Shākyamuni’s life and work, as well as the teachings that refer to the original archetypical state that is based on the existence of the Fundamental Buddhahood, in the Sixteenth Chapter on the Lifespan of the Tathāgata of the Dharma Flower Sutra (Hokke-kyō).

Finally, the gateway to the Dharma as propounded by the Dharma Flower Sutra (Hokke-kyō) is that existence is neither just as it is, as it appears to be; nor is it the emptiness of relativity (, shūnyatā) that can only be reached through the mind. Instead, it is the integrated whole of the Sutra on the Lotus Flower of the Utterness of the Dharma (Myōhō Renge Kyō).

The wisdom and discernment of the people who exerted themselves to attain the highest stage of the teachings of the individual vehicle (shōjō, hīnayāna) through listening to the Buddha or simply intellectual seekers (shōmon, shrāvaka) who have yet to involve themselves in the Dharma Flower Sutra (Hokke-kyō) are incapable of arriving at this inner realisation that is their own assurance of the truth.

It says in the third volume of the Textual Explanation of the Dharma Flower Sutra (Hokke Mongu), “even these people who are familiar with the seven kinds of expedient means”; That is to say, with regard to the intellectual seekers (shōmon, shrāvaka) and the people who are partially enlightened due to a profound search for the meaning of existence (engaku, hyakushibutsu, pratyekabuddha), the bodhisattvas of the teachings of the individual vehicle (zōkyō) and the teachings that connect the individual vehicle (shōjō, hīnayāna) to those of the universal vehicle (tsūgyō) as well as the bodhisattvas of the teachings that were specifically preached for them (bekkyō), none of them are able to understand this inner enlightenment.

Now Nichiren and those that follow him have gained entrance into this wisdom and discernment. We can quote from the metric hymn in the Chapter on Expedient Means of the Dharma Flower Sutra (Hokke-kyō), where it says, “apart from all the bodhisattvas with a strength of faith that is solid and firm”. This line applies to those who do the practices of the Dharma Flower Sutra (Hokke-kyō).


All the people who exert themselves to attain the highest stage of the teachings of the individual vehicle (shōjō, hīnayāna) through listening to the Buddha or intellectual seekers (shōmon, shrāvaka) or the people who are partially enlightened due to a profound search for the meaning of existence (engaku, hyakushibutsu, pratyekabuddha), all of these people with what they know at present are unable to penetrate this wisdom and discernment.

Why is it so?

It is because the Buddhas have already attended on countless myriads of myriads of Buddhas and have completed the incalculable amount of practises of the path of the Dharma. They have been courageously bold and have wanted to make progress in their practises with the purest intentions. Their names are universally known. They have brought to completion exceedingly deep dharmas that would take other people aback. The way they have explained the Dharma in order to suit other people’s circumstances is difficult for the mind to follow and see how they were able to do this.

Sharihotsu (Shariputra), ever since I have reached the stage of being enlightened, I have propounded on a large scale the teaching of the Buddha, through pointing out all sorts of causes and karmic circumstances as well as all sorts of parables and similes. Through incalculable expedient means, I have enticed sentient beings to let go of all their hang-ups.

Why is this so?

The Tathāgata is in full possession of the knowledge and farsightedness of how expedient means can take people from the dimensions of suffering to the shore of enlightenment.

Sharihotsu (Shariputra), the knowing and insight of the Tathāgata is as all-embracingly broad as it is deep. It cannot be measured and is without obstacles to hinder its universality. The strength, self-assurance, as well as the profound and abstract contemplation behind this knowing and insight, gives it the freedom from living and dying or karma and delusions, as well as a perfect absorption into any particular object of mediation. So the Buddha has penetrated depths without limits and without precedent. He has brought to complete realisation all the dharmas (to become enlightened).

Sharihotsu (Shariputra), I will say this, so as to keep to the point; the Buddha has brought incalculably boundless dharmas that have never before been accomplished or fulfilled.

Stop, Sharihotsu (Shariputra), don’t say anything more. The reason is that what the Buddha brought to perfection is the most awe-inspiring primary, and difficultly understood Dharma. The real aspect of all dharmas can only be exhaustively scrutinised between one Buddha and another.

This real aspect of all dharmas is said to be (Sho’i shohō) in any way they make themselves present to any of our six sense organseyes, ears, nose, tongue, body and mind – (Nyoze sō), their various inner qualities (Nyoze shō), their substance or what they really are (Nyoze tai), their potential strength and energy (Nyoze riki), the manifestation of that energy and strength, which is their influence (Nyoze sa), their fundamental causes (Nyoze in), along with their karmic circumstances (Nyoze en), the effects they produce (Nyoze ka) and their apparent and karmic consequences (Nyoze ); also in any way dharmas make themselves perceptible to any of our six sense organseyes, ears, nose, tongue, body, and mind – has a coherence with their “apparent karmic consequences” which are present in every instant of life (Nyoze hon makku kyō tō).

There and then, the World Honoured One, wishing to express the significance of what he had said, once again explained it in terms of a metric hymn.

The wisdom and discernment
of the World Honoured Hero of Humankind
cannot be estimated
not even by the deva (ten)
or the people of this world.
All the different kinds
of sentient beings
cannot know
what the Buddha comprehends
neither the Buddha’s strength
nor his other attributes.
No one is able
to figure this out.
From the very beginning
he has followed
other Buddhas without number
and has practised to the full
all the various paths to enlightenment,
dharmas that are exceedingly profound
and all-embracing in every respect,
dharmas that are difficult
to picture in one’s mind
and difficult to understand.
Over a period of numberless kalpas
he has practised all the paths
to completion,
which he brought to fruition
at the Site
of the Path of Enlightenment,
whereupon he said:
Henceforth, I am endowed
with the entirety
of wisdom and insight
as well as such an enormous realisation
and its consequences,
along with its psychological
and physical implications.
The Buddhas of the ten directions
and myself
as a matter of course
know what this experience is.
Such a matter
cannot be shown
and the words to express it
fall silent and come to nothing.
Among all the other kinds
of sentient beings
none are really able
to understand it,
apart from the bodhisattvas
with a strength of faith
that is solid and firm.
Not even the assembly
of the disciples of the Buddha
who have already made offerings
to all the Enlightened Ones
or have put an end
to their troublesome worries (bonnō, klesha)
and are now living
their last incarnations
such people as these
have not got the strength
to bear the weight
of enlightenment.
Even if this existential dimension
were filled with people
like Sharihotsu (Shariputra)
who all together
were to compute
with all their might
they would not be able
to measure the extent
of the wisdom of the Buddha.
Even if the ten directions
were filled with people
like Sharihotsu (Shariputra)
or if all the other disciples
were to fill
all the abodes of existence
that contain three thousand existential spaces (setsu)
and were to exert
all their mental strength,
again they would not be able to know
what the extent of the wisdom is.
If those people
who have become partially enlightened
due to a profound search
for the meaning of existence (engaku, hyakushibutsu, pratyekabuddha),
who with their keen perception and being
devoid of troublesome worries (bonnō, klesha)
and in their last incarnation
were to fill
all the existential dimensions,
so that their number
like a closely knit thicket of bamboos
were, all together
in a single mind,
over a period of myriads
of incalculable myriads of kalpas
to try to formulate
the real wisdom of the Buddha
they would not even know
a fraction of it.
If all the bodhisattvas
who newly have a mind
to make offerings
to countless Buddhas
as well as having a clear understanding
of the paths of truth
and who are skilfully able
to explain this Dharma
were to fill
the abodes of existence
that contain
three thousand existential spaces (setsu)
as densely as rice plants,
hemp, bamboo, and reeds
for as many kalpas
as there are grains of sand in the Ganges
and were with their minds
all in unison
and their wisdom of Utterness
to think deeply together
they would not be able to know
what the wisdom of the Buddha is.
If all the bodhisattvas
who are beyond the stage
of backsliding
whose number is as many
as there are grains of sand in the Ganges
were all together
with a single mind
to seek and think
about the extent
of the wisdom and discernment
of the Buddha,
again, they would not be able to do so.
Furthermore, I shall tell you, Sharihotsu (Shariputra),
this imponderably inexplicable Dharma
that is free from troublesome worries (bonnō, klesha)
and is exceedingly profound,
as well as being subtly all-pervading,
I have now attained
in its entirety.
Only I know
what this Dharma entails
just like the Buddhas
of the ten directions.
You must know, Sharihotsu (Shariputra),
that the words
of all the Buddhas
are without divergence.
You must hold
an all-embracing, strong faith
in the Dharma
that is explained
by the Buddha,
so that the Dharma
of the World Honoured One
may last a long time afterwards.
It must indeed expound
what true reality is.
I announce to 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,
and intellectual seekers (shōmon, shrāvaka),
as well as those who seek the vehicle
of partial enlightenment,
due to a profound search
for the meaning of existence (engaku, hyakushibutsu, pratyekabuddha)
that I will free them
from the bonds of suffering
and guide them
to strive for nirvana,
by means of the power
of expedient means
and by revealing to them
the teachings of the three vehicles
for intellectual seekers
and those who are partially enlightened
and bodhisattvas.
Sentient beings
are attached to many things
in many places,
so I must encourage them
to get free
from their attachments.

At that time there were in the assembly about one thousand two hundred people who were exerting themselves to attain the highest stage of the individual vehicle (shōjō, hīnayāna) through listening to the Buddha (shōmon, shrāvaka) as well as people who had attained the supreme reward of the individual vehicle (shōjō, hīnayāna) and were free from the restraints of troublesome worries (bonnō, klesha) such as Anyagyōjinnō and others. There were also people who were listening to the Buddha (shōmon, shrāvaka) and other people who had attained some measure of enlightenment for themselves, due to a profound search for the meaning of existence (engaku, hyakushibutsu, pratyekabuddha). They had all made up their minds to become enlightened along with monks, nuns and devout secular followers of both sexes. Each one of them was turning this over in their minds:

Why is it that the World Honoured One in deference praises his expedient means by saying that his Dharma is exceedingly profound and difficult to comprehend? Then he goes on to say that the gist of what he explains is difficult to conceptualise and that those who listen to the Buddha (shōmon, shrāvaka) and those who have attained a measure of enlightenment for themselves (hyakushi butsu) cannot know it to the full, due to a profound search for the meaning of existence (engaku, hyakushibutsu, pratyekabuddha).

The meaning of the one and only emancipation that the Buddha has propounded is that we also can benefit from this Dharma and ultimately reach (itareri) nirvana. But at present we do not know where this doctrinal philosophy will lead us.

At that moment Sharihotsu (Shariputra) knowing the doubts that were in the minds of the monks, nuns and the lay devotees of both sexes including himself who had not yet fully understood said to the Buddha: World Honoured One, what is the cause and what are the accompanying reasons (en)? Does the World Honoured One in deference insist on praising the foremost expedient means of the Buddhas which is the Dharma that is the exceedingly profound subtlety of Utterness that is difficult to understand?

Ever since times past, I have never yet heard the Buddha preach in this way. Now, every one of the monks, nuns and pious lay believers both male and female are all having their doubts.

My only wish is that the World Honoured One will expound this matter at length. For what reason does the World Honoured One in deference insist on praising the Dharma that is the exceedingly profound subtlety of Utterness?

There and then, Sharihotsu (Shariputra), who wanting to repeat the content of what he had said, expressed it in terms of a metric hymn.

Venerable sage
and good and correct
in all your character
with a wisdom
as bright as the sun
to discern things
and their underlying principle,
who just as you yourself acknowledge
are in possession
of imponderably unexplainable dharmas
such as strength, dauntlessness
and powers of concentration,
along with the power
to have perfect absorption
into a single object of meditation
and is moreover free
from the cycles of living and dying,
from karma, illusion and suffering
which all imply nirvana,
as for the Dharma
that you attained
at the Place of Enlightenment
there is nobody
who is able to question it.
It would be difficult to work out
what goes on in your mind.
Moreover there is no one
who can question it.
Without anyone asking you to do so
you have spontaneously preached,
praising the path
you have practised
and the wisdom and discernment
that is the exceedingly profound
subtlety of Utterness
which is the attainment
of all the Buddhas.
All the people
who have accomplished
the realisation
of the individual vehicle (shōjō, hīnayāna)
as well as all those
who seek nirvana
have now fallen
into the net of doubts.
For what reason
does the Buddha preach such things?
All those who have attained some measure
of enlightenment
due to a profound search
for the meaning of existence (engaku, hyakushibutsu, pratyekabuddha),
as well as the monks, nuns
and all the deva (ten), dragons (ryū, nāga), disembodied spirits (ki)
minor divinities (shin) and kendabbas
are looking at each other
with hesitation
at the bottom of their hearts.
Yet they look up with reverence
at the most venerated human
standing on two legs.
Why have such things come about?
What we ask
is that the Buddha
expounds and clarifies
this Dharma for them.
Out of all the people
in the assembly
who were striving for the realisation
of the individual vehicle (shōjō, hīnayāna)
through listening to the Buddha
as well as other intellectual seekers (shōmon, shrāvaka),
the Buddha declared
that I Sharihotsu (Shariputra)
was the foremost.
But now
on account of the confusion
and doubts in my own wisdom
I cannot become enlightened.
Would this be the Dharma
that deals with all the other dharmas
to their utmost totality?
Or would this be a path to practise?
All of those
who are led by the Buddha
who leads all beings
into the same enlightenment
have put the palms of their hands together
and are looking at you
in expectation.
We ask you
to make a declaration
since now is the time
to explain
the foremost essential
out of which existence arises (nyojitsu).
All the deva (ten), dragons (ryū, nāga)
and minor divinities
among others
whose number is like the grains of sand of the Ganges
as well as all the eighty thousand bodhisattvas
in search
of the Buddha enlightenment
and all the sage-like sovereigns
whose chariot wheels
roll everywhere without hindrance (tenrinnō, chakravartin)
who come from countless abodes
upon which beings
depend for an existence
have come
with their palms together
and a mind of veneration,
desirous of hearing
the teaching of the path
in its entirety.

Then the Buddha addressed Sharihotsu (Shariputra) saying: Stop, stop, you must say no more. If I were to expound this matter, all the deva (ten) and humankind from every space where their existences occur would be taken aback with doubts.

Sharihotsu (Shariputra) again addressed the Buddha and said: World Honoured One, what I only wish is that you explain this Dharma. All I want is that you expound this matter. What is the reason for this? In this assembly there are uncountable hundreds of thousands of myriads of sentient beings whose faculties are terribly keen and their wisdom and discernment is perfectly clear and who have already seen the Buddhas. They would then be able to have faith and reverence for it.

Thereupon Sharihotsu (Shariputra), once again wishing to reiterate the meaning of what he had said, recounted it again in the form of a metric hymn.

Sovereign of the Dharma
and Venerable without superior,
we only want you to explain
without holding anything back.
All the uncountable beings
in the assembly
are able to listen
with faith and veneration.

Stop Sharihotsu (Shariputra), if I were to explain this matter, the deva (ten) and shura (ashura) from all the existential spaces would indeed be skeptical and afraid. Conceited monks would certainly fall into the great pit of hell.

The Buddha then repeated his words in the form of a metric hymn.

Stop, stop,
you must say no more.
Since my Dharma
is Utterness
and is difficult
for the mind to conceive,
if all those people
who brag about their wisdom
were to hear it
they would certainly
have no faith in it
nor would they respect it.

Once again Sharihotsu (Shariputra) addressed the Buddha: My only wish is that you expound this Dharma. All I want is that you explain it. At present, there are hundreds of thousands of myriads of people in this assembly who already from lifetime to lifetime have received instruction from a Buddha. Such people would certainly have faith in and revere what you teach, so that during the long night of mortality and transmigrations they would have a settled firm resolve and the wisdom (chōya anon) that would advance them in many ways.

Then Sharihotsu (Shariputra), wishing to repeat the intention of what he had said, expressed it in the form of a metric hymn.

What I would like
is that the person
standing on two legs
that has no superior above him
would expound the Dharma
that is fundamental to all.
As the elder
among the Buddha’s disciples
who would only preach
with due deference and discernment,
there are those
in this assembly
of innumerable persons
who would with veneration
believe in this Dharma.
The Buddha has
through successive ages
taught and put people of this kind
onto the Buddha path.
Each and every one
with the whole of their minds
with the palms of their hands together
wishes to hear
and take to heart
the words of the Buddha.
We thousand two hundred disciples
as well as all those
who are seeking
the enlightenment of the Buddha
ask you
for the benefit of this crowd
to be so kind as to expound
and make this Dharma clear,
so that those
who hear this teaching
will be filled with joy.

Thereupon the World Honoured One said to Sharihotsu (Shariputra): You have already asked me courteously three times. How can I not give you an explanation?

Now, listen with full attention and think carefully about what I am saying. I will expound it to you in the most understandable language.

As soon as this was said, there were monks, nuns and pious lay believers both male and female who got up from their seats, made obeisance to the Buddha and then left.

For what reason did they leave?

This ius the sort of individual whose roots are embedded in grave wrongdoings and who are full of conceit. They think they have arrived at an illumination they have not, or they testify to an enlightenment they have not yet reached. It is on account of having such defects that they are unable to stay and listen.

The World Honoured One remained silent and did not try to hold them back.

Then he said to Sharihotsu (Shariputra), Now in this assembly there are no more scraps and leavings, only the genuine, pure and true remain. Sharihotsu (Shariputra), It is perfectly alright that such arrogant and conceited people have got up and left. You must now listen attentively since what I am going to expound for your benefit.

Sharihotsu (Shariputra) said: Yes, World Honoured One, my greatest wish is to listen to you.

The Buddha then addressed Sharihotsu (Shariputra) saying: The Buddhas never preach the Utterness of the Dharma (Myōhō, Saddharma) until the time is ripe, just like the udumbara tree which is supposed to produce fruit without flowering but is said to flower once every three thousand years and does not blossom until its time is due. Sharihotsu (Shariputra), all of you must hold faith in what the Buddha says. His words are neither untruths nor are they without reason.

Sharihotsu (Shariputra), when the Buddhas expound the Dharma according to their enlightenment, the way they understand existence and the direction of their minds is difficult to comprehend. Why is this so?

It is on account of the fact that I have expounded all the dharmas in terms of innumerable expedient means, all sorts of narratives whose events are in harmony with their direct causes and their karmic circumstances as well as similes and parables and different turns of phrase. This Dharma has something about it that cannot be understood through reasoning or trying to pick it out (shiryō funbestsu). Only the Buddhas can really know what it is all about.

Why is this so?

The reason is that the World Honoured Buddhas (shōbutsu seson) only appear in the world for the single reason and karmic circumstance (innen) that is their all-embracing concern.


The third important point: the World Honoured Buddhas only appear in the world for the single reason and karmic circumstance that is their all-embracing concern.

In the fourth volume of the Textual Explanation of the Dharma Flower Sutra (Hokke Mongu) it says, “The meaning of the word ‘single’ here implies the real aspect of all dharmas.” It does not mean five, seven or nine because “single” means only one, neither double nor multiple. The original condition of singleness is its voluminous extent, far more reaching than the concepts of five, three, seven or nine. Therefore we refer to it as being all-embracing (dai) as well as being the contextual occasion for the Buddha to appear in the world. For this reason this contextual occasion becomes a concern. Sentient beings have the propensity to be able to feel the need for a Buddha. Therefore this can be specified as a reason. The Buddhas in answer to this propensity act in sympathy to it. This is defined as a karmic relationship. Hence this is the fundamental reason for which the Buddhas appear in the world.

The Oral Transmission on the Meaning of the Dharma Flower Sutra (Ongi Kuden) says the word “single” refers to the Dharma Flower Sutra (Hokke-kyō) which is the only teaching that includes the real aspect of the middle way (chūdo jisso) which is the middle path between the unsubstantial quality of what goes on in the mind (, shūnyatā) and the superficial physical qualities that touch upon our various sense organs (ke). The words “all-embracing” (dai) designate the Garland Flower Sutra (Kegon, Avatāmsaka-sūtra), which was a teaching that taught that everything exists in a continual relationship to everything else and that the unsubstantial quality of noumena and relativity (, shūnyatā) that can only be reached by the mind is the all-embracing quality of every experience.

In other words, the teachings of the Garland Flower Sutra (Kegon, Avatāmsaka-sūtra) point out that existence is either materiality (ke) or whatever can be reached by our minds (, shūnyatā), but not the inseparability of both. It was also the first sutra taught by Shākyamuni. The wordconcern” entails the doctrinal period of the doctrine of the individual vehicle (shōjō, hīnayāna) whose essential doctrine propounded that existence was the relativity (, shūnyatā) only (tankū) or the doctrinal periods of the equally broad doctrine and that of the wisdom (hannya, prajña) teachings which were inclined to show that any existential state was simply an experience or something that had the non-substantial quality of what goes on in the mind (futankū). Apart from the Dharma Flower Sutra (Hokke-kyō) all those other doctrines are incomplete and inadequate, in the same way as a perfectly round pearl that has been smashed is no longer a precious object.

Also The Oral Transmission on the Meaning of the Dharma Flower Sutra (Ongi Kuden) states that the word “single” denotes Utterness (Myō). The words “all-embracing” indicate dharmas or the Dharma (Ho). The wordconcern’” implies the lotus plant itself (Ren), whereas the wordreason” in the sense of meaning a cause is the flower of the plant (Ge). The expression karmic circumstance takes on the various meanings of sutra (Kyō).

Again we can say that our heads can be equated with Utterness (Myō), our throat to dharmas or the Dharma (); our chest corresponds to the lotus plant (Ren). Our abdomen and genitals (hara) which also constitute the seat of our less worthy intentions that are the cause of much of our karma are lined up with the flower of the lotus (Ge). Our legs are aligned with the wordsutra” (Kyō) which here has something to do with the realm of dharmas. So accordingly our five foot (chaku) persons are the five ideograms for Myōhō Renge Kyō.

For a period of more than forty years the Tathāgata Shākyamuni held back this all-embracing concern as being esoteric. He brought it to light when he came to explain the Dharma Flower Sutra (Hokke-kyō). The Buddha came into the world with the purpose of revealing this all-embracing concern of his, which means that we ourselves are the substantiation of the five ideograms for Myōhō Renge Kyō, also, to open the gateway to his own wisdom and perception as well as to make us aware that our own inherent Buddha nature is not separate from our personalities (sokushin jōbutsu).

To open in this sense is another way of saying “a mind of faith”. If we recite Nam Myōhō Renge Kyō with reverence we will in due course open up our minds of faith which is the gateway to the wisdom and perception of the Buddha.

In the meantime, as we open up the inherent faith in our minds through reciting Nam Myōhō Renge Kyō, “making it apparent in our lives” means that we return 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) which in itself is the manifestation of the wisdom and perception of the Buddha.

As we do this we come to realise that the place where we live is the immaculate terrain of Vulture Peak (Ryōjusen, Gridhrakūta), (due to our being less closed in by personal problems along with an increased awareness of being alive that has given rise to keener sensitivities), as well as becoming awakened to the fact that our inherent Buddha nature is not separate from what we are in our daily lives. This is to become receptive to the wisdom and perception of the Buddha. The main point of this kind of realisation is that it denotes “arriving at the site of the path” which also means to find our way into the wisdom and perception of the Buddha.

Obviously this only comes about through the right way of understanding the meaning of opening the gateway to this wisdom and perception by means of a mind of faith. The concept “entering” or “finding our way into” as used in the phrase “to find our way into the wisdom and perception of the Buddha”, when this expression is applied to the teachings derived from the external events of the Buddha Shākyamuni’s life and work, means to make our way into the truth through the principle of the real aspect of all dharmas.

(However, this is a principle that does not include the three existential spaces (san seken) – 1) the existential spaces of the five aggregates (go’on seken), 2) the existential spaces of sentient beings (shujō seken) and 3) the existential spaces upon which sentient beings depend for an existence (kokudo seken). A sentient being is an individual existence which can at any moment become prey to any of the ten (psychological) realms of dharmas (jikkai) such as suffering (jigoku kai) or temporary joy (tenkai). The five aggregates are the makeup of an individual sentient being which is comprised of 1) (shiki) its physical form as well as the capacities of its organs of sense, 2) (ju) which is the function of receiving exterior information through the different organs of sense which have an effect on this sentient being's mind, 3) (sō) thought or the way this individual may perceive its existence or any concept that may come into its mind, 4) (gyō) dispositions inherited from former lives that influence this individual’s intentions, 5) (shiki) knowledge, since all living beings inherit the previous four aggregates which influence this individual’s behaviour (shiki) or knowledge which might be better understood as a way of knowing. The existential spaces upon which sentient beings depend for an existence (kokudo seken) are the material environments in which individuals live, die and do what they do.)

Nevertheless, if this concept of “entering” is understood in terms of the original state, it means that if we comprehend the idea that we are endowed with an inherent Buddha nature then this in itself is the enlightenment of the original state of all sentient beings.

Now, a person like Nichiren as well as those who follow him and recite Nam Myōhō Renge Kyō with reverence indicates that they have entered into the Stupa made of precious materials. This is the enhancement that is brought about through faith, but it also implies that we live all space, all time simultaneously and effortlessly.

Again The Oral Transmission on the Meaning of the Dharma Flower Sutra (Ongi Kuden) says that the wordBuddha” in the phrase “opening the wisdom and perception of the Buddha” refers to the Dharma realm of Buddhahood with which we are endowed among the other nine realms of dharmas. This is the archetype of life itself, the wisdom to understand it and to be able to communicate it to others. This wisdom and perception entails the two ideograms for the Utterness of the Dharma (Myōhō, Saddharma) or the two ideograms for the desistance from troublesome worries (shikan).(This, from the point of view of our teaching, is the whereabouts of the ten (psychological) realms of dharmas (Kyō) of the interdependence of cause, concomitancy and effect (Renge) throughout the entirety of existence (Myōhō).)

Also this wisdom and discernment stand for the two qualities of the enlightenment of the Buddhas which is the shining light that is totally silent (jyaku shō). Furthermore, this wisdom and discernment symptomize the two words “life” and “death” which is the fundamental and eternal essence of life itself, including the interdependence of cause, concomitancy and effect inherent in both the physical and mental dimensions of existence (shikishin inga).

So, coming to the point, this wisdom and perception are the Utterness of the Dharma (Myōhō, Saddharma), which in this case is the whole of the teaching of enlightenment. It means opening up the wisdom and perception of the Dharma realm of the Buddha that is inherent in our ten (psychological) realms of dharmas by means of the Dharma Flower Sutra (Hokke-kyō) which is the recitation of Nam Myōhō Renge Kyō.

When we ponder over that point, the Buddha is what the sentient beings of the nine existential spaces really are. So when the Buddha opens up and reveals his enlightenment in the sutra, he then asks the sentient beings in the assembly if they will hold to this opening of the path to the wisdom and perception of the Buddha in their present bodies for as long as it takes them after successive lives to manifest their own Buddha incarnations, because the revelation of the Utterness of the Dharma (Myōhō, Saddharma) is making the wisdom and perception of the Buddha known to other people.

When teacher and disciple mutually communicate with each other and the disciples have accepted and understood the teaching, then this inner realisation is to get to know the wisdom and perception of the Buddha for what it really is. This corresponds to the view of Shākyamuni in the Second Chapter of the Dharma Flower Sutra (Hokke-kyō) where he says, “to make all people have the same inner realisation as myself so that there can be no difference between us”.

When the disciples have come to this full understanding and they perceive the three thousand existential spaces of dharmas as being the actual realities of the different whereabouts of the simultaneity of cause, concomitancy and effect throughout the Utterness of the Dharma (Myōhō, Saddharma), then when people enter such an inner comprehension it is said to be entering the wisdom and perception of the Buddha. All this must be regarded as an esoteric teaching.

Again these four approaches to the wisdom and perception of the Buddha, of 1) opening the gateway to the Buddha path through faith, 2) of making it apparent in our lives, 3) to come to understand its real meaning through seeing existence in terms of the teaching of the three thousand existential spaces and their respective karmas, and 4) fully enter into this wisdom and perception, all coincide with eight features of the life of the Buddha: 1) the descent from heaven, 2) entering the womb, 3) leaving the womb, 4) to leaving home for the ascetic path, 5) subduing evil, 6) attainment to the path, 7) Turning the wheel of the Dharma, 8) entering nirvana.

“To open up by means of faith” corresponds to the essential features (sō) of the Buddha’s birth and to “fully enter the wisdom and perception of the Buddha” tallies with his death and extinction in nirvana. The two approaches to this wisdom and perception 1) “by making it apparent in our lives” and 2) “to come to understand its real meaning” coincide with the other six features of the Buddha’s life.

The descent from heaven and entering the womb correspond to making the Buddha wisdom and perception apparent in our lives, whereas leaving home for the ascetic path, subdue evil, attainment to the path and turning the wheel of the Dharma complement the understanding of the real meaning of the Buddha wisdom and perception through seeing existence in terms of the one instant of thought containing three thousand existential spaces and the various influences of karma that go with it.

The intention of the provisional teachings that came prior to the Dharma Flower Sutra (Hokke-kyō) were a teaching to create an absolute separation from the reality of the cycles of living and dying. Therefore such doctrines cannot be referred to as opening the gateway to the Buddha path through faith, or making it apparent in our lives, or to arrive at its real meaning by seeing existence in terms of the one instant of thought containing three thousand existential spaces (ichinen sanzen) along with their various karmic influences, or even to fully enter into the wisdom and perception of the Buddha.

But when we come to the Dharma Flower Sutra (Hokke-kyō) we realise that the two dharmas of life and death are the Utterness of the workings of the oneness of mind. The two dimensions of existence and nonexistence are the outset of understanding what the real effect of the enlightenment of the original state really is. This is 1) the opening of the gateway to the wisdom and perception of the Buddha through faith, 2) making it apparent in our lives, 3) to come to understand its real meaning and 4) to fully enter such a wisdom and perception. Those four ways of inducing the wisdom and perception of the Buddha is considered a single matter of the all-embracing concern of all the Buddhas of the past, present, and future as well as being the reason for their coming into the world.

When we perceive this Dharma Flower Sutra (Hokke-kyō) as being the means to open the gateway to the wisdom and perception of the Buddha, Honen, who was the founder of the school of the Immaculate Terrain (Nembutsu), a teaching founded on the imaginary heaven of the make-believe the Buddha Amida (Amitābha), claims that we should throw the Dharma Flower Sutra (Hokke-kyō) away, close it, shelve it like an old archive or simply ditch it.

The Universal Teacher Kobo, who was the founder of the Tantric and Mantra School (Shingon), declaimed that the Dharma Flower Sutra (Hokke-kyō) was a teaching that came third after 1) the Sutra on the Tathāgata Dai Nichi (Dai Nichi Kyō) and 2) the Flower Garland Sutra (Kegon, Avatāmsaka). So Kobo had relegated the Sutra on the Lotus Flower of the Utterness of the Dharma (Myōhō Renge Kyō) to third place. The Universal Teacher Kobo also underestimates the Dharma Flower Sutra (Hokke-kyō) by slandering it as “an absurd discourse”.

Are these not the people who would cut out the tongues of all the Buddhas in general, those of the past, present and future as well as Shākyamuni? All these Buddhas had set their hearts on coming into the world in order to expound the Dharma Flower Sutra (Hokke-kyō). Are not Universal Teachers such as Jikaku, Chishō and the like, people who hand a sword to an evildoing child who would cut off the heads of his progenitors the Buddhas?

Also The Oral Transmission on the Meaning of the Dharma Flower Sutra (Ongi Kuden) states that in the passage, “The Buddhas only appear in the world for the single reason and karmic circumstance that is their all-embracing concern,” the word “single” stands for the self evident truth of the middle way of reality (chūtai). The words “all-embracing” allude to the concept of relativiy that exists in the immateriality of noumena (kūkai). The wordconcern” in this case indicates the self-evident truth of material existence that is always changing and modifying itself (ketai).

What then is this all-inclusive, unobstructed accommodation of materiality and form, the relativities that exist in the emptiness of relativity (, shūnyatā), as well as the middle way of reality?

This is said to be Nam Myōhō Renge Kyō. The meaning of these five and seven ideograms is the reason for which Nichiren had set his mind in order to come into the world.

Out of all the people in the world of humankind, the persons who become the followers of Nichiren are those who are in need of an enlightened guide to give their lives a direction. This wish becomes the cause and effective reason for bringing about his appearance. Then when the Daishōnin makes the ultimate and essential point of the Dharma Flower Sutra (Hokke-kyō) available to his disciples it is in response to their wish and is referred to as a karmic circumstance. The “cause” refers to the sowing of the original seeds of enlightenment and life itself in the ever-present infinity in time (kuon ganjo). (This would imply that life and mind as such must be fundamentally inherent throughout the whole of existence.)

The karmic circumstances reach back as far as the depth in our own minds which in the India of Shākyamuni was expressed in terms of the unimaginably uncountable grains of dust that would be left if someone were to grind three or five hundred universes from their inception to their corresponding terminations. Then each single grain would be counted as a kalpa that has passed. (This would point to life and mind being only capable of evolving in three-dimensional universes that are suspended in the rhythms of coming into being, lasting as long as they last, passing through a phase of degeneration and then ceasing to exist altogether.)

The “concern” is the one instant of thought containing three thousand existential spaces expressed in concrete terms which is the Fundamental Object of Veneration (gohonzon) and corresponds to the person of Nichiren. Again, the word “single” denotes the one instant of thought. The term “all-embracing” indicates the three thousand existential spaces that allegorically span the whole of mentally available existence. What happens in these three thousand existential spaces is the reason and karmic circumstance of the concern. The “concern” is the “existential space of sentient beings” (shujō seken) who are always disquieted by the various appearances of the “ten (psychological) realms of dharmas ” (jippōkai, jikkai) such as suffering or joy.

The “reason” has come about through the existential space of the five aggregates which are the components of sentient beings: 1) (shiki) physical form, 2) (ju) reception through the various organs of sense, 3) (sō) the way a sentient being thinks, 4) (gyō) behavioural patterns from past existences that influence the present, 5) (shiki) the way sentient beings comprehend existence.

“The karmic circumstances” are the existential space upon which sentient beings depend for an existence (kokudo seken) and also the world of humankind (Nanenbudai). This is the place where Myōhō Renge Kyō, the Sutra on the White Lotus Flower-like Mechanism of the Utterness of the Dharma (Myōhō Renge Kyō), is to be propagated. As it says in the Sutra, “It will be broadly propagated throughout the world of humankind, and it will never be made to come to an end.”


Sharihotsu (Shariputra), why is it said to be that the World Honoured Buddhas only appear in the world for the single reason and karmic circumstances that is their all-embracing concern?

All the World Honoured Buddhas come into the world because they themselves are sentient beings and they wish to open up the wisdom and perception of Buddhahood in other sentient beings so that they may become pure, clean and free from unhappiness. They come into the world because they wish to make it apparent in the lives of sentient beings what the wisdom and perception of the Buddha really is. They come into the world because they wish to make sentient beings comprehend the wisdom and perception of the Buddhas. They also come into the world because they want sentient beings to enter the path of this wisdom and perception of those who are enlightened.

Sharihotsu (Shariputra), this is why the Buddhas only come into the world for this single reason and karmic circumstance that is their all-embracing concern.

The Buddha addressed Sharihotsu (Shariputra) saying: All the Buddha Tathāgatas only try to transform bodhisattvas through the teaching of enlightenment (kyō) and everything that they do is always for a single concern, which is only to make this wisdom and perception apparent and understandably available to sentient beings. Sharihotsu (Shariputra), it is only by means of a single vehicle that the Tathāgata expounds the Dharma to sentient beings. There are no other vehicles; neither two nor are there three. Sharihotsu (Shariputra), it is the same with the Dharma of all the Buddhas of the ten directions.

Sharihotsu (Shariputra), all the Buddhas of the past have expounded the Dharma for the benefit of sentient beings by way of an incalculable amount of expedient means, all sorts of narratives whose events are in harmony with their direct causes and karmic circumstances as well as similes and parables and different turms of phrase. The reason being is that all these dharmas are the makeup of the single vehicle.

Every one of those sentient beings who hear the Dharma from any of the Buddhas will in the end acquire the Buddha knowledge of all states of being and things in their each and every aspect and relationship throughout the past, present and future.

Sharihotsu (Shariputra), all the Buddhas of the future who must appear in the world will again expound and explain for the benefit of sentient beings all the dharmas which is its Utterness (Myō), by means of unaccountably boundless expedient means, all sorts of narratives whose events are in harmony with their direct causes and karmic circumstances as well as similes and parables and different turns of phrase, on account of the fact that this Dharma as well as (the Utterness of) all dharmas constitutes the single vehicle of the Buddha.

All those sentient beings who will follow and listen to the Dharma from a Buddha will in the end succeed to the perfect wisdom of the fully enlightened which is the knowledge of all states of being and things in their each and every aspect and relationship throughout the past, present and future.

Sharihotsu (Shariputra), all the World Honoured Buddhas who are at present throughout the incalculable hundreds of thousands of myriads of existential spaces that are endowed with a Buddha realm enrich their sentient beings with many advantages as well as tranquillity and joy. Furthermore, all those Buddhas will expound and explain the Dharma (Shohō, Myōhō) for the sake of sentient beings by means of boundlessly uncountable expedient means, all sorts of narratives whose events are in harmony with their direct causes and karmic circumstances as well as similes and parables and different turns of phrase.

The reason is that this Dharma is the makeup of the single vehicle of the Buddha. Each one of those sentient beings who hear the Dharma will in the end acquire the Buddha knowledge of all states of being, all things in their each and every aspect and relationship throughout the past, present and future.

Sharihotsu (Shariputra), the Buddhas only instruct to enlighten the bodhisattvas who have a mind for seeking the truth not only for themselves but for others.

The reason is that they wish to make the Buddha wisdom and perception apparent in the lives of sentient beings. Also on this account they wish to make sentient beings thoroughly understand the wisdom and perception of the Buddha, as well as wanting to motivate sentient beings to enter onto the path of the wisdom and perception of the Buddha.

Sharihotsu (Shariputra), now, again it is the same for myself who is aware that all sentient beings have various wants and also in the depths of their hearts they have various weaknesses. Therefore because of such deep-rooted bad habits I use all sorts of narratives whose events are in harmony with their direct causes and karmic circumstances as well as similes and parables and different ways of expressing myself, as a convenient and expedient method to explain to them what the Dharma is.

Sharihotsu, all this is in order to make sentient beings attain the knowledge of all states of being and things in each and every aspect and relationship throughout the past, present and future which is the goal of the single Buddha vehicle, in other words to make them understand the whole of existence in terms of the one instant of thought containing three thousand existential spaces.

Sharihotsu, all the Buddhas come into the world during the evil ages of the five afflictions, turbidity, impurity or chaos. These five afflictions are accredited to the second of the four stages of the evolution of kalpas which is when kalpas last as long as they are supposed to (ju). (The five afflictions are 1) the kalpa in decay, i.e., war, natural disasters, plagues etc., 2) deterioration of views, egotism etc.; also when unhealthy ideas flourish; 3) troublesome worries (bonnō, klesha) become overwhelming; 4) people become sick, our misery increases; and 5) our lifespans become shorter.)


The fourth important point concerning the five afflictions of the kalpas.

In the Textual Explanation of the Dharma Flower Sutra (Hokke Mongu) it says, “The affliction, impurity or the decay of a kalpa, which is when things start to go wrong, occurs during the second of the four stages of its evolution.” (The four stages of its evolution consist of 1) coming into being (shō), 2) lasting as long as it is supposed to (ju), 3) when the kalpa starts to fall apart and disintegrates (i) and 4) the kalpa falls into extinction and ceases to exist (metsu).) “It has no specific reality since it coincides with the other four afflictions.” A kalpa is said to be an astronomically long period of time, whereas an instant (kshana/setsuna) is only one seventy-fifth (1/75) of a second. Hence this word refers to a very short space of time.

Neither has the fourth affliction, that is the stage when people become sick or their misery increases in various ways, any separate quality of its own, since it goes hand in hand with the effects and apparent karmic consequences of the deterioration of views such as egoism and when weird and unhealthy ideas flourish along with mean-heartedness, as well as the third affliction which is when troublesome worries (bonnō, klesha) become overwhelming. So the five unintelligent qualities of human nature become manifest – (godonshi 1) greed, 2) and resentment, 3) stupidity, 4) arrogance and 5) doubt). Consequently those qualities become evident among ordinary people. The affliction of the deterioration of views is also a visible symptom of the five unintelligent qualities of human nature. The period in which the quality of our Lifespans became shorter is due to a whole series of mental and physical misuse so that our lust for being alive diminishes.

The Oral Transmission on the Meaning of the Dharma Flower Sutra (Ongi Kuden) says those who are the followers of Nichiren are not affected by these five afflictions of the kalpas, since in spite of who or what each individual follower may be, they all suspect or are aware of being furnished with the nature of the Buddha whose fundamental terrain is peaceful and calm (Ga shi do annon). This they recite in their daily practise, so that they are not included in the afflictions that accompany the kalpa in decay. They do not have the affliction of being a sentient being on account of the real aspect of the Buddha nature innate in all living things. It is not produced by conditions and is the ultimate essence of the whole universe. It is the Fundamental Object of Veneration (gohonzon) as well as reality.

Owing to the fact that as far back as the depths in our minds which in the India of Shākyamuni was expressed in terms of the unimaginably uncountable number of grains of dust that would be left if someone were to grind five hundred universes from their inceptions to their corresponding terminations so each single grain would be counted as a kalpa that had receded into the past, ever since this inconceivably long time ago we have had inside us an essence that is the beginningless source and substance of all existence. Thus we are spared the affliction of just a single lifespan.

Considering that we are the people who practise by honestly putting the teachings that are an expedient means aside and only making the unsurpassed path available to all, we are not swayed by the afflictions of the deterioration of views. Therefore coming to the point, it is whether our lives are conditioned by the practise and holding faith in Nam Myōhō Renge Kyō that decides as to whether these five afflictions of kalpas influence us or not. Therefore the reality of these five afflictions is applicable to all the sentient beings of the world of humankind.

It is for this reason that it says in the fourth volume of the Textual Explanation of the Dharma Flower Sutra (Hokke Mongu), “When the affliction of the kalpas appears, there is at this time a dramatic increase in the amount of occurrences of the other four afflictions. With the dramatic increase in indignation, anger and military conflict. With the dramatic increase in greed and selfishness, famine and hunger arise. And, with the dramatic increase in stupidity and obtuseness, disease and epidemics make their appearance. It is because of these three calamities of war, famine and pestilence that the aggravation of our troublesome worries (bonnō, klesha) becomes more prevalent and all sorts of weird and unhealthy ways of looking at things abound.”

It says in the Sutra on the Lotus Flower of the Utterness of the Dharma in the Tenth Chapter on the Dharma as a Teacher, “Even while the Tathāgata is in the world there is however, a lot of grudging resentment and jealousy with regard to this sutra. So what will it be like after his passing over into extinction of nirvana?”

Those people who have no faith in the Dharma Flower Sutra (Hokke-kyō) are seriously caught up in these five afflictions. It says in the sutra, “In this unseemly deviant world of the five afflictions, the people who enjoy and are attracted to it are motivated by their selfish appetites. Sentient beings like these in the end will never seek the path of enlightenment.”

The path of enlightenment is another way of saying the Sutra on the Lotus Flower of the Utterness of the Dharma which is the teaching on the whereabouts of the simultaneity of cause, concomitancy and effect that pervades the whole of existence. Tendai (T’ien T’ai) said, “The path of enlightenment or Buddhahood is designated by this sutra in particular.”


These five afflictions are referred to as follows: the affliction of the kalpa in decay, the time when troublesome worries (bonnō, klesha) become overwhelming, when people become sick and their misery increases along with the deterioration of views and when our lust for being alive diminishes. Sharihotsu, when people are caught up in the disorderly period of the kalpa in decay, sentient beings at such a time become very base-minded. Their mean-heartedness and their unfulfillment bring about the roots of deviant thinking and behaviour. Therefore the Buddhas through their expedient means teach people in terms of three vehicles that will carry 1) bodhisattvas, 2) those people who are partially enlightened and 3) those who listen to the Buddha, from the cycles of living and dying to enlightenment so as to induce them to become adherents of the single vehicle.

Sharihotsu, if any of my disciples who claim to have attained the supreme reward of the individual vehicle (shōjō, hīnayāna) or do not wish to hear or know that all the Buddha Tathāgatas teach and try to enlighten only people who are bodhisattvas, then they have neither attained the supreme reward of the individual vehicle (shōjō, hīnayāna) nor have they been partially enlightened due to a profound search for the meaning of existence (engaku, hyakushibutsu, pratyekabuddha). Furthermore, Sharihotsu, those monks and nuns who think they have attained the supreme reward of the individual vehicle (arhat, arakan) or that they are in their last incarnation or that they have brought themselves to the perfection of the extinction of nirvana, yet they do not look further into themselves in order to pursue the unexcelled correct, perfect and total enlightenment (anokutara sanmyaku sanbodai, anuttara-samyak-sambodhi), then as you should know all these people are nothing but pretentious and conceited individuals.

How is this so?

If there are monks who have already reached the state of having attained the supreme reward of the individual vehicle and yet do not believe in this Dharma, then such a reasoning does not exist. I am not even speaking of a Buddha who has passed over to the state of extinction or one that has not yet made his appearance in the world, the reason being that, after a Buddha has passed over into extinction, it is difficult to come across someone who can receive and retain, read and recite and explain the meaning of the sutras that the Tathāgata has preached. It is through meeting other Buddhas that people make a final decision in regard to their understanding of the Dharma.

Sharihotsu, you must then with a singularity of mind hold faith in and understand by accepting and keeping alive in your thoughts the words of the Buddha. The words of the Buddha Tathāgatas are neither empty nor are they fantasy. There are no other vehicles to enlightenment, only the single bodhisattva vehicle.

The World Honoured One, wishing to diffuse once again the significance of what he had said, expressed it in the form of a metric hymn.

There are certain monks and nuns
who are eaten up with self-conceit
as well as lay followers
who are swallowed up with pride
and female lay followers
who are full of disbelief.


The fifth important point, “There are certain monks and nuns who are eaten up with self-conceit and lay followers who are swallowed up with pride and also female followers who are full of disbelief.”

In the fourth volume of the Textual Explanation of the Dharma Flower Sutra (Hokke Mongu) it says, “Looking down on others, self-intoxication and disbelief are common to all monks, nuns, laymen and female followers. However, because both a number of monks and nuns who have abandoned worldly-mindedness for the ascetic life and have dedicated themselves to a great deal of practise to the path of enlightenment, on account of their being able to attain a perfect absorption into one object of meditation, they often mistake this for the fruition of holiness. This in particular gives rise to their intolerable arrogance. There are also lay people of both sexes still leading their lives of ordinary people who are boastfully conceited as well as some women whose wisdom is shallow so that they often fall into twisted thinking. All these people are not even aware of their own faults which consist of looking down on others, self-intoxication and disbelief. Also because people cover up their failings by exhibiting their moral rectitude they are incapable of examining themselves so that they become the shameless individuals that they are. If they were able to see their own faults they would be members of the clerical community (sō, sangha) with a sense of shame.”

In the fourth volume of the Notes on the Textual Explanation of the Dharma Flower Sutra (Hokke Mongu) it says, “What is meant by covering up their failings can be accounted for by their looking down on others. Being incapable of examining themselves refers to their self-intoxication. By becoming shameless individuals refers to their impoverished faith and disbelief. But if people are able to reflect on their shortcomings then they do not have the three faults mentioned above. Although they may not have witnessed the fruition of this teaching they can still be pointed out as people with a sense of shame.”

The Oral Transmission on the Meaning of the Dharma Flower Sutra (Ongi Kuden) says that the intention of both these quotations from the Textual Explanation of the Dharma Flower Sutra (Hokke Mongu) and the Notes on the Textual Explanation of the Dharma Flower Sutra is to make it thoroughly clear why, as well as pointing out the arrogant behaviour of the five thousand monks, nuns, laymen and laywomen in the assembly who got up and left just before the Buddha was about to preach the Dharma Flower Sutra (Hokke-kyō). You must thoroughly take notice of this. Those monks and nuns were persons who had withdrawn from worldly life; yet these two classes of practitioners symbolise an overbearing assumption of superiority. The cause of this is due to the concealment of their shortcomings by exhibiting their moral rectitude. The basic fault of the men who were lay followers was their overbearing conceit and the underlying defect of the women lay followers was that they had no shame. Now the world of humankind which here is referred to as Japan is full of these four categories of believers who are monks, nuns and lay people of both sexes.

Although the Dharma Flower Sutra (Hokke-kyō) states, “Their number comes to five thousand,” here in Japan there appear to be 4,994,888 such arrogant persons. At the time when Shākyamuni was preaching, only five thousand such people got up from their seats and left. Now that we have entered the final period when the Dharma of Shākyamuni has drawn to its close (mappō), all the sentient beings of Japan get up and leave wherever Nichiren is teaching.

Would you not say the monks and nuns whose conceit is overbearing are people like Dōryū or Ryōkan or even the nuns of Kamakura? Or should we not mention lay followers such as Hōjō Tokiyori of Saimyō Temple together with all the female lay followers who regardless of their positions being high or low are full of disbelief?

Now the people who cast aspersions on Nichiren and those who follow him and also try to give them an evil reputation – are such people not incapable of seeing where they are mistaken? These are ill-intentioned people who would vilify the Dharma. Without any doubt, these are the sort of people who get up and leave the assembly wherever the Dharma Flower Sutra (Hokke-kyō) is being expounded.

So when they met Nichiren, what they did could be suggested by the phrase in the Dharma Flower Sutra (Hokke-kyō) “bowing to the Buddha and then leaving”, which is like a token of their disrespect for him. It is in no way the obeisance and departure of those who have a mind of faith that leads to understanding. Furthermore, the Dharma Flower Sutra (Hokke-kyō) refers to those sorts of people as being “negligent and slovenly with regard to the doctrines of how people of the clerical community (sō, sangha) should behave”.

In the fourth volume of the Textual Explanation of the Dharma Flower Sutra (Hokke Mongu) it says, “In the expression ‘being negligent and slovenly with regard to the directions of how people of the clerical community (sō, sangha) should behave’, ‘being negligent’ is defined as not particularly caring about the vows to observe the precepts and ‘slovenly’ implies not really paying attention to the perfect absorption of thought into the one object of meditation or the path that leads to enlightenment.”

These five thousand insufferably arrogant people, that we have just mentioned, are said to represent the five categories of troublesome worries (bonnō, klesha) that are unalienable from any incarnate existence and which are the result of 1) confused views concerning the three-dimensional space (sangai) where sentient beings have appetites and desires which are embodied in subjectively physical surroundings who at the same time are furnished with the immateriality of the multiple dimensions of fantasies, thoughts and idea sare all my reality; 2) confused thinking when it comes to the reaches of appetites and desires; 3) confused ideas about what are the implications of physical and phenomenal existence are; 4) further bewilderment with regard to the immateriality of the spaces wherein thoughts and ideas (sangai, triloka) occur; 5) as well as the fundamental perplexity and the lack of clarity which is inherent in all living beings.

But on coming into contact with the Dharma Flower Sutra (Hokke-kyō) which is the belief that we devote our lives to and found them on the whereabouts where the simultaneity of cause, concomitancy and effect comes about, which is throughout the whole of existence (Nam Myōhō Renge Kyō), then we also come to realise that arrogance is not separate from (soku) the realms of dharmas or the compone on in this Second Chapter through the elucidation of the real aspect of all dharmas.

Nichiren makes it clear, “the real aspect must imply all dharmas (shohō); all dharmas must imply the ten ways in which dharmas makes themselves present to any of our six srense organs (eyes, ears, tongue, body and mind) (jūnyoze) (nyo ze sō) etc.; then these ten inherent qualities of all existence must also include the ten realms of dharmas (jikkai), which are the ten potential and intrinsic conditions either latent or apparent in each and every individual such as animality or greed. So these ten (psychological) realms of dharmas together as a single entity of a sentient being have to have a subjective body and an environmental world on which to depend for an existence”.

This would mean that such an awareness transcends the three categories of vehicles as a means to enlightenment. (These are 1) the vehicle of those who are inquiring into what the real meaning of life is (shōmon, shrāvaka), 2) the vehicle of those who are partially enlightened due to a profound search for the meaning of existence (engaku, hyakushibutsu, pratyekabuddha) and 3) the vehicle of the bodhisattvas who due to practise over a number of years have become altruists that strive to save humanity from itself through the teaching of the Buddha.) Therefore these three vehicles are replaced by a single vehicle that leads to the opening up of our inherent Buddhahood.

At that particular time the Buddha made it clear that when it comes to overbearing self-conceit or arrogance, such arrogance or self-conceit is not separate from the realms where all the different dharmas occur (hōkai) and that they are fundamental traits in our character that have always existed. The phrase, “they numbered five thousand”, refers to the multiplicity of the five kinds of troublesome worries (bonnō, klesha) that are a permanent part of our makeup.

(These five types are 1) bewilderment and confusion as regards the three-dimensional space (sangai) where sentient beings have desires and appetites which are incarnated in a subjective materiality with corresponding physical surroundings who at the same time are endowed with the immateriality of the realms of fantasies, thoughts and ideas (sangai, triloka); 2) confusion with regards to the dimension of appetites and desires; 3) confused thinking with regards to the outward appearance of things as phenomenality; 4) confused thinking concerning the immateriality of the realms of thoughts and ideas (sangai, triloka); 5) a bewilderment that is our basic lack of clarity as to what existence is all about.)

However if it were not for those five kinds of troublesome worries (bonnō, klesha) that are a permanent part of our makeup then the whole concept of the Dharma Flower Sutra (Hokke-kyō) would be missed.

When these five kinds of troublesome worries (bonnō, klesha) are spoken of as being fundamentally existent in each and every individual, then we can talk about them as five thousand varieties. We do not scramble to cut off our bewilderment and delusions but look upon them as the five kinds of troublesome worries (bonnō, klesha) that are a permanent part of our makeup, just as they are, and at the same time as eternal ingredients of the whole of existence (Myōhō). This might be referred to as “unable to reflect on our own shortcomings”.

Now, when it come to the expression “negligent and slovenly with regard to the doctrines of how people of the clerical community (sō, sangha) should behave”, this phrase refers to the precepts of the Dharma of the provisional teaching of the individual vehicle as a means of curing all the illnesses and shortcomings that are inherent in everybody. But, holding to the realms of behaviour of the clerical community (sō, sangha) from the point of view of the teaching and practice of the Dharma Flower Sutra (Hokke-kyō) implies that negligence and slovenliness, whether they are deplored or not, are simply constituents of the actual substance of what is called holding to the rules of the clerical community (sō, sangha). However, since we are talking about negligence and slovenliness, just as these qualities are, as well as always having existed, then “these defects are kept and simply overlooked”. At the very foundation of our lives this is the precept of the Utterness (Myō) of the single vehicle that leads to enlightenment.

This is a vehicle in which “all the realms of dharmas or the Dharma realm are contained in a single grain of dust and the ten directions of the whole of existence are present in a single instant of the activity of the mind”. In this sense this particular part of the Dharma Flower Sutra (Hokke-kyō) points out that “Those with the mental grasp of the narrow-minded have already left the assembly.”

When we talk of the scraps and leavings that were mentioned in the sutric text earlier on, each and every particle of dust as well as each and every single dharma is composed of the three bodies. (They are 1) their appearance or their physical qualities or the way they affect our senses (ke), 2) their latent qualities or their relationship to other dharmas and how our minds perceive them (, shūnyatā) and a combination of these two elements that becomes the reality of the middle way (chū)) of the original enlightenment which is life itself.) Therefore the intrinsic entity (tōtai) of these persons “with little happiness and meager virtue” is also a manifestation of the embodiment of illumination of the fundamental enlightenment that is free from all karma.

The Dharma Flower Sutra (Hokke-kyō) also refers to these people as being “unfit for receiving this Dharma”. which means when these people heard the general summarisation of the essential Dharma that clears away the three vehicles to enlightenment. (These are 1) the vehicle of the people who exert themselves to attain the highest stage of the teachings of the individual vehicle through listening to the Buddha, which would be the equivalent of the intellectual seekers (shōmon, shrāvaka) of today, 2) the vehicle of those persons who are partially enlightened due to a profound search for the meaning of existence (engaku, hyakushibutsu, pratyekabuddha) and 3) the vehicle of the bodhisattvas who are conscious of and at the same time for universal enlightenment (bosatsu). Here the Dharma Flower Sutra (Hokke-kyō) teaches the concept of a single vehicle of the Buddha that contains and replaces these three vehicles to enlightenment.)

This also includes the explanation of the real aspect of all dharmas which in a general way expounds the one instant of thought containing three thousand existential spaces. Consequently the five thousand persons who had listened to this exposition were able to disentangle their intellects so as to discover an awareness of their inherent and fundamental enlightenment (kaigo) with their characters just as they were.

Thereupon, the Venerated Sharihotsu (Shariputra) asked the Buddha to preach and explain the teaching so that people of lesser propensities could understand it. When the Buddha preached the expanded and more meaningful explanation of the doctrine of substituting the three separate vehicles that lead to enlightenment with the single vehicle of the Buddha, the people who were unfit for receiving this Dharma were simply not present to receive it.

On returning to the real meaning of the Dharma Flower Sutra (Hokke-kyō), the existential substance (tōtai) of the Utterness of the Dharma (Myōhō, Saddharma) is unaware of the distinction between people who are fit to receive this Dharma (Nam Myōhō Renge Kyō) and the Dharma that is suitable to be received.

The Utterness of the Dharma (Myōhō, Saddharma) is not something that can be weighed mentally; nor can its meaning be put into words. When we are able to become free from prejudice or superstition and really perceive the importance of this fundamental Dharma (Nam Myōhō Renge Kyō), then it is possible to say in the same way as the sutra, “this assembly is not encumbered by its superfluous twigs and unnecessary foliage”.

This is the inner realisation (naishō) and individuation (junitsu) of the real aspect of all dharmas. Outside of this real aspect of all dharmas (as the one instant of thought containing three thousand existential spaces) no other dharma exists. Therefore when it comes to those who realise what the Dharma Flower Sutra (Hokke-kyō) is, then it can be said, “Only the genuine, pure and true are people who are awakened to the fact that both physical and mental existence is the Utterness of the Dharma (Myōhō, Saddharma).”

As a result when Nichiren and those who follow him reverently recite Nam Myōhō Renge Kyō it can be said that “only those who are genuine, pure and true remain”. “Those” implies the real aspect of all dharmas; “those” can also be said to indicate the ten (psychological) realms of dharmas. Only what is genuine, pure and true can imply the understanding that both the physical and the mental aspects of the ten realms where dharmas occur (jikkai) are in themselves the Utterness of the Dharma (Myōhō, Saddharma). This kind of realisation is limited to the Dharma Flower Sutra (Hokke-kyō) alone. The five thousand conceited people who left the assembly are in fact none other than the Sutra on the Lotus Flower of the Utterness of the Dharma. This is where the simultaneity of cause, concomitancy and effect takes place that pervades the whole of existence.

The five thousand conceited people are an allegory for the five elements that are the components of ourselves and the world around us: 1) the earth element, 2) the water element, 3) the fire element, 4) the wind element and 5) the element of relativity (, shūnyatā).

The five elements are Myōhō Renge Kyō. Yet at the same time those five thousand conceited people represent the fundamental lack of clarity that is in all of us. This is why they “got up from their seats, made obeisance to the Buddha and then left”.

The implications of getting up from their seats, making obeisance and then leaving also represents a withdrawal from the ninth cognition (daikushiki, amarashiki, amala-vijñāna) which is the immaculate essence of life as well as its wholeness. This ninth cognition (daikushiki, amarashiki, amala-vijñāna) according to the Tendai and Kegon Schools is the sovereign of the mind.

Afterwards there is a further withdrawal to the eighth cognition (daihachishiki, arayashiki, ālaya-vijñāna) which is the participation in existence as an inconceivable variety of separate dharmas as opposed to the idea of existence as a single entity that is faultlessly complete. This eighth cognition is understood by the Hossō School as the fundamental element of the mind.

Following this withdrawal to the multitudinous facets of life, there is an additional regression to the sixth cognition (dairokushiki) which is the various faculties of the eyes, ears, nose, tongue and mind. This cognition as seen by the Kusha School teaches the self as being non-substantial, whereas dharmas really exist and also the mind as the pivotal centre of its own existence.

Apart from the Tendai School, all these other schools are a departure from the intention of the Dharma Flower Sutra (Hokke-kyō). The people who got up from their seats, made obeisance and then left represent a deterioration from the perfection of the Utterness of the Dharma (Myōhō, Saddharma) to the lower partial and inadequate teachings that only lead to the cycles of bewilderment and suffering. When the Dharma Flower Sutra (Hokke-kyō) states “because they left the awe-inspiring virtue of the Buddha”, this passage refers to the teachings that lead to the realisation of ending our sufferings by means of our return to the emancipation of our faith (kanmetsu mon).

This awe-inspiring virtue is Nam Myōhō Renge Kyō which is the embodiment of our fundamental delusion and at the same time our original enlightenment which is really knowing that our real identity is life itself. You should ponder over this very thoroughly.


Such monks, nuns
and lay followers of both sexes
whose number comes to five thousand
are unaware
of their own faults.
They are negligent and slovenly
with regard to the monastic precepts
of how people of the clerical community (sō, sangha)
should behave.
They grudgingly hold on
to their faults and shortcomings.
Such scraps and leavings in the assembly
with their narrow-minded understanding
have already left.
On account of the awe-inspiring
virtue of the Buddha,
these people with barely sufficient
happiness or goodness
would be unfit
to receive this Dharma.
This assembly is not encumbered
by these superfluous twigs and unnecessary foliage.
Only the genuine,
pure and true remain.
Listen, Sharihotsu.
The Dharma
which all the Buddhas have attained
was expounded for the benefit
of sentient beings
by means of the impact
of innumerable expedient means.
The Buddhas understand everything
about what goes on in people’s minds
as well as the variety of paths
where their thoughts go
including all their various kinds of appetite.
As a result, the Buddhas
recount all sorts of stories
that have karmic affinities
parables and various ways
of expressing expedient means
so as to delight those who are listening.
The Buddha expounds sutras
and stories about their previous lives.
Also they recount the wonders
of the causes and karmic circumstances
that lie behind such tales.
Again through the medium of parables,
songs in verse that precede the prose (giya)
and sutras that are discourses and discussions
by question and answer (ubadaisha),
the Buddhas teach those with fewer propensities
who delight in the lesser vehicle
and are avidly attached
to the cycles of living and dying.
In spite of the innumerable Buddhas
they have never practised
the profound path of Utterness.
Since they are tormented
by all kinds of suffering,
the Buddhas teach them
about their total extinction
in nirvana.
I contrive these expedient means
in order that people may penetrate
the wisdom of the Buddha.
I have never yet expounded
that you will assuredly attain
the path of Buddhahood.
The reason
for not having yet expounded this Dharma
is because the time to explain it
had not yet come.
But now
it is indeed the moment
that I have decided
to expound the universal vehicle (daijō, mahāyāna).
The nine divisions
of my teachings (which are 1) sutras that convey the teachings of the Buddha; 2) metric hymns that repeat the meaning of the passages in prose; 3) the past lives of the disciples of the Buddha; 4) the past lives of the Buddha himself; 5) tales of miracles performed by the Buddha; 6) historic narratives; 7) similes and parables; 8) songs which express the substance of the discourses; 9) discussions on the Dharma often in the form of questions and answers),
all these were expounded
in order to comply
with the needs of sentient beings.
But to enter the universal vehicle (daijō, mahāyāna)
is fundamental.
Therefore I expound
this sutra.
It is for those
who hold faith
in the teaching of the Buddha
with a pure mind
as well as a mind
that is responsive
to the truth
along with a keen intellect
and who have practised
the deep path of Utterness
in the presence
of innumerable Buddhas.
It is for these people
who hold faith
in the teaching of enlightenment
that I expound this sutra
on the vehicle of universality.
I announce to such people
that they will realise
what the path of Buddhahood is
in lives to come.
Through deeply bearing the Buddha in mind
and on account of their holding to
the monastic precepts
on how people should behave
in the clerical community (sō, sangha)
without any default whatsoever
as well as on hearing that they too
will become enlightened
their persons become filled
with an overwhelming joy.
The Buddha knows their minds
as well as their comportment.
Therefore he expounds for their benefit
the universal vehicle (daijō, mahāyāna).
If there are bodhisattvas
or hearers of the Buddha’s voice
or intellectual seekers
who listen to the Dharma
that the Buddha preaches
even if it is only
a single metric hymn,
there is no doubt about it
they will all become enlightened.
Throughout the ten directions
of the abodes
of the original Buddha enlightenment
there is only a single vehicle
of the Dharma.
There are neither two
nor are there three.
Apart from the expedient means
that are expounded by the Buddha,
which are only modes of expression
that the Buddha uses
in order to guide sentient beings,
it is for the sake
of the Buddhas’ explaining
their wisdom and discernment
that all the Buddhas
come into the world.
It is only
for this single pragmatic concern.
Any other concern
would not be real.
In the end
it will not be
through the individual vehicle (shōjō, hīnayāna)
that sentient beings will be saved
from the pain
of the realms of life and death.
The Buddha himself
abides in the universal vehicle (daijō, mahāyāna)
which is his own attainment
of enlightenment of the Dharma.
Through the sublime majesty
of the wisdom and perfect absorption
into the single object of this meditation
he is able to ferry sentient beings (dosuru)
from the shores of living and dying
to the oneness of nirvana.
The Buddha himself
has borne witness
to the path that has no superior
and that is equal to the Dharma
of the universal vehicle (daijō, mahāyāna).
If I were ever
to change the direction
of somebody’s life (ke suru)
by means of the individual vehicle (shōjō, hīnayāna)
even if it were only one person
I would be mean
and grudging of the truth.
Such a thing would
not be possible.
If there are those
who base their life
on holding faith in the Buddha
they will not be deceived
or cheated by the Tathāgata.
Again, he has no mind
for being ungenerous
and jealously possessive.
He has cut off
all the evil dharmas
from his personality.
Therefore
out of the ten directions
of the compass
only the Buddha
is not afraid of anything.
My person is adorned
with my physical attributes (sō)
and my clear bright radiance
shines into the dimensions
where existence takes place.
I am venerated
by countless throngs of people
to whom I have explained
the essential (mudra, in)
of the real aspect of all dharmas.
(This is the one instant of thought containing three thousand existential spaces.)
Sharihotsu, this you should know.
I originally made a vow
wishing to enlighten all people
in the same way as myself
without any difference whatsoever.
That vow
has been already fulfilled.


The sixth important point: Far back in the past I took a vow wishing to enlighten all people in the same way as myself without any difference whatsoever. That vow has already been fulfilled.

In the fourth chapter of the Textual Explanation of the Dharma Flower Sutra (Hokke Mongu) it says, “This indicates the original vow of the Buddha to become enlightened. This was to give people an incentive to hold to their faith.”

The Oral Transmission on the Meaning of the Dharma Flower Sutra (Ongi Kuden) says that the word “I” refers to the Shākyamuni who is embedded within the text of the Sixteenth Chapter on the Lifespan of the Tathāgata that belongs to the teachings of the original state. That Shākyamuni attained enlightenment in the ever-present infinite in time (kuon ganjo), since time is always at this actual point. This Tathāgata is none other than we who are ordinary people.

The word “myself” in the above expression “in the same way as myself” refers to the universal activity of the original Buddha which is represented by the last seven of the ten ways in which dharmas exist (jū nyoze).

(These are Nyoze riki, his potential strength and energy; Nyoze sa, the manifestation of that strength and energy; Nyoze in, the fundamental cause of existence; Nyoze en, the karmic circumstances that accompany the fundamental cause; Nyoze ka, the effects produced by the Buddha; Nyoze , effects that brings about apparent consequences; Nyoze hon makku kyō tō, all manifestations of Buddhahood, i.e., practise, nyoze sō with all the other seven ways in which dharmas exist right up to nyoze which is their apparent karmic consequences are equally present in every instant of life. Living beings that belong to the nine realms of dharmas (kukai) are represented by the first three of the ten ways in which dharmas exist: 1) Nyoze sō, the way they appear to our various senses; 2) Nyoze shō, their various inner qualities that can follow them after death; 3) Nyoze tai, their substance or what they really are.)

In view of the fact we are all endowed with an inherent Buddha nature as well as a manifestation of life itself, this would point to our being the triple entity of the Tathāgata. From the very start, the Buddha is a sentient being in the same way as we are. So in this sense sentient existence is the parent and the Buddha as the incarnation of enlightenment is its offspring. Parent and child are both of the same makeup as sentient beings with an inherent Buddha nature. Therefore from the way they appear to our various senses (nyoze sō) as well as all the other seven ways in which dharmas exist right up to their apparent karmic consequences (nyoze ), all are equally present in every instant of our lives (nyoze hon makku kyō tō). Hence they are ultimately equal.

Here, we ordinary people are described in the Sixteenth Chapter on the Lifespan of the Tathāgata as the triple body independent of all karma. This means 1) the way we appear (sō) which is the corresponding body of the Buddha (ōjin), 2) our inner nature (shō) as well as whatever might occur in our heads which is the entity of wisdom of the Buddha (hōshin); 3) these two former elements put together become our reality and environment (tai) which ultimately are the Dharma entity of the Buddha (hosshin) since our real existence is all space, all time simultaneously and effortlessly. The three entities of the Buddha are the essential basis of sentient existence that have always existed and are independent of any karma.

Now the followers of Nichiren are those who recite Nam Myōhō Renge Kyō. If we think about it, accordingly, we realise that both the general vows taken by Shākyamuni (vows to save all sentient beings without limit, to put an end to all troublesome worries (bonnō, klesha) however numerous, to study in order to know all the gateways of the Dharma to enlightenment without end, to bear witness to the Buddha path that has no superior) and the personal specific vow (to enlighten all people the same way as myself without any difference whatsoever) were sworn for the benefit of sentient beings such as we are. The reason for this is when Nichiren reverently recites Nam Myōhō Renge Kyō this recitation comprehends his vows to bring about the attainment of Buddhahood of all sentient beings of the world of humankind.

This however points indirectly to the vow of Shākyamuni in the sutric passage, “Far back in the past I took a vow wishing to enlighten all people in the same way as myself without any difference whatsoever.”

Nichiren as the Buddha of our time has led and guided people so that they are all in harmonious union with him. Then you should know that this oath alludes to the phrase that is the title passage quoted from the Dharma Flower Sutra (Hokke-kyō): “Far back in the past I took a vow wishing to enlighten all people in the same way as myself without any difference whatsoever. That vow has already been fulfilled.”

The word “already” in the quotation “has already been fulfilled” should be understood in terms of the Utterness of the time in question which must include the whole of the past, present and future, hence synchronicity. On the whole, the nuance of this word “already” in the explanations of Tendai (T’ien T’ai) is based on the real aspect of all dharmas. This would imply a synchronicity in which the three existential spaces in the one instant of thought containing three thousand existential spaces – (1) the existential spaces of the five aggregates (go ‘on seken), 2) the existential spaces of individual sentient beings (shujō seken) and 3) the existential spaces that are the environment where sentient beings live (kokudo seken)) – therse are not clearly defined.

As a result, synchronicity in the teachings of Tendai (T’ien T’ai) is theoretical, whereas, in the teachings of Nichiren, contemplating and entering into the nature of our minds and mind itself (kanjin) and the devotion to and the establishment of our lives on the place where the simultaneity of cause and effect occurs, which is the entirety of existence (Nam Myōhō Renge Kyō), is explained as the single entity of one instant of thought containing three thousand existential spaces. This is the totality of existence. Since existence entails this interdependence of cause, concomitancy and effect, this can only be a synchronicity in which the Buddha’s and Nichiren’s vow have already been fulfilled. This is the synchronicity of the oneness of the enlightenment that is inscribed in the Fundamental Object of Veneration (gohonzon).

Therefore the part of the sutric quotation that says “in the same way as myself without any difference whatsoever” is of vital importance. “In the past I took a vow” is the part of the quotation which implies from an especially synchronistic point of view the origin of fundamental cause as being its synchronistic Utterness, so that “in the same way as myself without any difference whatsoever” entails the synchronicity of the Utterness of fundamental effect.

The Shākyamuni who is awakened to Utterness (myōgaku) which is the Dharma realm of the Buddha (bukkai) is the concrete reality of our lives. Are they not the causes and the outcome of the Buddha’s deep religious practise, the quintessence of our being?

The commentary of Tendai (T’ien T’ai) says, “This indicates the original vow of the Buddha to become enlightened. This was to give people an incentive to hold on to their faith.” This points to the synchronistic Utterness of fundamental effect according to the logic of the simultaneity of cause and effect.

Now, when Nichiren recites Nam Myōhō Renge Kyō, he is bringing about the attainment of Buddhahood of sentient beings throughout the ten thousand years of the final period of the Dharma of Shākyamuni (mappō). Therefore how could it not be that this vow is already fulfilled?

The word “already” refers to the theme and title (daimoku) that was recited out loud for the first time on the twenty-eighth day of the fourth month of the fifth year of the era of the reign called Kenchō (1253). In this way we should think of this as something that has “already” happened.

There is no doubt about it, that by using the all-embracing, excellent medicine of the Utterness of the Dharma (Myōhō, Saddharma), Nichiren has cleared away the all-consuming illness of unenlightenment of all sentient beings. When we come to think of this, Nichiren has fulfilled his vow.

The word fulfilled also implies the concept of sentient beings attaining Buddhahood. There is a justification for this in the writings of Tendai (T’ien T’ai). The term “all-inclusive” means that the apparent identities of the immaterial and living beings are not separate from the all-inclusive, unobstructed accommodation of the way they affect our various senses (ke), the way we perceive them as a relativity that can only be reached from inside our brains (, shūnyatā) and the bridge between these two concepts which is the middle way of reality (chū). This is the Utterness of the Dharma (Myōhō, Saddharma). Then there is the attainment of the ultimate fruition in an instant that is at the same time its own Utterness. This is becoming aware of our inherent Buddha nature which is not separate from who we are now. This is something you should think about.


Through the instruction
that changes the lives
of all sentient beings
I set them all
onto the path of Buddhahood.
If I were to encounter sentient beings
and were to exhaustively instruct them
in the path of Buddhahood,
people who have no wisdom
and are insane and disorderly
as well as being confused
would not accept my instruction.
I am well aware
that these sentient beings
have never cultivated
a foundation for stability.
They obstinately hang on
to the five things they desire
which are property and wealth,
sexual love, eating and drinking,
fame and sleep.
It is because of these foolish likings
that bring about their distress,
on account of these causes
and karmic circumstances
of all desires, wants and needs,
that sentient beings
fall into the three evil paths
of transmigration
which are the hells and suffering,
the wanting and craving of hungry ghosts
and the stultifying limits of animality.
Through being incarnated
in the six conditions of sentient existence,
the various kinds of hell and suffering,
the wanting and craving of hungry ghosts,
the stultifying limits of being an animal,
the arrogance and anger of the shura (ashura),
the equanimity of humankind,
the transient ecstasies of the deva (ten),
such people receive again and again
the poison of their suffering.
The minute forms
that we received in the womb
constantly evolve and mature
from lifetime to lifetime.
They become people
with meager possibilities
to command respect.
With little chance of being happy
they are brutalised
through all kinds of suffering.
They become absorbed into the jungle
of mistaken ways of thinking.
They either think existence is real
or it does not exist at all.
They become involved in and depend on
the sixty-two heretical schools.
(These sixty-two heretical schools flourished at the time of the Buddha Shākyamuni. Roughly speaking, these heretical schools fall into two categories: 1) those who thought that the world is eternal along with the eternity of our identities (atman/ga), 2) those who thought of death as the end of everything.)
They become deeply attached
to unsubstantial and illogical dharmas
which they hold to
in an opinionated and prejudiced manner
so that they cannot give them up.
They become conceited, proud of themselves
as well as being obsequious.
But nevertheless they are hypocrites.
For thousands of myriads
of hundreds of thousands of years
they will never hear of
the expression “the Buddha”.
Moreover, nor will they hear
about the correct Dharma.
It will be difficult
to ferry such people
over the sea of incarnations
to the shore of nirvana.
This is why, Sharihotsu,
I have established expedient means
for the benefit of such people.
In order to teach them about the path
that is the elimination of suffering,
I show them that it comes about
through the concept of nirvana
as the total extinction of everything.
Even though I talk about nirvana
it is not the real extinction.
From the very origins
all dharmas have the inherent quality
of being in themselves
their own silence and extinction.
(This is the inherent relativity (, shūnyatā) that lies behind everything that exists.)
Those who hold faith
in the teaching of the Buddha
and who do the practices
of the path of enlightenment
will in future lives
attain the fruition of Buddhahood.
Through resorting to expedient means
I open the treasury of truth
and indicate the provisional meaning
of the three vehicles to enlightenment.
(They are 1) the people who exerted themselves to attain the highest stage of the teachings of the individual vehicle (shōjō, hīnayāna) through listening to the Buddha or the intellectual seekers of today (shōmon, shrāvaka); 2) those who strive for enlightenment for themselves and are partially awakened through the karmic circumstances of specialising in particular subjects such as the arts, science, psychology, etc. (engaku, hyakushibutsu, pratyekabuddha); 3) people who are conscious of and who struggle for the enlightenment of others (bosatsu).)
But each of the World Honoured Ones
all preach the single vehicle to enlightenment.
Now, all of you
who are in this great assembly
must indeed rid yourselves
of all doubts and perplexities.
There are no inconsistencies
in what the Buddhas say.
But there is only one
and not two vehicles to enlightenment.
Throughout the course of uncountable kalpas,
all the Buddhas
who have passed over
to the total extinction of nirvana
in all their hundreds of thousands
of myriads of varieties
whose number cannot be counted,
all these World Honoured Ones
have expounded
the aspects of all dharmas
by means of all sorts of tales
whose causes and their karmic relations
coincide with the Buddha’s life,
as well as parables
and the appropriateness
of expedient means.
Nevertheless,
those World Honoured Ones
all expound
the single vehicle to enlightenment.
Furthermore
they change the lives
of uncountable sentient beings
and set them onto the path
of Buddhahood.
Again, all the Lord Buddhas
who are universally wise,
good, upright and correct
in all their character
know the desires and wants
that go on in the depths of the minds
of the deva (ten), humankind
and all the various groups
of sentient existence,
by using further expedient means
as an aid to reveal
the supreme significance
of the Dharma.
If there are various kinds
of sentient beings
who have encountered Buddhas
in their past lives
and have listened to the Dharma
as well as having practised
the act of giving (fuse)
or have held to the precepts
of how people in the clergy should behave
as well as patience,
pure progress, perfect absorption
into the one object of meditation and wisdom
as well as having practised
all the various disciplines
that lead to the welfare
that arises from good deeds,
people such as this
are already set
upon the path to enlightenment.
If there are people
whose hearts are good and gentle
at the time after the Buddhas
have passed over
to the extinction of nirvana,
all sentient beings such as these
are already set
upon the path to enlightenment.
After the Buddhas have passed over
to the extinction of nirvana,
those people who make offerings
to the relics of the Buddhas
and build myriads
of different kinds of stupas
in such a way
that all are solemnly decorated
and covered with gold, silver and crystal,
coral, agate and lapis lazuli
or build temples out of stone
or sandalwood
or the wood of aloes,
anise or other timbers
or bricks or even mud and straw,
or if in the deserted wilds
they press earth together
so that it becomes a shrine
dedicated to the Buddha
or even when children are playing
and heap up sand
in the shape of a stupa,
all these people are already set
upon the path of enlightenment.
If there are individuals
who for the sake of the Buddha
erect statues and images of him
that are sculpted and carved
in a way that shows
all his auspicious characteristics,
all these people are already set
upon the path to enlightenment.
Some will make these images
out of seven precious materials (gold, silver, lapis lazuli, coral, amber, agate and cornelian)
or even with brass
or red or white copper,
fusible alloys
such as mixtures of lead and tin
or even iron, wood or clay.
Some artists will use
fish glue and shellac
to harden the fabrics
that adorn the Buddha images
that they have made.
All these people are already set
upon the path of enlightenment.
Those who paint
coloured representations of the Buddha
embellished with all his characteristics
which are every kind of happiness,
whether these images
were painted by the artists
or someone had commissioned them
to have these depictions made,
all these people are already set
upon the path to enlightenment.
Even those who in their childish play
draw images of the Buddha
either using brushes or twigs or straws
or even simply using their fingers
all the people such as these
by gradually accumulating merits
until their minds become filled
with universal compassion,
all these people are already set
upon the path of enlightenment.
But the only thing
that the Buddhas do
is to instruct
all the bodhisattvas
and ferry uncountable multitudes to freedom
from the bonds of delusion and suffering
in the three-dimensional space
where incarnate existence takes place (sangai).
(This is 1) where sentient beings have appetites and desires, 2) which are embodied in a subjective materiality with a physical environment who 3) at the same time are endowed with immateriality of fantasies, thoughts and ideas (sangai, triloka).)
Any people
who either in temples or stupas
or in front of painted images
make offerings
with a mind of piety
or have brought people
to make music
by beating drums
or blowing conch shells, flutes
or playing sitars and harps
or other stringed instruments
or using gongs and cymbals
in order to make symphonies
of wonderful sounds,
those people,
who have brought such music
for the sole purpose
of making an offering
with a heart of joy,
are already set
upon the path to enlightenment.
Or if there are people
with a heart of joy
who celebrate
the virtues of the Buddha
with hymns and canticles
or even one little sound,
all these people are already set
upon the path to enlightenment.
If there is anybody
who even with a single flower
makes an offering
to a painted image of the Buddha
that person
will gradually encounter
Buddhas without number.
If there is a person
who would render homage
to the Buddha
by only placing his palms together
or even by just raising his hand
or a simple nod of acquiescence
in such a way
through paying homage
to Buddha images
such persons will gradually encounter
Buddhas without number.
These people too will arrive
at the path that has no superior.
Also they will in turn
ferry countless sentient beings
from the dimensions
of delusion and suffering
to the shore of enlightenment.
Finally these persons
will also enter
the totality
of the extinction of nirvana
in the same way firewood
burns itself out.
If there are people whose minds
are confused or troubled
who go into temples and chant,
“I turn my life to
and devoted-heartedly to the Buddha” (namu butsu),
all these people are already set
upon the path of enlightenment.
If there are people
who have heard this Dharma
either from Buddhas of the past
or from the Buddhas of the present
or even after
their extinction into nirvana,
all these people are already set
upon the path to enlightenment.
All the World Honoured Ones
who in times yet to come
will be so many
that they cannot be counted,
all these Tathāgatas
will expound the Dharma
through the medium
of innumerable expedient means.
All the Tathāgatas
have ferried people
by the use of expedient means
from the dimensions
of delusions and suffering
to the shores
of the extinction of nirvana.
Also, these Tathāgatas
have induced sentient beings
to enter the wisdom
that is free
from any taint of delusion,
which is the wisdom of the Buddha.
If there is any person
who listens to the Dharma
there is not one of them
who will not attain enlightenment.
The original vows and wishes
of all the Buddhas
are that all sentient beings
cultivate the Buddha path
that the Buddhas themselves practise.
Furthermore they would like
all sentient beings everywhere
to arrive at the path
and become all the Buddhas
of the future.
These Buddhas in their turn will preach
hundreds of thousands of myriads
of uncountable gateways to the Dharma
which all will constitute
the single vehicle
to enlightenment.
All the Buddhas
who are the most honoured
of the two-legged beings
know that dharmas
are eternally devoid
of an independent nature
of their own.
This essential nature
which is the Dharma essence
is the omnipresent nature
of the whole of existence (hōjū)
with each individual dharma
abiding in its rightful place (hōi).
The seeds of fully being enlightened
to this fact
arise through karmic circumstances.
This is why the Buddhas explain
that there is only one vehicle
to enlightenment.
The essence of the Dharma
is the absolute reality (shinnyo)
which transcends the plurality
of the ten ways
in which dharmas
can become perceptible (jūnyoze).
It is the same
as the Dharma nature
and cannot
be expressed in words
or understood
by unenlightened humankind.
This is the underlying reality
upon which all existence depends,
whereas the spaces
in which existence takes place (seken)
are always the dimensions
where dharmas appear
to be what they seem.
In order that many people
may arrive at the place
of the attainment to the path,
guides and teachers
explain this truth
with the aid
of expedient means.
Humankind and deva (ten)
reverently make offerings
to the Buddhas
of the present time,
who are spread
throughout the ten directions.
Their number is comparable
to the number of grains
of sand of the Ganges.
(There is no thing that is not endowed with the one instant of thought containing three thousand existential spaces; hence every single dharma is a Buddha.)
They will appear
in the existential spaces (seken)
so as to give peace and relief
to sentient beings
and also to expound
the Dharma to them.
These guides and teachers
are aware of the primordial state
as being unconditioned
and entirely noiseless
that is far beyond
the states of living and dying.
The Buddhas use the impact
of expedient means
which even though
they give the impression
that there are multiple paths
to enlightenment
are in reality
the vehicle
of enlightenment of the Buddha.
The Buddhas know
how people behave
and what goes on
in the depths of their minds
along with habitual karma
that comes from their former lives.
They also know
their sexual desires,
their devotional qualities (shōshin)
and even the sharpness and bluntness
of their capabilities.
Therefore the Buddhas
use various narrative forms
in which the causes
and karmic circumstances
coincide
with their own former existences.
Also they use parables
and different ways
of expressing themselves,
as expedient means
that are adapted
for the hearers’ benefit.
Now, I Shākyamuni
in the same way
as the Buddhas of the past
use different gateways
to the Dharma
in order to propagate
the Buddha path
so as to give peace and relief
to sentient beings.
On account of my wisdom
I am aware
of the desires of sentient beings
that have become second nature.
Through the medium
of expedient means
I explain the Dharma
in order to make
all people happy.
Sharihotsu, you must know
that I use the eyes
of enlightenment
to contemplate the sentient beings
of the six worlds (in which individual minds slip from one to another: 1) the hells or suffering 2) the dimensions of the hungry ghosts, 3) animality, 4) the spheres of the titan like shura (ashura), 5) the habitats of humankind and 6) the realms of the deva).
Such beings are miserable, unhappy
and lacking in perceptive wisdom.
When they enter
the precipitous paths
of either life or death
their suffering continues
without respite.
Sentient beings
are deeply attached
to the five desires
of money or property, sexual love,
eating and drinking,
fame and renown and sleep.
In the same way as yaks
are in love with their tails,
overshadowed by delighting
in what they crave,
they see no further
than the darkness of the blind.
They neither seek the Buddha
who has the power
to break these attachments
nor do they seek dharmas
to end their suffering.
They fall into all
the perverse points of view
that are used
to end their suffering
through the means
of further pain.
When Shākyamuni
first sat at the place
of the path of enlightenment (Buddhagāya)
either contemplating the trees
or even sometimes
walking about when meditating
in order to prevent sleepiness,
then for a period
of twenty-one days
after becoming fully enlightened
the Buddha
walked around the bodhi tree
pondering over
how he should carry out
the salvation of all sentient beings
by means of the universal vehicles (daijō, mahāyāna).
The wisdom and discernment
that the Buddha had attained
is the most supreme subtlety
and utterness.
However, the propensities
of sentient beings
tend to be somewhat limited;
they become attached
to their pleasures
and their minds are blinded
by their stupidity.
Therefore, how do you ferry such people
from the shores of suffering
to that of nirvana?
Then, when the Buddha
became fully enlightened
all the deva sovereigns (ten’ ō, deva-rāja),
Taishaku the emperor of the deva (ten),
the four Celestial Kings
who are the guardians of existence
along with Daijizaiten (Shiva)
with a multitude of other deva (ten)
and their retinues
whose number would amount
to hundreds of thousands of myriads
all put their hands together in homage
and entreated the Buddha
to rotate the Wheel of the Dharma.
Then I, Shākyamuni,
thought to myself:
If I only praise
the Buddha vehicle to enlightenment
then sentient beings
who are submerged in their suffering
will be unable
to hold faith in this Dharma.
This would lead
to the defamation of it
on account of their lack of faith.
On these grounds
it would be better
not to expound
this dharma at all
and enter into
the total extinction of nirvana right away.
Then I remembered
the Buddhas of the past
with the power
of the expedient means
they had practised,
due to the path
of enlightenment
that I had now attained
which implies that I also
must expound the Dharma
in terms of the three vehicles
that lead people towards enlightenment.
(They are 1) those who exerted themselves to reach the highest stage of the teachings of the individual vehicle (shōjō, hīnayāna) through listening to the Buddha or the intellectual seekers of today (shōmon, shrāvaka), 2) the people who are partially enlightened usually on account of some kind of specialisation in the sciences, arts, music or philosophy (engaku, hyakushibutsu, pratyekabuddha) and 3) conscious beings of and for universal enlightenment (bosatsu).)
While these things
were going through my mind
all the Buddhas of the ten directions
appeared in front of me
to console and encourage
with their Brahman voices by saying:
“Well done, well done, Shākyamuni.
You as the foremost of guides
having attained
this unsurpassed wisdom
of total enlightenment
must in the same way
as all the other Buddhas
have recourse to the potency
of the various expedient means.
We as Buddhas
all have arrived
at the first and foremost
Dharma of Utterness
so that for the benefit
of all kinds of sentient beings
we had to,
in order to teach them about
the vehicle to enlightenment,
make the distinction
of three separate conveyances
as an expedient means.
These people
who have an incomplete wisdom
take great pleasure
in dharmas of little consequence
nor do they believe
that they themselves
can become enlightened.
Therefore with the aid
of expedient means
we pick out and discern
the feasibility
of the various fruitions
which are the result
of a combination of causes.
Again, even if we expounded
the Dharma in terms of the three vehicles
to enlightenment
they were only taught
for the sake of people
who were essentially bodhisattvas.”
Sharihotsu, this you should know.
After I, Shākyamuni,
had heard the profound,
pure and subtle voices
of the realisation of the Utterness
of these fearless Buddhas
who had appeared before me,
I then cried out in joy and said,
“I devote my life to and found it on
the Buddha enlightenment (namu butsu).”
This is what I Shākyamuni
thought at the time.
I have come into an age
of obscenity and badness.
Therefore I will act
in conformity
to what the former Buddhas
have preached.
After I had thought about these things,
I decided to go
in the direction of Benares.
I will not just say
that all dharmas are
in actual fact the silence
of the total extinction of nirvana.
I will explain this
to those five monks
who have accompanied me
throughout my practise
with the improvisation
of expedient means.
This is what is called
turning the wheel of the Dharma
which is the process
in which the Buddha mind
and its various faculties
discerns objects and ideas
that are the reverberation
of the perfect enlightenment
of the extinction of nirvana itself.
Hence such words and concepts
such as an “arakan” or “arhat” (who is a person who has attained the supreme reward of the individual vehicle (shōjō, hīnayāna))
or the “clerical community (sō, sangha)”
are simply distinctive expressions
of the enlightenment of the Buddha
in order to circumscribe
these mental images.
Ever since my enlightenment
in the remote past
which is always
the ever-present infinite in time (kuon ganjo)
I have always rendered homage to
and pointed out the Dharma
of the enlightenment
of the total extinction
of the sufferings
of existence in nirvana.
I have always expounded the means
to end the painful eternities
of cycles of living and dying.
Sharihotsu,
you must be fully aware
that I have seen people
who hold faith in and do
the practises of the Buddha
fervently seeking
the path of enlightenment
in the numberless thousands
of tens of thousands of myriads;
all with a mind of devout veneration
they come to the place
where I am.
They have reverently followed
other Buddhas
in former lives
and have listened to the Dharma
that was expounded
in terms of expedient means.
Then this thought
came into my mind;
the reason why Tathāgatas
come into the world
is in order to expound
the wisdom of the Buddha.
Now is the time
to do so.
Sharihotsu,
you must certainly be aware
that people
with dull propensities and meager wisdom
are attached
to their own thoughts and pride,
so that they are incapable
of believing this Dharma.
Now, full of joy
and devoid of fear
in the midst of the bodhisattvas
I shall renounce
all expedient means
and according to
the correct and direct way
solely expound
the unsurpassed path
of enlightenment.


The seventh important point, “In the midst of all the bodhisattvas I shall renounce all expedient means and according to the correct and straight way solely expound the unsurpassed path of enlightenment.”

In the fourth volume of the Textual Explanation of the Dharma Flower Sutra (Hokke Mongu) it says, “The three sentences that come after the phrase 'in the midst of bodhisattvas' refer to the exact moment when Shākyamuni decided to reveal the teaching that embodies the truth.” The five vehicles to enlightenment that were designated 1) for humankind in general, 2) for the deva (ten), 3) for the people who strove to attain the highest stages of the teachings of the individual vehicle (shōjō, hīnayāna) through listening to the Buddha (shōmon, shrāvaka), 4) for people who are partially enlightened due to a profound search for the meaning of existence (engaku, hyakushibutsu, pratyekabuddha) or 5) for beings who according to the teachings of Shākyamuni were destined for enlightenment (bosatsu), all these doctrines were complex and indirect.

The intermediate teaching (tsūgyō) connects the individual to the universal vehicle (daijō, mahāyāna) and is common to the three vehicles. (They are those who listen to the Buddha (shōmon, shrāvaka), those who are partially enlightened due to a profound search for the meaning of existence (engaku, hyakushibutsu, pratyekabuddha) also the bodhisattvas (bosatsu) along with the particular teaching (bekkyō) which is different from the other three of the four kinds of teaching and was destined for the bodhisattvas of Shākyamuni’s time only. Both of these two doctrines are one-sided and incomplete.) They are not the correct and direct way which has discarded all expedient means. But ever since the Buddha has renounced all these biased and labyrinthine teachings, he has only in a direct manner preached the single path of enlightenment.

The Oral Transmission on the Meaning of the Dharma Flower Sutra (Ongi Kuden) says that the bodhisattvas referred to in the quotation above are the bodhisattvas that inhabit the ninth of the ten (psychological) realms of dharmas (jikkai) which is the psychological dimension of the third of the three vehicles, that is of those who seek enlightenment not only for themselves but also for all humankind (bosatsu kai). Again bodhisattvas are said to be all sentient beings. Now the word bodhisattva refers to Nichiren and those who follow him. Furthermore all deva (ten) (who are usually understood as the Brahmanic gods) and the spirits of good (which is a term that refers to all the various local divinities) are said to be bodhisattvas as well.

The correct and direct way which has discarded all expedient means implies that our troublesome worries (bonnō, klesha) are none other than existence in the sense of the one instant of thought containing three thousand existential spaces (ichinen sanzen) which is not separate from the enlightenment of the Buddha.

Nor are the cycles of living and dying separate from nirvana as understood as the state of enlightenment attained by Shākyamuni and other Buddhas.

Therefore the single path of enlightenment mentioned earlier in the quotation is Nam Myōhō Renge Kyō, which entails the founding of our lives on and devoting them to (Nam) 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).

Are not the people at this time of the final phase of the Dharma of Shākyamuni (mappō), which entails Nichiren and his followers, those who propagate the correct and direct way of the single path to enlightenment?


The bodhisattvas
on hearing this Dharma
will free themselves
from the entanglements of doubt.
One thousand two hundred people
who have attained
the supreme reward
of the individual vehicle (shōjō, hīnayāna)
will certainly reap
the harvest of enlightenment.
In the same way as all the Buddhas
of the past, present and future
have gone about expounding this Dharma,
the Buddhas come into this world
between very long intervals
and it is not easy
to be able to meet them.
Even when they are in the world
it is still difficult
for the Buddhas
to expound this Dharma.
During uncountable and innumerable kalpas
it is also difficult
to find somebody who is capable
of directing his attention
to this Dharma,
just like the blossom of the udumbara tree
which is said to flower
only every three thousand years
and is admired and enjoyed by everybody,
a rare event
even among the deva (ten) and humankind
that only occurs from time to time.
Those that listen to
and hear this Dharma
exalt in it and are full of praise
even though it may only be
a single word.
Would this not be due
to having already made offerings
to the Buddhas
of the past, present and future?
Such people are seldom met with
in the same way
as the flowering of the udumbara tree
is infrequent.
You must have no doubt
about what I Shākyamuni
am proclaiming.
This is the sovereign of Dharmas
that is universally spread
to all these multitudes.
It is only through the means
of the path of the single vehicle
that I instruct and change
the lives of all bodhisattvas.
There is no one among the people
that listen to me (shōmon, shrāvaka)
or my disciples
who is like you, Sharihotsu,
or the bodhisattvas.
You must already know
that the Utterness of the Dharma (Myōhō, Saddharma)
is the essential
of my esoteric doctrine (hiyō).
During the periods that are afflicted
by the five workings of evil (which are 1) war, pestilence and natural disasters, 2) a time when distorted views flourish, 3) a period when people are overwhelmed by their lusts, 4) as well as the degeneration of the quality of life, 5) when people become addicted only to the pleasure of the senses)
such people will never seek
the path of enlightenment.
When the people
in the ages that are to come
who are given over to iniquity
hear of the single vehicle
that is expounded by the Buddha,
such people,
bewildered and confused as they are,
will be unable to accept
or have faith in such a Dharma.
Instead they will negate it
and fall into the more unfortunate paths of rebirth.
(This means in the hells, as a hungry ghost or as an animal.)


The eighth important point, concerning, “When people in the ages that are to come who are given over to iniquity hear of the single vehicle that is expounded by the Buddha, such people, bewildered and confused as they are, will be unable to accept or have faith in such a Dharma. Instead they will negate it and fall into the more unfortunate paths of rebirth.”

The Oral Transmission on the Meaning of the Dharma Flower Sutra (Ongi Kuden) states that the phrase “in the ages that are to come” from the above quotation refers to the final fifth five hundred year period after the Buddha Shākyamuni passed over to the complete extinction of nirvana. This is also seen as the final phase of the Dharma of Shākyamuni (mappō). The phrasepeople given over to iniquity” from the same quotation refers to personages such as Hōnen (1133-1212 C.E. who was the founder of the Pure Land School (Jōdo Shū)), Kōbō (which is the posthumous name of Kūkai 774-835 C.E. who was the founder of the Tantric School (Shingon-Shū)), Jikaku 794-866 C.E. (who was the third patriarch of Enryaku-ji temple of the Tendai School but adulterated the teaching of Tendai (T’ien T’ai) by claiming that various doctrines of the Tantric School were equal to the all-inclusive principle of the Dharma Flower Sutra (Hokke-kyō)) and Chishō 814-891 C.E. (who was the fifth patriarch of Euryaku-ji temple and who claimed that although the Dharma Flower Sutra (Hokke-kyō) expounded the truth, it was in fact parallel to the teachings of the Tantric School) along with other teachers of the same kind.

The term “Buddha” from the same quotation entails Nichiren and those that follow him. The single vehicle is Myōhō Renge Kyō which is the time and place (Kyō) of the interdependence of cause, concomitancy and effect (Renge) that involves the whole of existence (Myōhō). Since the above personages cannot have faith in or assimilate this concept, they are bound to fall into the more unfortunate paths of rebirth (such as the various hells, the realms of hungry ghosts, or in the dimensions of animality).


Then there will be people
with scruples and pangs of conscience
who in all simplicity and innocence (shōjō)
will exert themselves
to seek the path of enlightenment.
Indeed, it is for such people
that I praise this single vehicle
broadly and widely.
Sharihotsu, you should surely know
that the Dharma of all the Buddhas
is just the same
and they expound it
through myriads of expedient means
so as to conform to the propensities
of those who are listening.
People who do not study
are incapable of understanding
what this Dharma involves.
Since you already know
that all the Buddhas
who are the teachers of all beings
use expedient means
to accommodate their capacities
so that they
are not led astray with doubts,
Sharihotsu, now
you must give rise to great joy
in your thoughts
knowing that you
will certainly become enlightened.



End of the first fascicle

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