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OTT ON NS127.10.1 KIN ONE RED MAGNETIC DRAGON

5 April 2015

Foreword
I view with the greatest pleasure the publication of this English translation of the Ongi kuden, or The Record of the Orally Transmitted Teachings, by Dr. Burton Watson, a translator of world renown. For it will introduce to the world at large the essence of East Asian Buddhism.
Dr. Watson is widely known for his deep understanding of Chinese literature and his translations of Ssu-ma Ch’ien’s Records of the Historian and of Chinese poetry. We first met in 1973. I had for some time thought of him as the most suitable person to undertake a translation of the Lotus Sutra, and I expressed the hope that he would one day gratify us with a translation done from Kumārajīva’s Chinese version of the text. I was of course aware that there were already a number of English translations of the sutra. My hope, however, was that he would produce a translation marked by stylistic beauty, one that would do justice to the literary qualities of the text and at the same time be easily understood by readers not already familiar with Buddhism. Dr. Watson, having agreed to my proposal, fulfilled his promise twenty years later with the publication of his translation of the Lotus Sutra. It has proved a major event in the history of world Buddhism, a powerful beacon to light the future of humankind.
In 1992, the year before Dr. Watson’s translation of the Lotus Sutra appeared, I met with him again. We talked about the Ongi kuden, which embodies Nichiren’s comments on the Lotus Sutra. Dr. Watson, who by this time had completed his translation of the sutra itself, expressed a deep interest in the manner in which Nichiren interpreted it. Aware of the many problems involved, he agreed nevertheless to undertake an English translation of the Ongi kuden as well. Now, a fitting adornment to his long career as a translator, his translation of that text is being published. I am confident that it will open up to the world the profound philosophical teachings of Buddhism and act as a joyous revelation to all humankind.
Numerous persons throughout the world who seek a deeper understanding of Buddhism have heard of the Ongi kuden, but only a few have had a glimpse of its contents. Many have expressed a strong desire to learn more about the text and have long wished for an English translation.
On the occasion of the publication of this translation, I would like here to say a brief word about my own understanding of the Ongi kuden.
As I recall, it was August of 1962 when I began a series of lectures on the Ongi kuden designed for college-level students who were members of the Soka Gakkai. I wanted to train future leaders of the movement and to make the profound philosophy of Nichiren accessible in contemporary terms. It was a time of nuclear armament, an age engulfed in hatred and mistrust, and I felt there was a deep need to replace these with a humanism based on mutual trust and harmony.
Generally speaking, Buddhism is viewed as an exploration of the inner world of the individual, focusing mainly upon meditation and the observance of religious precepts or rules. And in fact it has largely ignored the question of how these inner concerns of the individual can be applied to the outer world of society as a whole. Therefore few people perceive Buddhism as a philosophy for the attainment of world peace.
Nichiren, however, as he demonstrated in his famous work On Establishing the Correct Teaching for the Peace of the Land, posited a fundamental truth or principle that a revolution beginning within the inner being of the individual can then bring about a similar revolution in the world at large.
Basing himself upon the Lotus Sutra, Nichiren did not look to some external being such as a Buddha or the gods as the source of this revolution in the individual and in society. Instead he perceived a Law or truth that permeates both the inner being of the individual and the life force of the universe as a whole, and sought to open up and disseminate an understanding of that truth. But this concept far transcended the ordinary thinking of the age in which he lived, and as a result, as the Lotus Sutra itself had predicted, he could not fail but encounter numerous grave difficulties. And indeed, the very fact that he endured such difficulties in the course of propagating the sutra was proof of the correctness of its teachings, and at the same time evidence that he was, as it were, “reading the Lotus Sutra” with his whole being, that he was a true “votary of the Lotus Sutra.”
In later years, when Nichiren retired to Mount Minobu, he delivered a series of lectures on the Lotus Sutra for the instruction of his disciples. He revealed the hidden meanings of the sutra passages that were so familiar to him, the meanings that earlier authorities on the sutra such as the Great Teacher T’ien-t’ai and the Great Teacher Miao-lo had not fully brought to light. Nichiren, utilizing the work of these earlier commentators, in his own lectures on the sutra proceeded to make clear these hidden meanings.
His lectures were recorded and compiled by Nikkō, one of his closest disciples. Nichiren gave his approval to the work, whose completion is recorded as the first day of the first month of the first year of the Kōan era, which corresponds to the year 1278. It later came to be known as the Ongi kuden, or The Record of the Orally Transmitted Teachings.
The charge is often made that the Lotus Sutra, though abounding in highly vivid similes and parables, lacks philosophical content. If we look only at its surface meaning, we may perhaps agree with such an opinion. But Buddhism customarily applies three approaches in interpreting its writings, examining them first from the standpoint of the words of the text, then from that of the ideas or meaning implied by the words, and finally, from that of the underlying purport or purpose of the work.
Chinese authorities on the Lotus Sutra such as T’ien-t’ai and Miao-lo, by pondering the words of the sutra, had derived from them certain subtle ideas or doctrines, which they described in terms such as “the mutual possession of the Ten Worlds,” “three thousand realms in a single moment of life,” “the attainment of Buddhahood in the remote past,” “opening the near and revealing the distant,” or “the replacement of the three vehicles with the one vehicle.” But their commentaries had as yet not brought to light the underlying purpose or import of the Lotus Sutra.
Nichiren in his lectures on the sutra revealed that the purport or heart of the work is Nam-myoho-renge-kyo, and from that standpoint he proceeded to give his explication of the sutra as a whole. This may be termed an interpretation based on his observation of the mind, or the inner truth, implicit in the text, and it constitutes a philosophy of profound depth. Nichiren in effect infused new life into the Lotus Sutra.
The Record of the Orally Transmitted Teachings begins with an explication of the term Nam-myoho-renge-kyo. It then proceeds to cite key passages in each of the twenty-eight chapters of the Lotus Sutra, in some cases first introducing quotations from the commentaries of T’ien-t’ai or Miao-lo on these passages, in other cases proceeding directly to Nichiren’s interpretation, which, as mentioned earlier, is based upon his “observation of the mind.” The work concludes with commentary on key passages from two short sutras, the Immeasurable Meanings Sutra and the Universal Worthy Sutra, that have traditionally been regarded as prologue and epilogue, respectively, to the Lotus Sutra. In all, Orally Transmitted Teachings contains commentary on a total of 231 passages. Furthermore, there are two additional sections.
What is the basic philosophical outlook of Orally Transmitted Teachings? Various interpretations are possible, but my view is that ultimately it resides in the concept of the dignity of the human being and the dignity of life. In specific terms, it is the belief that ordinary people are capable of attaining Buddhahood, that ordinary people are in fact Buddhas.
In most religions, human beings are relegated to a level quite inferior to that of the sacred being or beings of the faith. But in a religion like Buddhism, whose basic mission is to elevate men and women to the highest plane of spiritual attainment, human beings are referred to rather as “children of the gods” or “children of the Buddha,” terminology that reflects the religion’s very reason for existing.
This fact is most clearly indicated in the following passage from Orally Transmitted Teachings. In the “Life Span” chapter of the Lotus Sutra, Shakyamuni Buddha reveals that he attained Buddhahood in the far distant past. “It has been immeasurable, boundless hundreds, thousands, ten thousands, millions of nayutas of kalpas,” he explains, “since I in fact attained Buddhahood” (Lotus Sutra, p. 225).
Ordinarily, one would of course take the “I” in this utterance to refer to Shakyamuni himself. But Nichiren declares that the “I” refers to “the living beings of the Dharma-realm,” to “each and every one in the Ten Worlds.” He is saying that all beings in the Ten Worlds of existence have from the beginning been Buddhas. One might suppose that this is a statement of mere abstract principle. But Nichiren goes on to say, “Now Nichiren and his followers, those who chant Nam-myoho-renge-kyo, are the original lords of teachings of the ‘Life Span’ chapter” (p. 126). That is, anyone who chants the daimoku, regardless of who the person may be, can perceive that he or she has “from the beginning been a Buddha.” In this way he demonstrates the concrete application of his earlier statement.
Thus, in a simple and straightforward pronouncement, he states the principle that ordinary people are identical with the Buddha. This view of human beings is one of the most outstanding characteristics of Orally Transmitted Teachings.
But then there is the problem of human suffering. It would not be too much to say that all human life is in a sense a battle, a trial of endurance. As Tolstoy has written, “All happy families are alike but an unhappy family is unhappy after its own fashion.” In life we are buffeted by a veritable storm of troubles: the death of kin, pronouncements of incurable illness, bankruptcy, job loss, dissension in the family. This is the true nature of life, and for that reason, people turn to the teachings of the Lotus Sutra in hope of finding some safety in the midst of such realities, for the “peace and security in their present existence” that the Lotus Sutra promises (Lotus Sutra, p. 99). But if such ills condemn human beings to unhappiness, then we would have to conclude that the happy human being exists only in fantasy.
Nichiren himself lived a life marked by repeated troubles and hardship. Twice condemned to exile, faced with execution, attacked by warriors and ruffians, subjected to abuse and slander, again and again his very existence was in danger. His was a life far removed from the “peace and security” described in the Lotus Sutra. And for that very reason, many people doubted that Nichiren was in fact the kind of “votary of the Lotus Sutra” who faithfully carries out the sutra’s injunctions.
In his lectures on the Lotus Sutra, Nichiren, viewing the course of his own life and pondering the harsh realities of human existence, declared, “You should understand that, when one practices the Lotus Sutra under such circumstances, difficulties will arise, and these are to be looked on as ‘peaceful’ practices” (p. 115). Such a statement would at first glance seem to contradict the Lotus Sutra itself. But rather than being a conclusion that contradicts the Lotus Sutra, it is one that brings to light the true meaning of the sutra, a meaning that lies deeper than the mere surface words of the text.
From his words we learn that happiness means not the absence of troubles but rather the refusal to be defeated by them, which is the true definition of happiness.
Nichiren goes on to state, “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 that the varied sufferings that all living beings undergo—all these are Nichiren’s own sufferings” (p. 138). He announces that he will carry out an act of great compassion, sharing the sufferings of all beings and rescuing them from these sufferings. Thinking not of himself alone, he expresses a fervent desire to bring happiness to all human beings, showing through his own being the true way for a Buddhist believer to proceed.
I would like also to call attention to Nichiren’s comments on “The Bodhisattva Never Disparaging” chapter of the Lotus Sutra. The example of patience and perseverance that this bodhisattva presents, the power of a Law that seeks to save both believers and maligners alike, his practice of paying honor to the Buddha nature present in all beings as he “simply went about bowing to people” (Lotus Sutra, p. 267)—all this is a concrete demonstration of the belief that all people are capable of attaining Buddhahood. And Nichiren adopts this same practice as his own, developing it into a compassionate struggle to save all humankind through kōsen-rufu, or the wide propagation of the teachings.
Nichiren believed that the heart of Shakyamuni Buddha’s lifetime teachings lay in the Lotus Sutra, and that the heart of the Lotus Sutra’s practice lay in the “Never Disparaging” chapter. In one of his letters, he writes, “What does Bodhisattva Never Disparaging’s profound respect for people signify? The purpose of the appearance in this world of Shakyamuni Buddha, the lord of teachings, lies in his behavior as a human being.”1 This letter, which resounds with praise for the humanism of the Buddhist doctrine, stresses that the truth of Buddhism is to be found not in the words of the sutra alone, but in the Buddha’s aims as they are revealed in his actions as a human being.
Bodhisattva Never Disparaging bowed to persons of all kinds in order to awaken them to the reality that all possess the Buddha nature within themselves. In doing so, he gave expression to boundless courage and a faith that could not be shaken.
Nichiren in his comments on the “Never Disparaging” chapter lists fourteen different ways in which one could look at the act of obeisance performed by the bodhisattva as he “went about bowing to people.” In one of these he says, “It is like the situation when one faces a mirror and makes a bow of obeisance: the image in the mirror likewise makes a bow of obeisance to oneself” (p. 165). Here he is pointing to a highly important moral principle that appears to be lacking in modern society, namely, a spirit of mutual trust and mutual esteem, one that understands that when you show respect for others, they will show respect for you.
The principal cause for the sense of alienation that besets human beings in our present-day society is egotism. This is the conclusion reached in the discussions I held some years ago with the historian, Dr. Arnold Toynbee. And how is one to overcome this attachment to egotism? From a Buddhist point of view, it is to be accomplished by ridding human beings of their self-centeredness, of what Buddhism terms the “fundamental darkness” that enshrouds their lives. This is ignorance, a lack of awareness of the true dignity of their existence, of the fact that their own lives are embodiments of the Wonderful Law and that they themselves have from the beginning been Buddhas. And what can wipe out this ignorance is a firm faith, a faith that never doubts the Buddha nature within all men and women, never doubts the dignity of their inner beings. The engendering of such faith is now humankind’s greatest need, is it not?
An organization of people who are spreading Nichiren’s philosophy of peace and life, and who share its doctrines and ideals, exists at present in 190 different countries and regions of the world. The solidarity of men and women who are wakened to the true dignity of life will continue to expand and make it possible that war and terrorism be wiped out, and that poverty, destruction of the environment, and other global problems that now threaten humankind be solved. I firmly believe that that day will come, and my one great desire is that it may come as quickly as possible.
In closing, I would like to express my own heartfelt wish that readers will find in this book a fountain of inexhaustible wisdom and that it will enable them to live lives filled with boundless courage and hope.

Daisaku Ikeda
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Notes

1. The Writings of Nichiren Daishonin, vol. 1, published in 1999 by the Soka Gakkai, Tokyo, p. 852.

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Introduction:
The Life of Nichiren
Nichiren was born in a fishing village called Kataumi in Awa Province, part of present-day Chiba Prefecture east of Tokyo. The date was the sixteenth day of the second month of 1222 on the lunar calendar in use at the time, a date that corresponds to April 6, 1222, on the Gregorian calendar.1 His family made their living by fishing, which, because it involves the taking of life, was looked on as a very lowly occupation.2 His childhood name was Zennichi-maro—zen meaning “good” and nichi meaning “sun”; maro is a common suffix for a boy’s name.
At age twelve3 he entered a nearby temple called Seichō-ji to begin his primary education. Since no public school system existed at that time, education for children of unprivileged families was available only at Buddhist temples. Seichō-ji was an influential temple of the Tendai school, which upholds the teachings of the Lotus Sutra, but at this time it was also a place of practice for Esoteric Buddhism and the Pure Land doctrine, neither of which hold the Lotus Sutra in high esteem.
As a boy at Seichō-ji, Nichiren tells us, he used to pray before a statue of Bodhisattva Kokūzō, or Space Treasury, that was enshrined there, hoping and vowing to become “the wisest person in all Japan.” Why such an extraordinary desire? We may surmise from his writings that he sought the wisdom to answer certain vital questions that troubled him.
In 1221, the year before Nichiren’s birth, the Retired Emperor Gotoba, the de facto leader of the imperial family, along with two other retired emperors, had attempted to overthrow the shogunate, the military government headquartered in Kamakura. That event, known as the Jōkyū Disturbance because it took place in the third year of the Jōkyū era, ended in the defeat of the imperial forces and the exile of the three leaders. The young Nichiren wondered why the imperial family, the legitimate ruler of Japan, had suffered such a tragic defeat, though it had sponsored prayers for victory by priests of the prestigious Tendai and True Word schools.
Japanese Buddhism at this time was made up of a number of different schools, preaching a variety of doctrines and urging the adoption of this or that religious practice. Nichiren wondered why Buddhism had become divided in this fashion when it was the teaching of a single Buddha, Shakyamuni. He was concerned that, though Buddhism existed to save people from suffering and to bring peace and stability to society, it apparently lacked the power to accomplish these goals. As a young man he tried to determine just what truth Shakyamuni had awakened to, and how he himself could lead the people away from suffering. Hence he prayed for the wisdom needed to realize these aims.
At sixteen he decided to become a priest, renouncing secular life and devoting himself to Buddhist studies. Entering the priesthood under the tutelage of Dōzen-bō, a senior priest at the temple, he took the name Renchō, which means Lotus Growth. Later he continued his studies at the major centers of Buddhism in Kamakura, Kyoto, and Nara. Carefully reading all the sutras available to him, he delved into the essential doctrines of the various schools of both Hinayana and Mahayana Buddhism. In Letter to the Priests of Seichō-ji, written in 1276, he describes his spiritual pursuit at that time, referring to himself in the third person:

[As a youth], he received great wisdom from the living Bodhisattva Space Treasury. He prayed to the bodhisattva to become the wisest person in Japan. The bodhisattva must have taken pity on him, for he presented him with a great jewel as brilliant as the morning star, which Nichiren tucked away in his right sleeve. Thereafter, on perusing the entire body of sutras, he was able to discern in essence the relative worth of the eight schools as well as of all the scriptures.4

The “great jewel” to which he refers can be identified as the wisdom of the Mystic Law, or Wonderful Law, the universal Law by which all Buddhas become enlightened and the foundation of all the Buddhist teachings.
In the course of his studies, Nichiren arrived at some key conclusions, which may be summarized as follows:

(1) The Lotus Sutra is supreme among all the sutras that Shakyamuni expounded.
(2) The Wonderful Law to which Nichiren awakened is Nam-myoho-renge-kyo, the core teaching of the Lotus Sutra. The sutra describes the Buddha entrusting the Bodhisattvas of the Earth with the mission of spreading this core teaching and enabling the people in the Latter Day of the Law to attain Buddhahood.
(3) Nichiren, having realized the Wonderful Law, identified himself with Bodhisattva Superior Practices as the one who would fulfill the mission of revealing and spreading the essence of the Lotus Sutra.
(4) He recognized that the various Buddhist doctrines that prevailed in his time all shared a common element—that of slandering or going against the correct teaching of the Buddha as it is embodied in the Lotus Sutra. He decided to reveal and rebuke the slander committed by those schools, fully realizing that he would meet with the great persecutions that the sutra predicts will assail a practitioner who does so.

Now it was clear to him what course he should take, though he might face harsh opposition and even place his life in peril.
At noon on the twenty-eighth day of the fourth month of 1253, Renchō, who had renamed himself Nichiren, or Sun Lotus, stationed himself on the veranda of one of the buildings of Seichō-ji temple and delivered a sermon to an audience gathered in the courtyard. His preaching, in which he was supposed to display the results of his years of study, turned out to be a surprise to the gathering, for he relentlessly refuted the Pure Land doctrine and other Buddhist teachings endorsed by his hearers. In resounding tones, he recited Nam-myoho-renge-kyo, proclaiming it to be the only teaching capable of leading people to enlightenment, or Buddhahood, in the Latter Day of the Law. This event is known as the declaration of the establishment of his teaching.
News of this reached Tōjō Kagenobu, the steward of the village where the temple was located, who was an ardent believer in the Pure Land teachings. Nichiren suspected that he might face bodily attack from Tōjō Kagenobu’s warrior retainers, but through the help of fellow priests, he was able to leave the temple unharmed. He visited his parents nearby and converted them to his teaching, bestowing on his father the Buddhist name Myōnichi (Wonderful Sun), and on his mother that of Myōren (Wonderful Lotus). Then he departed for Kamakura, the seat of the military government, which would thereafter become the center of his propagation activities.
In Kamakura he took up residence in the area of Nagoe, in a simple dwelling at a place called Matsubagayatsu, from which he disseminated his teachings. He refuted the popular doctrines of the Pure Land school and the teachings of the Zen school, both of which were widely supported by members of the warrior class. He tried to awaken people to the correct teaching, the Lotus Sutra, chanting its daimoku, or title, Nam-myoho-renge-kyo, and encouraging others to do likewise. In the eleventh month of 1253, a priest who would take the name Nisshō, or Sun Glow, and later be designated one of the six senior priests by Nichiren, visited him at Matsubagayatsu and took faith in his teachings. That next year Toki Jōnin, a retainer of a provincial constable, also took faith. Nichiren held lectures at his dwelling and other places and wrote such works as On Attaining Buddhahood in This Lifetime (1255). Around 1256 a number of people became followers of his teachings, including Shijō Kingo, Kudō Yoshitaka, and Ikegami Munenaka.
Around this time, the country was troubled by natural disturbances such as unusual weather patterns and major earthquakes. Grievous famines, fires, and epidemics added to the alarm. In particular, a severe earthquake rocked Kamakura in the eighth month of 1257, toppling many important structures and inflicting widespread injury. The people were plunged into misery and despair by these events.
Faced with these troubled times, Nichiren set out to discover the fundamental cause for such disasters and to seek some means of relieving the people’s afflictions. In the second month of 1258 he began a stay at Jissō-ji temple in Suruga Province, in present-day central Shizuoka Prefecture, where he pored over the Buddhist sutras in order to find the solution. During his stay there, a young priest, whom Nichiren would later name Nikkō, or Sun Vigor, and designate as his successor, became his disciple. On the basis of his research there, he wrote his treatise entitled On Establishing the Correct Teaching for the Peace of the Land. On the sixteenth day of the seventh month of 1260, he submitted it to the retired regent, Hōjō Tokiyori, the de facto leader of the shogunate. This event is known as his first remonstration with the rulers of the nation.
The treatise first points out that the cause for the nation’s calamities lies in the fact that the people have turned their backs on the correct Buddhist teaching and instead support erroneous doctrines and teachers. The prime example of such an erroneous teaching is embodied in the doctrines of the Pure Land school founded by Hōnen. The treatise states that if the people of Japan, both the rulers and the ruled, withdraw their support from this “one evil doctrine” of the Pure Land school and take faith in the correct teaching, this will bring about peace and security in the nation. It warns, however, that if they do not heed this advice, calamity will result. The sutras predict that seven types of calamities will befall those who oppose the correct teaching. Five of the seven types had already occurred, and the treatise predicts that the other two types, internal strife and foreign invasion, will invariably follow. It therefore urges the rulers to act immediately and accept and uphold the correct teaching of Buddhism.
The shogunate leaders, however, ignored this earnest appeal. Worse, passionate Pure Land adherents, with the tacit support of key shogunate officials, conspired to attack Nichiren. In 1260, on the evening of the twenty-seventh day of the eighth month, a throng of Pure Land believers stormed his dwelling at Matsubagayatsu, intending to kill him. This incident is known as the Matsubagayatsu Persecution. Nichiren narrowly escaped the assault and, for a time, left Kamakura.
When he returned the following year, the shogunate ordered him arrested and, without a full investigation of the charges against him, on the twelfth day of the fifth month exiled him to Itō on the Izu Peninsula, on the Pacific coast southwest of Kamakura. A fisherman named Funamori Yasaburō and his wife supported and protected him during the exile. Because of these hardships that he encountered in propagating the Lotus Sutra, Nichiren at this time became more convinced than ever that he was the very type of votary of the sutra described in the sutra itself. In the second month of 1263 he was pardoned from what is known as the Izu Exile and returned to Kamakura.
The following year he visited his home province of Awa to look after his mother, who was critically ill. As he wrote later, his prayer not only cured the illness but prolonged her life span by four years. On the eleventh day of the eleventh month of the same year, when Nichiren and several of his followers were on their way to the home of a lay believer, Kudō Yoshitaka, they were attacked in ambush by the steward of the region, Tōjō Kagenobu, and his warriors. Kudō received word of the attack and rushed to defend his teacher with a party of warriors. He was fatally wounded in the fight, and a priest named Kyōnin-bō was killed on the spot. Nichiren received a sword cut on the forehead and his left hand was broken. This incident is known as the Komatsubara Persecution.

In the intercalary first month of 1268 an official missive from the Mongol Empire arrived in Japan. It stated that if Japan did not comply with the demands of the Mongol Empire and acknowledge fealty to it, compliance would be forced upon it by military means. Nichiren perceived that his prediction of foreign invasion, made in his writing On Establishing the Correct Teaching, was about to come true. In the tenth month of that year he wrote to eleven leaders, including Regent Hōjō Tokimune and other shogunate officials and priests of major Kamakura temples such as Ryōkan of Gokuraku-ji and Dōryū of Kenchō-ji, reminding them of his prediction and requesting that a public religious debate be held between himself and representatives of the leading Buddhist schools. Neither the government nor the religious leaders responded in good faith to his request. On the contrary, the government officials regarded Nichiren and his followers as a threat and considered ways to suppress their activities.
Despite the growing danger, Nichiren continued to point out the doctrinal errors of the major Buddhist schools, indicting four of them in particular in the brief statements known as the “four dictums”: (1) Pure Land leads to the hell of incessant suffering; (2) Zen is an invention of the heavenly devil; (3) True Word is an evil doctrine that will ruin the country; and (4) Precepts is a traitor to the nation.
In 1271, during a severe drought, Nichiren received word that Ryōkan of Gokuraku-ji temple, an influential priest of the True Word Precepts school, intended on behalf of the shogunate to conduct official prayers for rain. Nichiren sent Ryōkan a message, challenging him to a contest to determine the validity of their respective teachings.
Nichiren proposed that if Ryōkan, through his prayers, could cause rain to fall within seven days, Nichiren would become his disciple. If, however, rain failed to fall within that period, Ryōkan would agree to follow Nichiren’s teachings. Ryōkan accepted the challenge. For seven days, beginning on the eighteenth day of the sixth month, he and a number of other priests conducted prayers for rain, but not a drop fell. Ryōkan requested another seven days to carry out his rituals. Not only did he fail once more, but this time a fierce gale arose. Rather than admit defeat, Ryōkan had his follower Gyōbin, a Pure Land priest, file a formal complaint against Nichiren. In addition, working through women who attended his sermons and were wives of influential shogunate officials, Ryōkan incited the government to inflict punishment on his rival.
Such machinations carried out by well-known and respected priests are predicted in the Lotus Sutra. The Chinese Buddhist scholar Miao-lo describes such priests as “arrogant false sages,” the most powerful of the three kinds of enemies of the Lotus Sutra listed in the sutra itself.
On the tenth day of the ninth month of 1271 Nichiren was summoned by the shogunate and interrogated by Hei no Saemon, deputy chief of the Office of Military and Police Affairs. Nichiren remonstrated with him, explaining from the standpoint of Buddhist teachings the correct attitude the leader of the nation should adopt in order to secure peace in the land.
Two days later, on the evening of the twelfth day, Hei no Saemon, leading a group of armed soldiers, stormed Nichiren’s dwelling at Matsubagayatsu and placed him under arrest, treating him as though he were a traitor. Nichiren, calling himself the spiritual pillar of the nation, admonished the group, declaring that, by persecuting him, they were toppling the pillar and leading the nation to ruin. In consequence, he stated, the last two calamities described in the sutras—internal strife and foreign invasion—would inevitably occur.
The Kamakura shogunate sentenced Nichiren to exile in the island province of Sado in the Sea of Japan. Hei no Saemon, however, planned to have him executed in secret. In the pre-dawn hours of the following morning, he had a group of soldiers take Nichiren to a place called Tatsunokuchi, or the Dragon’s Mouth, on a beach near Kamakura where executions were performed. But just as they were about to carry out the order to behead him, a brilliant object appeared in the sky. As Nichiren described it later, “a brilliant orb as bright as the moon burst forth from the direction of Enoshima [a small island off the shore], shooting across the sky from southeast to northwest.”5 The soldiers, terrified, abandoned their execution attempt. This incident is known as the Tatsunokuchi Persecution.
This event is extremely significant in the context of Nichiren’s lifetime teachings. He mentions it in The Opening of the Eyes, written in 1272, where he states: “On the twelfth day of the ninth month of last year, between the hours of the rat and the ox [11:00 p.m. to 3:00 a.m.], this person named Nichiren was beheaded. It is his soul that has come to this island of Sado and, in the second month of the following year, snowbound, is writing this to send to his close disciples.”6
The passage may be interpreted as follows: Nichiren as an ordinary person died, while the soul of Nichiren as the Buddha survived. This is a figurative indication that he had cast off his provisional identity or role as an ordinary person and revealed his true identity as the Buddha. In technical terms this is called “casting off the transient and revealing the true.” In this new role, Nichiren inscribed “my life [or more literally, soul] in sumi ink”7 in the form of the mandala known as the Gohonzon. With faith in the Gohonzon, Nichiren states, all persons can manifest their innate Buddhahood, which is the meaning of “attaining Buddhahood in one’s present form or body” in his teachings. This concept is repeatedly referred to in The Record of the Orally Transmitted Teachings.
After the abortive execution attempt, the shogunate failed to reach agreement as to how Nichiren should be treated. For about a month he was held at the residence of Homma Rokurō Saemon at Echi in Sagami Province, in what is now northern Atsugi City in Kanagawa Prefecture.
Finally it was decided that he should be sent to Sado Island, where Homma was deputy constable and a steward. Taken from Echi on the tenth day of the tenth month of 1271, Nichiren began the long journey to Sado, escorted by a party of warriors. When he reached Sado, he took up his residence in the dwelling assigned to him, a small, dilapidated hut called Sammai-dō in a graveyard called Tsukahara. It was mid-winter, the first day of the eleventh month, and he faced Sado’s frigid winter, a shortage of food and other daily necessities, and hostile Pure Land believers who posed a threat to his safety.
On the sixteenth day of the first month of the following year, several hundred priests and adherents of various Buddhist schools from Sado and the neighboring provinces gathered and challenged Nichiren to a religious debate. He accepted the challenge and in that encounter, known as the Tsukahara Debate, refuted his opponents’ arguments and the erroneous doctrines of the schools they represented.
During the second month of that year, an attempted coup occurred within the ruling Hōjō clan, and fighting broke out in Kamakura and Kyoto. Thus the calamity of internal strife came about just 150 days after Nichiren’s prediction made at the time of the Tatsunokuchi Persecution. In early summer, in the fourth month of 1272, he was transferred from Tsukahara to more comfortable quarters in Ichinosawa. The relocation, however, did not diminish the threat to his life posed by angry Pure Land believers.
As mentioned earlier, a young priest named Nikkō had become a disciple of Nichiren when the latter was at Jissō-ji temple immersed in sutra study. Nikkō accompanied his teacher in exile on Sado, continuing to serve and learn from him. Meanwhile, Sado residents began to convert to Nichiren’s teachings, among them such devout believers as Abutsu-bō and his wife, the lay nun Sennichi; the lay priest of Kō and his wife; the lay priest Nakaoki; and the priest Sairen-bō.
While in exile on Sado, Nichiren wrote many important works, among them The Opening of the Eyes and The Object of Devotion for Observing the Mind. Dating from the second month of 1272, The Opening of the Eyes is known as the treatise that reveals the object of devotion in terms of the Person. It clarifies Nichiren’s role as the Buddha of the Latter Day of the Law, who embodies the three virtues characteristic of a Buddha: those of sovereign, teacher, and parent.
The Object of Devotion for Observing the Mind, written in the fourth month of 1273, explains the Gohonzon, the object of devotion that embodies the Law of Nam-myoho-renge-kyo. For this reason, it is known as the treatise that reveals the object of devotion in terms of the Law. Faith in the Gohonzon, Nichiren states, enables all people to attain Buddhahood.

In the second month of 1274, Nichiren was pardoned from exile in Sado. He returned to Kamakura on the twenty-sixth day of the third month and on the eighth day of the following month met again with Hei no Saemon and strongly warned against using prayers based on erroneous Buddhist teachings to ward off a Mongol attack. In response to Hei no Saemon’s inquiry, he predicted that the Mongols would surely launch an attack on Japan within the year.
In the tenth month of 1274, a large Mongol military force did in fact attack Japan’s southern island of Kyushu and two small islands off its shore. Nichiren’s prediction of the two calamities of internal strife and foreign invasion had come true. In The Selection of the Time, written in 1275, he cites these words from a Buddhist text, “A sage is one who knows the three existences of life—past, present, and future,” and states, “Three times now I have gained distinction by having such knowledge.”8 He refers to the following three occasions: first, when he submitted On Establishing the Correct Teaching to Hōjō Tokiyori in 1260; second, during the Tatsunokuchi Persecution in 1271, when he told Hei no Saemon that the latter’s attempt to do away with Nichiren would topple the pillar of Japan and lead the nation to ruin; and third, in 1274, on his return from exile on Sado, when he admonished Hei no Saemon and predicted that the Mongol forces would attack Japan within the year.
All these remonstrations went unheeded, and Nichiren left Kamakura. In his Letter to Kōnichi-bō (1276) he wrote: “I now had remonstrated with the authorities three times for the sole purpose of saving Japan from ruin. Mindful that one whose warnings are thrice ignored should retire to a mountain forest, I left Kamakura on the twelfth day of the fifth month [of 1274].”9
Five days later he took up residence in the forest slope of a mountain called Minobu in Kai Province, in present-day Yamanashi Prefecture, in the district of Hakiri, or Hakii. The district was governed by the steward Hakiri Sanenaga, who took faith in Nichiren’s teaching through Nikkō’s persuasion.
At Mount Minobu Nichiren continued to devote himself to the explanation and propagation of his doctrines. He produced many important writings there, including six of what Nikkō later designated as Nichiren’s ten major writings. He also lectured on the Lotus Sutra and other subjects, pouring energy into the fostering of able disciples who would spread his teachings. As he had done in Sado, he wrote many letters to individual followers, continually encouraging them in faith and instructing them on how to cope with the harsh realities of daily life.
He also revealed more of his profound teachings on the Lotus Sutra, and his immediate successor, Nikkō, set them down in writing and gave them shape as The Record of the Orally Transmitted Teachings (1278). On the eleventh day of the tenth month of 1282, only two days before his death, Nichiren completed a work entitled On the Mystic Principle of the True Cause, and entrusted it to Nikkō.

After Nichiren entered Mount Minobu, Nikkō took charge of propagation activities in the Fuji area of Suruga Province, in present-day Shizuoka Prefecture. He succeeded in persuading a number of believers of the Tendai and other schools of Buddhism to discard their earlier beliefs and convert to Nichiren’s teachings. Two long-established Tendai temples in the area, Shijūku-in and Jissō-ji, angered at his success, began to harass and try to intimidate Nichiren’s followers.
Still another Tendai temple, Ryūsen-ji, was managed by a lay priest named Gyōchi, who acted as the temple’s deputy chief priest. He also was hostile toward local farmers in Atsuhara who had converted to Nichiren’s teachings, bullying and harassing them. Finally, on the twenty-first day of the ninth month of 1279, he had twenty of them seized on a false charge of illegally harvesting rice from the temple’s paddies. They were taken to Kamakura to the private residence of Hei no Saemon, where they were harshly interrogated. The interrogation was in fact a kind of torture intended to force them to give up their faith in the Lotus Sutra. The farmers, however, held fast to their beliefs.
In his On Persecutions Befalling the Sage, written in 1279, Nichiren declared that he had fulfilled the purpose of his advent in the world. He had already propagated the Lotus Sutra, which he defined as “the Buddha’s will,” and had undergone the persecutions that the sutra predicts will befall its votary. The phrase “the purpose of one’s advent” refers to the reason for a Buddha’s appearance in the world, which is to lead all people to Buddhahood. That was also the original vow that Nichiren made in 1253 when he first declared his teaching. Nichiren finally fulfilled that vow, or his purpose in life, on the twelfth day of the tenth month of 1279, by inscribing the Dai-Gohonzon, the great object of devotion, for the sake of all people.
The firm faith of the Atsuhara believers had deeply moved Nichiren, so much so that he finally made the decision to inscribe the Dai-Gohonzon. But their unyielding faith would soon face the ultimate test. Three of the imprisoned farmers were executed on the fifteenth day of the tenth month (or, according to another account, on the eighth day of the fourth month of the following year) and the remaining seventeen were banished from Atsuhara.
In the ninth month of 1282, Nichiren transferred all his teachings as well as the Dai-Gohonzon to Nikkō, thus authorizing him to act as the teacher of all the followers, and entrusted him with the leadership of propagation activities. The document that records this transfer is known as the “Minobu Transfer Document.”
On the eighth day of the ninth month, at the suggestion of his followers, Nichiren left Mount Minobu for Hitachi Province, which covers most of present-day Ibaraki Prefecture and part of Fukushima Prefecture, ostensibly hoping to treat an illness he suffered from in the hot springs there. But on the way to Hitachi, he stopped at the home of a lay follower, Ikegami Munenaka, in Musashi Province, in what is now Tokyo, where he could meet many more of his followers, and he gave instructions regarding matters to be observed after his death.
On the twenty-fifth day of the ninth month, despite his illness, Nichiren lectured on his work On Establishing the Correct Teaching. On the eighth day of the tenth month, he designated six senior priests to act as key figures and take responsibility for propagation in their respective areas. They were, in order of their conversion, Nisshō, Nichirō, Nikkō, Nikō, Nitchō, and Nichiji.
Nikkō surpassed the other senior priests in faith, practice, and study; he alone had accompanied his teacher during the exiles in Izu and Sado. Especially while in Sado, Nikkō came to revere his teacher as the Buddha of the Latter Day of the Law, a recognition lacking in the other disciples. He grasped the essential meaning of Nichiren’s teachings. After Nichiren entered Minobu, Nikkō took leadership in propagation activities in the Atsuhara area, which invited persecution by the government. This was the only persecution that the government directed at the disciples; all the other government persecutions were aimed at Nichiren himself.
On the thirteenth day of the tenth month of 1282, Nichiren clearly indicated the transfer of his teachings to Nikkō and designated him as the chief priest of Kuon-ji, the temple Nichiren had established at Minobu as the center of his Buddhism. The document that records this is known as the “Ikegami Transfer Document,” because it was written in Ikegami.
Later on the same day, Nichiren’s life came to a peaceful end at age sixty-one.

The title Ongi kuden means The Record of the Orally Transmitted Teachings [of Nichiren]. The text is found in the Nichiren Daishōnin gosho zenshū, or The Complete Works of Nichiren Daishonin, published by the Soka Gakkai (Tokyo, 1952).
In his later years, when Nichiren was living at Mount Minobu in the province of Kai (in present-day Yamanashi Prefecture), he wrote various doctrinal works and labored strenuously at other activities designed to encourage his followers and train disciples to carry on his teachings.
In response to a request from his disciples, from time to time he delivered lectures on the Lotus Sutra. In one of his letters he writes to a correspondent, “And then in time you arrived at this remote hollow and saw a lone hermitage where the sound of Lotus Sutra recitation echoed to the blue sky and the words expounding the single vehicle were heard among the mountains.”1
The Ongi kuden represents the notes on these lectures that were recorded and put into order by Nichiren’s close disciple and successor, Nikkō, and that, with Nichiren’s permission, were handed down to posterity. After Nichiren’s death, Nikkō continued to gather together Nichiren’s various writings and make copies of them, thus contributing greatly to the preservation of his teacher’s doctrines.
It would appear that Nichiren several times lectured on the Lotus Sutra during his years at Mount Minobu. A series of lecture notes on the Lotus Sutra was also compiled by Nikō, who was later designated as one of the six senior priests. It is known by the title Okō kikigaki, or The Recorded Lectures, and is quite different in content from the Ongi kuden.
Nikō’s Recorded Lectures consists only of disconnected notes on certain particularly important passages of the sutra. Nikkō’s Ongi kuden, on the other hand, begins with an explanation of the term Nam-myoho-renge-kyo and then goes on to a discussion of important passages in all of the twenty-eight chapters of the Lotus Sutra, and in the two short sutras that serve as its introduction and conclusion, the Immeasurable Meanings Sutra and the Universal Worthy Sutra. Nichiren’s explications of these key passages, sometimes taking the commentaries of T’ien-t’ai and Miao-lo as a starting point, present his own doctrinal interpretations in clear and simple language.
The differences that exist between the lecture notes of these two men, Nikō and Nikkō, no doubt reflect major differences in their respective understanding of Nichiren’s teachings.
The oldest version of the Ongi kuden for which there are historical references seems to have been copied on the eighth day of the fifth month of the eighth year of Tembun (1539). It belonged to Nichikyō, a priest of the Happon, or Eight Chapters, branch of the Nichiren school. Though it does not exist today, records available identify it as the oldest known copy.

The Content of the Ongi kuden

The Ongi kuden, as noted above, begins with a discussion of the term Nam-myoho-renge-kyo and then comments on a total of 231 key passages from the twenty-eight chapters of the Lotus Sutra, the Immeasurable Meanings Sutra, and the Universal Worthy Sutra. This is followed by a section that comments on one particularly significant passage in each of the chapters of the Lotus Sutra, and by a concluding section entitled “All the Twenty-eight Chapters of the Lotus Sutra Are Nam-myoho-renge-kyo.”
This arrangement of the material in the Ongi kuden is closely related to the thought of the work as a whole, reflecting Nichiren’s conviction that Nam-myoho-renge-kyo represents the heart or core of his teachings and of the Lotus Sutra, and that the twenty-eight chapters of the Lotus Sutra constitute explications from various angles of how it functions. As the Ongi kuden itself states on page 221, “Now when Nichiren and his followers propagate Nam-myoho-renge-kyo, this is the principle of essence or heart. The twenty-eight chapters of the Lotus Sutra are the principle of function.”
The opening passage on Nam-myoho-renge-kyo describes in simple terms the deep philosophical significance of this concept. In the comments on key passages in the Lotus Sutra, Nichiren at times quotes from commentaries by earlier Buddhist scholars such as T’ien-t’ai or Miao-lo. Then, basing himself on the doctrine of three thousand realms in a single moment of life, he makes clear how ordinary persons in the evil age that is the Latter Day of the Law, by carrying out the practice appropriate to that age and putting faith in and upholding the truth of Nam-myoho-renge-kyo, can attain Buddhahood. Interpreting the sutra freely and in a manner that accords with his own unique point of view, he proceeds to bring to light what he regards as the ultimate significance of the work.
The earlier commentaries by T’ien-t’ai and Miao-lo had sought to uncover the meanings that were implicit in the words of the Lotus Sutra. In the passages of the Ongi kuden that deal with Nichiren’s own interpretation of the text, however, he seeks to reveal the underlying intent or purpose of the work, reinterpreting the key passages of the sutra in such a way that they will be meaningful to his contemporaries, those persons who are practicing Buddhism in the Latter Day of the Law. This is the focus of his attention. By at times going along with the earlier commentaries of T’ien-t’ai and others, and at other times speaking in a manner that departs from their views, he makes clear how his own interpretations differ from those of his predecessors and thus deepens the reader’s understanding of his doctrines.
In most of the comments that Nichiren makes on the Lotus Sutra, he addresses himself to the particular passage of the sutra that he has singled out for discussion. In his treatment of the “Life Span” chapter, however, which occupies a place of such great importance in Nichiren’s doctrines as a whole, he departs from the exact wording of the text to comment on more general topics such as the Jigage, or verse section with which the chapter closes, or on the term kuon, or “time without beginning.”
Again, in dealing with “The Bodhisattva Never Disparaging” chapter, one of particular significance in terms of Buddhist practice, he outlines fourteen different ways in which one may view the bodhisattva’s practice of bowing in obeisance to all persons. Thus, he relates it to the words “open, show, awaken, and cause them to enter” of the “Expedient Means” chapter, or the words “At all times I think to myself” or “Originally I practiced the bodhisattva way” of the “Life Span” chapter, and he shows how it relates to such fundamental Buddhist concepts as birth, aging, sickness, and death, the Dharma nature, ignorance; and to such practices as pity and compassion.
In the section that follows, Nichiren begins by quoting what he regards as an essential passage from each of the twenty-eight chapters of the Lotus Sutra. To the left and right of each passage he then appends brief glosses that deal with the doctrinal aspect or meaning of the passage and the deeper or meditative aspect, or what has been referred to in Mr. Ikeda’s Foreword as the interpretation based on the “observation of the mind.” In a brief paragraph marked “Summary,” Nichiren then proceeds to outline what he sees as the true meaning of the passage in terms of his own philosophy.
The concluding section is entitled “All the Twenty-eight Chapters of the Lotus Sutra Are Nam-myoho-renge-kyo.” This sums up the doctrinal significance of each of the twenty-eight chapters of the Lotus Sutra, and makes clear how all these meanings represent different aspects of the single fundamental truth of Nam-myoho-renge-kyo.
Thus we see that the Ongi kuden is a work that reveals the various angles from which Nichiren viewed the concept of Nam-myoho-renge-kyo, the heart of his enlightenment and subject of all his teachings.
From his comments on key passages in the Lotus Sutra, it is clear that Nichiren saw all of these as ultimately related to the concept of Nam-myoho-renge-kyo. And his own explanations are intended to bring out the true meaning of this concept of Nam-myoho-renge-kyo as it is hidden in the various passages of the sutra. We may thus view his teachings as a demonstration of how the countless ideas or doctrines expounded in the text of the sutra, which to modern readers may seem so manifold in their conclusions, derive in the end from this one underlying truth or Law of Nam-myoho-renge-kyo.

The Thought of the Ongi kuden

Readers who are already familiar with Nichiren’s teachings and his manner of expressing them should have little difficulty in understanding the Ongi kuden. But for those who lack such background knowledge, a word may be said here about the thought and manner of presentation that characterize the text.
Mahayana Buddhism speaks often of two types or levels of truth, the worldly or relative truth and the supreme or absolute truth. The two types of truth are in fact referred to in the Ongi kuden itself, on page 208.
In his comments on the Lotus Sutra, Nichiren often refers to the persons and events described in the sutra in terms of their meaning on the level of relative truth, that is, as they apply to the world of ancient India depicted in the sutra. But he then frequently moves to a higher level of truth, reinterpreting the same event or passage in terms of what he sees as their absolute meaning or intention, namely, how they apply to other places and ages, or to all ages and places, to all humankind.
An excellent example of this is found in his comments on the “Simile and Parable” chapter on page 209, where he refers to the big white ox cart described in the sutra, which carries the children to the place of practice, where they will attain enlightenment. But then he abruptly leaps to a higher level of truth or meaning, declaring, “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.”
His comments on the literal meaning of the sutra represent the doctrinal meaning or aspect of the text. Those that relate to a higher or symbolic meaning represent the meditative aspect, or what is referred to as “observation of the mind,” that is, the truth underlying the passage as it is perceived through enlightenment.
It is these latter interpretations that represent Nichiren’s true teachings, the means by which, as Mr. Ikeda notes in his Foreword, Nichiren “infused new life into the Lotus Sutra.”
The level of worldly or relative truth is characterized by dualistic thinking; ideas are viewed as contrasting pairs, each term dependent upon its opposite for its existence, e.g., good/bad, happiness/unhappiness, ignorance/enlightenment. On the level of supreme truth, however, dualistic thinking is transcended, and opposites, because of their lack of independent and distinctive nature, merge into a single entity. Thus Nichiren, speaking on this level of truth, can say, as he does so often, that earthly desires are none other than enlightenment, and the sufferings of birth and death are none other than nirvana. In terms of everyday logic, or the realm of worldly truth, such statements seem arbitrary or even fantastic. Understood from the level of higher truth, however, they represent the core of Nichiren’s teaching, the fact that all persons are in fact Buddhas.
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Notes

1.The Writings of Nichiren Daishonin, vol.2, published in 2006 by the Soka Gakkai, Tokyo, p. 658.

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Here are some guidelines that the editors think will be helpful for readers of this book. In the Japanese text of the Ongi kuden, or The Record of the Orally Transmitted Teachings, the Lotus Sutra passages on which Nichiren lectured are indicated in abbreviated form, but in this translation the passages are cited in full and in boldface. Then, in some cases, the sutra passages are followed by T’ien-t’ai’s explanation of them from his Words and Phrases of the Lotus Sutra and by Miao-lo’s commentary on those explanations. Nichiren’s lectures follow, beginning with the set phrase “The Record of the Orally Transmitted Teachings says . . .”

All the Lotus Sutra quotations in this work are from The Lotus Sutra, translated by Burton Watson and published by Columbia University in 1993. The sources of the quotations are indicated by their chapter number and a shortened form of the chapter title, as in “chapter sixteen, Life Span,” which is enclosed in parentheses. However, when quotations are from the same chapter as is being discussed in Orally Transmitted Teachings, only the chapter number is shown, as in “chapter twelve.”

In the commentaries on the Lotus Sutra by T’ien-t’ai and others, reference is made to the related section in the Chinese text with the number of lines composing it. Usually one line consists of one verse, which consists of four phrases. Nichiren also makes similar references. In this translation, however, such references are made based on Dr. Watson’s Lotus Sutra, indicating the number of lines in the English text. Thus, in chapter twelve, point seven, you will find the expression “The verses of praise in fourteen lines express the doctrine of three thousand realms in a single moment of life,” which is the translation of “the verses of praise in three and a half lines . . .” in the Japanese text.

In the Japanese text, some passages of commentary have been cited without their source titles. When these passages have been found in collections of Buddhist texts such as Taishō daizōkyō, or Taishō Tripitaka, we have identified their source titles in the translation in brackets. All book titles are given in English.

Additionally, most of the names of the Buddhas, bodhisattvas, and deities mentioned in the text have been translated as in The Writings of Nichiren Daishonin (The Soka Gakkai, Tokyo, 1999). The names of actual historical figures, such as Shakyamuni and Shāriputra, naturally remain unchanged. And all personal names are given according to the usage of their land of origin.

Most diacritical marks are omitted from Sanskrit words, of which there are few in the text. But with the exception of the formula Nam-myoho-renge-kyo or Myoho-renge-kyo, all Japanese words are shown, where appropriate, with macrons to indicate the long vowels.

Shortened forms of the longer book titles cited in the text are used in this translation. The short forms are as follows:
Words and Phrases for The Words and Phrases of the Lotus Sutra by T’ien-t’ai
On “The Words and Phrases” for The Annotations on “The Words and Phrases of the Lotus Sutra” by Miao-lo
Profound Meaning for The Profound Meaning of the Lotus Sutra by T’ien-t’ai
On “The Profound Meaning” for The Annotations on “The Profound Meaning of the Lotus Sutra” by Miao-lo
On “Great Concentration and Insight” for The Annotations on “Great Concentration and Insight” by Miao-lo
Outstanding Principles for The Outstanding Principles of the Lotus Sutra by Dengyō
Supplement to “The Words and Phrases” for The Supplement to “The Words and Phrases of the Lotus Sutra” by Tao-hsien

For more information regarding the Buddhist terms, personal names, book titles, and Buddhas, bodhisattvas, and deities that appear in the text, readers may find helpful The Soka Gakkai Dictionary of Buddhism (The Soka Gakkai, Tokyo, 2002). Footnotes to the translation explain any terms not found in this dictionary.
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Nam-myoho-renge-kyo

The Record of the Orally Transmitted Teachings (Ongi kuden) says: Namu or nam is a Sanskrit word. Here it means to dedicate one’s life, that is, to the Person and to the Law. In terms of the Person, one dedicates one’s life to Shakyamuni Buddha; in terms of the Law, one dedicates one’s life to the Lotus Sutra. “Dedication” means dedication to the principle of eternal and unchanging truth of the theoretical teaching, and “life” means that one’s life dedicated to that principle bases itself on the wisdom of the truth of the essential teaching that functions in accordance with changing circumstances. In essence, one dedicates one’s life to Nam-myoho-renge-kyo.

A commentary [by Dengyō] says, “That which accords with changing circumstances, that which is unchanging, these are tranquil and shining in a single moment of life.”
Again, “dedication” refers to the element of physical form as it pertains to us, while “life” refers to the element of mind as it pertains to us. But the ultimate teaching tells us that form and mind are not two things. As a commentary [The Annotations on “The Profound Meaning of the Lotus Sutra,” volume one] says, “Because [the Lotus Sutra] leads us to the ultimate truth, it is called the Buddha vehicle.”
We may also note that the nam[u] of Nam-myoho-renge-kyo is a Sanskrit word, while myōhō, renge, and kyō are Chinese words.1 p.4Sanskrit and Chinese join in a single moment to form Nam-myoho-renge-kyo. If we express the title in Sanskrit, it will be Saddharma-pundarīka-sūtram. This is Myoho-renge-kyo in Sanskrit. Sad (the phonetic change of sat) means myō, or wonderful. Dharma means hō, Law or phenomena. Pundarīka means renge, or lotus blossom. Sūtram means kyō, or sutra. The nine characters [that represent the Sanskrit title] are the Buddha bodies of the nine honored ones. This expresses the idea that the nine worlds are inseparable from the Buddha world.
Myō stands for the Dharma nature or enlightenment, while hō represents darkness or ignorance. Together myōhō expresses the idea that ignorance and the Dharma nature are a single entity. Renge stands for the two elements of cause and effect. Cause and effect are also a single entity.
Kyō represents the words and voices of all living beings. A commentary [On “The Profound Meaning,” volume one] says, “The voice carries out the work of the Buddha, and this is called kyō, or sutra.” Kyō may also be defined as that which is constant and unchanging in the three existences of past, present, and future. The Dharma-realm is myōhō, the Wonderful Law; the Dharma-realm is renge, the lotus blossom; the Dharma-realm is kyō, the sutra.
Renge, the lotus blossom, is the Buddha bodies of the nine honored ones seated on the eight-petaled lotus. Think all this over very carefully.
The Record says:

In the “Introduction” chapter, seven important points
In the “Expedient Means” chapter, eight important points
In the “Simile and Parable” chapter, nine important points
In the “Belief and Understanding” chapter, six important points
In “The Parable of the Medicinal Herbs” chapter, five important points
In the “Bestowal of Prophecy” chapter, four important points
p.5In “The Parable of the Phantom City” chapter, seven important points
In the “Prophecy of Enlightenment for Five Hundred Disciples” chapter, three important points
In the “Prophecies Conferred on Learners and Adepts” chapter, two important points
In “The Teacher of the Law” chapter, sixteen important points
In “The Emergence of the Treasure Tower” chapter, twenty important points
In the “Devadatta” chapter, eight important points
In the “Encouraging Devotion” chapter, thirteen important points
In the “Peaceful Practices” chapter, five important points
In the “Emerging from the Earth” chapter, one important point
In “The Life Span of the Thus Come One” chapter, twenty-seven important points
In the “Distinctions in Benefits” chapter, three important points
In “The Benefits of Responding with Joy” chapter, two important points
In the “Benefits of the Teacher of the Law” chapter, four important points
In “The Bodhisattva Never Disparaging” chapter, thirty important points
In the “Supernatural Powers of the Thus Come One” chapter, eight important points
In the “Entrustment” chapter, three important points
In the “Former Affairs of the Bodhisattva Medicine King” chapter, six important points
In “The Bodhisattva Wonderful Sound” chapter, three important points
In “The Universal Gateway of the Bodhisattva Perceiver of the World’s Sounds” chapter, five important points
In the “Dhāranī” chapter, six important points
In the “Former Affairs of King Wonderful Adornment” chapter, three important points
In the “Encouragements of the Bodhisattva Universal Worthy” chapter, six important points
p.6In the Immeasurable Meanings Sutra, six important points
In the Universal Worthy Sutra, five important points

This comes to a total of 231 items. In addition, there is the separate transmission. All these have been recorded in full.
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Notes

1. Namu or its phonetic change nam derives from the Sanskrit namas. Myoho-renge-kyo is the Japanese transliteration of the Chinese Miao-fa-lien-hua-ching.

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[The Lotus Sutra]
Chapter One: Introduction
Seven important points

Point One, regarding the words “This is what I heard:”

The Words and Phrases of the Lotus Sutra, volume one, says, “The words ‘This is what’ indicate the substance of the doctrine heard from the Buddha. ‘I heard’ indicates a person who is capable of upholding that doctrine.”
The Annotations on “The Words and Phrases of the Lotus Sutra,” volume one, says, “Therefore, from first to last, the whole sutra represents the substance of what was heard from the Buddha.”

The Record of the Orally Transmitted Teachings says: The “heard” of “I heard” indicates the stage of hearing the name and words of the truth; “the substance of the doctrine” is Nam-myoho-renge-kyo. In the phrase “person who is capable of upholding,” one should give particular thought to the word “capable.” When On “The Words and Phrases,” volume one, says, “Therefore, from first to last, the whole sutra,” etc., the “first” indicates the “Introduction” chapter (chapter one) and the “last” indicates the “Universal Worthy” chapter (chapter twenty-eight). The “substance of the doctrine” means its heart or core.
Doctrine (hō) may also mean all phenomena (shohō); that is, it represents the heart of all phenomena. The heart or core of all phenomena is Myoho-renge-kyo.
The Great Teacher Dengyō [in his Outstanding Principles of the Lotus Sutra] says, “Though he praises the Lotus Sutra, in fact he kills the heart of the Lotus.” You should let your mind dwell in particular on the word “kill.” The word “heard” of “This is what I p.10heard” cannot apply to a person of no faith. But a practitioner of the Lotus Sutra may be said to have “heard” the substance of the doctrine put forth in “This is what,” etc. With regard to this, Words and Phrases, volume one, says, “‘This is what,’ etc., are words indicating faith and compliance. Faith means understanding of what one has heard, and compliance means that [one proceeds to follow it as] one follows the path of teacher and disciple.”
In effect, then, Nichiren and his followers are persons to whom the phrase “This is what I heard” may apply.

Point Two, the matter of Ājnāta Kaundinya

The commentary [Words and Phrases], volume one, says, “Kaundinya is a family name that may be interpreted to mean ‘fire vessel.’ The family was of Brahman class and its ancestors were in charge of worshiping fire; hence the clan came to have this name. Fire performs two functions: it illuminates, and it burns. Where there is illumination, darkness cannot arise; and where there is burning, things cannot be born. Hence the family name can be taken to mean ‘no birth.’”

The Record of the Orally Transmitted Teachings says: Fire is the wisdom fire of the Dharma nature. Fire has two functions. One, that of illuminating, is the wisdom of the truth that functions in accordance with changing circumstances. The other, that of burning, is the principle of the truth that is unchanging. These two words, “illuminating” and “burning,” represent the essential teaching and the theoretical teaching respectively. And these two functions of fire, the ability to illuminate and burn, are both inherent in Nam-myoho-renge-kyo.
Today, when Nichiren and his followers recite the words Nam-myoho-renge-kyo, they are illuminating the darkness of birth and death, making it clear, so that the wisdom fire of nirvana may shine forth. And when one understands that the sufferings of birth and death are none other than nirvana, this is what is meant by the words “where there is illumination, darkness cannot arise.” p.11[Again, when Nichiren and his followers recite Nam-myoho-renge-kyo], they are burning the firewood of earthly desires, summoning up the wisdom fire of bodhi or enlightenment. And when one understands that earthly desires are none other than enlightenment, this is what is meant by the words “where there is burning, things [that is, desires] cannot be born.”
In the end, therefore, we see that this Ājnāta Kaundinya is showing that for us, the votaries of the Lotus Sutra, earthly desires are enlightenment, and that the sufferings of birth and death are nirvana.

Point Three, the matter of King Ajātashatru

Words and Phrases, volume one,1 says, “King Ajātashatru’s name means ‘enemy unborn.’” It also says, “The Mahāparinirvāna Sutra says, ‘The name Ajātashatru means “enemy unborn.”’” It also says, “The Mahāparinirvāna Sutra says, ‘The word ajāta means “unborn,” and the word shatru means “enemy.”’”

The Record of the Orally Transmitted Teachings says: The people of the country of Japan are all like King Ajātashatru. They have already murdered their father, the Buddha, and done injury to their mother, the Lotus Sutra. The Immeasurable Meanings Sutra says, “The Buddhas, who are the king, and the sutra, which is the queen, join together in harmony to give birth to this bodhisattva son.” But those who slander the Law, even while they are within the wombs of their mothers, are already manifesting hatred and enmity toward the Lotus Sutra. Is this not a case of being an “unborn enemy”?
In addition, in Japan at present there are three types of powerful enemies. You should therefore pay special attention to p.12the four words above that say that “the word shatru means ‘enemy.’”2
But Nichiren and his followers can escape from the heavy guilt of such acts. Though we may in the past have been persons who slandered the Law, if we have faith in the Lotus Sutra and believe in Shakyamuni Buddha, then how can we fail to be exonerated from the heavy guilt of that earlier crime of killing our father and killing our mother?
Even if they should be our father and mother, however, if they are not beings who have faith in the Lotus Sutra, then we should indeed kill them. This means that when the attachment to the provisional teachings is the mother, and when the ignorance of the difference between the expedient means and the truth is the father, then we should kill them. Hence Words and Phrases, volume two, says, “Insight and understanding tells us that when we do injury to the mother who is greed and attachment, and to the father who is ignorance, we may be said to be committing violence, but a kind of violence that is in fact compliance with morality. In carrying out an act that is contrary to the way, we learn to master the Buddha way.”
In the present age, the Latter Day of the Law, “insight and understanding” means the insight and understanding of the daimoku. Ordinarily when a child kills or does injury to its father or mother, this is an act of violence. However, when we kill a father or mother who does not have faith in the Lotus Sutra,3 this is an act of moral compliance. This is why the commentary calls it violence that is in fact compliance with morality.4
In this sense, Nichiren and his followers today are like King Ajātashatru. For that reason they take up the sword of Nam-myoho-renge-kyo, kill the mother, greed and attachment, and the father, ignorance, and like the lord of teachings, Shakyamuni p.13Buddha, come to experience and attain the state of Buddhahood.
The mother, greed and attachment, is the first of the three powerful enemies described in the “Encouraging Devotion” chapter, that is, laypersons [who attack the votaries of the Lotus Sutra]. The father, ignorance, is the priests who make up the second and third enemies.

Point Four, the words “[a Law . . .] that is guarded and kept in mind by the Buddhas”

Words and Phrases, volume three, says, “‘[A Law . . .] that is guarded and kept in mind by the Buddhas’ refers to that which the Buddha gained enlightenment to in the origin of immeasurable meanings. Because he had done so, the Thus Come One ‘guarded it and kept it in mind.’ Thus later on in the sutra it says, ‘The Buddha himself dwells in this Great Vehicle’ (chapter two, Expedient Means). Although he wished to reveal and teach it to others, the capacities of living beings were too dull. Therefore for a long time he remained silent about this vital matter and did not hasten to expound it to others. That is why the sutra says it was ‘guarded and kept in mind.’”
On “The Words and Phrases,” volume three, says, “In the past he did not expound it. Therefore the sutra uses the word ‘guarded.’ With regard to the Law, and with regard to the people’s capacities, it was all ‘guarded and kept in mind.’ . . . Because the time had not come yet and the people’s capacities had not developed sufficiently, he kept it hidden and did not expound it. Hence it says he ‘guarded it and kept it in mind.’ . . . Because he did not expound it, it says he ‘guarded,’ and because he did not reveal it, it says he ‘kept it in mind.’ When Words and Phrases says ‘for a long time he remained silent,’ it means from early times [in the Buddha’s preaching life] down to the present moment [described in the sutra]. You should think over carefully and realize the true meaning of the words ‘this vital matter.’”

The Record of the Orally Transmitted Teachings says: With regard to this substance that the Buddha guarded and kept in p.14mind, it is the two types of teachings, the theoretical and the essential, or the five characters Myoho-renge-kyo that make up the title of the sutra.
As for the act of guarding and keeping in mind, there are seven ways in which to consider it. First, it can be considered from the standpoint of the time. Second, it can be considered from the standpoint of the people’s capacities. Third, it can be considered from the standpoint of the person to be addressed. Fourth, it can be considered from the standpoint of the essential and the theoretical teachings. Fifth, it can be considered from the standpoint of body and mind. Sixth, it can be considered from the standpoint of the substance of the doctrine. Seventh, it can be considered from the standpoint of the mind of faith. And now Nichiren and his followers are spreading abroad this substance that was “guarded and kept in mind.”
First, with regard to the time, for more than forty years the Buddha waited. Because the proper time had not yet come, he guarded and kept in mind the Lotus Sutra. Second, with regard to the people’s capacities, the sutra says, “Because they rejected the Law and failed to believe in it, / they would fall into the three evil paths” (chapter two). Therefore for the space of more than forty years the Buddha did not expound it. Third, with regard to the person to be addressed, the Buddha intended to expound it to Shāriputra, and so he waited. Fourth, with regard to the essential and the theoretical teachings, the word “guard” refers to the essential teaching and the words “keep in mind” to the theoretical teaching. Fifth, with regard to body and mind, “guard” refers to the body and “keep in mind” to the mind. Sixth, with regard to the substance of the doctrine, the substance of the doctrine is that which has existed inherently and abides eternally, the mind of pity and compassion inherent in all living beings. Seventh, with regard to the mind of faith, it means to use the mind of faith to guard and keep in mind [the Lotus Sutra].
In effect, when Nichiren and his followers recite Nam-myoho-renge-kyo, they are opening up the substance of this guarding and keeping in mind. Guarding represents the Buddha insight; p.15keeping in mind represents the Buddha knowledge. These two words, knowledge and insight, correspond to the two teachings, the essential and the theoretical. The Buddha knowledge is called myō, the Buddha insight is called hō. To carry out and practice the substance of this knowledge and insight is called renge. It is the substance of cause and effect. Cause and effect put into words is kyō.
Moreover, the practitioners of the Lotus Sutra will be guarded and kept in mind by the Buddhas of the past, present, and future. The “Universal Worthy” chapter says, “First, they must be guarded and kept in mind by the Buddhas.” Guarding and keeping in mind means guarding and keeping in mind Myoho-renge-kyo. When the Buddhas guard and keep in mind the practitioners of the Lotus Sutra, they are guarding and keeping in mind Myoho-renge-kyo. The practitioners’ capacities and the Law are a single entity, and the Buddhas guard and keep them in mind as a single entity. This is what On “The Words and Phrases” means when it says in volume three, “With regard to the Law, and with regard to the people’s capacities, it was all ‘guarded and kept in mind.’”
In addition, Words and Phrases, volume three, says, “The words ‘guarded and kept in mind by the Buddhas’ validate the earlier sign of the quaking of the earth.” The quaking of the earth is symbolic of the fact that the Buddha has broken through the barriers of delusion in all six stages.5 A person who accepts and upholds Myoho-renge-kyo will without doubt break through the barriers of delusion in all six stages.
The “Supernatural Powers” chapter says, “[A person of wisdom . . . ] / after I have passed into extinction / should accept and uphold this sutra. / Such a person assuredly and without doubt / will attain the Buddha way.” This is what the sutra means when it says earlier, “The Buddha himself dwells in this Great Vehicle.”
Again, in another sense we may say that in this matter of the p.16Buddha guarding and keeping in mind all living beings, the guarding is that of the statement [in chapter three, Simile and Parable], “I am the only person / who can rescue and protect others,” and that the keeping in mind is that of the statement [in chapter sixteen, Life Span], “At all times I have this thought in mind.”6 And when we come to the “Universal Worthy” chapter, this idea is stated as “First, they must be guarded and kept in mind by the Buddhas.”
Nichiren since the thirty-second year of his life has guarded and kept in mind Nam-myoho-renge-kyo.

Point Five, the words “[the light . . .] reaching downward as far as the Avīchi hell”

The Record of the Orally Transmitted Teachings says: This passage shows that beings in all of the Ten Worlds can attain Buddhahood. The passage makes clear that Devadatta has attained Buddhahood. In the chapter following the “Treasure Tower” chapter, the matter of Devadatta’s attaining Buddhahood is further explained in the so-called two admonitions.7 But at the time represented by the present passage in chapter one, Devadatta has already attained Buddhahood.
The word “reaching” refers to the ray of light emitted by the Buddha from the tuft of white hair between his eyebrows. The ray of light from the white hair is Nam-myoho-renge-kyo. The passage immediately following, that says that the ray of light reached “upward to the Akanishtha heaven,” represents the truth of non-substantiality. That this says it reached “downward as far as the Avīchi hell” represents the truth of temporary existence. And the light from the tuft of white hair represents the Middle Way. From p.17this it is clear that beings in the Ten Worlds can all attain Buddhahood at the same time. In the “Devadatta” chapter we are told that Devadatta will be adorned with the title Heavenly King Buddha.
If we consider the time of the attainment of Buddhahood from the two aspects of “environment” and “life,” then we see that in the passage on “reaching downward as far as the Avīchi hell,” the attainment of Buddhahood is being explained in terms of the “environment” [that is, hell]. And in the “Devadatta” chapter, when we are told that Devadatta will be called Heavenly King Thus Come One, the attainment of Buddhahood is being explained in terms of the “life” of the individual. But in the case of both “environment” and “life,” the attainment of Buddhahood is accomplished through the Wonderful Law.
Now when Nichiren and his followers perform ceremonies for the deceased, reciting the Lotus Sutra and chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo, the ray of light from the daimoku reaches all the way to the hell of incessant suffering and makes it possible for them to attain Buddhahood then and there. This is the origin of the prayers for transference of merit for the deceased.
Even if persons who had no faith in the Lotus Sutra have fallen into the hell of incessant suffering, as practitioners of the Lotus Sutra their filial offspring may offer them the ray of light from the daimoku. How could this principle [of the daimoku enabling one to attain Buddhahood] be any different than it is in the case of persons who have faith in the sutra?
Therefore Nichiren is led to conclude that this passage on the ray of light “reaching downward as far as the Avīchi hell” is intended to depict the way in which the Buddha, emitting a ray of light, makes it possible for Devadatta to attain Buddhahood.

Point Six, the words “why from the white tuft between the eyebrows / of our leader and teacher”

The commentary [Words and Phrases, volume three] says, “Therefore, since he preaches the Law, enters into samādhi, and is able p.18to lead others, he has already been designated a ‘leader and teacher.’”

The Record of the Orally Transmitted Teachings says: Here the words “leader and teacher” refer to Shakyamuni Buddha. “Preaching the Law” refers to the Immeasurable Meanings Sutra, and “entering into samādhi” refers to the samādhi of the origin of immeasurable meanings.
Generally speaking, there are two types of leaders and teachers, bad leaders and teachers and good leaders and teachers. Examples of bad leaders and teachers are Hōnen, Kōbō, Jikaku, and Chishō. Examples of good leaders and teachers are T’ien-t’ai and Dengyō.
Now that we have entered the Latter Day of the Law, Nichiren and his followers act as good leaders and teachers. The Law they preach is Nam-myoho-renge-kyo, and the samādhi they enter is the firmly fixed state of mind of one who accepts and upholds the Lotus Sutra.
You should pay special attention to the word “able” in the statement “he . . . is able to lead others” and consider its meaning. The passage in the “Emerging from the Earth” chapter that reads “foremost leaders and guiding teachers” refers to the same type of persons. It means in effect those persons who preach the Law to all the people of the country of Japan in order to lead them.

Point Seven, the words “Heavenly drums sounded of themselves.”

The commentary [Words and Phrases, volume three] says, “‘Heavenly drums sounded of themselves’ is symbolic of one who takes it upon oneself to preach without being asked.”

The Record of the Orally Transmitted Teachings says: This passage praises the way in which the auspicious omens appearing in this land and other lands are all the same. “One who takes it upon oneself to preach without being asked” refers to the fact that p.19Shakyamuni Thus Come One has taken it upon himself to preach the Lotus Sutra of the Wonderful Law without being asked.
Now Nichiren and his followers also take it on themselves to preach without being asked. When they declare that the Nembutsu leads to the hell of incessant suffering, that Zen is the teaching of the heavenly devil, that True Word will ruin the nation, and that Precepts is traitorous, they are taking it upon themselves to preach without being asked. Because they do so, the three types of powerful enemies have appeared on the scene.
The “heavenly drums” are Nam-myoho-renge-kyo. “Of themselves” means they are unhindered by any obstacles. “Sounded” refers to the sound of the chanting of Nam-myoho-renge-kyo.
In another sense, we may say that, when all living beings freely send forth their words and voices, this is a case of taking it upon themselves to preach without being asked. “Taking it upon themselves to preach,” we may say, refers even to the voices and cries of the wrongdoers being punished by the wardens of hell, to the famished cries of the hungry spirits, or to the voices of all living beings as moment by moment they are beset by the three poisons, greed, anger, and foolishness. All these voices in essence are Nam-myoho-renge-kyo.
The “heavenly drums” are the five characters of Myoho-renge-kyo, the essential teaching, and the theoretical teaching. “Heavenly” refers to the highest principle, which is comparable to heaven. “Take it upon oneself to preach” refers to the preaching of the Law by the Buddha of limitless joy.
On “The Words and Phrases,” volume three, says, “When Words and Phrases states that this is ‘symbolic of one who takes it upon oneself to preach without being asked,’ it refers to the opening of the ‘Expedient Means’ chapter, where the Buddha arises from his samādhi and addresses Shāriputra, delivering praise now in extended language, now in abbreviated form. He also uses the auspicious omens of this land and other lands, as well as things describable in words and indescribable. Sometimes he speaks of the reality, sometimes of the wisdom [to understand it]. These [reality and wisdom] are the root and foundation of the entire p.20sutra, the crux of the five periods of preaching. Therefore this matter must not be approached lightly.”
What in the passage of commentary here is called “the root and foundation of the entire sutra, the crux of the five periods of preaching,” this is Nam-myoho-renge-kyo.
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Notes

1. In the Words and Phrases contained in Taishō daizōkyō (Taishō Tripitaka), this passage appears in volume two. The volume numbers of Taishō daizōkyō, when they are different from those in the Japanese text, will not hereafter be indicted because they may not be helpful for general readers. When a commentary is cited without its title and volume number, the source, whenever it has been identified in the Taishō daizōkyō, is given in brackets.
2. The Sanskrit name Ajātashatru is transcribed as Ajase in Chinese characters. The se of Ajase, which stands for shatru (enemy), means the world.
3. Here “kill a father or mother who does not have faith in the Lotus Sutra” means to “kill” the disbelief of parents and lead them to believe in the sutra.
4. “Violence that is in fact compliance with morality” is expressed in more abstract terms in Words and Phrases as the principle that disloyalty is loyalty.
5. The fifty-two stages of bodhisattva practice are divided into six categories: ten stages of security, ten stages of practice, ten stages of devotion, ten stages of development, the stage of near-perfect enlightenment, and the stage of perfect enlightenment. One breaks through the barriers of delusion in each stage till one attains perfect enlightenment.
6. This is an alternative translation of “At all times I think to myself.” The translation has been offered to indicate the meaning of “keeping in mind.”
7. Two of the five proclamations in the two consecutive chapters “Treasure Tower” and “Devadatta.” In the former, Shakyamuni admonishes the bodhisattvas three times to spread the Lotus Sutra in the evil age after his passing. In the “Devadatta” chapter, Shakyamuni shows how Devadatta and the dragon king’s daughter attained Buddhahood through the powers of the sutra.

POINT ONE OF CHAPTER ONE ON KIN ONE “[The Lotus Sutra]
Chapter One: Introduction
Seven important points

Point One, regarding the words “This is what I heard”

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