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25 – “He views living beings with compassionate eyes. / The sea of his accumulated blessings is immeasurable.”

3 March 2015

http://www.nichirenlibrary.org/en/ott/Separate-Transmission/1

The Essential Passage in Each of the Twenty-eight Chapters of the Lotus Sutra

 

A total of twenty-eight essential points to be kept secret.

 

(Translator’s note: In this section, a passage from each chapter of the sutra is explained basically in four ways. They are (1) glosses on the right, (2) glosses on the left, (3) alternative reading, and (4) summary. Not all of these are given in each chapter. “Glosses on the right” and “glosses on the left” are notes put on both sides of a passage in classical Chinese, written vertically. “Alternative reading” is the way Nichiren reads the passage from the viewpoint of his enlightenment. Finally a “summary” is given to convey the essence of the passage as Nichiren sees it in the light of his teaching.)

1. Introduction

Text: “[This bodhisattva Virtue Storehouse] / has already fully understood in his mind / the true aspect that is without outflows.”

Glosses on the right:

without outflows—the Ten Worlds

true aspect—to understand for the first time

Glosses on the left:

without outflows—the Wonderful Law

true—the eternal and unchanging truth

p.208aspect—the truth that functions in accordance with changing circumstances

Alternative reading: Through the true aspect that is without outflows his mind has already gained the full understanding.

Summary: This passage states that when one first understands that one’s mind has always been enlightened, this is the attainment of Buddhahood. That is to say, when one first understands through the daimoku [that one is the entity of] Nam-myoho-renge-kyo.

2. Expedient Means

Text: “But that these phenomena (hō) are part of an abiding Law(hō), / that the characteristics of the world are constantly abiding.”

Glosses on the right:

these phenomena, etc.—supreme truth

the characteristics of the world, etc.—worldly truth

Glosses on the left:

these phenomena, etc.—the theoretical teaching

the characteristics of the world, etc.—the essential teaching

Alternative reading: Because this Law (hō) is eternal, both its unchanging nature and [its manifestations, namely] the characteristics of the world, are constantly abiding.

Summary: This passage states the “constantly abiding” [principle], namely, that the minds of living beings are and have always been Buddhas. All the ten thousand phenomena have always been the embodiments of enlightenment.

3. Simile and Parable

Text: “mounting this jeweled vehicle / and proceeding directly to the place of practice”

p.209Glosses on the right:

mounting—one who accepts and upholds [the Lotus Sutra]

this jeweled vehicle—carts drawn by large white oxen

proceeding directly to the place of practice—the ordinary mortal is none other than the highest state [Buddhahood]

Glosses on the left:

this jeweled vehicle—the daimoku

the place of practice—the place of highest reward [Buddhahood]

Summary: This passage describes how one becomes aware of the Buddha vehicle within oneself and enters the palace of oneself. Chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo is what is meant by entering the palace of oneself.

4. Belief and Understanding

Text: “This cluster of unsurpassed jewels / has come to us unsought.”

Glosses on the right:

This cluster of unsurpassed jewels—the three thousand realms in a single moment of life

Glosses on the left:

This cluster of unsurpassed jewels—the daimoku

has come to us—it is ours as a matter of course

Summary: This passage is saying that the body and mind, which have existed from the beginningless past, are inherently endowed with the eternally unchanging nature, the wonderful reality, the wonderful wisdom. Therefore there is no need to seek the true aspect outside of one’s own mind. Nam-myoho-renge-kyo is what “has come to us unsought.”

5. The Parable of the Medicinal Herbs

Text: “Again there are sons of the Buddha / who devote their minds solely to the Buddha way, / constantly practicing p.210mercy and compassion, / knowing that they themselves will attain Buddhahood.”

Glosses on the right:

constantly—the three existences of past, present, and future

mercy and compassion—the daimoku

they themselves—all living beings

Glosses on the left:

devote their minds—to have full command of

constantly—always, every moment

knowing that they, etc.—creating their own wisdom and [becoming] Buddhas

Summary: This passage makes absolutely clear the attainment of Buddhahood in times to come. That is, it refers to Nam-myoho-renge-kyo.

6. Bestowal of Prophecy

Text: “Where these Buddhas are / he will constantly carry out brahma practices / and for immeasurable kalpas / will uphold and embrace the Buddha and the Law [the Lotus Sutra reads ‘the Buddha Law’].”

Glosses on the right:

Where these Buddhas are—The [living beings of the] Ten Worlds are Buddhas who are the true aspect

constantly carry out brahma practices—will constantly abide throughout the three existences

for immeasurable kalpas, etc.—earthly desires are enlightenment, the sufferings of birth and death are nirvana

Glosses on the left:

for immeasurable kalpas, etc.—one who is affected by all the karmic impediments

Summary: When this passage speaks of “constantly” or “for immeasurable kalpas,” it is referring to the Wonderful Law that p.211exists in one’s original state of life. That is, it is referring to Nam-myoho-renge-kyo.

7. The Parable of the Phantom City

Text: “When I look at that far-off time it seems like today.”

Glosses on the right:

that far-off time—major world system dust particle kalpas ago

Glosses on the left:

when I look at that—the time when the Buddha was in the world

Summary: This passage is speaking of the original one moment of life, which is also the Dharma-realm, and saying that, outside of the one moment of life or the Dharma-realm, the six paths and the four noble worlds do not exist. It is speaking of Nam-myoho-renge-kyo, the one moment of life that permeates the three existences of past, present, and future. The word “today” indicates the today of the Latter Day of the Law.

8. Prophecy of Enlightenment for Five Hundred Disciples

Text: “When the poor man saw the jewel / his heart was filled with great joy.”

Glosses on the right:

poor man—all the living beings in the country of Japan

the jewel—the daimoku, the Gohonzon

his heart—the mind and the body

great joy—earthly desires are enlightenment, the sufferings of birth and death are nirvana

Glosses on the left:

his heart—the form of the believing mind

Summary: This passage refers to the great joy that one experiences when one understands for the first time that one’s mind p.212from the very beginning has been a Buddha. Nam-myoho-renge-kyo is the greatest of all joys.

9. Prophecies Conferred on Learners and Adepts

Text: “He dwells securely in the Buddha way [the Lotus Sutra reads ‘Buddha’s Law’] / and thereby seeks the unsurpassed way.”

Glosses on the right:

Buddha way—the entire Lotus Sutra

unsurpassed way—the daimoku

Glosses on the left:

Buddha way—broad and abbreviated discussions

unsurpassed way—the essential point

Alternative reading: Though he dwells securely in the Buddha way, / yet he seeks the unsurpassed way.

Summary: This passage is saying that when one first comes to understand and realize the wonderful principle of the three bodies of the Buddha that we have always been endowed with, this is called “seeking the unsurpassed way.” This is Nam-myoho-renge-kyo.

10. The Teacher of the Law

Text: “Know that persons such as these / freely choose where they will be born.”

Glosses on the right:

freely choose—the Land of Eternally Tranquil Light

Summary: This passage is saying that outside of each instant of thought of our deluded minds there is no Buddha mind. The births and deaths of [us living beings of] the nine worlds are the true reality [or nirvana], and hence we can “freely choose.” Chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo is being “free to choose.”

p.21311. The Emergence of the Treasure Tower

Text: “This way one will quickly attain / the unsurpassed Buddha way.”

Glosses on the right:

Buddha way—accepting and upholding

Glosses on the left:

unsurpassed Buddha way—the ordinary mortal is none other than the highest state [Buddhahood]

Alternative reading: The unsurpassed Buddha way / one has quickly attained.

Summary: This passage is saying that if one is an upholder, a person of the wonderful precepts of perfect and sudden enlightenment, and if one attains the two stages of near-perfect and perfect enlightenment in a single moment of life, this is what it means to “quickly attain.” To chant Nam-myoho-renge-kyo is to “quickly attain.”

12. Devadatta

Text: “in the space of an instant change into a man”

Summary: This passage is speaking of the “change” that occurs when one realizes that the three categories of illusion in their entirety are the three truths. When one chants Nam-myoho-renge-kyo, the three categories of illusion are none other than the three virtues [of the Dharma body, wisdom, and emancipation].

13. Encouraging Devotion

Text: “We care nothing for our bodies or lives / but are anxious only for the unsurpassed way.”

Glosses on the right:

bodies or lives—the element of the body and element of the mind

p.214Glosses on the left:

care nothing for—never begrudge

bodies or lives—even our bodies or lives

Summary: This passage is pointing out that our bodies and minds have from the beginning been in the nature of evil habits, impermanent, illusory, made up of the four elements and the five components. But the true reality of original enlightenment is something that abides forever. It is Nam-myoho-renge-kyo.

14. Peaceful Practices

Text: “All phenomena / are empty, without being, / without any constant abiding, / without arising or extinction.”

Alternative reading: All phenomena / are empty, without being; / both non-being and being constantly abide, / without arising or extinction.

Summary: This passage is saying that since the Wonderful Law has always abided constantly, the coming into being and extinction of [the living beings in] the six paths has from the beginning been a non-coming into being. Therefore it is said that there is no “arising or extinction.” Nam-myoho-renge-kyo has from the beginning been “without arising or extinction.”

15. Emerging from the Earth

Text: “And in order that day and night with constant diligence / they may seek the Buddha way”

Alternative reading: Constant diligence day and night—this has always been the way to seek the Buddha way.

Summary: This passage is saying that if in a single moment of life we exhaust the pains and trials of millions of kalpas, then instant after instant there will arise in us the three Buddha bodies with which we are eternally endowed. Nam-myoho-renge-kyo is just such a “diligent” practice.

p.21516. The Life Span of the Thus Come One

Text: “The Thus Come One perceives the true aspect of the threefold world exactly as it is. There is no ebb or flow of birth and death.”

Summary: This passage states that to perceive that all the ten thousand phenomena are the eternally endowed three bodies of the Buddha is what is called “perceiving the true aspect” of the threefold world. Since they are the enlightened entity that is eternally endowed, how could one say that there is any birth and death?

17. Distinctions in Benefits

Text: “and if he holds to the blessing of this single-mindedness / and with it seeks the unsurpassed way”

Summary: This passage is saying that all the ten thousand practices and ten thousand good deeds are solely for the purpose of manifesting the three bodies inherent in the originally enlightened single mind. Since good and evil are a single entity, it is called “the blessing of single-mindedness [or a single mind].” Nam-myoho-renge-kyo is the blessing of single-mindedness [or a single mind].

18. The Benefits of Responding with Joy

Text: “saying, ‘This sutra is profound and wonderful, / hard to encounter in a thousand, ten thousand kalpas!’”

Summary: This passage is saying that since all things are the Wonderful Law, the manifesting of this fundamental principle inherent in the single mind is a very wonderful and unparalleled action. It is the wonder of Nam-myoho-renge-kyo.

19. Benefits of the Teacher of the Law

Text: “By detecting their scent, he knows all those / who enter meditation or emerge from meditation.”

p.216Glosses on the right:

enter meditation—quietude

emerge from meditation—release from quietude

Glosses on the left:

enter meditation—the unchanging [and eternal truth], death

emerge from meditation—[the wisdom of the truth that functions] in accordance with changing circumstances, life

all—the Ten Worlds

Summary: This passage is saying that when the single mind is in a state of quietude, this is “to enter meditation,” and when the single mind is released from quietude, this is to “emerge from meditation.” To “know all those” is to know the original enlightenment that is both quietude and release from quietude. To enter meditation and emerge from meditation is Nam-myoho-renge-kyo.

20. The Bodhisattva Never Disparaging

Text: “but should with a single mind / preach this sutra far and wide, / age after age encountering Buddhas / and quickly completing the Buddha way”

Summary: This passage is saying that when one makes clear the fact that all beings in the Dharma-realm have from the beginning possessed the three truths in their single minds, then at each moment one encounters the Buddhas in one’s own mind, which is called “age after age encountering Buddhas.” This is Nam-myoho-renge-kyo.

21. Supernatural Powers of the Thus Come One

Text: “Such a person assuredly and without doubt / will attain the Buddha way.”

Glosses on the right:

without doubt—the cutting off of fundamental darkness

p.217Glosses on the left:

Such a person—the ten factors of life

Summary: This passage is saying that since each of the Ten Worlds is eternally endowed with the ten factors of life of original enlightenment, both hell and the world of Buddhahood are essentially one, and hence we are assured of attaining Buddhahood. This is what is meant by accepting and upholding Nam-myoho-renge-kyo.

22. Entrustment

Text: “[In future ages if there are good men and good women] who have faith in the wisdom of the Thus Come One, you should preach and expound the Lotus Sutra for them.”

Alternative reading: [If there are good men and good women] who have faith in the wisdom of the Thus Come One, and if you preach for them, you should preach and expound the Lotus Sutra.

Summary: This passage is saying that the enlightenment of the Thus Come One Shakyamuni has nothing about it that is different from the enlightenment of all living beings. Therefore to have faith in the wisdom of the Thus Come One is to have faith in the Wonderful Law. This is the wisdom of Nam-myoho-renge-kyo.

23. Former Affairs of the Bodhisattva Medicine King

Text: “This is true diligence. This is what is called a true Dharma offering to the Thus Come One.”

Summary: This passage describes a meditation or concentration on the Middle Way that embraces all forms and scents, that never slackens. This is what is called “a true Dharma offering to the Thus Come One.” Because Nam-myoho-renge-kyo is the sole and p.218only Law of the one vehicle, it is called the true Dharma. Both worldly and supra-worldly affairs are the true aspect that is pure and unalloyed.

24. The Bodhisattva Wonderful Sound

Text: “[Thereupon the bodhisattva Wonderful Sound, without rising from his seat] or swaying his body, entered into a samādhi.”

Glosses on the right:

without swaying—the distant past

samādhi—Land of Eternally Tranquil Light

Summary: This passage is saying that to become enlightened to the truth of the distant past is to be in a state in which “the body does not sway.” To enter the Land of Eternally Tranquil Light without having to eliminate obstacles of illusions is called “samādhi.” This is the samādhi of Nam-myoho-renge-kyo.

25. The Universal Gateway of the Bodhisattva Perceiver of the World’s Sounds

Text: “He views living beings with compassionate eyes. / The sea of his accumulated blessings is immeasurable.”

Glosses on the right:

sea of his accumulated blessings—blessings and wisdom

Summary: This passage is saying that because both the objective and subjective aspects of the Dharma-realm are part of the Wonderful Law, the Buddha looks on every living being equally, as though he or she were his only child. The blessings and wisdom of the objective and subjective worlds are immeasurable. Nam-myoho-renge-kyo has these two elements of blessings and wisdom.

p.21926. Dhāranī

Text: “[We will use our own bodies to shield and guard] those who . . . practice this sutra. We will see that they gain peace and tranquility.”

Glosses on the right:

peace and tranquility—appearing in the future

Glosses on the left:

peace and tranquility—appearing in the present

Summary: This passage is saying that if persons carry out the five practices, they will enter the path of enlightenment and will not encounter a dangerous road. This is what is meant by “peace and tranquility.” Nam-myoho-renge-kyo is this peace and tranquility.

27. Former Affairs of King Wonderful Adornment

Text: “We have been blessed with great good fortune from past existences and so have been born in an age where we can encounter the Buddha’s Law.”

Summary: This passage is saying that if one can establish a relationship with even just one phrase of the Wonderful Law, that relationship will continue unbroken over a million kalpas, and one can bring to realization the priceless jewel of the Great Vehicle, which is known as being “born in an age where one can encounter the Buddha’s Law.” This is the Buddha’s Law of Nam-myoho-renge-kyo.

28. Encouragements of the Bodhisattva Universal Worthy

Text: “when the lives of these persons come to an end, they will be received into the hands of a thousand Buddhas, who will free them from all fear and keep them from falling into the evil paths of existence.”

p.220Summary: This passage is saying that when we gain enlightenment into the Wonderful Law, then our bodies that are subjected to transmigration with differences and limitations will manifest, just as they are, the lands of Eternally Tranquil Light, and this is what is known as their “lives coming to an end.” The “thousand Buddhas” are the thousand factors. The word “hands” indicates that we are provided with these thousand factors, and therefore we will not fall “into the evil paths of existence.” These are the hands of Nam-myoho-renge-kyo.

This is the end of the separate transmission.

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