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21 May 2015



When people become pessimistic, it is as if they hide themselves behind dark clouds that
prevent joy and hope from entering their hearts. Buddhism is a teaching of supreme

optimism. It is a teaching in which there is no despair; instead there is boundless hope,
opening the possibility for boundless happiness.

A life lived without purpose or value, the kind in which one doesn’t know the reason why
one was born, is joyless and lackluster. To just live, eat and die without any real

sense of purpose surely represents a life pervaded by animality.

“So-and-so is sick. So-and-so is suffering financially. I must do my best to give them
encouragement.” To think in this way, to offer prayers and take action for others’

happiness—this is the behavior of a true Buddhist.

Throughout his life, Shakyamuni encouraged people with his clear, sonorous voice. A
Buddhist text describes how Shakyamuni warmheartedly welcomed everyone he met,

expressing his joy at meeting them. He showed affection, joy and gentleness in all his
interactions. To put others at ease and encourage them to speak up, Shakyamuni would

always break the ice by initiating conversation.

Wisdom is invisible. It can only be gauged by a person’s actual conduct and behavior.

The point where Buddhism radically departs from the thought and religion that had existed
previously is that it uncovered within the individual’s own life the “Law,” or

limitless inner power, for resolving all suffering on the most essential level.Buddhism is
a teaching of unparalleled humanism that believes in the boundless potential

within human beings.

Buddhism regards all colors, all fragrances, all inanimate and living things—birds,
beasts, humans, and flowers, every blade of grass and tree—all the varied and beautiful

phenomena in the universe without exception, as manifestations of the Buddha nature.

The Buddha’s enlightenment does not lie in “eradicating” earthly desires, but in infusing
them with compassion and wisdom. It is a matter of transforming the turbid river

of earthly desires, karma, suffering and negativity into a pure stream of compassion and

Attaining Buddhahood is not so much a “destination” or a special “state,” but a path, or
orbit. To firmly establish ourselves in this orbit—to “attain Buddhahood”—means to

solidify in our lives a spirit of yearning for the happiness of oneself and others, and to
continuously take constructive action with that spirit.

Each person has the potential to become a Buddha. Buddhism starts from the realization
that the supreme life-condition of Buddhahood exists in each of us. It is a teaching

that makes it possible for us to achieve the most profound inner transformation—a
transformation of our fundamental attitude or mind-set.

The most basic Buddhist teaching is that everything is change, a never-ending series of
changes. Nothing is ever still.

Buddhist practice is a process through which we achieve spiritual fitness.

Buddhism is not divorced from reality but is found within it, confronting human suffering
head-on and teaching a way to overcome it. Buddhism is about transforming this

world of suffering and hardship into a world of hope. Buddhism is in the here and now, not
in some distant place.

Attaining enlightenment is not about embarking on some inconceivably long journey to
become a resplendent godlike Buddha; it is about accomplishing a transformation in the

depths of one’s being. In other words, it is not a matter of practicing in order to scale
the highest summit of enlightenment at some point in the distant future.

The Buddha’s objective is to enable every individual to manifest his or her true identity.
In other words, Buddhism lies in respecting yourself to the utmost, revering

others to the fullest and making it possible for both you and others to blossom equally as
individuals. STATED ABOVE: ^_^

We must live with vibrant hope. Nothing is stronger than hope. The Mystic Law is itself
eternal hope. Happiness belongs to those who never despair, no matter what happens.

Daisaku Ikeda

Human Revolution

“Human revolution is the work of transforming our lives at the very core. It involves
identifying and challenging those things which inhibit the full expression of our

positive potential and humanity.”

Buddhism is characterized by an emphasis on the possibility of inner transformation–a
process of bringing forth our full human potential. There is a common perception that

the discipline and focus necessary for such a process requires a set of ideal
circumstances not available to most. Nichiren Buddhism, however, teaches that it is only

squarely facing the challenges that confront us amidst the harsh contradictions of society
that we can carry out the task of changing our own lives and the world for the


“Human revolution” is the term used by second Soka Gakkai President Josei Toda to describe
a fundamental process of inner transformation whereby we break through the

shackles of our “lesser self,” bound by self-concern and the ego, growing in altruism
toward a “greater self” capable of caring and taking action for the sake of others–

ultimately all humanity.

As SGI President Daisaku Ikeda explains: “There are all sorts of revolutions: political
revolutions, economic revolutions, industrial revolutions, scientific revolutions,

artistic revolutions…but no matter what one changes, the world will never get any better
as long as people themselves…remain selfish and lacking in compassion. In that

respect, human revolution is the most fundamental of all revolutions, and at the same
time, the most necessary revolution



On Attaining Buddhahood in This Lifetime


IF you wish to free yourself from the sufferings of birth and death you have endured since
time without beginning and to attain without fail unsurpassed enlightenment in

this lifetime, you must perceive the mystic truth that is originally inherent in all
living beings. This truth is Myoho-renge-kyo. Chanting Myoho-renge-kyo will therefore

enable you to grasp the mystic truth innate in all life.

The Lotus Sutra is the king of sutras, true and correct in both word and principle. Its
words are the ultimate reality, and this reality is the Mystic Law (myōhō). It is

called the Mystic Law because it reveals the principle of the mutually inclusive
relationship of a single moment of life and all phenomena. That is why this sutra is the

wisdom of all Buddhas.

Life at each moment encompasses the body and mind and the self and environment of all
sentient beings in the Ten Worlds as well as all insentient beings in the three

thousand realms, including plants, sky, earth, and even the minutest particles of dust.
Life at each moment permeates the entire realm of phenomena and is revealed in all

phenomena. To be awakened to this principle is itself the mutually inclusive relationship
of life at each moment and all phenomena. Nevertheless, even though you chant and

believe in Myoho-renge-kyo, if you think the Law is outside yourself, you are embracing
not the Mystic Law but an inferior teaching. “Inferior teaching” means those other

than this [Lotus] sutra, which are all expedient and provisional. No expedient or
provisional teaching leads directly to enlightenment, and without the direct path to

enlightenment you cannot attain Buddhahood, even if you practice lifetime after lifetime
for countless kalpas. Attaining Buddhahood in this lifetime is then impossible.

Therefore, when you chant myōhō and recite renge,1 you must summon up deep faith that
Myoho-renge-kyo is your life itself.

You must never think that any of the eighty thousand sacred teachings of Shakyamuni
Buddha’s lifetime or any of the Buddhas and bodhisattvas of the ten directions and three

existences are outside yourself. Your practice of the Buddhist teachings will not relieve
you of the sufferings of birth and death in the least unless you perceive the true

nature of your life. If you seek enlightenment outside yourself, then your performing even
ten thousand practices and ten thousand good deeds will be in vain. It is like

the case of a poor man who spends night and day counting his neighbor’s wealth but gains
not even half a coin. That is why the T’ien-t’ai school’s commentary states,

“Unless p.4one perceives the nature of one’s life, one cannot eradicate one’s grave
offenses.”2 This passage implies that, unless one perceives the nature of one’s life,

one’s practice will become an endless, painful austerity. Therefore, such students of
Buddhism are condemned as non-Buddhist. Great Concentration and Insight states that,

although they study Buddhism, their views are no different from those of non-Buddhists.

Whether you chant the Buddha’s name,3 recite the sutra, or merely offer flowers and
incense, all your virtuous acts will implant benefits and roots of goodness in your

life. With this conviction you should strive in faith. The Vimalakīrti Sutra states that,
when one seeks the Buddhas’ emancipation in the minds of ordinary beings, one

finds that ordinary beings are the entities of enlightenment, and that the sufferings of
birth and death are nirvana. It also states that, if the minds of living beings are

impure, their land is also impure, but if their minds are pure, so is their land. There
are not two lands, pure or impure in themselves. The difference lies solely in the

good or evil of our minds.

It is the same with a Buddha and an ordinary being. When deluded, one is called an
ordinary being, but when enlightened, one is called a Buddha. This is similar to a

tarnished mirror that will shine like a jewel when polished. A mind now clouded by the
illusions of the innate darkness of life is like a tarnished mirror, but when

polished, it is sure to become like a clear mirror, reflecting the essential nature of
phenomena and the true aspect of reality. Arouse deep faith, and diligently polish

your mirror day and night. How should you polish it? Only by chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo.

What then does myō signify? It is simply the mysterious nature of our life from moment to
moment, which the mind cannot comprehend or words express. When we look into our

own mind at any moment, we perceive neither color nor form to verify that it exists. Yet
we still cannot say it does not exist, for many differing thoughts continually

occur. The mind cannot be considered either to exist or not to exist. Life is indeed an
elusive reality that transcends both the words and concepts of existence and

nonexistence. It is neither existence nor nonexistence, yet exhibits the qualities of
both. It is the mystic entity of the Middle Way that is the ultimate reality. Myō is

the name given to the mystic nature of life, and hō, to its manifestations. Renge, which
means lotus flower, is used to symbolize the wonder of this Law. If we understand

that our life at this moment is myō, then we will also understand that our life at other
moments is the Mystic Law.4 This realization is the mystic kyō, or sutra. The Lotus

Sutra is the king of sutras, the direct path to enlightenment, for it explains that the
entity of our life, which manifests either good or evil at each moment, is in fact

the entity of the Mystic Law.

If you chant Myoho-renge-kyo with deep faith in this principle, you are certain to attain
Buddhahood in this lifetime. That is why the sutra states, “After I have passed

into extinction, [one] should accept and uphold this sutra. Such a person assuredly and
without doubt will attain the Buddha way.”5 Never doubt in the slightest.


Maintain your faith and attain Buddhahood in this lifetime. Nam-myoho-renge-kyo,




On the Ten Chapters of
“Great Concentration and Insight”


THE school known as the Flower Garland school holds that the perfect teaching of the
Flower Garland Sutra and the perfect teaching of the Lotus Sutra are one in nature. But

it considers that the perfect teaching of the Lotus Sutra is an offshoot of the Flower
Garland perfect teaching.

The Dharma Characteristics school and the Three Treatises school take a similar view [with
regard to the perfect teaching of the sutras that preceded the Lotus Sutra and

that of the Lotus Sutra].

If the Tendai school follows the same sort of interpretation as these other schools, then
what is the use of having a Tendai school separate from the other schools?

The Tendai school, for example, holds that the perfect teaching of the Lotus Sutra and
that of the Nirvana Sutra are one in nature, but because the Lotus Sutra was preached

before the Nirvana Sutra, the perfect teaching of the Nirvana Sutra is regarded as
inferior to that of the Lotus Sutra. If the perfect teaching of the sutras that preceded

the Lotus Sutra and the perfect teaching of the Lotus Sutra are regarded as one in nature,
then, by the same token, does this mean that, because the other sutras were

preached before the Lotus Sutra, the perfect teaching of the Lotus Sutra must be regarded
as inferior?

In the end, erroneous interpretations such as these come about because of a mistaken
understanding of passages found in the commentaries, passages such as “Concerning myō,

or wonderful, the myō of this teaching and the myō of the other teachings [are not
different in meaning],”1 “The truth of [the two kinds of] the perfect teaching does not

differ,”2 “[The Buddha wisdom shown at the beginning and that at the latter time] are
alike in representing the principle of perfect and immediate enlightenment,”3 and “The

first three [of the four teachings] are designated as ‘rough.’”4

In Great Concentration and Insight, in the section dealing with the concentration and
insight of perfect and immediate enlightenment, a passage from the Flower Garland

Sutra5 is quoted. And in the section on the four forms of meditation in volume two, there
are passages that would seem to refer to the Nembutsu practice.

But, as the saying goes, if the source is muddied, the stream will not run clear. Those
persons who declare that the perfect teaching of the earlier sutras and the perfect

teaching of the Lotus Sutra are one in nature may think that they are teaching others
Great p.378Concentration and Insight, but all they are doing is making Nembutsu

believers out of them.

From past times, there have been three opinions regarding the doctrines of Great
Concentration and Insight, namely, that they derive from the theoretical teaching of the

Lotus Sutra; that they derive from the essential teaching of the Lotus Sutra; and that
they derive from both the theoretical teaching and the essential teaching. But I will

not go into this matter here. [As Miao-lo says], “Therefore one should understand that
Great Concentration and Insight sets forth the wonderful contemplation that is based

on the opening up and merging of the provisional teachings with the perfect vehicle.”6
That is, the entire text of Great Concentration and Insight is founded on the opening

up and merging of the provisional teachings with the Lotus Sutra.

Although Great Concentration and Insight quotes passages from various sutras preached
prior to the Lotus Sutra and from the sacred texts of the non-Buddhist teachings, it

is not espousing the ideas contained in these earlier sutras or non-Buddhist texts. It
borrows passages from these texts but at the same time rejects the principles taught

therein. [As Miao-lo says], “The setting is that of the earlier texts, but the wisdom is
invariably that set forth in the perfect teaching.”7 That is, although there are

quotations from various sutras such as the Questions of Manjushrī, the Great Correct and
Equal Dhāranīs, or the Invocation of Perceiver of the World’s Sounds, and the four

forms of meditation are discussed, the principles set forth therein are invariably those
of the Lotus Sutra. [As Miao-lo says], “Various texts from here and there are

quoted to make up a single composition, but the true meaning of the work in the end refers
solely to the two sutras [the Lotus Sutra and the Nirvana Sutra].”8

Great Concentration and Insight consists of ten chapters entitled “Overall Meaning,”
“Explaining Terminology,” “Characteristics of the Essence,” “Encompassing the

Doctrines,” “Partial and Perfect,” “Preparatory Practices,” “Correct Meditation,” “Effect
and Reward,” “Setting Forth Teachings,” and “Pointing Out the Goal.”

[As Great Concentration and Insight says] the first six chapters are based on the sutras.
These six chapters, from “Overall Meaning” through “Preparatory Practices,” take

up the first four volumes of the work. The wonderful understanding described therein sets
forth the doctrine of the Lotus Sutra’s theoretical teaching.

The seventh chapter, “Correct Meditation,” establishes the correct practice based on the
wonderful understanding, and deals with the ten objects and ten meditations, the

practice of the essential teaching. The exposition of the doctrine of three thousand
realms in a single moment of life begins with this chapter.

This doctrine of three thousand realms in a single moment of life is not to be found in
the theoretical teaching of the Lotus Sutra, much less in any of the sutras preached

prior to the Lotus. Although this doctrine derives from the ten factors, which represent
the true aspect of all phenomena, as set forth in the concise replacement of the

three vehicles with the one vehicle [in the “Expedient Means” chapter of the Lotus Sutra],
its meaning is made clear only in the essential teaching.

In the case of the sutras preached before the Lotus, one uses the theoretical teaching to
explain the meaning of the words. And in the case of the theoretical teaching, one

uses the essential teaching to explain the meaning of the words. Only in the case of the
essential teaching does one use the actual words themselves to explain the meaning.

There are many different kinds of p.379practices in the perfect teaching. Counting grains
of sand and contemplating the great ocean are among them,9 as of course are the

practice of reciting the sutras that preceded the Lotus and intoning the names of Amida
Buddha and the other Buddhas.

These, however, are practices to be carried out on particular occasions or at particular
times. The true perfect teaching practice is to keep the mouth constantly reciting

Nam-myoho-renge-kyo, whatever the occasion, and to keep the mind fixed on the meditation
on the three thousand realms in a single moment of life. This is the practice and

understanding of persons of wisdom. For the ordinary lay believers of Japan, however, it
is sufficient if they concentrate solely on the recitation of Nam-myoho-renge-kyo.

The name will invariably invoke all the blessings of the thing itself. It has been said
that there are seventeen names for the Lotus Sutra,10 but these are names that are

common to other writings as well. The particular name of the sutra, that by which all the
Buddhas of the three existences of past, present, and future invoke it, is Nam-


Amida, Shakyamuni, and all the other Buddhas, when they were creating the cause for the
attainment of enlightenment, invariably fixed their minds on the practice of

concentration and insight, and with their mouths they invariably recited

The priests of the Tendai and True Word schools who practice the Nembutsu, unaware of
these facts, constantly engage in the recitation of the words Namu Amida Butsu [Hail

to Amida Buddha], and hence lay believers assume that the Tendai and True Word schools
advocate the practice of the Nembutsu.

Moreover, the followers of Shan-tao and Hōnen believe that the followers of the Tendai and
True Word teachings must be reciting the Nembutsu because they are dissatisfied

with the practices of their own schools. This then leads them to proclaim that, rather
than taking great pains to study the Tendai or True Word teachings or recite the

Lotus Sutra, it is better to concentrate on the recitation of the Nembutsu and, after
attaining rebirth in the Pure Land, to there come to a true understanding of the Lotus


Because beliefs such as these have spread throughout this country of Japan, the leaders of
the Tendai and True Word schools have been abandoned by their lay followers, and

their temples in the sixty or more provinces have fallen into ruin.

The ninety-six non-Buddhist schools derived from the rules of conduct laid down by the
monk Buddha Wisdom,11 and the slanders against the Lotus Sutra in Japan began when

wide acceptance was given to the view that the perfect teaching of the Lotus Sutra and
that of the pre-Lotus sutras are identical. What a sad day that was!

The non-Buddhists declared that this world is characterized by eternity, happiness, self,
and purity, but the Buddha appeared in the world to proclaim that it is in fact

characterized by suffering, non-substantiality, impermanence, and non-self. The persons of
the two vehicles, voice-hearers and cause-awakened ones, then became unduly

attached to the concept of non-substantiality and failed to advance to an understanding of
the great vehicle, or Mahayana, teachings, and so the Buddha admonished them by

declaring that the five cardinal sins too are the seeds of Buddhahood, that the countless
dusts and troubles of earthly desires are also the seeds of the Thus Come One,

warning them that the “good doctrine” of the two vehicles would never lead to the
attainment of Buddhahood.

The concepts of eternity, happiness, p.380self, and purity as expounded by the
non-Buddhists were erroneous, but there was nothing wrong with these terms themselves.

However, the Buddha condemned these terms to show that their concepts were wrong. [In
Mahayana] evil too can constitute the seed that leads to Buddhahood, and of course

good can do so as well. However, when it came to the persons of the two vehicles, though
the Buddha granted that they were capable of evil, he would not grant that they

were capable of good.12

The Nembutsu that is practiced in the world today is a Nembutsu that will destroy the
Lotus Sutra throughout this country. Though it may be a “good” practice, and one that

is theoretically sound, one should condemn its name.

This is because the Buddhist teachings should conform to what is suitable for the
particular country. In India, there were states wholly devoted to the Hinayana teachings,

states wholly devoted to the Mahayana teachings, and states in which both Hinayana and
Mahayana were pursued. The teachings differed according to the state. And China is

the same in nature.

But Japan is a country suitable only for the Mahayana teachings, and among these, the
teaching of the one vehicle [of the Lotus Sutra]. Even the teachings of the three

Mahayana schools, the Flower Garland, the Dharma Characteristics, and the Three Treatises
schools, are not suitable for this country, much less those of the three Hinayana


The Nembutsu and Zen schools that enjoy popularity in the country today derive from the
Correct and Equal sutras, and their level of understanding in no way exceeds that of

the Dharma Characteristics, Three Treatises, and Flower Garland schools.

The Nembutsu practice of reciting Namu Amida Butsu pertains only to the sutras preached
prior to the Lotus. According to the Lotus Sutra, it can never lead to rebirth in

the Pure Land. Only after the opening up and merging of the teachings that takes place in
the Lotus Sutra can it become a cause for the attainment of Buddhahood.

Nam-myoho-renge-kyo, on the other hand, is not related to the forty and more years of the
Buddha’s preaching life before he expounded the Lotus Sutra. It relates only to

the eight years during which he preached the Lotus.

The doctrine of Namu Amida Butsu cannot effect the opening up and merging [of the doctrine
of Nam-myoho-renge-kyo]. It is the Lotus Sutra that is capable of carrying out

such an opening up and merging, and the Nembutsu is that which is opened up and merged.

Practitioners of the Lotus Sutra, even if they do not once in their lifetime utter the
words Namu Amida Butsu, will enjoy all the blessings bestowed by Amida Buddha and all

the other Buddhas of the ten directions. Such practice is like the wonderful wish-granting
jewel, which is capable of bestowing gold, silver, and all manner of wealth.

But though one may recite the Nembutsu for a whole lifetime, one will never gain the
blessings of the Lotus Sutra, just as one could never buy a wish-granting jewel with

mere gold and silver. Even though one were to offer all the gold and silver and other
forms of wealth contained in the entire major world system, one could never exchange

them for the wish-granting jewel.

Even if the teachings of Nembutsu should be opened up and merged [into the Lotus Sutra],
they are the provisional teachings within the body [of the Lotus Sutra] and

therefore inferior to the true teaching within the same body. And given our present age,
how few must be the wise persons p.381who reach such an understanding of the

opening up and merging of the teachings!

Even if such persons should exist, what of their disciples, their kinfolk, and their
retainers? Ignorant persons such as these, seeing the wise person reciting the

Nembutsu, will conclude that he is a full-fledged believer in the Nembutsu. They surely
will not take him for a votary of the Lotus Sutra! But so long as one recites Nam-

myoho-renge-kyo, even the most ignorant of persons could not fail to recognize one as a
votary of the Lotus Sutra.

In our present age, more fearful than those who murder their father or mother or plot
insurrection are those who, though leaders of the Tendai or True Word schools, yet go

about reciting Shan-tao’s Praising Rebirth in the Pure Land or twittering away with
Hōnen’s Nembutsu.

After you have concluded the reading of Great Concentration and Insight, you may pass this
letter around among the persons who attended the reading. Once the reading of

Great Concentration and Insight is concluded, come back here as soon as possible.

With regard to the lawsuit, if the cause of my action is reasonable enough, I think it
will be difficult to reach a settlement [because the High Court at Kamakura harbors

prejudice against me]. And, as people say, legal inquiries are not like matters of
religious doctrine, and it was wise of us to have raised a suit. Therefore, there would

seem to be even less hope for a quick settlement.

Word has come that the Lesser Aide of Judicial Affairs has turned the suit over to Hei no
Saburō Saemon [to avoid a settlement].14 Under these circumstances, you should

consider that the longer the case drags on, the better are the prospects. A settlement
will probably be reached eventually, and if it is not, people will understand that

there is a reasonable cause on my side, so you should not fret over the delay.

At the moment I have a number of Tendai and True Word persons visiting me and am very busy
with them and other things, so I will end this here.



Expedient Means

At that time the world-honored one calmly arose from his samadhi and addressed Shariputra,
saying: “The wisdom of the buddhas is infinitely profound and immeasurable. The

door to this wisdom is difficult to understand and difficult to enter. Not one of the
voice-hearers or pratyekabuddhas is able to comprehend it.

“What is the reason for this? The buddhas have personally attended a hundred, a thousand,
ten thousand, a million, a countless number of buddhas and have fully carried out

an immeasurable number of buddhas’ ways and doctrines. They have exerted themselves
bravely and vigorously, and their names are universally known. They have realized the

Law that is profound and never known before, and preach it in accordance with what is
appropriate, yet their intentions are difficult to understand.

“Shariputra, ever since I attained buddhahood I have through various causes and various
similes widely expounded my teachings and have used countless expedient means to

guide living beings and cause them to renounce their attachments. Why is this? Because the
thus come ones are fully possessed of both expedient means and the paramita of


“Shariputra, the wisdom of the thus come ones is expansive and profound. They have
immeasurable [compassion], unlimited [eloquence], power, fearlessness, concentration,

emancipation, p.57and samadhis, and have deeply entered the boundless and awakened to the
Law never before attained.

“Shariputra, the thus come ones know how to make various distinctions and to expound the
teachings skillfully. Their words are soft and gentle and can delight the hearts of

the assembly.

“Shariputra, to sum it up: the buddhas have fully realized the Law that is limitless,
boundless, never attained before.

“But stop, Shariputra, I will say no more. Why? Because what the buddhas have achieved is
the rarest and most difficult-to-understand Law. The true aspect of all phenomena

can only be understood and shared between buddhas. This reality consists of the
appearance, nature, entity, power, influence, internal cause, relation, latent effect,

manifest effect, and their consistency from beginning to end.”



The Life Span of the
Thus Come One

At that time the Buddha spoke to the bodhisattvas and all the great assembly: “Good men,
you must believe and understand the truthful words of the thus come one.” And again

he said to the great assembly: “You must believe and understand the truthful words of the
thus come one.” And once more he said to the great assembly: “You must believe and

understand the truthful words of the thus come one.” (…)

Since I attained buddhahood

the number of kalpas that have passed

is an immeasurable hundreds, thousands, ten thousands,

millions, trillions, asamkhyas.

Constantly I have preached the Law, teaching, converting

countless millions of living beings,

causing them to enter the buddha way,

all this for immeasurable kalpas.

In order to save living beings,

p.271as an expedient means I appear to enter nirvana

but in truth I do not pass into extinction.

I am always here, preaching the Law.

I am always here,

but through my transcendental powers

I make it so that living beings in their befuddlement

do not see me even when close by.

When the multitude sees that I have passed into extinction,

far and wide they offer alms to my relics.

All harbor thoughts of yearning

and in their minds thirst to gaze at me.

When living beings have become truly faithful,

honest and upright, gentle in intent,

single-mindedly desiring to see the Buddha,

not hesitating even if it costs them their lives,

then I and the assembly of monks

appear together on Holy Eagle Peak.

At that time I tell the living beings

that I am always here, never entering extinction,

but that because of the power of expedient means

at times I appear to be extinct, at other times not,

and that if there are living beings in other lands

who are reverent and sincere in their wish to believe,

then among them too

I will preach the unsurpassed Law.

But you have not heard of this,

so you suppose that I enter extinction.

When I look at living beings

I see them drowned in a sea of suffering;

therefore I do not show myself,

causing them to thirst for me.

Then when their minds are filled with yearning,

at last I appear and preach the Law for them.

Such are my transcendental powers.

For asamkhya kalpas

constantly I have dwelled on Holy Eagle Peak

and in various other places.

p.272When living beings witness the end of a kalpa

and all is consumed in a great fire,

this, my land, remains safe and tranquil,

constantly filled with heavenly and human beings.

The halls and pavilions in its gardens and groves

are adorned with various kinds of gems.

Jeweled trees abound in flowers and fruit

where living beings enjoy themselves at ease.

The gods strike heavenly drums,

constantly making many kinds of music.

Mandarava blossoms rain down,

scattering over the Buddha and the great assembly.

My pure land is not destroyed,

yet the multitude sees it as consumed in fire,

with anxiety, fear, and other sufferings

filling it everywhere.

These living beings with their various offenses,

through causes arising from their evil actions,

spend asamkhya kalpas

without hearing the name of the three treasures.

But those who practice meritorious ways,

who are gentle, peaceful, honest, and upright,

all of them will see me

here in person, preaching the Law.

At times for this multitude

I describe the Buddha’s life span as immeasurable,

and to those who see the Buddha only after a long time

I explain how difficult it is to meet a buddha.

Such is the power of my wisdom

that its sagacious beams shine without measure.

This life span of countless kalpas

I gained as the result of lengthy practice.

You who are possessed of wisdom,

entertain no doubts on this point!

Cast them off, end them forever,

for the Buddha’s words are true, not false.

He is like a skilled physician

p.273who uses an expedient means to cure his deranged sons.

Though in fact alive, he gives out word he is dead,

yet no one can say he speaks falsely.

I am the father of this world,

saving those who suffer and are afflicted.

Because of the befuddlement of ordinary people,

though I live, I give out word I have entered extinction.

For if they see me constantly,

arrogance and selfishness arise in their minds.

Abandoning restraint, they give themselves up to the five desires

and fall into the evil paths of existence.

Always I am aware of which living beings

practice the way, and which do not,

and in response to their need for salvation

I preach various doctrines for them.

At all times I think to myself:

How can I cause living beings

to gain entry into the unsurpassed way

and quickly acquire the body of a buddha?

Chapter Fifteen: Emerging from the Earth

One important point

Point One, on the passage “Among these bodhisattvas were four leaders. The first was
called Superior Practices, the second was called Boundless Practices, the third was

called Pure Practices, and the fourth was called Firmly Established Practices. These four
bodhisattvas were the foremost leaders and guiding teachers among all the group.”

The Record of the Orally Transmitted Teachings says: This chapter, “Emerging from the
Earth,” is devoted entirely to matters pertaining to the bodhisattvas of the essential

teaching, those who were taught and converted by the Buddha in his true identity.1 The
action carried out by the bodhisattvas of the essential teaching is Nam-myoho-renge-

kyo. This is referred to in the character shō [“advocating” in the compound shōdō, or
“advocating and guiding”]. The character dō signifies that they will lead and guide

all the living beings of the country of Japan to the Pure Land of the Holy Mountain [Eagle
Peak]. As for these guiding teachers of p.118the Latter Day of the Law, the term

“teachers” can only be applied to the bodhisattvas of the essential teaching.

In explaining the identity of the four great bodhisattvas described here, volume nine of
Supplement to “The Words and Phrases,” following the explanation given in volume

nine of Words and Phrases, says, “The four leaders described in the sutra passage here
represent the four virtues. Superior Practices represents the virtue of true self.

Boundless Practices represents the virtue of eternity. Pure Practices represents the
virtue of purity. And Firmly Established Practices represents the virtue of happiness.

“There are times when a single person possesses all four of these principles. To transcend
the two types of death [birth and death in the six paths and birth and death in

the higher realms] is known as Superior Practices. To go beyond the two opposing views
that life is cut off after one existence or that it is eternally the same is called

Boundless Practices. Because one overcomes the five categories of illusions and
entanglements,2 that state is designated Pure Practices. And because one is as perfect in

virtue as [the Buddha who attained enlightenment under] the bodhi tree, that state is
named Firmly Established Practices.”

Nichiren and his followers, who now chant Nam-myoho-renge-kyo, are all followers of these
bodhisattvas who emerged from the earth.

Again, one may say that fire is that which burns things [and hence it corresponds to
Superior Practices3]. Water is that which purifies things [and hence it corresponds to

Pure Practices]. Wind is that which blows away dust and grime [and hence corresponds to
Boundless Practices]. The great earth is that which nourishes plants and trees [and

corresponds to Firmly Established Practices]. These are the respective merits of the four
bodhisattvas. Though p.119the practices of the four bodhisattvas differ from one

to another, all are in effect the practice of Myoho-renge-kyo.

These four bodhisattvas dwell in the lower region. Therefore the commentary [Words and
Phrases, volume nine] says that they dwell “in the depths of the Dharma nature, the

ultimate region of the profound source.” The lower region is where they live and abide,
and the lower region represents the principle of truth. Supplement to “The Words and

Phrases” says, “The lower region is described by Master Tao-sheng as the place where one
abides in the principle (ri).” What emerge and become manifest from this dwelling

in the principle are referred to as actual events (ji).

Again, the Record of the Orally Transmitted Teachings says that, of all the thousand
plants and ten thousand trees in the world, there are none that are not in essence

bodhisattvas who emerge from the earth. Thus we may say that the bodhisattvas who emerge
from the earth are the bodhisattvas of the essential teaching. The word “essential”

or “original” represents the merits handed down from the past of numberless major world
system dust particle kalpas ago, the merits that are without beginning and without


These bodhisattvas are possessors of the essential or original Law. The original Law is
Nam-myoho-renge-kyo. This daimoku, Nam-myoho-renge-kyo, is something that is without

exception possessed by the bodhisattvas who emerge from the earth, but it is not possessed
by the bodhisattvas of the theoretical teaching, those who were taught and

converted by the Buddha in his transient status. From the substance of this original Law
is derived the function that is propagated as the practice of concentration and

insight, and is called the principle of three thousand realms in a single moment of life.
In effect, all the explanations given by great and ordinary teachers are directed

toward the propagation of this function of the Wonderful Law.

The accepting and upholding of this original Law is expressed in the single word “belief”
or “faith.” The single word “belief” is the sharp sword with which one confronts

and overcomes p.120fundamental darkness or ignorance. The commentary [Words and Phrases]
says, “Belief means to be without doubt.” You should think about this.

The Record of the Orally Transmitted Teachings, Part One, ends here.

The first day of the first month of the first year of the Kōan era (1278), cyclical sign

Recorded by Nikkō


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.

Gohonzon [御本尊] (Jpn): The object of devotion. The word go is an honorific prefix, and
honzon means object of fundamental respect or devotion. In Nichiren’s (1222–1282)

teaching, the object of devotion has two aspects: the object of devotion in terms of the
Law and the object of devotion in terms of the Person. These may be described as

follows: (1) The object of devotion in terms of the Law: Nichiren’s mandala that embodies
the eternal and intrinsic Law of Nam-myoho-renge-kyo. That Law is the source of

all Buddhas and the seed of Buddhahood for all people. In other words, Nichiren identified
Nam-myoho-renge-kyo as the ultimate Law permeating life and the universe, and

embodied it in the form of a mandala. In his Questions and Answers on the Object of
Devotion, Nichiren refers to the object of devotion for people in the Latter Day of the

Law as “the title (daimoku) of the Lotus Sutra.” He further describes the title as the
essence of the Lotus Sutra, or Nam-myoho-renge-kyo to be found only in the depths of

the “Life Span” (sixteenth) chapter of the sutra. The Object of Devotion for Observing the
Mind reads, “Myoho-renge-kyo appears in the center of the [treasure] tower with

the Buddhas Shakyamuni and Many Treasures seated to the right and left, and, flanking
them, the four bodhisattvas, followers of Shakyamuni, led by Superior Practices.

Manjushrī, Maitreya, and the other bodhisattvas, who are followers of the four
bodhisattvas, are seated below” (366). In this passage, Nichiren clarifies the

between the Law of Nam-myoho-renge-kyo, the Buddhas Shakyamuni and Many Treasures, and the
various bodhisattvas depicted on the Gohonzon. In this way he emphasizes Nam-

myoho-renge-kyo as the fundamental object of devotion. The Real Aspect of the Gohonzon
explains that all living beings of the Ten Worlds “display the dignified attributes

that they inherently possess” (832) through the benefit of Nam-myoho-renge-kyo. Nichiren
viewed the Dai-Gohonzon, the object of devotion he inscribed for all humanity on

the twelfth day of the tenth month in 1279, as the purpose of his life. This can be
gleaned from his statement in On Persecutions Befalling the Sage, written in the tenth

month of 1279: “The Buddha fulfilled the purpose of his advent in a little over forty
years, the Great Teacher T’ien-t’ai took about thirty years, and the Great Teacher

Dengyō, some twenty years. I have spoken repeatedly of the indescribable persecutions they
suffered during those years. For me it took twenty-seven years, and the great

persecutions I faced are well known to you all” (996). The object of devotion in terms of
the Law is explained in greater detail in Nichiren’s writings such as The Object

of Devotion for Observing the Mind and The Real Aspect of the Gohonzon.
 (2) The object of devotion in terms of the Person: In his Reply to Kyō’ō, Nichiren
writes, “I, Nichiren, have inscribed my life in sumi ink, so believe in the Gohonzon

with your whole heart. The Buddha’s will is the Lotus Sutra, but the soul of Nichiren is
nothing other than Nam-myoho-renge-kyo” (412). Nichiren here expresses his

realization that Nam-myoho-renge-kyo is the origin and basis of his life, which he
embodied in sumi ink in the form of the mandala he calls the Gohonzon. In The Record of

the Orally Transmitted Teachings, he says, “The object of devotion is thus the entity of
the entire body of the votary of the Lotus Sutra.” “The votary” here refers to

Nichiren himself. He also says, “The Buddha of the Latter Day of the Law is an ordinary
person and an ordinary priest.” “An ordinary priest” here refers to Nichiren.

Because Nichiren revealed and spread Nam-myoho-renge-kyo, which is manifest as the Person
and the Law, he is regarded by his disciple and designated successor Nikkō and his

followers as the Buddha of the Latter Day of the Law. Nichiren himself writes in The
Opening of the Eyes: “On the twelfth day of the ninth month of last year [1271],

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” (269). He states that he “was beheaded,” though actually he survived the

execution at Tatsunokuchi, implying that the ordinary person Nichiren ceased to exist. In
this context, the passage “It is his soul that has come to this island of Sado

[his place of exile] “ means that Nichiren described himself as having revealed a deeper,
true identity in the course of his attempted execution. Again Nikkō and his

followers equate that identity with the Buddha of the Latter Day of the Law.
(3) The oneness of the Person and the Law: This means that the object of devotion in terms
of the Person and the object of devotion in terms of the Law are one in their

essence. The Law is inseparable from the Person, and vice versa. The object of devotion in
terms of the Law is the physical embodiment, as a mandala (the Gohonzon), of the

eternal and intrinsic Law of Nam-myoho-renge-kyo. Nichiren writes in his Reply to Kyō’ō
“I, Nichiren, have inscribed my life in sumi ink, so believe in the Gohonzon with

your whole heart” (412). This passage indicates that Nichiren embodied in the Gohonzon the
state of life he enjoyed as the eternal Buddha who personified the Law, so that

people could attain the same state of enlightenment. The Record of the Orally Transmitted
Teachings reads: “The ‘body that is freely received and used [also, the Buddha of

limitless joy] ‘ is none other than the principle of three thousand realms in a single
moment of life. The Great Teacher Dengyō says: ‘A single moment of life comprising

the three thousand realms is itself the “body that is freely received and used”; this
Buddha has forsaken august appearances. The Buddha who has forsaken august appearances

is the Buddha eternally endowed with the three bodies.’ Now Nichiren and his followers who
chant Nam-myoho-renge-kyo are just this.” “The Buddha who has forsaken august

appearances” means a Buddha who is no different from an ordinary person in form and
 (4) The core of the Three Great Secret Laws: The Gohonzon, or the object of devotion of
the essential teaching, is the core of the Three Great Secret Laws in Nichiren’s

doctrine and represents the purpose of his life. The Three Great Secret Laws are the
object of devotion of the essential teaching, the invocation, or daimoku, of the

essential teaching, and the sanctuary of the essential teaching. Here, “essential
teaching” refers to the teaching of Nam-myoho-renge-kyo, not to the essential teaching

(latter half) of the Lotus Sutra. Nichiren expressed the Law of Nam-myoho-renge-kyo he
realized within his own life in these three forms, which correspond to the three

types of learning in Buddhism—precepts, meditation, and wisdom. The object of devotion
corresponds to meditation, the invocation to wisdom, and the sanctuary to precepts.

Sanctuary is a translation of the Japanese word kaidan, which is also translated as
“ordination platform.” This is a platform where practitioners vow to uphold the Buddhist

precepts. In Nichiren’s teaching, to embrace the object of devotion is the only precept,
and the place where one enshrines the object of devotion and chants the daimoku is

called the sanctuary. Again to keep faith in the object of devotion and chant the daimoku
while teaching others to chant it is called the invocation. Both the sanctuary and

the invocation derive from the object of devotion. Hence the object of devotion is the
core of all three. For this reason the Gohonzon, or object of devotion, is also

referred to as the One Great Secret Law.
 (5) The inscriptions on the Gohonzon: In the center of the Gohonzon are written the
Chinese characters “Nam-myoho-renge-kyo Nichiren.” This indicates the oneness of the

Person and the Law. On either side there are characters for the names of beings
representing each of the Ten Worlds. At the top of the Gohonzon, the names of Shakyamuni

Buddha and Many Treasures Buddha appear respectively to the immediate left and right (when
facing the Gohonzon) of these central characters. They represent the realm or

world of Buddhahood. The four bodhisattvas—Superior Practices, Boundless Practices, Pure
Practices, and Firmly Established Practices—who lead the other Bodhisattvas of the

Earth are positioned to the left and right of the two Buddhas. They, along with other
bodhisattvas in the second row from the top such as Universal Worthy and Manjushrī,

represent the realm of bodhisattvas. Also in the second row are persons of the two
vehicles—voice-hearers and cause-awakened ones, such as Shāriputra and Mahākāshyapa—and

flanking them are representatives of the realm of heavenly beings, such as Brahmā, Shakra,
the devil king of the sixth heaven, and the gods of the sun and moon. In the

third row appear a wheel-turning king, representing the realm of human beings; an asura
king, representing the realm of asuras; a dragon king, representing the realm of

animals; Mother of Demon Children and the ten demon daughters, representing the realm of
hungry spirits; and Devadatta, representing the realm of hell. Moreover, the four

heavenly kings are positioned in the four corners of the Gohonzon: (again, when facing the
Gohonzon) Vaishravana in the upper left, Upholder of the Nation in the upper

right, Wide-Eyed in the lower right, and Increase and Growth in the lower left. While all
other figures on the Gohonzon are represented in Chinese characters, the names of

the wisdom king Craving-Filled and the wisdom king Immovable are written below Vaishravana
and Upholder of the Nation respectively in Siddham, a medieval Sanskrit script.

Here the wisdom king Craving-Filled represents the principle that earthly desires are
enlightenment, and the wisdom king Immovable, the principle that the sufferings of

birth and death are nirvana. Other characters on the Gohonzon include the names of Great
Bodhisattva Hachiman and the Sun Goddess. All these names express the principles

that the Ten Worlds exist within the eternal Buddha’s life, and that living beings of the
Ten Worlds can attain Buddhahood. Not all of the above names appear on every

Gohonzon that is transcribed from the Dai-Gohonzon, but whichever ones do appear represent
all of the Ten Worlds.
 The names of the Great Teacher T’ien-t’ai and the Great Teacher Dengyō are inscribed in
the lower part of the Gohonzon representing those who transmitted the true lineage

of Buddhism. There are two inscriptions gleaned from Miao-lo’s Annotations on “The Words
and Phrases of the Lotus Sutra,” which Nichiren used to describe the power of the

Gohonzon and the Law it embodies. One, placed in the upper right (facing the Gohonzon),
reads, “Those who vex or trouble [the practitioners of the Law] will have their

heads split into seven pieces.” The other, in the upper left, reads, “Those who give alms
[to them] will enjoy good fortune surpassing the ten honorable titles.” The ten

honorable titles are epithets applied to the Buddha expressing his virtue, wisdom, and
compassion. In the lower right is Nichiren’s declaration that “This is the great

mandala never before known in the entire land of Jambudvīpa in the more than 2,230 years
since the Buddha’s passing.”

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