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ORALLY TRANSMITTED TEACHINGS OF NICHIREN DAISHONIN AS RECORD BY NIKKO SHONIN ROLL SIXTH OF LOTUS

12 February 2015

Chapter Sixteen: The Life Span of the Thus Come One
Twenty-seven important points

Point One, concerning Chapter Sixteen, The Life Span of the Thus Come One Nam-myoho-renge-kyo

The Words and Phrases of the Lotus Sutra, volume nine, says: “Thus Come One is a general designation for the Buddhas of the ten directions and the three existences, for the two Buddhas, the three Buddhas,1 the Buddha of the essential teaching, and the Buddha of the theoretical teaching. Specifically, it is a special designation for the three Buddhas of the original state. Juryō, or Life Span, refers to an overall reckoning. It indicates an overall reckoning of the benefits of the two Buddhas, the three Buddhas, and all the Buddhas of the ten directions and the three existences. Therefore the chapter is called the Juryō-hon, or [Reckoning of] the Life Span chapter.”

The Record of the Orally Transmitted Teachings says: The title of this chapter deals with an important matter that concerns Nichiren himself. This is the transmission described in the “Supernatural Powers” chapter. The Thus Come One is Shakyamuni Buddha or, more generally speaking, all the Buddhas of the ten directions and the three existences. Or, more specifically, it refers p.124to the Buddha of the original state who is eternally endowed with the three bodies.
Now it is the understanding of Nichiren and his followers that, generally speaking, the term “Thus Come One” refers to all living beings. More specifically, it refers to the disciples and lay supporters of Nichiren.
This being the case, the term “eternally endowed with the three bodies” refers to the votaries of the Lotus Sutra in the Latter Day of the Law.
The title of honor for one who is eternally endowed with the three bodies is Nam-myoho-renge-kyo. This is what the three great concerns of actuality2 of the “Life Span” chapter refer to.
Speaking in terms of the six stages of practice, the Thus Come One in this chapter is an ordinary mortal who is in the first stage, that of being a Buddha in theory. When one reverently accepts Nam-myoho-renge-kyo, one is in the next stage, that of hearing the name and words of the truth. That is, one has for the first time heard the daimoku. When, having heard the daimoku, one proceeds to put it into practice, this is the third stage, that of perception and action. In this stage one perceives the object of devotion that embodies the three thousand realms in a single moment of life. When one succeeds in overcoming various obstacles of illusions, this is the fourth stage, that of resemblance to enlightenment. When one sets out to convert others, this is the fifth stage, that of progressive awakening. And when one comes at last to the realization that one is a Buddha eternally endowed with the three bodies, then one is a Buddha of the sixth and highest stage, that of ultimate enlightenment.
Speaking of the chapter as a whole, the idea of gradually overcoming illusions is not the ultimate meaning of the “Life Span” chapter. You should understand that the ultimate meaning of this chapter is that ordinary mortals, just as they are in their original states of being, are Buddhas.
p.125And if you ask what is the action or practice carried out by the Buddha eternally endowed with the three bodies, it is Nam-myoho-renge-kyo.

Point Two, regarding the words “You must listen carefully and hear of the Thus Come One’s secret and his transcendental powers.”

The Record of the Orally Transmitted Teachings says: This passage supports the concept of one who is eternally endowed with the three bodies. Various interpretations on these words have been transmitted.
As for the transcendental powers, the actions that are carried out instant by instant, motion by motion, by us living beings are regarded as transcendental powers. Thus the voices of the wardens of hell punishing the offenders are all to be termed transcendental powers. The countless things in the three thousand realms that undergo the process of birth, abiding, change, and extinction, are all in themselves embodiments of transcendental powers.
But in the view of Nichiren and his followers, the realization and understanding of the concept of attainment of Buddhahood in one’s present form is what is meant by “the Thus Come One’s secret and his transcendental powers.” For outside of the attainment of Buddhahood, there is no “secret” and no “transcendental powers.”
The eternally endowed three bodies mentioned here are gained through a single word. And that single word is “faith” or “to believe.” Therefore the sutra says, “We will believe and accept the Buddha’s words” (chapter sixteen). You should stop and consider the meaning of these two words “believe” and “accept.”

Point Three, regarding the words “But good men, it has been immeasurable, boundless hundreds, thousands, ten thousands, millions of nayutas of kalpas since I in fact attained Buddhahood.”

p.126The Record of the Orally Transmitted Teachings says: “I in fact” is explaining that Shakyamuni in fact attained Buddhahood in the inconceivably remote past. The meaning of this chapter, however, is that “I” represents the living beings of the Dharma-realm. “I” here refers to each and every being in the Ten Worlds. “In fact” establishes that “I” is a Buddha eternally endowed with the three bodies. This is what is being called “fact.” “Attained” refers both to the one who attains and to the thing attained. “Attain” means to open or reveal. It is to reveal that the beings of the Dharma-realm are Buddhas eternally endowed with the three bodies. “Buddhahood” means being enlightened to this.
In the word “since” (irai), the element i (already, or having passed) refers to the past, and the element rai (coming) refers to the future. And the present is included in these two elements i and rai.
The passage is thus saying that “I [or the beings of the Dharma-realm] in fact revealed” the Buddhahood that is immeasurable and boundless in both past and future. It is referring to the hundred worlds and thousand factors and the three thousand realms in a single moment of life. The two words “hundred” and “thousand” in the sutra passage refer to the hundred worlds and the thousand factors. These then represent the reality of three thousand realms in a single moment of life.
Now Nichiren and his followers, those who chant Nam-myoho-renge-kyo, are the original lords of teachings of the “Life Span” chapter. Generally speaking, the bodhisattvas of the theoretical teaching are not the sort of persons who are qualified to handle this chapter. For they employ an approach in which the theoretical teaching is on the surface and the essential teaching is in the background, while Nichiren and his followers employ an approach in which the essential teaching is in the forefront and the theoretical teaching is in the background.
Be that as it may, this chapter does not represent the teaching that is essential for the Latter Day of the Law. The reason is that this chapter embodies the Buddhism of the harvest suitable for the time when the Buddha was in the world. But only the five p.127characters of the daimoku constitute the Buddhism of sowing that is suitable for the present time. Thus, the Buddhism of the harvest is for the time when the Buddha was in the world, and the Buddhism of sowing is for the time after his passing. Hence it is the Buddhism of sowing that is needed in the Latter Day of the Law.

Point Four, regarding the passage “The Thus Come One perceives the true aspect of the threefold world exactly as it is. There is (u) no (mu) ebb or flow of birth and death, and there is no existing in this world and later entering extinction.”

The Record of the Orally Transmitted Teachings says: The “Thus Come One” is the living beings of the threefold world. When we look at these living beings through the eyes of the “Life Span” chapter, we can see and understand the true aspect of these beings who in their original states possess the Ten Worlds.
The aspect or characteristics of the threefold world are birth, aging, sickness, and death. But if we look at birth and death in terms of their true nature, then there is no birth or death. And if there is no birth or death, then there is no ebb or flow. Not only do birth and death not exist. To look on birth and death with repulsion and try to escape from them is termed delusion, or a viewpoint of acquired enlightenment.3 Seeing and understanding the originally inherent nature of birth and death is termed awakening, or original enlightenment.
Now when Nichiren and his followers chant Nam-myoho-renge-kyo, they realize the originally inherent nature of birth and death, and the originally inherent nature of ebb and flow.
We may also say that nonexistence (mu) and existence (u), birth and death, ebbing and flowing, existing in this world and p.128entering extinction, are all, every one of them, actions of the eternally abiding inherent nature.
“Nonexistence” indicates that the actions of Myoho-renge-kyo are none other than the Dharma-realm. “Existence” indicates that hell, just as it is, is the total entity of the Wonderful Law originally endowed with the Ten Worlds. “Birth” indicates the Wonderful Law appearing as birth in accordance with changing circumstances. “Death” is death as seen through the “Life Span” chapter, in which the Dharma-realm is at the same time the true aspect of reality. Because there is “ebb,” there is “entering extinction,” and because there is “flow,” there is “existing in the world.”
Thus [in terms of the three truths], nonexistence, death, ebbing, and extinction represent the truth of non-substantiality or emptiness. Existence, birth, flowing, and existing in the world represent the truth of temporary existence. And [the true aspect of the threefold world that] the Thus Come One perceives exactly as it is, is the truth of the Middle Way.
[In terms of the three bodies], nonexistence, death, ebbing, and extinction represent the eternally endowed reward body. Existence, birth, flowing, and existing in the world represent the eternally endowed manifested body. And [the true aspect of the threefold world that] the Thus Come One perceives exactly as it is, is the eternally endowed Dharma body.
These three bodies are our own single bodies. This is why [Words and Phrases, volume nine] says, “The single body is none other than the three bodies, a statement that is secret.” And this is also why it says, “The three bodies are none other than the single body, a statement that is secret.”
Thus the Buddha of the Lotus that is the entity of the Law (chapter eleven, point six), who is eternally endowed with the three bodies, is Nichiren and his disciples and lay supporters. That is because they embrace the title of honor, Nam-myoho-renge-kyo.

Point Five, regarding the passage “Because if the Buddha remains in the world for a long time, those persons with p.129shallow virtue will fail to plant good roots but, living in poverty and lowliness, will become attached to the five desires and be caught in the net of deluded thoughts and imaginings.”

The Record of the Orally Transmitted Teachings says: This passage in the sutra explains that, if the Buddha remains in the world for a long time, then people with shallow virtue will fail to plant good roots, and meanwhile will become caught in the net of deluded thoughts or views.
Essentially, these “persons with shallow virtue” are living beings who failed to heed the Law when the Buddha was in the world and now, after his passing, have been born in this country of Japan. They are the so-called slanderers of the Law such as the believers of the Nembutsu, Zen, and True Word teachings.
In the phrase “fail to plant good roots,” the term “good roots” refers to the daimoku. “Fail to plant” refers to those who have yet to embrace the daimoku.
“Imaginings” refers to assertions such as that one should “discard, close, ignore, and abandon” the Lotus Sutra, or that the Lotus Sutra ranks in third place among the sutras. Views such as these are called “imaginings.”
The word “deluded” refers to sutra teachings that are based on the deluded words of the provisional teachings. “Thoughts” refers to mistaken views. To insist that the Lotus Sutra, first among the sutras, actually ranks third is an example of a mistaken view. “In the net of” means in the company of persons who slander the Law and do not have faith.
Now Nichiren and his followers, who chant Nam-myoho-renge-kyo, are persons who have abandoned those sutras that embody deluded views and the company of those who are “caught in the net.”

Point Six, regarding the passage “After he has gone, the children drink some kind of poison that makes them distraught with pain and they fall writhing to the ground.”

p.130The Record of the Orally Transmitted Teachings says: “Some kind” refers to [the kind administered by] the priests of the Nembutsu, Zen, and True Word teachings, who slander the Law. “Poison” refers to the expedient means of the provisional teachings, that is, something other than the good medicine of the Lotus Sutra. Therefore “the children” become confused and distraught. “Distraught” means to be deprived of breath. They have become distraught because they lack the life force of the “Life Span” chapter. “They fall writhing to the ground” indicates that they fall into the Avīchi hell.
Regarding the passage on the children who drink poison, the commentary [Words and Phrases, volume nine] says, “To believe and accept the doctrines of erroneous teachers is referred to as ‘drinking poison.’”
The children represent those who slander the Law, and the poison that is drunk is the provisional doctrines of Amida, Mahāvairochana, and their like. But now when Nichiren and his followers chant Nam-myoho-renge-kyo, they are not drinking poison.

Point Seven, on the words “Some are completely out of their minds, while others are not.”

The Record of the Orally Transmitted Teachings says: The words “completely out of their minds,” or more literally, “had lost their original minds,” refer to slandering of the Law. “Original minds” refers to the seeds of enlightenment sown by the Buddha. “While others are not” refers to the votaries of the Lotus Sutra.
To “lose” or be “out of one’s mind” here means to lose something that one originally possessed. The fact that now Nichiren and his followers chant Nam-myoho-renge-kyo is an indication that they have not lost their original minds.

Point Eight, regarding the passage “Gathering fine medicinal herbs that meet all the requirements of color, fragrance and flavor, he grinds, sifts, and mixes them together. p.131Giving a dose of these to his children, he tells them: ‘This is a highly effective medicine, meeting all the requirements of color, fragrance, and flavor. Take it and you will quickly be relieved of your sufferings and will be free of all illness.’”

The Record of the Orally Transmitted Teachings says: This passage of the sutra deals with the three truths of non-substantiality, temporary existence, and the Middle Way, and with the three types of learning, namely, precepts, meditation, and wisdom. These are the “highly effective medicine, meeting all the requirements of color, fragrance, and flavor.”
“Grinding” stands for the truth of non-substantiality, “sifting” for the truth of temporary existence, and “mixing together” for the truth of the Middle Way. “Giving” means to deliver or entrust something to someone, and the “children” are the votaries of the Lotus Sutra. When [he gives a dose to his children and] they take it, this indicates that they accept and uphold [the Lotus Sutra]. The passage is saying that it is “a highly effective medicine, meeting all the requirements of color, fragrance, and flavor.” “All” here means that it is the highly effective medicine of Nam-myoho-renge-kyo that includes the ten thousand practices, ten thousand good acts, and the various pāramitās.
The words “color, fragrance” mean that “there is not one color or one fragrance that is not the Middle Way”4 and refer to the attainment of Buddhahood by plants and trees. This means, then, that in the five characters of the daimoku there is not a single thing that is not included. Therefore, if we take a dose of it, we will “quickly be relieved of our sufferings.”
For this reason, taking the highly effective medicine of the Wonderful Law will relieve us of the sufferings inflicted by earthly desires, the three poisons of greed, anger, and foolishness.
The votaries of the Lotus Sutra, who chant Nam-myoho-renge-kyo, do not accept the alms of those who slander the Law, and thereby they are relieved of the sickness of greedy desires. The p.132votaries of the Lotus Sutra, though they are cursed and abused, practice forbearance, and thereby they are relieved of the sickness of anger. The votaries of the Lotus Sutra know that they will attain Buddhahood for, as the sutra says, “Such a person assuredly and without doubt / will attain the Buddha way” (chapter twenty-one, Supernatural Powers), and they are thereby relieved of the earthly desires associated with foolishness. This “highly effective medicine” is thus the sweet dew that insures attainment of Buddhahood in the Latter Day of the Law.
Now Nichiren and his followers, who chant Nam-myoho-renge-kyo, are the original possessors of this highly effective medicine.

Point Nine, regarding the passage “Because the poison has penetrated deeply and their minds no longer function as before. So although the medicine is of excellent color and fragrance, they do not perceive it as good.”

The Record of the Orally Transmitted Teachings says: The words “the poison has penetrated deeply” refer to persons who have become deeply committed to the provisional teachings, an action that constitutes slander of the Law. For that reason, they do not believe or accept the highly effective medicine of the Lotus Sutra. Though one gives them a dose of it, these persons spit it out because “they do not perceive it as good,” that is, it is distasteful to them.
But now Nichiren and his followers, who chant Nam-myoho-renge-kyo, cannot be said to be among those who “do not perceive it as good.”

Point Ten, regarding the passage “I will leave this good medicine here. You should take it and not worry that it will not cure you.”

The Record of the Orally Transmitted Teachings says: “This good medicine” refers to the sutra teachings or to the relics of the Buddha. But in the Latter Day of the Law it refers to Nam-myoho-renge-kyo.
p.133“Good” indicates something that is favored by all the Buddhas of the three existences, namely, the five characters of the daimoku. “I will leave this” indicates that it is for the Latter Day of the Law. “Here” means the country of Japan in the continent of Jambudvīpa. “You” means all the living beings in the Latter Day of the Law.
“Take it,” or more literally, “take and swallow it,” refers to the ceremony we perform when we accept and uphold the Lotus Sutra. “Swallow” refers to the chanting of the daimoku. From the time we swallow it, we become eternally endowed with the three bodies. Thus we are cured of the sickness of attachment to the Buddha who first attained enlightenment under the bodhi tree.
Now this is what Nichiren and his followers are doing when they chant Nam-myoho-renge-kyo.

Point Eleven, regarding the passage “[Ever] since I attained Buddhahood / the number of kalpas that have passed / is an immeasurable hundreds, thousands, ten thousands, / millions, trillions, asamkhyas.” 5

The Record of the Orally Transmitted Teachings says: The traditional interpretation of this passage holds that it refers in this one sentence to the three bodies of a Buddha. The word “since” refers to the nine worlds other than Buddhahood, while the word “I” refers to the world of Buddhahood. It is saying that these Ten Worlds are part of the makeup of a Buddha with his eternally endowed three bodies. The Buddha includes both the “since” and the “I,” which makes it clear that he has from the very beginning possessed all Ten Worlds.
p.134“I” stands for the Dharma body, “Buddhahood” stands for the reward body, and “ever” stands for the manifested body. These three bodies have been self-attained by the ancient Buddha who is without beginning or end. The same idea is expressed in the passage that reads, “This cluster of unsurpassed jewels / has come to us unsought” (chapter four, Belief and Understanding). Thus we see that the passages in this chapter that reveal the original enlightenment of the Buddha and the extremely great length of his life span are something never to be found in the other sutra teachings.
Now when Nichiren and his followers chant Nam-myoho-renge-kyo, they are acting as votaries of these words, “since I attained Buddhahood.”

Point Twelve, on the words “In order to save living beings, / as an expedient means I appear to enter nirvana.”

The Record of the Orally Transmitted Teachings says: This passage of the sutra indicates that the Nirvana Sutra derives from the Lotus Sutra. It is already being referred to as an expedient means.

Point Thirteen, on the words “I am always here, preaching the Law.”

The Record of the Orally Transmitted Teachings says: “Always here” refers to the place where the votaries of the Lotus Sutra abide. “Here” is the sahā world. “Mountain valleys or the wide wilderness” (chapter twenty-one, Supernatural Powers)—this is what the sutra means when it speaks of “here.”
“Preaching the Law” is the sound of the words of all living beings, that is, the sound of preaching the Law through the wisdom that is freely received and used, a part of their original makeup. Now that we have entered the Latter Day of the Law, preaching the Law means Nam-myoho-renge-kyo. This is the preaching of the Law carried out now by Nichiren and his followers.

p.135Point Fourteen, on the words “Then I and the assembly of monks / appear together on Holy Eagle Peak.”

The Record of the Orally Transmitted Teachings says: This passage refers to “the assembly on Holy Eagle Peak which continues in solemn state and has not yet disbanded.” “Then,” or the time when this takes place, is the Latter Day of the Law, the time when the Buddha responds to the receptiveness of the people. “I” refers to Shakyamuni Buddha, “and” to the bodhisattvas, and “assembly of monks” to the holy assembly [the voice-hearers and pratyekabuddhas]. “Together” means all the Ten Worlds. “Holy Eagle Peak” is the Land of Eternally Tranquil Light. That is, “at this time ‘I,’ ‘and,’ and ‘the assembly of monks’ appear together on Holy Eagle Peak.”
This must be kept secret! This must be kept secret! This is a clear statement of the actuality of three thousand realms in a single moment of life of the essential teaching. The Gohonzon is the realization and manifestation of this passage. In that sense, the word “together” stands for the principle of eternal and unchanging truth, while the word “appear” stands for the wisdom of the truth that accords with changing circumstances. “Together” is a single moment of life, while “appear” is the three thousand realms.
Again we may say that the word “then” refers to the time when [the Buddha and the others appear in] the sahā world at the time of the essential teaching. [The beings indicated in] this sentence represent the mandala of the Ten Worlds in their entirety. Therefore the time indicated by the word “then” is the fifth five hundred year period, or the Latter Day of the Law. “I” refers to Shakyamuni Buddha, “and” to the bodhisattvas, and “assembly of monks” to the persons of the two vehicles. “Together” refers to [the beings of] the six paths. “Appear” means to be ranged side by side in the Pure Land of Holy Peak [Holy Eagle Peak]. “Holy Peak” refers to the Gohonzon. It also refers to the place where Nichiren and his followers, who chant Nam-myoho-renge-kyo, dwell.

Point Fifteen, regarding the passage “When living beings p.136witness the end of a kalpa / and all is consumed in a great fire, / this, my land, remains safe and tranquil, / constantly filled with heavenly and human beings. / The halls and pavilions in its gardens and groves / are adorned with various kinds of gems. / Jeweled trees abound in flowers and fruit / where living beings enjoy themselves at ease. / The gods strike heavenly drums, / constantly making many kinds of music. / Māndārava blossoms rain down, / scattering over the Buddha and the great assembly. / My pure land is not destroyed, / yet the multitude see it as consumed in fire, / with anxiety, fear, and other sufferings / filling it everywhere. / These living beings with their various offenses, / through causes arising from their evil actions, / spend asamkhya kalpas / without hearing the name of the three treasures. / But those who practice meritorious ways, / who are gentle, peaceful, honest, and upright, / all of them will see me / here in person, preaching the Law.”

The Record of the Orally Transmitted Teachings says: This passage is a hymn of praise on the principle of three thousand realms in a single moment of life revealed in the “Life Span” chapter of the essential teaching. The words “When . . . all is consumed in a great fire” in fact signify the great fire of earthly desires. The words “this, my land, remains safe and tranquil” refer to the realm of the environment. The words “where living beings enjoy themselves at ease” refer to the realm of living beings. The words “Jeweled trees abound in flowers and fruit” refer to the realm of the five components. Thus this part of the passage is clearly speaking of the principle of three thousand realms in a single moment of life.
Again we may say that the passage refers to the Ten Worlds. The “great fire” stands for the world of hell, “heavenly drums” stands for that of animals, and “heavenly and human beings” for the two worlds of human and heavenly beings, which are “constantly filled with heavenly and human beings.”
The words “māndārava blossoms” stand for the world of p.137voice-hearers, the words “gardens and groves” stand for that of pratyekabuddhas, the one word “and” in the phrase “the Buddha and the great assembly” stands for the world of bodhisattvas, and the words “scattering over the Buddha” stand for the world of Buddhas. The worlds of asuras and hungry spirits are implied in the lines “with anxiety, fear, and other sufferings / filling it everywhere.” These various worlds are referred to in the words “these living beings with their various offenses.”
However, the revelations in this “Life Span” chapter make clear that “all of them will see me,”6 that is, they make clear the principle of three thousand realms in a single moment of life. Now Nichiren and his followers, who chant Nam-myoho-renge-kyo, are the very persons referred to here.

Point Sixteen, on the words “I am the father of this world.”

The Record of the Orally Transmitted Teachings says: “I” refers to Shakyamuni Buddha, the father of all living beings. The Lotus Sutra assures us that both the Buddha and the sutra itself possess the three virtues of sovereign, teacher, and parent.
The assurance regarding the Buddha is found in the passage concerning the three virtues of the Buddha of the theoretical teaching that reads, “But now this threefold world / is all my domain, / and the living beings in it / are all my children. / . . . I am the only person / who can rescue and protect others” (chapter three, Simile and Parable). As for the three virtues of sovereign, teacher, and parent as they pertain to the Buddha of the essential teaching, the virtue of sovereign is attested in the words “This, my land, remains safe and tranquil” (chapter sixteen); that of teacher in the words “Constantly I have preached the Law, teaching, converting” (ibid.); and that of parent in the words “I am the father of this world.”
The Great Teacher Miao-lo states in his commentary that p.138anyone who does not understand the text of the “Life Span” chapter is no more than a beast who has no understanding of a debt of gratitude [a summary of Miao-lo’s words from The Treatise of Five Hundred Questions].
As for the passages that attest to the fact that the sutra itself possesses these three virtues, the virtue of sovereign is attested in the words “As the Buddha is king of the doctrines, so likewise this sutra is king of the sutras” (chapter twenty-three, Medicine King). The virtue of teacher is attested in the words “this sutra can save all living beings” (ibid.). And the virtue of parent is attested in the words “And as the heavenly king, great Brahmā, is the father of all living beings, so this sutra likewise is father of all sages, worthies,” etc. (ibid.).
Now Nichiren and his followers, who chant Nam-myoho-renge-kyo, are the fathers of all living beings, for we save them from the torments of the hell of incessant suffering. The Nirvana Sutra says, “The varied sufferings that all living beings undergo—all these are the Thus Come One’s own sufferings.” And Nichiren declares, The varied sufferings that all living beings undergo—all these are Nichiren’s own sufferings.

Point Seventeen, on the words “Abandoning restraint, they give themselves up to the five desires / and fall into the evil paths of existence.”

The Record of the Orally Transmitted Teachings says: “Abandoning restraint” is a term designating slander of the Law. Those who do so are without doubt destined to fall into the Avīchi hell.
But now Nichiren and his followers, who chant Nam-myoho-renge-kyo, are exempted from the fate referred to in this passage of the sutra.

Point Eighteen, on the words “Always I am aware of which living beings / practice the way, and which do not.”

The Record of the Orally Transmitted Teachings says: This p.139passage concerns the living beings of the Ten Worlds. The words “practice the way” stand for the four noble paths or the four higher worlds of existence, while the words “do not [practice the way]” stand for the six paths or the six lower worlds of existence.
Or again, one may say that “practice the way” represents the worlds of asuras, human beings, and heavenly beings, while “do not [practice the way]” represents the three evil paths.
Ultimately, now that we have entered the Latter Day of the Law, those who “practice the way” are the votaries of the Lotus Sutra, while those who “do not” are the slanderers of the Law. The word “way” stands for the Lotus Sutra. As T’ien-t’ai says, “The term ‘Buddha way’ refers to this sutra [the Lotus] in particular.”
Now Nichiren and his followers, who chant Nam-myoho-renge-kyo, are those who “practice the way,” while those who do not chant it are those who “do not [practice the way].”

Point Nineteen, on the words “At all times I think to myself [literally, make this thought]”

The Record of the Orally Transmitted Teachings says: “At all times” designates the three existences of past, present, and future. “Myself” refers specifically to Shakyamuni Buddha, and in a more general way to the Ten Worlds.
The words “this thought” in the phrase “make this thought” refer to the eternally inherent single thought of Nam-myoho-renge-kyo. The word “make” here is not the “make” of “made” or “created,” but rather the “make” of “not made” or “not created,” that is, eternal and inherent.
Broadly speaking, in terms of the inherent Ten Worlds, the word “myself” refers to each of the ten thousand entities of those worlds. “This thought” indicates that the voices of the hell wardens as they berate the inmates of hell, as well as all the other various thoughts of living beings, are all of them expressions of the wisdom of the Buddha of limitless joy. All of these are referred to in the word “thought.”
p.140Now the thought expressed by Nichiren and his followers as they chant Nam-myoho-renge-kyo is the thought of great pity and compassion.

Point Twenty, on the words “How can I cause living beings / to gain entry into the unsurpassed way / and quickly acquire the body of a Buddha?”

The Record of the Orally Transmitted Teachings says: The term “unsurpassed way” refers to the Buddha eternally endowed with the three bodies who is revealed in the “Life Span” chapter. Outside of this, there is no other “body of a Buddha” to be acquired.
Now Nichiren and his followers, who chant Nam-myoho-renge-kyo, will without doubt “acquire the body of a Buddha.”

Point Twenty-one, on the Jigage, or verse (ge) section, that begins with the words Jiga, or “Since I”

The Record of the Orally Transmitted Teachings says: The word “Since” refers to the nine worlds, while the word “I” refers to the “body of a Buddha.”7 The ge, or verse, presents the principle of the teachings, the principle that both the nine worlds and Buddhahood exist in one’s original state of life. One should ponder it deeply.
The expression of this principle is Nam-myoho-renge-kyo.

Point Twenty-two, on the beginning and end of the Jigage section

The Record of the Orally Transmitted Teachings says: The word “Since” (ji [which also means self or freely]) marks the beginning of the verse section, and the words “quickly acquire the body (shin) of a Buddha” mark the end. The beginning and end are “since” and “body,” which make up ji-shin (oneself). The words that are in between represent the receiving (ju) and use (yū) [of p.141the boundless benefits inherent in oneself]. Hence the Jigage section represents “the body [inherently endowed with boundless benefits] that is freely received and used” (ji-ju-yū-shin), or the Buddha of limitless joy.
If one realizes that the Dharma-realm is identical with oneself, then the Dharma-realm is the Buddha of limitless joy; hence there is nothing that is not contained in the Jigage section.
“The body that is freely received and used” is none other than the principle of three thousand realms in a single moment of life. Dengyō says, “A single moment of life comprising the three thousand realms is itself ‘the body that is freely received and used’ [or the Buddha of limitless joy].8 ‘The body that is freely received and used’ is the Buddha who has forsaken august appearances. This Buddha who has forsaken august appearances is the Buddha eternally endowed with the three bodies.”
Now Nichiren and his followers, who chant Nam-myoho-renge-kyo, are just this.

Point Twenty-three, on the term kuon, or time without beginning

The Record of the Orally Transmitted Teachings says: This chapter as a whole deals with the true attainment in kuon. Kuon means something that was not worked for, that was not improved upon, but that exists just as it always has.
Because we are speaking here of the Buddha eternally endowed with the three bodies, it is not a question of something attained for the first time at a certain time, or of something that was worked for. This is not the kind of Buddhahood that is adorned with the thirty-two features and eighty characteristics, or that needs to be improved on in any way. Because this is the p.142eternally abiding Buddha in his original state, he exists just as he always has. This is what is meant by kuon.
Kuon is Nam-myoho-renge-kyo, and “true attainment”9 means awakening to the fact that one is eternally endowed with the three bodies.

Point Twenty-four, on the country of those who are to be converted by the teachings of this “Life Span” chapter and the religious practice to be employed

The Record of the Orally Transmitted Teachings says: The country where the teachings of this chapter are to be propagated is Japan, or in more general terms, the continent of Jambudvīpa.
Those who are to be converted are all the living beings of Japan. The religious practice to be employed is the mind of faith, faith meaning “to be without doubt.”
Those who administer the teachings are the bodhisattvas of the essential teaching, the Bodhisattvas of the Earth.

Point Twenty-five, concerning the establishment of the object of devotion

The Record of the Orally Transmitted Teachings says: This object of devotion is based on the passage that reads, “the Thus Come One’s secret and his transcendental powers” (chapter sixteen). The three types of learning, namely, precepts, meditation, and wisdom, are represented by the Three Great Secret Laws embodied in the “Life Span” chapter.
At Holy Eagle Peak, Nichiren without question faced the Buddha and received oral instruction from him in these three great laws. The object of devotion is thus the entity of the entire life of the votary of the Lotus Sutra.

p.143Point Twenty-six, concerning the person or persons to whom the “Life Span” chapter is addressed

The Record of the Orally Transmitted Teachings says: In the context of the sutra itself, the chapter is addressed to the bodhisattva Maitreya. However, we are thinking basically in terms of the time after the passing of the Buddha. Therefore we must say that it is addressed to all the living beings of the country of Japan, and in particular to Nichiren and his followers, who chant Nam-myoho-renge-kyo.
Maitreya represents the votaries of the Lotus Sutra in the Latter Day of the Law. The name Maitreya means Compassionate One and designates the votaries of the Lotus Sutra.
The Great Teacher Chang-an [in his commentary on the Nirvana Sutra] says, “One who rids the offender of evil is acting as his parent.” Is this not a description of the bodhisattva Maitreya?

Point Twenty-seven, concerning the Buddha eternally endowed with the three bodies
The seed, the august form or appearance of the Buddha or other venerable beings, and samaya, the attributes or manual signs

The Record of the Orally Transmitted Teachings says: The august form of the Buddha or other venerable beings is a physical representation of the original state endowed with the Ten Worlds. The samaya are the things that inherently belong to the Ten Worlds. The seed represents the single word “faith.”
All these are Nam-myoho-renge-kyo just as it stands. Or we may say that the samaya is the gesture of pressing one’s palms together. Treat these matters as secret. Treat these matters as secret.

Chapter Seventeen: Distinctions in Benefits
Three important points

Point One, concerning the passage “Ajita, if there are living beings who, on hearing that the life span of the Buddha is of such long duration, are able to believe and understand it even for a moment, the benefits they gain thereby will be without limit or measure.”

The Record of the Orally Transmitted Teachings says: This one word “believe” in the phrase “able to believe and understand it even for a moment” is the cause and the seed that make possible the acquisition of all types of wisdom. This one word “believe” or “faith” represents the stage of hearing the name and words of the truth. Hence this one word “faith” is a sharp sword that cuts away the final stage of ignorance.
This one word “believe” means to believe in the principle of ordinary people being able to manifest their original states as revealed in the “Life Span” chapter. And the word “understand” means to understand the actual fact of the Buddha manifesting his original state [as revealed in the “Life Span” chapter].
One can believe and understand in a moment the actual fact and principle of manifesting the original state [as revealed in the “Life Span” chapter]. “A moment” means a moment of faith eternally inherent in life. A person who has this kind of faith and understanding will gain benefits that are “without limit or measure.”
Where there is belief or faith, there is understanding, and where there is understanding, there will be faith. However, it is faith that makes it absolutely certain that one will attain Buddhahood.
Now Nichiren and his followers, who chant Nam-myoho-renge-kyo, are certain of such attainment.

p.145Point Two, concerning the passage “These bodhisattvas / who have practiced the way for immeasurable kalpas / when they hear me describe my life span / are able to believe and accept what I say. / These persons will / gratefully accept this sutra.”

The Record of the Orally Transmitted Teachings says: This is a clear statement of how one should gratefully accept the Lotus Sutra. The words “these persons” in their broader meaning refer to all living beings. Thus all the Buddhas of the three existences and of the ten directions gratefully accept Myoho-renge-kyo and thereby attain Buddhahood. Therefore the title of the preceding chapter, “Life Span,” was given as Myoho-renge-kyo, with the words Thus Come One added as a further title. This is to be kept secret.
Now when Nichiren and his followers chant Nam-myoho-renge-kyo, they do so for this reason.

Point Three, concerning the passage “When a son of the Buddha dwells in such places / the Buddha will accept and utilize them.”

The Record of the Orally Transmitted Teachings says: This passage is a clear statement concerning the Buddha body that is freely accepted [or received] and utilized, or the Buddha body of limitless joy. The words “in such places” refer to the ground upon which the Buddha eternally endowed with the three bodies stands.
The son or sons of the Buddha are the votaries of the Lotus Sutra. The Buddha’s sons are bodhisattvas, and the votaries of the Lotus Sutra are bodhisattvas. The word “dwells” means to believe and understand.
Now Nichiren and his followers, who chant Nam-myoho-renge-kyo, dwell on the ground of the Wonderful Law. They are the Buddha bodies that are accepted and utilized. You should ponder deeply on this.

Chapter Eighteen: The Benefits of Responding with Joy
Two important points

Point One, regarding the Benefits of Responding with Joy to Myoho-renge-kyo

The Record of the Orally Transmitted Teachings says: “Respond” means to respond to and comply with actuality and principle. “Joy” means that oneself and others together experience joy. By actuality is meant responding to and complying with the actual fact of Shakyamuni manifesting [in this life] his original state [of enlightenment] numberless major world system dust particle kalpas ago. By principle is meant responding to the principle of ordinary people being able to manifest their original states. In the end, then, responding means responding to and complying with the inner truth of the “Life Span” chapter. When that is done, then both oneself and others together will take joy in their possession of wisdom and compassion.
Now, when Nichiren and his followers chant Nam-myoho-renge-kyo, they are expressing joy in the fact that they will inevitably become Buddhas eternally endowed with the three bodies. For that reason, we may say that the word “respond” applies to the Law one responds to, while “joy” applies to the person one takes joy in. The person is the ancient Buddha of numberless major world system dust particle kalpas ago, Shakyamuni. The Law is Nam-myoho-renge-kyo of the “Life Span” chapter. To respond to them and take joy in them is what is meant by the words “responding with joy.”
Broadly speaking, “to respond” may be regarded as another name for faith. To respond means simply to have the mind of faith. That is why it is stated in the second volume of the Lotus Sutra, “It is because they have faith in the Buddha’s words / that p.147they can comply with this sutra, / not because of any wisdom of their own” (chapter three, Simile and Parable).

Point Two, on the passage [describing the benefits of urging a person to listen to the Lotus Sutra] “breath free of foul odor, / a fragrance of utpala flowers / constantly emitted by the mouth”

The Record of the Orally Transmitted Teachings says: The word “breath” refers to the daimoku. “Free of foul odor” means that the breath is not tainted by any of the provisional teachings such as those regarding Amida Buddha, expedient means that can never lead to attainment of the way. “A fragrance of utpala flowers” refers to the Lotus Sutra. But now, in the Latter Day of the Law, it means the daimoku. The passage in the “Expedient Means” chapter that reads, “[A wonderful Law such as this is . . .] like the blooming of the udumbara [flower]” refers to the principle of three thousand realms in a single moment of life. One should reflect carefully on this.
The word “constantly” refers to that which constantly abides throughout the three existences. The word “mouth” refers to the mouth of the votary of the Lotus Sutra. “Emitted” indicates the chanting of Nam-myoho-renge-kyo. It may be said of Nichiren and his followers, who now chant Nam-myoho-renge-kyo, that these words are “constantly emitted by the mouth.”

Chapter Nineteen: Benefits of the Teacher of the Law
Four important points

Point One, regarding the Benefits of the Teacher of the Law

The Record of the Orally Transmitted Teachings says: The words “teacher of the Law” mean the teacher of the Law who carries out the five practices. The word “benefits” (kudoku) means the p.148reward that is represented by the purification of the six sense organs. In general we may say that now Nichiren and his followers, who chant Nam-myoho-renge-kyo, are carrying out the purification of the six sense organs. Hence they are acting as teachers of the Law of Myoho-renge-kyo and possess great virtue (toku).1
The element ku in the word kudoku means good fortune or happiness. It also refers to the merit achieved by wiping out evil, while the element toku or doku refers to the virtue one acquires by bringing about good. Thus the word kudoku means to attain Buddhahood in one’s present form. It also means the purification of the six sense organs. You should understand that to practice the Lotus Sutra as the sutra itself directs is to carry out purification of the six sense organs.

Point Two, regarding the purification of the six sense organs

The Record of the Orally Transmitted Teachings says: [With regard to the eight hundred eye benefits obtained by those who uphold the Lotus Sutra], the term “eye benefits” means the ability to see that those who do not believe in the Lotus Sutra will fall into the hell of incessant suffering, and that those who do believe in it will attain Buddhahood. By upholding the Lotus Sutra, one can obtain the eight hundred eye benefits. The word “eye” refers to the Lotus Sutra. [As the Universal Worthy Sutra says], “The Great Vehicle sutras are . . . the eyes of the Buddhas.”
Now when Nichiren and his followers chant Nam-myoho-renge-kyo, they are obtaining these eye benefits. And the same applies to the benefits associated with the ear, nose, tongue, body, and mind.

Point Three, on the simile of the pure bright mirror in the passage “If one upholds the Lotus Sutra / his body will be very pure, / like pure lapis lazuli— / living beings will all p.149delight to see it. / And it will be like a pure bright mirror / in which forms and shapes are all reflected.”

The Record of the Orally Transmitted Teachings says: In this famous passage in the Lotus Sutra the simile of the mirror is employed. The sutra passage is saying that persons whose six sense organs are pure will be like lapis lazuli or like bright mirrors in which one sees the major world system (or the thousand-millionfold world).
Now when Nichiren and his followers chant Nam-myoho-renge-kyo, they see and understand the ten thousand phenomena as though these were reflected in a bright mirror. This bright mirror is the Lotus Sutra. And in particular it is the “Treasure Tower” chapter. Or again we may say that it is the bright mirror of our single minds [of faith].
The passage as a whole employs these two similes of lapis lazuli and a bright mirror. It begins by saying that one’s body will be very pure. But since the body and the mind in the end are not two different things, this virtue of purity must apply to both of them.
[In the phrase “pure bright mirror”], “pure” means a purity that stands in contrast to impurity, and “bright” means a brightness that stands in contrast to lack of brightness, that is, darkness, or ignorance. The word “mirror” represents the single mind. [From another viewpoint], “pure” represents the truth of temporary existence, “bright” represents the truth of non-substantiality, and “mirror” represents the Middle Way. In the phrase “in which forms and shapes are all reflected,” the word “all” refers to the Ten Worlds.
Ultimately, then, the pure bright mirror represents the truth that the two elements of body and mind are the entity of Myoho-renge-kyo. The pure bright mirror is the mind of faith. And [for the bodhisattva in his pure body] to view the major world system is to see in it the three realms of existence.

Point Four, on the words “While these persons uphold this sutra / they will dwell safely on rare ground.”

p.150The Record of the Orally Transmitted Teachings says: The words “these persons” refer to the votaries of the Lotus Sutra who are among the various people in the country of Japan. The words “rare ground” refer to the principle and actual fact of manifesting the original state [of enlightenment] as revealed in the “Life Span” chapter. They also recall the pronouncement made in the chapter “Distinctions in Benefits,” “The Buddha preaches a rarely encountered Law.” In particular, they refer to Nam-myoho-renge-kyo. Now the “rare ground” occupied by Nichiren and his followers, who chant Nam-myoho-renge-kyo, is the object of devotion, the bright mirror to be broadly disseminated in the Latter Day of the Law.
Generally speaking, the benefits gained from purification of the six sense organs that are described in this chapter correspond to the ten stages of faith and the stage of resemblance to enlightenment, the fourth of the six stages of practice. The bodhisattva Constant Exertion who is the member of the assembly addressed in this chapter represents the third of the ten stages of faith, that of assiduousness or exertion. One should understand, however, that, in the Latter Day of the Law, it is the votaries of the Lotus Sutra who act as the bodhisattva Constant Exertion. Of such persons who uphold the Lotus Sutra the sutra itself says, “This is what is meant by diligence” (chapter eleven, Treasure Tower).

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