A Collation of the Layers of the Various
The tenth month of the second year of Kō.an , at 58 years of age
The whole of Shākyamuni’s lifetime of sage-like instruction was expounded over a period of fifty years. This is said to be all the sutras. All these Sutras are divided into two categories. One was for the instruction and development of other people, and the second was teachings from the Buddha’s own enlightened viewpoint.
The teachings for the instruction and development of other people were expounded over the period of forty years prior to his teaching the Dharma Flower Sutra. These Sutras entail various kinds of teachings, and all of them are referred to as the provisional doctrine or as expedient means.
Out of the four different means of instruction for the growth of other people, there are these three – 1) The Three Receptacles (Sanzō) that contain the teachings of the individual vehicle (shōjō, hīnayāna), 2) The Interrelated Teachings (tsūgyo) that serve as a bridge between the doctrines of the individual vehicle (shōjō, hīnayāna) and those of the universal vehicle (daijō, mahayana), and 3) The Particular Teaching (bekkyō) that was expounded for the benefit of bodhisattvas.
In terms of the five periods that represent the order in which the major sutras were taught, there is the Flower Garland Sutra (Kegon, Avatāmsaka), the teachings of the individual vehicle (Agon), the equally broad (hōdō, vaipulya), and the wisdom (hannya, prajña) periods. These are the four periods of the teaching of the sutras that came before the Dharma Flower Sutra.
If we look at these provisional teachings from the point of view of the ten [psychological] realms of dharmas (jippokai), then, in contrast to the Buddha realm (bukkai), all these provisional doctrines refer to the first nine only [1) hell (jigokukai), 2) hungry demons (gakikai), 3) animality (chikushōkai), 4) shura (shurakai), 5) humanity (jinkai), 6) deva (tenkai), 7) hearers of the Buddha’s voice (shōmonkai), 8) enlightened by karmic circumstances (engakukai), 9) bodhisattvas (bosatsukai)].
Again, if we look upon these provisional teachings in terms of dreaming and being wide-awake, then the provisional teachings are like the good and evil events in a dream. Dreams are what they are, as long as they last, and therefore provisional. Being wide-awake is reality. Since dreams are for the time being only, they have no real entity; nor do they have any real nature. This is why they are said to be provisional. The essence of mind is completely awake and is forever-present. This is why its substance is permanent. It is also referred to as reality.
In the forty-two years of Shākyamuni’s preaching, the sutras were instructions for dealing with the good and bad things that happen in the dream of living and dying. These are the provisional teachings, which were an enticement and guidance for the sentient beings who were involved in the dream.
In order to lead these people into the thoroughly awakened dimension of the Dharma Flower Sutra (Hokkekyō), the Buddha Shākyamuni expounded the teachings of the sutras as a preparatory expedient means, and they are designated as the provisional teachings. It is on this account that we have to be clear about our understanding of the words “real” and “provisional”.
The contents of the provisional teachings are made clear, when Shākyamuni, in his Sutra on Implications Without Bounds (Muryōgi-kyō), states, “I have not revealed the truth for forty years.” All these sutras are preparatory teachings for the dream world, where the truth has not yet been revealed.
This is why Myōraku (Miao-lo), in his Explanatory Notes on the Recondite Significance of the Dharma Flower, says, “Whether we are in a dream, or whether we are wide-awake, there is no difference in the essence of the mind itself.”
A dream exists because it is something imagined, which immediately suggests that the Buddha, who is to get through to the illusionary conditions of the people to whom he preaches, with their illusory feelings, their illusory interaction with the Buddha, and their illusory propensities to grow – both the Buddha and his listeners are together in an illusion that was only for the time being. Reality does not yet exist. As a result, all these sutras are those that had not yet revealed what the truth is. All were expounded as an expedient means, for the illusory situation of the people in the dream.
Myōraku (Miao-lo) says, “Whether we are in the dream or whether we are wide-awake, there is no difference in the essence of mind itself.” His intention in this statement is that, even if we are involved in the dream, or even if we are completely awake, the essential mind that is capable of perceiving these two situations is one and the same.
A dream is just something imagined. But, when we are wide-awake, existence becomes an objective truth. Still, in each case, it is only the revelations of the various perceptions of the mind. This has been explained as seeing the truth as our own individual minds.
Myōraku (Miao-lo), in his Commentary and Explanations of the Universal Desistance from Troublesome Worries, says, “Three of the teachings that came before the Dharma Flower Sutra – 1) the three receptacles, 2) the interrelated teachings, and 3) the particular teaching for bodhisattvas with their four universal vows – are all a complete fantasy. So, both the Buddha who teaches and those who are taught mutually cease to exist, because both are wrapped up in a dream.”
The four universal vows are 1) to save all living beings without limit, 2) to put an end to troublesome worries however numerous, 3) to study the endless gateways to the Dharma, and 4) to attain perfection in the Buddha path.
So, it can be assumed that all the sutras that were expounded during the forty-two years before the Dharma Flower (Hokkekyō) were provisional teachings and various expedient means that had not yet revealed the truth. This is because they were a way of leading people towards the Dharma Flower Sutra. They were never teachings that referred to bare-faced reality.
With regard to this, the Buddha himself collected all the teachings of forty-two years, in an effort to propound the doctrine of the simultaneity of cause and effect that runs throughout the whole of existence (Hokkekyō). He went on to preach the Sutra on Implications Without Bounds (Muryōgi-kyō), which was to serve as an introduction to the Dharma Flower Sutra. The Buddha, having made up his mind as to what the content of the Dharma Flower Sutra would be, decided not to make use of ordinary human talk, in order to avoid any space for doubts.
In the Explanatory Notes on the Recondite Significance of the Dharma Flower, Myōraku (Miao-lo) states, “The provisional teachings were preached for the conditions of the people who are trapped in the first nine realms of dharmas (kyūkai), but it was the real teachings that revealed the Dharma realm of the Buddha, which is the ultimate truth. The provisional teachings that were for the benefit of the people in the nine realms of dharmas were taught over a period of forty-two years. The ultimate truth of the Buddha’s own enlightenment (bukkai) only took eight years to expound. This was the Dharma Flower Sutra.”
It is for this reason that the Dharma Flower Sutra is referred to as the Buddha vehicle for attaining enlightenment. The provisional teachings refer to the existential reality of the living and dying of the people in the nine realms of dharmas (things or anything else they might perceive), whereas the Dharma teaching of the timeless eternity of life, in its most wide-awake sense, refers to the Dharma realm of the Buddha (bukkai).
The lifetime of fifty years of teaching and instruction of Shākyamuni is his whole life of sage-like guidance. The concept of all the sutras is the combination of the forty-two years of provisional teachings, along with the eight years of real teachings that manifest the Buddha’s own enlightenment.
As a result, when we shine the two words “provisional” and “real” as if they were spotlights onto all the sutras, then these discrepancies become evidently clear, without the slightest haziness whatsoever.
Accordingly, if someone were to do the bodhisattva practices of the three receptacles that contain the teachings of the individual vehicle (sanzō), for the astronomically long period of three asōgi major kalpas, with the aim of becoming a Buddha, this person’s body and mind would come out of the fire of total annihilation, his body would be turned to ashes, and his wisdom would be extinguished altogether. This is because the aims of the teachings of the individual vehicle were for the personal attainment of nirvana, which means ceasing to exist.
If someone else were to think of fulfilling all the bodhisattva practices of the interconnecting teachings (tsūgyō) over another astronomically long period of seven asōgi and an all-embracing hundreds of kalpas, then, in the same way as the person who had completed the practices of the individual vehicle, his body and mind would be reduced to fine ashes, which would finally disappear without a trace. This is because the aims of the interconnecting teachings were also the attainment of nirvana.
Then again, if another individual were to try to complete all the practices of the particular teaching for bodhisattvas (bekkyō) with the intention of becoming a Buddha, for an even more interminable period of twenty major kalpas, this person would ultimately become a Buddha of the provisional teachings in the midst of the dream of living and dying. From the point of view of the wide-awake awareness of the original enlightenment (hongaku no utsutsu) of the Dharma Flower Sutra, there is no real Buddha of the particular teachings for bodhisattvas. This can only be a Buddha within the dream.
The path for the attainment of the truth through personal experience, by means of the particular teachings for bodhisattvas, would only arrive at the first shoji of the ten stages of firm ground (juji), from among the fifty-two bodhisattva stages in the process of becoming a Buddha. A portion of the delusions that hinder enlightenment (mumyōwaku) would be cut away and replaced with the same portion of awareness of the principle of the Buddha teaching of the middle way of reality (chūdō no hōri).
The teachings of this path are isolated from the main body of the four classifications of the teachings of Shākyamuni, according to their content – 1) the three receptacles (sanzō), 2) the interconnecting teachings (tsūgyo), 3) the particular teaching (bekkyō), 4) the all-inclusive teaching (engyō) – as well as the five teaching periods of the Buddha’s lifetime, in terms of doctrinal advancement. These are 1) the period of the teachings of the Flower Garland Sutra (Kegon, Avatāmsaka), 2) the period of the teachings of the individual vehicle (Agon), 3) the period of the equally broad teachings (hōdō, vaipulya), 4) the period of the Dharma Flower and Nirvana Sutra doctrines (hokke nehan).
Furthermore, in the practice of the particular teachings for bodhisattvas, the three bodies of the Buddha, as well as the three inseparable aspects of reality (santai), are considered separate entities. The three bodies are 1) the Dharma body, i.e., the enlightened body of the Buddha that involves the whole of existence (hosshin), 2) the embodiment of the Buddha’s wisdom (hōshin), 3) the body that corresponds to the needs of the unenlightened (ōjin).
The three inseparable aspects of reality (santai) are 1) its appearance and its material aspect (ke), 2) what it seems to be in terms of our experience and what goes on in our heads (kū), the combination of both 1 and 2, which is reality as it is perceived every moment of our lives (chū). In the particular teachings for bodhisattvas, these three inseparable aspects of existence are considered to be three separate entities.
Nonetheless, if any of these people who do the practices of the provisional vehicle were to move on and become faithful to the all-inclusive teachings (engyō), then this would mean that these people would no longer be held back by the limitations of the particular teachings for bodhisattvas. Among bodhisattvas, there are three different levels of propensity – those of superior propensities, medium propensities, and those who are less capable. Regarding those who have risen above the first, second, or third stages in becoming a Buddha (gojūni’i), or even those who have become universally enlightened (tōgaku), which is the last but one of the fifty-two stages, every one of these people is a follower of the all-inclusive teachings.
Therefore, outside the text of the Flower Garland Sutra, which is the book for the particular teaching for bodhisattvas, there is no real Buddha; nor has anyone become a Buddha through this doctrine.
The Universal Teacher Dengyō (Dengyō Daishi) wrote, in connection with this problem, in his Essays on Safeguarding and Protecting the Frontiers of the State (Shugo Kokkai Shō), “Even though he was a Buddha of transitory nature who came into being through various karmic causes and relationships (u’i mujō), his wisdom body was that of a provisional enlightenment in the midst of a dream.”
What this implies is that, even if his Buddha enlightenment was only manifest in terms of the three receptacles that contain the teachings of the individual vehicle, the interconnecting teachings, as well as the particular teaching for bodhisattvas, it is due to his own observation of mind, which is the practice of the all-inclusive teachings, that made him the real Buddha, who was consciously aware of the profoundest reality of the triple body, independent of all karma.
Again, Dengyō (Dengyō Daishi) writes, “The Dharma wisdom and corresponding bodies (hosshin), (hōshin), and (ōjin) of the Buddha of the provisional teachings could not avoid being impermanent.” But, by evolving into the Buddha who was able to observe mind for what it is, which is reciting the title and theme (daimoku) in front of a written representation of the one instant of thought containing three thousand existential spaces (ichinen sanzen), Shākyamuni became both the entity and the role (kutaikuyū) of the Dharma, wisdom, and corresponding bodies of the real teachings. You must keep this explanation firmly in your mind.
The provisional teachings are comparable to the sort of thinking that, if someone were to practise painful and difficult austerities, that person might, by a stroke of luck, become a Buddha. Nevertheless, such a Buddha’s enlightenment would only be in the makeshift world of dream. When the time comes to be thinking in terms of being consciously aware of the inherent enlightenment that is the fundamental of all existence, (hongaku no utsutsu), then the Buddhas of the provisional teachings are not real at all. They are not even Buddhas who have arrived at the ultimate realisation of the practice to become enlightened. The provisional teachings do exist, but nobody ever becomes a Buddha through such a doctrine.
Furthermore, if somebody were to say to people that the provisional teachings were the truth, so that those people were to do the practices of the provisional teachings, then such people would be somewhat confused about the original intention of Shākyamuni’s lifetime of sage-like preaching, (ichidai shōkyō).
I shall put aside what I was saying about the evidence that nobody was able to become a Buddha through the teachings of the Flower Garland Sutra (Kegon, Avatāmsaka), the three receptacles that contain the teachings of the individual vehicle (sanzō), as well as the interconnecting doctrines (tsūgyō). The main point for the people living in the final period of Shākyamni’s teaching (matsudai) is to open up their wisdom to understand the aim of the Buddha teaching and to live with a constant awareness if it.
The ordinary people (shujō), who inhabit the nine realms of dharmas (kyūkai), are wholeheartedly immersed in the sleep of the unenlightenment of not wanting to know (mumyō). They are drowned in the dream of living and dying, as well as having forgotten what the wakefulness of the enlightenment of the original state (hongaku no utsutsu) is all about. They cling at all costs to what is going on in the dream. And they stray from one darkness to the next.
As a result, this becomes the reason why the Tathāgata (Nyorai) decided to enter the dream, so as to be in the same karmic situation as the ordinary people, who are full of wild fantasies that prevent them from seeing reality for what it is (tendō no shujō). Then, with the idea of leading these people towards the truth, the Buddha tells them about the truth and misguided conceptions (zen’aku) within the dream. When it comes to explaining the truth, the misguided concepts within the dream are embedded layers upon layers, in boundless and countless numbers.
With regard to expounding the truth, the Buddha had to establish three levels of instruction – the highest, a middle one, and another grade for the less capable. These three levels then become the three categories of instruction or the three vehicles (sanjō). These are 1) those who listen to the Buddha’s voice (shōmon), 2) those who are partially enlightened due to a profound search for the meaning of existence (engaku, hyakushibutsu, pratyekabuddha), and 3) the bodhisattvas (bosatsu). Again, the Tathāgata (Nyorai) put the people who do the practices of the three vehicles (sanjō) into three categories according to their propensities – 1) superior, 2) average, and 3) those with less ability. This teaching is referred to as the nine separate levels within the doctrines of the three vehicles (sansankyūhon).
After the Buddha had finished expounding in this manner, he established the correct way of understanding existence. This was the view of the people with the highest propensities, out of nine separate levels within the teachings of the three vehicles (jōjō no konpon zen). This is also understood as the teaching for the people of the separate levels, within the doctrines of the three vehicles.
Nevertheless, these teachings were on all accounts the correct way of understanding existence, as well as the delusions to be avoided by the people within the dream of living and dying. Here it might be worthwhile mentioning that the Universal Teacher Myōraku (Miao-lo), in his Record of Essential Gleanings from the Universal Desistance from Troublesome Worries (Maka Shikan Sōyōki), puts all these provisional doctrines outside the Buddha teaching, since they all gave rise to distorted views.
Seeing that the people with the highest propensities, out of the nine separate levels within the doctrines of the three vehicles, were capable of understanding that at this point, Shākyamuni’s teachings were based on the principle of the wide-awake awareness of the original enlightenment (hongaku no utsutsu). This doctrine was also expounded, so that people could understand that this way of thinking corresponded to the realities of being alive.
Therefore, with the Buddha’s ability to establish, for the benefit of the people within the dream, the distinction between thinking in terms of the wide-awake awareness of the original enlightenment and the world of bewilderment and fantasies (zenaku), the real aspect of the originally awakened mind was made known for the first time.
At this juncture, the Buddha pointed out that, even though dreaming and being awake may be different as fantasy and reality, all dharmas or anything whatsoever that may touch upon any of our senses or mental faculties, either imagined or real, and the mind that perceives them are both one and the same.
When we are tired, we go to sleep, and sometimes we dream. When we have finished sleeping, our minds become wide-awake. However, we realise that, whether we are dreaming or whether we are wide-awake, both mind and dharmas are the same, or rather it is one and the same mind that is having two kinds of experiences. When this concept was fully understood, the Buddha used it as a foundation for many teachings that were used as an expedient means. This was how people considered the middle way of reality (chūdō), in the particular teachings for bodhisattvas (bekkyō).
It was on these grounds that Shākyamuni did not reveal the doctrine of each one of the ten [psychological] realms of dharmas being mutually endowed with the same ten realms (jikkai gogu), or the identities of objects and living beings not being separate from their appearance and behaviour (ke), the space that accommodates them, along with what goes on in their minds, as well as the combination of these two factors, which forms the middle way of reality. As a result, nobody attained enlightenment or became a Buddha.
Hence, it took the Buddha forty-two years of preaching the teaching of the three receptacles to reach the level of the particular doctrine for bodhisattvas. All the eight classifications of Shākyamuni’s teaching, which are divided into four kinds of teaching (kehō shikyō) and four modes of instruction (kegi shikyō), are progressive guidances to enable his disciples to fully understand the teaching of the fundamental state of the Dharma Flower Sutra.
The four kinds of teaching are, firstly, the teaching of the three receptacles that contain all the teachings of the individual vehicle (sanzō); secondly, the interrelated teachings (tsūgyō), which act as an individual step between the individual vehicle (shōjō, hīnayāna) and the universal vehicle (daijō, mahayana); thirdly, the particular teaching for those people who were bodhisattvas (bekkyō), and, fourthly, the all-inclusive teaching (engyō), which is the perfect doctrine of the Dharma Flower Sutra as well as the real intention of the Buddha.
All these teachings were taught in four different manners (kegi) – 1) directly and without reason for the whole truth, 2) graded and in stages, 3) esoteric teachings that were only understood by certain people in the assembly, and 4) general and indeterminate teachings, from which various people would derive a benefit according to the depth of their understanding.
However, regardless of what these teachings may involve, all these teachings were only different kinds of expedient means. All these provisional teachings refer to the correct insights and the distorted views within the dream. The object of such teachings was as a preparation, as well as a means to draw people towards the truth of the Dharma Flower Sutra.
In all of these provisional teachings, there are both strategic improvisations and the truth about what life really is. Each one of the four teachings at first shows us that all things exist (umon). The dharmas are shown to be the void, or rather, since only our faculties and minds perceive them, then they don’t exit (kūmon). This leads to the concept that things both really exist and don’t really exist at the same time (yaku’u yakukūmon). And, finally, things are neither material nor immaterial. They are neither existing, nor simply emptiness (hi’uhikūmon).
None of these concepts are untruths. They are just as the words indicate. But it is due to a misunderstanding of what the words mean that gives rise to confusion as to which teaching is provisional and which teaching is real.
When it comes to the teachings that are an expedient means, they only exist in places like this impure and imperfect world of ours (edo). They are not present in the immaculate terrains that only consist of a Buddha realm (jōdo). In the Second Chapter on Expedient Means in the Dharma Flower Sutra, it says, “In the Buddha lands in the ten directions – which are east, west, south, and north, southeast, southwest, northeast, northwest, as well as above and below – there are neither two vehicles to enlightenment (nijō), nor even the three – 1) the vehicle to enlightenment for bodhisattvas, 2) those people who are partially enlightened due to a profound search for the meaning of existence (engaku, hyakushibutsu, pratyekabuddha), 3) those who have listened to the Buddha (shōmon) – because all these three vehicles to enlightenment have been done away with.”
According to this text, the teaching in these Buddha terrains can only be that of the one vehicle to enlightenment (ichi butsujō), which is the Dharma Flower Sutra. This text also implies that there are no provisional teachings that serve as an expedient means.
The Pure Land School (Jōdoshū) which recites the Nembutsu, which is Namu Amida Butsu, does not have a concept of the Buddha terrains of the ten directions. So there is no doubt that these Pure Land teachings are an expedient means and therefore only temporary. The Daishōnin remarks that the adepts of this school dislike the Dharma Flower Sutra, which is the only conveyance to enlightenment. So, should we consider this a Buddha teaching or not?
In order to instruct people and to get them to think along the lines of the Buddha teaching, Shākyamuni expounded various doctrines (shuju no hō). But later he taught the single vehicle of the Dharma, which is the Buddha teaching that makes no distinction between the differences of the ten [psychological] realms of dharmas, since each one is its own experience of the truth of the whole of existence (mufunbetsu).
All the Buddhas of the past, present, and future expounded, expound, or will expound the Dharma, in exactly the same way as Shākyamuni. The teachings that are an expedient means lead people into the doctrine that makes no distinction between the ten [psychological] realms of dharmas, because each realm of dharmas is its own reality. Each and every dharma entails the whole of phenomenal and noumenal existence. All of them are stored away in our own minds. This is the enlightenment of the Utterness of the Dharma (Myōhō, Saddharma).
The Buddha expounded his teachings, which treat the people enmeshed in the ten [psychological] realms of dharmas from hell to the Buddha realm as being on the same footing, since each and every one of these realms is its own reality – hence, Shākyamuni’s desire to make people in this impure and imperfect world of ours open up their own Buddha enlightenment.
The Buddha concluded by saying that the sutras he had preached previously were for the benefit and instruction of other people, in order to make them grow towards the Dharma Flower Sutra. This becomes clearer when we affirm what the Buddha originally practised for himself. All of this is implicit in the Sixteenth Chapter on the Lifespan of the Tathāgata and the theme and title Nam Myōhō Renge Kyo, which is the consecration and founding of one’s life on the Sutra on the Lotus Flower of the Utterness of the Dharma. In present-day language, this would be “basing and founding our lives on the place where the interdependence of cause and effect of the whole of existence occurs”.
The Buddha teaching which Shākyamuni practised for himself consists of the Dharma Flower Sutra, which was practised over a period of eight years. This is also the sutra that gives meaning to the Buddha’s own awareness of the original mind that lies deep within all of us (honshin). But since people are used to imagining that this is what produces all things both on the outside and within us, the Buddha appropriated the way things were expressed in the words of the dream, in order to teach them about being awakened to the deepest part of their own psyches.
However, even though Shākyamuni used words that really belong to the dream of living and dying, his intention was to teach and throw light on the original mind (honshin). He knew that if the text and the explanations were not absolutely clear, people would become confused as to their real meaning.
Nevertheless, even those gateways to the Buddha teaching that were expounded for the instruction and benefit of other people (keta) were also based on the wide-awake enlightenment that is the original mind. When these teachings were applied to the people in the dream, they had enormous benefits.
Because the awareness of the original mind lay as a foundation of the teachings for the people within the dream, this meant that the foundation was Myōhō renge kyō and that, beyond the meaningfulness of this concept, there is no existence.
Rather in the same way as all waterways flow towards the sea, the Buddha mind must include every single item imagined or real, as well as the minds of ordinary people who are capable of embracing the whole of existence (shin.pō.myō). This means that these two concepts of utterness or the whole, myō, are stored away in our minds. Outside and beyond our individual minds, there is no existence whatsoever.
Therefore, our individual minds, which go on functioning from day to day in the midst of concrete reality – the essence of mind or its fundamental quality, and the entity of mind itself, which is inseparable from our bodies or the whole of life – are in fact the three bodies of the originally enlightened Tathāgata (hongaku no sanjin Nyorai). In the Second Chapter on Expedient Means in the Dharma Flower Sutra, these bodies are expressed as three qualities of suchness – which are 1) such an appearance (i.e., the corresponding or incarnate body of the Tathāgata), 2) such an essential quality (i.e., the wisdom body of the Tathāgata), 3) such an entity (i.e., the Tathāgata’s life which is the whole of existence). These are referred to as three of the qualities of suchness (sannyoze).
These three qualities of the suchness of the originally enlightened Tathāgata are the embodiment of all the realms of existence in all the ten directions. This means the fundamental, pure mind that exists on its own (shinshō) that underlies the whole of life, as well as all the Buddha marks and signs of physical existence (sōkō) throughout the ten directions.
It is for this reason that our persons consist of the originally awakened Tathāgata and are alive and present in every dharma everywhere (hōkai). This is the enormous benefit of the virtue and role of the Buddha, as well as all dharmas being those of the Buddha.
When Shākyamuni expounded this, all the people who were in attendance at this preaching, all the monks, nuns, as well as all the men and women who were devotees, the eight categories of humanlike beings, i.e., deva (ten), dragons, yasha (yaksha), kendabba (gandharva), karura (garuda), kinnara (kimnara), and magoraga (mahorāga), along with those people outside the Buddha teaching – all of them, without leaving a single person out, were mythomaniacs, dirty-minded, and with prejudiced views. Every one of them was stopped from becoming a scatterbrained numskull and took refuge in the wide-awake awareness of the original enlightenment. Every one of them was able to arrive at the full practice of the Buddha path.
The Buddha is a person who is wide-awake. Sentient beings such as us are immersed in the dream. All those people who were wrapped up in living and dying woke up from the dream of illusions and took refuge in the original enlightenment. They became aware that their own Buddha nature was not separate from their respective personalities (sokushin jō butsu). Also, they became fully conscious of the impartial universal wisdom (byōdō daie), as well as the Buddha understanding that treats the ten [psychological] realms of dharmas from hell to the Buddha realm with equality (mufunbetsu), since each is its own experience of the truth of the whole of existence. All sentient beings arrive at the path of the Buddha, because there is only a single gateway to the Dharma.
Although the various Buddha lands may be thought of as divergent regions, the Buddha teaching that is taught in all these Buddha lands is the Dharma of the single vehicle (ichijō). In the various Buddha lands, there are no teachings that are an expedient means, since it is the Buddha teaching that treats the ten [psychological] realms of dharmas from hell to the Buddha realm equally, because each is its own experience of the truth (mufunbetsu). Although the sentient beings of the ten [psychological] realms of dharmas (jikkai) may be different from each other, but because the principle of the real aspect of all dharmas (shohōjissō) is only one, it is the Buddha teaching that treats all realms of dharmas equally.
Although the gateways to the hundred realms of dharmas, the thousand qualities of suchness, and the three thousand spaces where existence takes place, i.e., the teaching of the one instant of thought containing three thousand existential spaces (ichinen sanzen), may all differ from each other, because each of the ten [psychological] realms of dharmas is endowed with the other ten, all these gateways to the Dharma treat the ten [psychological] realms of dharmas from hell to the Buddha realm equally. Although dreaming and being awake, falsehood and truth are different from each other and exist as separate items, but because these dharmas are all dharmas of the oneness of mind, they are all inseparable from one another, each being a single aspect of life. Although we conceive the past, future, and present as separate points in time, they are all a part of the instants in our own minds. The past, present, and future are simply the oneness of time and life (mufunbetsu).
In all the teachings prior to the Dharma Flower Sutra, the words used were the modes of expression from inside the dream. For instance, a fan that is held up to hide the moon is used to suggest our unenlightenment. In the Buddha teachings, the full moon is often used as a symbol for enlightenment. A finger is pointed to the wind blowing a tree, to suggest the wisdom that blows away our erroneous delusions. But the words used to express the broad insight of the Dharma Flower Sutra are direct, such as “the moon” and “the wind.” The full moon of the originally awakened mind shines through our unenlightement. The wind of the wisdom of the real aspect of all dharmas blows away the dust of strange and wild ideas.
The reason for this is that, by using the concepts of the fan and tree, it becomes possible to make people aware of the moon and wind in the mind that is to be awakened, so that the last remains of the dream can be scattered, and the mind is able to return to the broad insight of its original state.
In the Desitance from Troublesome Worries in order to see Clearly (Maka Shikan), it says, “When the moon is hidden by layers of mountain ranges, we then hold up a fan and use it as a metaphor. When the wind stops blowing out of the sky, we then teach people about the wind making the trees move.”
In Myōraku’s (Miao-lo) Support for the Practices of the Desistance from Troublesome Worries (Maka Shikan Bugyō Dengu Ketsu), it says, “When the moon that alludes to the true reality of the essence of the Buddha nature that dwells in eternity is hidden by the mountain ranges of our troublesome worries (bonnō, klesha), and since these troublesome worries (bonnō, klesha) come in layers, they are referred to as mountain ranges. When the winds of the teaching of the all-inclusive, unobstructed accommodation of phenomena (ke), noumena (kū), and the middle way (chū), (i.e., the Dharma Flower Sutra) cease to teach and convert people, they return to the principle of silence. There is nothing that can hinder the Dharma principle of silence and extinction; hence it is just like the sky. The winds of the teaching of the all-inclusive, unobstructed accommodation of phenomena (ke), noumena (kū), and the middle way (chū), (i.e., the Dharma Flower Sutra) stop teaching and converting people. These gusts return to the principle of silence and extinction, in the same way as the sky. The bodhisattvas who were dependent on rags for clothing, begging for food, sitting under trees, and purgatives, as a moral and spiritual means, used fans and pointed to trees as metaphors to propagate their doctrines. Their object was so that people could get to know the deeper implications of the moon and the wind.”
Again, there was somebody who said, “In the dream, the clouds of troublesome worries are gathered in layer upon layer, like mountains in a mountain range. Since there are eighty-four thousand particles of bodily and mental suffering, they hide the moon of the original awakening of the essence of mind. The analogies of fans and trees were taught according to the texts, ideograms, and wording of the provisional sutras and their commentaries. The moon and the wind are used as symbols for the sacred teaching of the perception and awakening to the concept of the original enlightenment. The reason for this is that both a fan and a tree are simply devices to illustrate the provisional doctrines.”
This somebody whom I have just quoted gives only a rough explanation and not the real meaning. In order to understand the moon as the enlightenment of the essence of mind and the utterness of the Dharma (myōhō) or the wind as the wisdom to understand all things (hannya no ege), we now use Myōhō Renge Kyo, the place and time where the simultaneousness of the causes and effects of the whole of existence takes place. Hence it says, in Myōraku’s (Miao-lo) Explanatory Notes on the Recondite Meaning of the Dharma Flower (Hokke Gengi Shakusen), “If you look for the appropriate expression (gonmyō) for all physical manifestations as well as sounds, then you have to go as far as the ultimate principle of the absolute truth as having no differentiated perceptions (musō).”
There is another explanation that says that the appropriate names for all physical manifestations as well as sounds are like the fan and the tree of the dreamland of all the sutras and their commentaries, whereas the ultimate principle of the absolute truth that has no differentiated perceptions is comparable to our being enlightened to the moon and the wind of the ultimate joy of silence and illumination of the essence of our own minds.
This ultimate joy is the subjectivity of the sentient beings of the dharma realms of the ten directions, along with their dependent abodes and terrains of reward, all combined together in a single entity. This would indicate the objective realm of the Dharma, wisdom, and corresponding bodies of the Buddha, all put into one.
This ultimate joy is also the non-differentiation of the four abodes of the Buddha, which are 1) the dwelling place of humankind, deva (ten), disciples of the Buddha and the people who are not disciples, 2) hearers of the Buddha’s voice (shōmon) and people who are partially enlightened due to a profound search for the meaning of existence (engaku, hyakushibutsu, pratyekabuddha), 3) partially enlightened bodhisattvas, and 4) the space of silence and illumination. All these abodes are therefore installed in the Dharma body of a single Buddha.
The realms of dharmas seen as a whole entity are the body of the Dharma. These ten [psychological] realms of dharmas seen in terms of our minds are the body, reward, or wisdom, and, when the ten [psychological] realms of dharmas take on our personal shapes, they then become the corresponding body. There is no Buddha outside of the ten [psychological] realms of dharmas. Outside of the Buddha, there are no ten [psychological] realms of dharmas. There is only the non-duality of our subjectivity and its dependent objective environment; that is to say, our persons and their environmental terrains are not separate entities.
Since the realms of dharmas of the ten directions are the embodiment of the one Buddhahood, these realms of dharmas can also be seen as the terrain of silence and illumination. This means the oneness of the ultimate principle of the absolute truth, without any differentiated perceptions. It is far removed from the impermanency of things, such as coming into being and later disintegrating into nothingness. Hence, it is the ultimate reality which cannot be conceived as having any particularisation whatsoever.
Here is the principle of the recondite meaning at the very bottom of the profoundest depth of the Dharma nature. It is also the place from whence the bodhisattvas who sprang up from the earth came, as well as being the absolute truth. The absolute truth that has no particularisation at all is the essence of the mind of sentient beings. It is the immaculately pure and karmically determined environment that is entirely free from troublesome worries. If we were to give a name to it, it would be the calyx of the lotus of the mind of the Utterness of the Dharma (Myōhō, Saddharma).
Therefore, outside of mind there is not a single item (dharma) that exists independently. So when we realise this, it is the perception and understanding that all existence (dharmas) is the Dharma of the Buddha.
It is then that the two polarisations of life and death change and become the concept of the dream of living and dying, and that both of these two are only a hallucination and a flurry of mental images. When we see our persons correctly in the light of the original awakening, our births are not the beginning, and our deaths are not the end. We are not killed by swords, nor are we shot by arrows. If we are put inside a mustard seed, the mustard seed doesn’t get any bigger, nor do our minds and material worlds shrink. If we were to fill the empty sky, the empty sky would not get any bigger, nor can the mind and things be reduced in size.
The opposite of good is bad. The opposite of bad is good. But due to the fact that outside our own minds nothing exists whatsoever, there is no real such thing as good, nor is there any real such thing as bad. What exists apart from the qualifications of good and bad is something that is morally neutral (muki). Both good and bad are unrecordable, as neither being one thing nor another (muki). There cannot be any mind that is separated from any experience whatsoever. Hence good and bad, pure and defiled, common mortals or the enlightened, heaven and earth, great and small, east and west, north and south, the four points of the compass as well as above and below are all judged by the words that describe them.
Everything that is or comes into our minds and all actions produced by our minds fade away and cease to exist. Thoughts are discriminated (tunbetsu) and expressed in words, so that outside of our minds there cannot be differentiation of things, or one concept and another, nor can there be either any perception or any understanding of the fundamental identity of all things (mufunbetsu). Words are the expression in the sounds of speech of the echoes of our mental processes.
The ordinary person being unenlightened and unaware of the reality of things is confused about the mind in his own body. The Buddha who is enlightened to the nature of mind is referred to as having the power to penetrate the reaches of the mind (shinzū). The power to penetrate the reaches of the mind (shinzū shi riki) is to be able to see into it all dharmas, without any hindrance whatsoever. Sentient beings are also endowed with the power of the mind to see into all dharmas at will. Badgers and foxes (who in Japanese folklore are said to have special powers) are able to reveal them, but this is only the partial enlightenment that is common to all beings that are sentient.
Mind flows out automatically to depict the spaces and terrains that we depend on for an existence (kokudō seken). (But mind does not create.) This was explained throughout the Buddha’s lifetime of sage-like teaching that is made up of the treasury of the Dharma of eighty-four thousand sutras. Each and all of these teachings are gateways to the Dharma, in the body of the single person of Shākyamuni.
Nevertheless, this Dharma treasury of eighty-four thousand sutras is the text of a diary for each one of us as a single individual.
[In other words, even though this treasury of eighty-four thousand sutras is the makeup of the body of the Buddha, it is the same life as the ordinary person. The number of atoms in the human body is supposed to be eighty-four thousand. Hence this term is used for a number of things, often in the general sense of a great number. There are said to be eighty-four thousand physical signs of a Buddha, as well as the same number of troublesome worries and mortal distresses.]
This store of eighty-four thousand dharmas is brought about and cherished within the mind in our own bodies. As a result, to think of the Buddha, his Dharma, and his immaculate terrain as being anywhere outside the mind in our own bodies, or to call upon them as being somewhere else, is completely misguided.
The mind, on its encounters with good or evil karmic relationships, conjures up good or evil dharmas. In the Flower Garland Sutra (Kegon, Avatāmsaka), it says, “Just as a skilled painter depicts and shows the different five aggregates that darken the awareness of our original enlightenment (go’on), so are all the dharmas, in the spaces where existence takes place (seken), entirely dreamt up by the mind. So it is the same with the Buddha and ordinary people.”
[The five aggregates (go’on)are 1) bodily form, matter, physicality related to the five organs of sense, 2) reception, sensation, feeling as a psychological process, 3) thought, discerning, and turning things over in the mind, 4) the mental process of deciding what is good or bad, right or wrong, and deciding whether to act on those decisions, 5) the mental faculty that makes us think we are who we are on account of our experiences and what we know.]
“Also, the three realms (sangai) are only the manifestation of mind. Outside of the mind there are no separate dharmas. Between the mind, the Buddha, and ordinary people there is no distinction, since all three are in the mind.”
[The three realms (sangai) are where 1) sentient beings have appetites and desires, 2) which are incarnated in a subjective materiality with physical surrounding, 3) who are, at the same time, endowed with the immateriality of the realms of thoughts and ideas (sangai, triloka).]
In the Sutra on Implications Without Bounds (Muryōgi-kyō), it says, “Both the absolute truth as having no differentiated perceptions (musō) and the inexplicable quality of the one instant of thought containing three thousand existential spaces that is inherent in all life (fusō) are born out of the single Dharma that has boundless implications.” The absolute truth as having no differentiated perceptions and also the inexplicable quality of the one instant of thought containing three thousand existential spaces are both included in the mind of the one instant of thought of all sentient beings.
In explaining this sutra, the Textual Explanations of the Dharma Flower (Hokke Mongu) says, “Existing or turning into nothing are not the appearance of impermanency, but the absolute truth as having no differentiated perception that is common to everything (musō). The aspects of the two nirvanas of the people of the two vehicles (nijō) who have a remainder of karma to fulfil, along with those whose remains of karma are completely ended, are both separate from the position of having attained nirvana and have become the inexplicable quality of the one instant of thought containing three thousand existential spaces that is inherent in all life (fusō).”
The discussion and clarification of the imponderably inexplicable (fushigi) quality of mind is said to be the visceral essential (kanyō) of the sutras and their explanations. The person who is awakened to and realises this is referred to as a person who has arrived at suchness (Nyorai, Tathāgata).
When we look into this and see what it amounts to, then the ten [psychological] realms of dharmas (jikkai) are our bodies, our minds, and the realities we live in. Hence, this is the originally awakened Tathāgata (hongaku no Nyorai), in terms of our own bodies and minds. When this is not understood, it is called unenlightenment. When we are aware of this as well as knowing it, it is called the inner nature of the Dharma (hosshō).
However, our minds just as they are do not become enlightened. Unenlightenment and the inner nature of the Dharma are different expressions for the oneness of mind. The words and names may be two, but there is only one mind. This is why we must not simply cut off our unenlightenment or just chop off the self-deceptive, illusionary qualities of our unenlightement – because the general meaning of the all-embracing teachings (enkyō) is that we should not even sever a single hair of our bewilderment, since all dharmas are the Dharma of the Buddha.
In the Second Chapter of the Dharma Flower Sutra on Expedient Means, it says, “Suchness is such an appearance, which implies the features and bodily characteristics of all sentient beings, as well as the manifest body of the originally enlightened Tathāgata (hongaku no ōjin Nyorai). Suchness is such an inner nature, which is the essence of the mind of all sentient beings and hence the wisdom and reward body of the originally enlightened Tathāgata (hongaku no hōshin Nyorai). Suchness is also such an entity, which includes the whole of life, as well as being the embodiment and life of the originally enlightened Tathāgata (hongaku no hosshin Nyorai). Then we have another seven such qualities, which have their origins in these first three. Altogether there are ten such qualities of suchness.”
These ten such qualities of suchness run all the way through the ten [psychological] realms of dharmas. The Universal Teacher Myōraku (Miao-lo) states, in his Vajra Scapel, “The real aspect of all dharmas has to imply each and every dharma. All dharmas must include the ten such qualities of suchness, and these ten qualities of suchness must include the ten [psychological] realms of dharmas – which are the inhabitants of hell, hungry ghosts, animality, titans (ashura), humanity, deva (ten), hence the transitory qualities of ecstasy and joy, the hearers of the Buddha’s voice (shōmon), which means those people who wish to understand, those people who are partially enlightened due to a profound search for the meaning of existence (engaku, hyakushibutsu, pratyekabuddha), the bodhisattvas, and the Buddha. These ten [psychological] realms of dharmas must include their respective subjective lives, as well as their environments.”
These ten [psychological] realms of dharmas all stem from the mind of one person. But these ten realms amount to the countless atoms in the human body, as well as the same amount of incalculable gateways to the Dharma.
[This teaching, although it refers to the single person of the Buddha, also equally applies to all sentient beings. Shākyamuni was talking about himself. But the ten (psychological) realms of dharmas open up the concept of the one instant of thought containing three thousand existential spaces, which leads to the possible enlightenment of all people.]
This paragraph on the ten such qualities of suchness is signed and sealed to show that it is the current teaching that has been thought over and agreed upon by all the Buddhas of the past, present, and future. The seal of the Buddha is the single mudra (hand gesture) for the real aspect of all dharmas. A mudra is another word for a seal of judgment. Apart from the Dharma Flower Sutra, all the other sutras are devoid of the mudra of the real aspect of all dharmas and are not texts from the manuscripts that apply to reality. There is no real Buddha in these texts, and, since there is no real Buddha, these manuscripts belong to the dream. Furthermore, there is no immaculate terrain for the Buddha to dwell on.
Although there are ten times the ten [psychological] realms of dharmas, there is only a single one of the sequence of ten such qualities of suchness. In the same way, there is only one moon in the sky.
The ten such qualities of suchness in the nine realms of dharmas, from hell to that of the bodhisattvas, are the ten such qualities of the dream, rather like the moon reflected in water. The ten such qualities of suchness of the Buddha realm of the Dharma are the ten such qualities of wide-awake understanding of the original enlightenment (hongaku no utsutsu), just like the real moon in the sky.
It is because of this that the one sequence of the ten such qualities of suchness (jūnyoze) reveals at the same time the whole entity (tai) and the role played by the Dharma realm of the Buddha, along with the nine other realms of dharmas (kyūkai) which are comparable to the moon reflected in water. Sentient beings are all equal, on account of the ten realms dharmas being mutually contained in each other. Both the moon in the sky [which represents the Buddha realm as having been opened up through continual practice] and the moon reflected in water [which indicates the delusions of ordinary people] are present in each and every person, without leaving a single individual out. As a result, from “such an appearance” (nyoze sō) to “such a requital” (nyoze hō), all these nine such qualities of suchness are all equal, without differentiation. From beginning (hon) to end (matsu), they are all the ultimate dimension of the real aspect of all dharmas (hon matsu kukyō tō).
The beginning (hon) is the sequence of the ten such qualities of suchness of ordinary people; the end (matsu) is the sequence of the ten such qualities of suchness of all the Buddhas. All the Buddhas make their appearance out of the one instant of mind of ordinary people. It begins (hon) with ordinary people and ends (matsu) with all the Buddhas.
The point is that this is expounded in the Dharma Flower Sutra, in the Third Chapter on Similes and Parables: “Now then, these three realms, where sentient beings have a physical dimension and organs of sense, where they have needs and desires and also purely mental activities, are all in my possession, and the people everywhere in these realms are all my children.”
This Buddha having attained to the way, in order to save other people, manifested himself to them and encouraged them to arrive at the path of Buddhahood (i.e., to practise). Since he was already inside the dream of living and dying, he expounded the wide-awake quality of being aware of the original state.
Consequently, the Buddha preached the parable of a father as the Buddha wisdom and children as being stupid and silly.
Although sentient beings have the ten such qualities of the suchness of being awakened to the original state, it is hidden away under the one instant of dropping off into an unenlightened slumber and drifting into the dream of living and dying, so that the dharmic principle of being awakened to the original state is forgotten.
Even a tiny scrap of unenlightenment, like cutting off a single hair, is enough to make common mortals lose their way from the past, present, and future in meaningless dreamlike states.
The Buddha is like a person who has woken up from the dream. He then goes back into the dream of living and dying, in order to wake up the people within it. The Buddha’s wisdom is like a parent, and sentient beings such as us are like children – hence the truth of the Buddha’s declaration, “They are all my children everywhere.”
When we understand this principle of the Buddha teaching, then from the very beginning we are both parent and child, as well as at the very end we are both parent and child. Being both parent and child is the fundamental nature with which we are born. Thus, it is perceived that our own minds and the mind of the Buddha are not different, since waking up from the dream of living and dying and returning to the wakefulness of the enlightenment of the original state is said to be the inseparability of making our inherent Buddha nature manifest with our persons just as they are (sokushin jō Butsu). To open up our inherent Buddha nature with our personal characteristics just as they normally are implies that this is a quality that we are born with, and, being our fundamental nature, it is without troubles or obstacles. It is the destiny of sentient beings, their reward and fruition, as well as the unseen protection of the Buddha and the bodhisattvas.
When you come to think it over, our dreaming is an example of our minds in a state of perplexity, and our wakefulness is an example of the mind alert to reality. So if we look at these examples in terms of the lifetime of the sage-like teaching of Shākyamuni, we find it is a nasty experience when we are in the empty delusion of the dream devoid of footprints. Covered in perspiration, we wake up to find that we ourselves, our homes and beds, are still the same as they always were. Nevertheless, both the emptiness of the dream and the reality of being awake are there before our eyes. Even though we may think that both are taking place in the mind of one person, the difference between reality and fantasy exists.
Therefore, we must fully understand that whether our minds see the dream of the nine realms of dharmas of living and dying or the alertness of the eternal Dharma realm of the Buddha, there is no distinction (since these two experiences are only to be found in our respective minds). There is no difference in the place where the mind sees the dream of the nine realms of dharmas of living and dying and the alertness of the eternal Dharma realm of the Buddha. The mind and the dharmas in it do not change; nor is there any alteration in where they exist or take place. Dreams are always fictions of the mind, and being alert is always the real thing.
In the Universal Desistance from Troublesome Worries in order to See Clearly (Maka Shikan), it says, “During the Chou Dynasty 370 B.C., there was a person called Chuang Tzŭ who dreamt that he had turned into a butterfly for a period of a hundred years in which he suffered greatly and had little joy. Then, when he awoke streaming with perspiration, he found he had not turned into a butterfly; nor was it for a hundred years. He had not suffered; nor had he had any joy. None of it had ever happened at all. It was all an illusion.”
Referring to the concept that has just been expressed, it says, in the Broad Elucidation to Support the Practice of the Desistance from Troublesome Worries (Maka Shikan bugyō kuketsu), “Unenlightenment is like the butterfly in the dream. The hundred years is an analogy for the one instant of thought containing three thousand existential spaces. Since the one instant of thought has no reality in itself, the butterfly did not really exist. Nor are there any three thousand existential spaces, so that there were no years for Chuang Tzŭ to experience.”
This explanation is a way of saying that becoming a Buddha is not separate from one’s person just as it is. When Chuang Tzŭ became a butterfly in his dream, he himself did not change at all. When he woke up, he no longer thought he was a butterfly, nor had he become any other Chuang Tzŭ. When we think we are just common mortals bound to the endless cycles of births and deaths, we become the butterflies of our dreams, which is a prejudice based on a wrong way of thinking. But when we see ourselves as the fundamentally enlightened Tathāgata – i.e., we see ourselves as life itself – then we are like Chuang Tzŭ who has returned to his original self. This is the awareness that our own inherent Buddha nature is not separate from our respective personalities (Soku shin jō Butsu).
Nonetheless, the body of the butterfly did not become enlightened. To think of oneself as a butterfly is nonsense and certainly not another word for Buddhahood. This, however, is beside the point.
When we understand that the butterfly of the dream is our unenlightenment and that our distorted way of thinking is a delusive, wild idea, like the inner nature shō and the entity (tai) of yesterday’s dream, who on earth could have doubts so as to believe and accept the illusionary dream of living and dying, instead of the essence of the Buddha of the Eternal nirvana?
It says, in the Desistance from Troublesome Worries in order to See Clearly (Maka Shikan), “When it comes to the stupid bewilderment of unenlightenment, then its origin lies in the essence of the Dharma, which is the very nature of life itself. It is on account of our stupid bewilderment that our perception of the fundamental nature of existence, that is the essence of the Dharma, is transformed into the multitude of dharmas, which bring about all our absurd ideas about what is good and what is bad.
“When it gets cold, water freezes into ice. When water becomes solid, it is like ice. Again, when we go to sleep, the mind turns into all sorts of different dreams and fantasies. Even at this very instant, all the ill-assorted and out of place ideas about life (moro moro no tendō) are nothing more nor less than the essence of the Dharma, which is life itself. Although these concepts of life are neither a oneness nor are they separate from each other, they all have to be felt deeply and accepted as real. It is said that, when all our deluded perceptions arise or when they cease to exist, they are like the conjurors’ revolving wheel of fire, which gives the illusion of fire going round and round. But in fact such a thing does not exist.
“You should not believe in such absurdities. Instead, you should hold faith in the fundamental of life, which is the essence of the Dharma. When things come into being, it is the essence of the Dharma coming into existence, and, when things cease to exist, it is the cessation of the essence of the Dharma. When we try to be enlightened to this, there is in fact no coming into being, nor is there any cessation of existence. It is only when we see this as a mental confusion that we perceive that fundamentally everything everywhere is the essence of the Dharma. It is on account of the essence of the Dharma that we can relate to the essence of the Dharma. It is on account of the essence of the Dharma that we are able to bear it in mind. Whatever exists, it is always the workings of the essence of the Dharma. When there is no essence of the Dharma, it means that there is no existence whatsoever.”
[Translator’s note: With regard to this quotation from Tendai (T’ien T’ai), I shall translate the entry for the essence of the Dharma or the Dharma nature (hosshō) in the Universal Dictionary of Buddhism and Philosophy (Bukkyō Tetsugaku Daijiten).]
Although we may conceive the essence of the Dharma as nonexistent, so that there can be no instant for it to occur in – we may think that the butterfly of the dream is real – but to take the living and dying of our crazy, mixed-up enlightenment as real is bewilderment.
In the ninth fascicle of the Universal Desistance from Troublesome Worries in order to See Clearly (Maka Shikan), we have, “For instance, the dharma of sleep obscures the mind in such a way that, within an instant, we dream up countless existences. . . . So, what stage in Buddhist practice brings about the state of the eternal and indestructible nirvana that is free from all troubles and suffering (jakumetsu shimyo)? . . . . All sentient beings are inseparable from nirvana. Again, there is no such thing as extinction in nirvana. So what is this particular place in the stages of Buddhist practice that brings about this state of being? Is it high or low, or is it great or small?
“This principle of the Dharma is uncreated (fushō bushō) and indefinable (fukasetsu). Yet it is endowed with the chain of the twelve causes and karmic circumstances that run through the whole of sentient existence – 1) a fundamental unenlightenment which leads to the 2) dispositions that are inherited from former lives, 3) the first consciousness after conception that takes place in the womb, 4) body and mind evolving in the womb, 5) the five organs of sense and the functioning of the mind, 6) contact with the outside world, 7) receptivity or budding intelligence and the making of distinctions from six or seven years onwards, 8) the urge for sensual existence that forms 10) the substance of future karma, 11) the completed karma ready to be born again 12) and facing in the direction of old age and death.
“All of this can be explained. The teaching of the chain of the twelve causes and karmic circumstances that run through the whole of sentient existence explains the reasons why sentient beings come about. This chain of the twelve causes and karmic circumstances is described as a picture of a painted tree that is planted in empty space. It is only an expedient device to explain how these causes and karmic circumstances come into being.”
The karmic recompense that produces the objective and subjective environments of the ten [psychological] realms of dharmas (ten worlds) of our lives is the Dharma body and the universal ultimate truth of the Buddha. To know that this single entity is endowed with effectuality (toku) that comprises the three bodies – which are the Universal Dharma, wisdom, and manifest presence – as well as to be able to thoroughly understand and realise completely that all dharmas are the existence of the Buddha (Buppō), is to arrive at the second stage, which is an intellectual understanding of the truth, in the six stages of practice (myōjisoku).
Since the second in the six stages of practice is an intellectual understanding of the truth, it is also the stage in which our inherent Buddha nature (Busshō) is made manifest. Therefore, the direct teaching of the all-inclusive one instant of thought containing three thousand existential spaces has no grades of practice in a consecutive order.
It says, in the Recondite Significance of the Dharma Flower (Hokke Gengi Shakusen), “Many scholars of the final phase of the Buddha teaching of Shākyamuni will compete with each other and argue over the practices and attachments to the treatises and sutras that are an expedient means in order to cut off and suppress our troublesome worries. Even though the water is cold, you may still have to drink some, in order to find out if it is so.”
Among the explanations of the Universal Teacher Tendai (T’ien T’ai), we have, “Regarding the general features and outlines of the concept of stages of practice, in a consecutive order coming from the Sutra on the Benevolent Sovereign (Ninnōkyō) and the Sutra on the Bodhisattva’s Necklace of Precious Stones (Yōrakukyō), the stage in the practice for cutting off and suppression of our troublesome worries is as pointed out in the full edition of the Sutra on the Wisdom that Carries People over to the Shores of Nirvana (Daibon Hannya Kyō) and Nagarjuna’s Universal Discourses on the Wisdom that Carries People over to the Shores of Nirvana (Daichidō ron).”
The Sutra on the Benevolent Sovereign, the Sutra on the Bodhisattva’s Necklace of Precious Stones, the full edition of the Sutra on the Wisdom that Carries People over to the Shores of Nirvana, and Nagarjuna’s Universal Discourses on the Wisdom that Carries People over to the Shores of Nirvana are all based on sutras and discourses that were preached during the doctrinal periods prior to the Dharma Flower Sutra. Because, when it comes to the practices of the provisional teachings, people ascend through consecutive stages toward enlightenment over an uncountable number of aeons, hence the reference to a coherent order. Now, because of the all-inclusive teaching (engyō), we have gone beyond the eight doctrinal periods that came before the Dharma Flower Sutra and swiftly and speedily attain enlightenment without passing through the different levels of practice.
Mind, the Buddha, and sentient beings are all ensconced in each single instant within the mind. If one can see that there is nothing outside the mind, then even the practitioner with lesser propensities can, in a single lifetime, arrive at the stage of enlightenment of Utterness (myōgaku). The one and the many have a phenomenal identity – i.e., the one is just like the many, and the many are just like the one. Each stage of practice is fully endowed with all the other stages. Therefore, in a single lifetime of practice, one can reach the stage of enlightenment of Utterness.
If this is valid for people of lesser propensities, then naturally it is the same for people of middling aptitude. So, with people who have superior propensities, it goes without saying. Beyond what we perceive as reality, there are no separate dharmas. Therefore, in our perception of reality there is no order; nor are there stages of enlightenment within it.
Generally speaking, the lifetime of the sage-like teaching is a Dharma based on the example of the one individual, so that we ought to know thoroughly what our own constituents are. The person who is aware of what his body consists of is called a Buddha, and those people who are confused about it are referred to sentient beings of ordinary people.
The Universal Teacher Myōraku (Miao-lo) says, in the sixth chapter of his Broad Elucidation to Support the Practice of the Universal Desistance from Troublesome Worries (Maka Shikan Bugyō Kuketsu), “It is understood that our bodies are, inch by inch, a duplication of the sky and the earth. The roundness of our heads mirrors the dome of the sky, and the squareness of our feet emulates the quadrangular surface of the earth. The empty space in our bodies is in imitation of the empty space of the universe. The warmth of our stomachs is modelled after spring and summer, and the hardness of our spinal column is in conformity with the autumn and winter. Our four limbs are patterned after the four seasons. The twelve major joints in our bodies are an echo of the twelve months of the year, and the three hundred sixty lesser joints represent the number of days in a year. The breath coming in and out of our noses fits the pattern of the wind that blows over the marshes and through mountain valleys and dales. The breath that comes and goes through our mouths is the wind that blows through the empty space. Our two eyes are like the sun and the moon, and our blinking is comparable to the alternation of day and night. The hair on our head resembles the stars and constellations in the sky.
“Our bones are like the minerals and precious stones. Our skin is like the soil and earth. The clusters of hair on our bodies suggest the woods and forests. The five major organs in our bodies – which are 1) the spleen, 2) the liver, 3) the heart, 4) the lungs, and 5) the kidneys – take after the planets in the sky – 1) Saturn, 2) Jupiter, 3) Mars, 4) Venus, 5) Mercury. And also, on the Earth, the five major organs resemble the five great mountain peaks in China – 1) Mount Tai in the east, 2) Mount Hêng in the south, 3) Mount Hua in the west, 4) Mount Yu Hêng in the north, and 5) Mount Song in the centre. The two poles Yin and Yang connect the five elements – 1) earth, 2) wood, 3) fire, 4) metal, 5) water.
“In the world of humankind, the five elements correspond to the five principles in Confucian thought – 1) sincerity, 2) benevolence, 3) wisdom, 4) integrity, 5) propriety. In terms of the functions of the mind, the number five refers to its five aspects – 1) thought (i, kokoro), 2) its spiritual nature (kon), 3) the psyche (shin, kami), 4) its animal nature (haku), 5) intention (shi, kokoraza). In behaviour, there are the five Confucian virtues – 1) cordiality (on, atataka), 2) sincerity (ryō, yo), 3) reverence (kyō, uyauya), 4) economicalness (ken, tsuna), 5) deference (jō, yuzu). Then there are the five punishments of Ancient China – 1) tattooing the forehead, 2) cutting off the nose, 3) amputating the feet, 4) castration, and 5) death.
“There are the five heavenly tutelary rulers, whose concern is the five elements of earth, wood, fire, metal, and water. Along with these tutelary spirits, there are the five clouds – 1) the blue cloud, 2) the white cloud, 3) the red cloud, 4) the black cloud, 5) the yellow cloud. When these five clouds turn into the five Dragons, they become 1) Vermilion Sparrow who rules the heart, 2) Black Warrior who rules the kidneys, 3) Blue Dragon who rules the liver, 4) White Tiger who rules the lungs, and 5) the spleen which is ruled by Aquiline Constellation.”
Again, in the same way, The Broad Elucidation to Support the Practice of the Universal Desistance from Troublesome Worries (Myōraku, Miao-lo) states, “The five notes in Ancient Chinese music, the five illuminating studies of Ancient India – which are 1) grammar, 2) linguistics, 3) engineering, 4) astronomy, and 5) medicine – as well as the five arts in Zhou Dynasty (China 1122-770 B.C.) – 1) court ceremony, 2) music, 3) archery, 4) horsemanship, 5) calligraphy – all come from the five visceral organs. Moreover, this also holds good for the control of what is inside us. The mind that is enlightened to this become a universal sovereign whose royal palace (i.e., person) is surrounded by a hundred walls and guarded on the outside by the five military officials. The lungs are guarded by Si Ma, the liver by Si Tu, the spleen by Si Kung. The four limbs are watched over by the loyal people. The left is watched over by Si Ming, and the right Si Lu. The navel is guarded by Tai Yi Jun.”
The Universal Teacher Tendai (T’ien T’ai), in his Explanation of the Gateways to the Dharma of Graded Meditations in order to Cross over to the Shores of Nirvana (Shaku Zen Haramitsu Shidai Hōmon), makes this teaching clear in detail.
On looking into the human body meticulously, you will find that it is just as the preceding paragraphs say. If you think that the indestructible Vajra (Diamond) body is not subject to impermanency, then you are mistaken. It is rather like the butterfly in the dream of Chuang Tzū, or just as the Universal Teacher Myōraku (Miao-lo) explained, in his Broad Elucidation to Support the Practice of the Universal Desistance from Troublesome Worries.
The five elements that are the components of the universe are earth, water, fire, wind, and the void of relativity relativity (kū, shūnyatā).
The five aggregates that overshadow our original enlightenment are 1) bodily form, matter, the physical form related to the five organs of sense, 2) receptivity, sensation, feeling, the functioning of the mind or the senses in connection with affairs and things, 3) conception, thought, discerning, 4) the functioning of mind in its processes with regard to likes, dislikes, good and bad, etc., as well as actions that inevitably pass on their effects, 5) the mental faculty that makes us think we are who we are on account of what we know.
The five precepts of the individual vehicles (shōjō, hīnayāna), for men and women who do not becomes monks or nuns, are 1) no killing whatsoever, 2) no stealing, 3) no sexual relationships, 4) no telling lies or make-believe, 5) no consumption of intoxicants. The five permanent values of Confucian thought are 1) trust, 2 benevolence, 3) wisdom, 4) righteousness, 5) courtesy. The five directions are east, west, south, north, and the centre.
The five kinds of wisdom of the Tathāgata are 1) to clearly understand that the fundamental elements of existence are earth, water, fire, wind, relativity (kū), and cognition, 2) the wisdom to perceive that all existence reveals itself as though it were in a mirror, 3) the wisdom to see that all differences between the dharmas are extinguished in their essential equality, 4) the wisdom to contemplate and observe in terms of utterness and to be able to take away the doubts of sentient beings, 5) the wisdom to be able to accomplish all that is necessary in order to benefit others and oneself.
Also, the five periods of the teaching of the Buddha are 1) the Flower Garland (Kegon) period, 2) the period of the teaching of the individual vehicle (Agon), 3) the period of the equally broad doctrine (hōdō, vaipulya), 4) the wisdom (hannya, prajña) period, 5) the period of the Dharma Flower Sutra (Hokke-kyō).
Originally, all these groups of five referred to one thing only. In the sutras there are various explanations. Within the Buddha teaching and outside of it, the subject matters of these groups of five have grown apart from each other.
In the Dharma Flower Sutra, the five elements that are the makeup of all existence are taken for granted. In the minds of all ordinary people, there are the five essentials of Buddhahood – 1) the Buddha nature as a direct cause for enlightenment, all beings being inherently endowed with this Buddha nature, 2) the enlightening or revealing cause that is associated with the Buddha wisdom, 3) the revelation of the Buddha nature that is brought about by the environmental circumstances of practice, 4) the fruition of the Buddha nature which is enlightenment, 5) the fruition of enlightenment being the substantiation of nirvana. This refers to the five ideograms for Myōhō Renge Kyō.
Because the essence of our persons is composed of these five ideograms, our entities have always existed and are also the originally enlightened Tathāgata.
This was expounded as the ten such qualities of suchness, in the Second Chapter on Expedient Means of the Dharma Flower Sutra, where the Buddha says, “Only Buddha and Buddha can exhaustively look into the real aspect of all dharmas.”
When the Buddha preached this gateway to enlightenment, it was then not known to the bodhisattvas who were beyond the stage of any regression (futai no bosatsu), nor those who had attained the supreme reward of the individual vehicle (arhat, arakan), nor even those intellectuals who were still studying or those who were partially enlightened (nijō). But because all those who could hold faith in this all-inclusive teaching that brought about an immediate realisation were ordinary people at the first stage of faith, they were able to become aware of the fact that their inherent Buddha natures were not separate from their respective personalities. Hence, they became comparable to the substance of the indestructible diamond (vajra), (kongō fue).
In this way, my person, heaven and earth are a single, inseparable entity. If heaven crumbles, then I crumble with it. If the earth splits apart, then I also split apart. If earth, water, fire, and wind perish, then I will perish along with them. Even though these five principal elements pass through the three tenses of past, present, and future, these five elements do not change. Although the correct, formal, and final periods of the teaching of Shākyamuni are separate from each other, the five major elements remain the same. They simply flourish, decline, supplant each other, and swap places.
In one of the commentaries on the Fifth Chapter on the Parable of the Medicinal Herbs in the Dharma Flower Sutra, it says, “The Dharma principle of the all-inclusive teaching of the Dharma Flower is like the great earth. The all-inclusive direct teaching is like the rain that falls from the sky. Again, the three doctrines of the individual teaching (Sanzōkyō), the interrelated teaching (tsūgyō), and the particular teaching for bodhisattvas (bekkyo) are like the three kinds of medicinal herbs and the two kinds of tree in this parable. The reason for this is that these medicinal herbs and trees grow out of the great earth of the Dharma principle of the all-inclusive teaching and are nourished by the rain from the sky of the all-inclusive teaching that brings about an immediate awakening to the Buddha truth.
“So the herbs and trees of the five vehicles that were taught, because they were suited to the propensities of 1) ordinary humankind, 2) deva (ten), 3) intellectuals who are still studying, 4) intellectuals who are partially enlightened due to karmic circumstances, and 5) the bodhisattvas, were all able to flourish. Did you not think or realise that it is because of the grace and mercy of heaven and earth that our persons are able to thrive? The Buddha uses a metaphor for the three teachings for humankind, deva (ten), the two classes of intellectuals, and bodhisattvas. However, since these people are said to be ungrateful, they are referred to as inanimate plants and trees.
“The point is that, since these people began to listen to the Dharma Flower Sutra, the people of the five vehicles who were represented in the parable as the two trees and three herbs recognised that the principle of the all-inclusive, direct doctrine was their father. By becoming aware that they all grew out of the single great earth, they were able to know their mother’s love. In the same way, by being watered by the one rain, they were able to know what a father’s affection was.”
This is the intended meaning of the Fifth Chapter on the Parable of the Medicinal Herbs in the Dharma Flower Sutra.
In the Fourteenth Chapter on Practising in Peace and with Joy in the Dharma Flower Sutra, it asserts that, during the final phase of the Dharma of Shākyamuni (mappō), even those ordinary people who have only begun to do the practice of the Dharma Flower Sutra will certainly become aware of their own inherent Buddha nature with their personalities just as they are.
1) These people practising in peace and with joy means that, if the persons of the final phase of the Dharma of Shākyamuni (mappō) avoid tempting distractions, they will find a suitable place to practise in peace and with joy. 2) Verbally practising in peace and with joy means that, after Shākyamuni’s demise into nirvana, then these people will expound the implications of the Dharma Flower Sutra; but they will not be despised by other people, nor will they have their errors exposed. They will be able to proclaim and expound this teaching in peace. 3) Mentally practising in peace and with joy means that, when the Dharma of Shākyamuni (mappō) has ceased to be effective, those people who hold faith in and recite Nam Myōhō Renge Kyō will not be jealous of other people who try to study the Buddha teaching. Nor will they seek to dispute with them. 4) To make the vow of practising in peace and joy means to have a heart of all-embracing loving-kindness and vow to try to save all sentient beings. These four references to the final phase of the Dharma of Shākyamuni (mappō) are recounted in the Fourteenth Chapter on Practising in Peace and with Joy in the Dharma Flower Sutra.
Apart from these references in the Fourteenth Chapter of the Dharma Flower Sutra, which is the chapter that alludes to the final phase of Shākyamuni’s Dharma, we have, in the Twenty-third Chapter on the Original Conduct of the Bodhisattva Sovereign Medicine(Yaku’ ō, Bhaishajya-rāja), two more items that indicate this final phase. The first is the one that says, “Following the Buddha’s demise into nirvana after the fifth period of five hundred years, we have a woman who on hearing this sutra practises just as it is preached.” Then, there is the item that says, “During the fifth hundred year period after my demise into nirvana, there will be the broad propagation (kōsen rufu) throughout the world of humankind (embudal).”
Also, in the Twenty-eighth Chapter on the Persuasiveness of the Bodhisattva Universally Worthy (Fugen, Samantabhadra) in the Dharma Flower Sutra, there are again three more references to this final age (mappō): “In the polluted evil age that comes after the fifth five-hundred year period subsequent to the Buddha’s passing over to nirvana, there will still be people who hold faith in this (Dharma Flower) sutra.” “In the latter age after the fifth five-hundred years period of the polluted, evil generation, there will be monks and nuns, along with male and female believers, who seek the truth by holding faith, reading, and copying out, as well as desiring to do the practice of this Dharma Flower Sutra.” “If there is a person after the fifth five hundred years after the Tathāgata’s demise into nirvana who holds faith in the Dharma Flower Sutra, who also is seen to recite it and bears it in mind….”
What the Buddha has handed down to us clearly refers to present times. Other people have ignored the correct teachings and have attached their own mundane commentaries to them. The testament inherited from the Buddhas of the past, present, and future has been entrusted to stupidly foolish minds who contradict it in such a way that, should the Dharma be brushed aside, then how desperately regretful and how lamentably sad it would be for All those Buddhas of the past, present, and future.
In the Sutra on the Buddha’s Passing over to Nirvana, there is the admonition that says, “It should be according to the Dharma and not in conformity with the person who teaches it.” It is indeed painful and sad that the scholars of the final era through the work on their studies devastate the Dharma of the Buddha.
It is unhappily pointed out in Myōraku’s (Miao-lo) Broad Elucidation to Support the Practice of the Universal Desistance from Troublesome Worries, “They listen to this all-inclusive teaching of the Dharma Flower that can bring about immediate enlightenment, yet they do not solemnly revere it. Indeed the people of recent times who study and practise the universal vehicle (mahayana, daijō) are confused about what is correct and what is distortion, not to mention those scholars of the formal period of the Buddha teaching (zōbō), who were with little common sense and weak faith. Even though the repository of the volumes on this all-inclusive teaching that brings about immediate enlightenment is full to overflowing, it never occurred to those scholars to have made the slightest attempt to consult them from time to time. Instead, they shut their eyes to what the Buddha Dharma really is. They led meaningless lives and had senseless deaths.”
Indeed, it says in the fourth fascicle of the Broad Elucidation to Support the Practice of the Universal Desistance from Troublesome Worries, “The all-inclusive teaching of the Dharma Flower which brings about an immediate enlightenment is, from the very outset, a gateway to the Dharma that was expounded for ordinary people. If ordinary people cannot take advantage of this doctrine, then how can the Buddha stay in his own terrain of the essence of the Dharma? If the Buddha did not expound this all-inclusive teaching that brings about immediate enlightenment to all the bodhisattvas by means of his entity of the essence of the Dharma, then, would it not be that the Buddha needed to appear in the three realms (sangai), where 1) sentient beings have appetites and desires, 2) which are incarnated in a subjective materiality, 3) who, at the same time, are endowed with the immateriality of the realms of thoughts and ideas (sangai, triloka)? Because ordinary people are given the life and destiny of the Buddha, this makes it possible for them to learn from and do the practice of the Tathāgata.”
As a result, our individual minds and the person of the Buddha are seen as a single entity, and therefore we can readily become aware of our own inherent Buddha nature, which is not separate from our respective personalities. Once again, this is stated in the Broad Elucidation to Support the Practice of the Universal Desistance from Troublesome Worries. It says, “The Buddha essence of all the Buddhas is not thought of as something separate from the Buddha mind, so that we are able to become aware of our own Buddha natures.”
This is what is referred to as contemplating the mind (kanjin). So, if we really become awakened to the fact that our own minds and that of the Buddha are the oneness of mind, even if we have to be obstructed by the moment of death being pressed upon us, there will probably be no bad karma. And if we are forced into the cycles of living and dying again, they will be no more than a series of illusionary thoughts.
If we know that all dharmas are those of the Buddha, then there is no need for a good acquaintance (zenchishiki) to stimulate our minds to greater wisdom or give us instruction. So whatever people may say, or whatever people may do, or however they may behave, they are all the four respect-inspiring forms of behaviour (shi’igi) of walking, standing, sitting, or lying down, which are all in harmony with the mind of the Buddha, as well as being a single embodiment that is independently free from the karma of actions, as well as having thoughts that are free from delusion (jiyujizai) and without any fault whatsoever or without any obstruction. This is thought of as the personal practice of the Buddha.
As a matter of course, the Tathāgata casts aside his conduct that is free from the karma of actions as well as having thoughts that are free from delusion, in order to be present, and yet not making his presence felt, or leaving any traces in the minds of unenlightened people with insane ideas. Those people who turn their backs on the teaching and explanations of all the Buddhas of the past, present, and future drift from one benighted uncertainty to the next perplexity of not understanding (mumyō), and the situation of those who continually oppose the Dharma of the Buddha is pitiful.
Now, those who can rectify their way of thinking can change their perplexities for enlightenment and realise that it cannot be any other way than to become aware that their own inherent Buddha nature is not separate from their persons just as they are.
Although the mirror of our minds and the mirror of the mind of the Buddha is only a single mirror, when we look into the mirror of our own minds, we do not see our respective Buddha nature. This is why this is referred to as our inherent bewilderment (mumyō).
The Tathāgata looks at the whole of the mirror as the one instant of thought containing three thousand existential spaces and perceives our inherent Buddha natures inside it. Therefore, enlightenment myō) and unclearness (mumyō) are a single entity.
Even though there is only the one mirror, it is the way we see it for the difference between enlightenment (myō) and ignorance (mumyō) to come about.
Regardless of the mirror having its own depth, the whole is not an obstruction. It is only the way we look at it that makes us see what it does or does not reflect. Since both of these ways of looking are the coordination of our own minds and our surroundings, this makes them a single reality. Nevertheless, this is a single state of affairs with two different meanings.
The provisional Dharma that was expounded for the conversion of others is like staring right into the various reflections inside the mirror. But the Buddha’s own practice of observing the mind is like looking at the mirror as a single whole.
The mirror of the provisional teachings that were expounded for the benefit of others and the mirror of the Buddha’s own practice are not separate mirrors, but the single mirror of the essence of our own minds.
The word mirror is used as a metaphor for the concept of “not being separate from our persons just as they are”. So, when we face the whole of the mirror, it becomes a metaphor for “opening up our inherent Buddha nature”. Looking at the particulars of what is reflected inside the mirror is a metaphor for “the bewilderment (mayoi) of ordinary people (shujō)”. This implies that we do not cut away the bad qualities of or personalities in the mirror of the mind. When we look into the mirror as a whole, it reflects various items, which in itself is not a virtue. Hence it is used as a metaphor for what the provisional teachings consist of. This is because the reflections in the mirror do not reveal the inherent Buddha nature of ordinary people like ourselves.
The Buddha’s own practice and the practice he used in order to convert others have the power and effectiveness of the discrepancy between gain and loss. In the first fascicle of the Recondite Significance of the Dharma Flower, Shōan says, “When Sarvasiddharta, which was Shākyamuni’s childhood name, took his grandfather’s bow and drew it to the roundness of the full moon, this is referred to as power. On releasing the string of the bow, the arrow tore its way through seven iron drums and the iron enclosing mountains that encircle the world, then perforated the earth and struck the wheel of water that is the third of the four wheels on which the world rests. This is called effectiveness. This is the power and effectiveness of the Buddha’s own practice.
“In contrast, the power and effectiveness of the various teachings that are an expedient means (hōben) are all flimsy and ineffective, just like an ordinary person who tries to shoot an arrow from the bow of the Buddha’s grandfather. The reason is that for forty-two years those people who listened to the Buddha’s preaching only received gateways to the Dharma that were a combination of the twofold wisdom of the provisional doctrines and the truth, since the principle of the Dharma of the one instant of thought containing three thousand existential spaces had not yet been broadly diffused. So those listeners had still not evolved a deep faith and had not yet exhausted all their remaining doubts.
“The above refers to the power and effectiveness of the teachings that were for the conversion of other people. Nowadays ordinary people who have a karmic relation with the Dharma Flower Sutra can receive gateways to the Dharma that are a combination of the twofold wisdom of the provisional doctrines and the truth. And yet they can investigate thoroughly the karmic dimension of the Buddha, by giving rise to faith in the realm of the Dharma, by making headway on the path of the all-inclusive teaching of Utterness (myō), by breaking off their fundamental perplexities, and by getting rid of the changes and deviations of living and dying.
“Not only will they have the advantages and benefits of either those bodhisattvas born into mortal form who have not yet broken off their unenlightenment or the bodhisattvas who have through practice attained the patience to withstand the delusions of unenlightenment, but they will also have the advantages and benefits of either being a bodhisattva who had freed himself from pointless illusions or even a bodhisattva who is in his last incarnation who has freed himself from delusions and has attained the six universal powers acquired by the Buddha. The merit and influence of teaching and converting people is universally broad, and the advantages are deep and wide. But the power and effectiveness of the Dharma Flower Sutra is as powerful and effective as I have recounted above.”
The superiority or the inferior qualities of the power and effectiveness of the Buddha’s own practice and the teachings he used in order to convert others are conspicuously clear. You should take a good look at this text from the Recondite Significance of the Dharma Flower. It reflects the extent of a lifetime’s sage-like teaching, like a polished mirror.
“To investigate thoroughly the karmic dimension of the Buddha” points to the gateway to the Dharma of the ten such qualities of suchness (jūnyoze). These ten such qualities of suchness and the ten [psychological] realms of dharmas (jikkai) are mutually contained in each other. The cause and effect that lies within the ten [psychological] realms of dharmas and the ten such qualities of suchness are the twofold wisdom of the individual vehicle (hīnayāna) and the universal vehicle (daijō, mahāyāna).
The nine objective realms determined by karma (Kyūkai no kyō) and the objective realm of the Buddha (bukkai no kyō) are all installed in our own persons. The ten [psychological] realms of dharmas are the nature of our minds (shinshō). And, when the ten reams of dharmas take on a shape and form, then they become the originally enlightened Tathāgata. You must believe that all of this lies within our own persons.
“Making headway on the path of the all-inclusive teaching of Utterness (myō)” means that the Buddha’s own practice and the teachings he used in order to convert others are not separate from the all-inclusive accommodation of phenomenon (ke), relativity in the void (kū), and the middle way (chū). In the same way as a jewel, its brilliance and its value are all the qualities of a single precious stone, which cannot be separated from it. The Dharma of the Buddha is furnished with the whole of existence, without leaving any items aside. By accepting and holding faith in the Dharma, people can open up their inherent Buddha nature within a single lifetime. Hence, people can make headway on the path of the all-inclusive teaching of Utterness, with joy and happiness.
“Cutting off our fundamental perplexities” means to wake up from the one instant of the sleep of unenlightenment and then return to the wide-awake state of the original enlightenment, so that the sufferings of living and dying and the joys of nirvana become the dream we had yesterday that leaves no trace whatsoever.
“Getting rid of the changes and deviations of living and dying” means that those people have passed over and were reborn in the three terrains of utmost joy – 1) the utmost joy of the terrain where the sage-like and ordinary people live alongside each other (dōkyodo), 2) the utmost joy of the terrain of expedient means (hōbendo), and 3) the utmost joy of the terrain of real reward (jippōdo) – where such people carry out the practices of the bodhisattvas and strive for the attainment of Buddhahood. Then, on their realisation of this attainment, they cross over from practices for the cause of enlightenment and move on to the effectiveness of ultimate fruition (katoku). They wait over many kalpas for the attainment of becoming a Buddha. This is referred to as the changes and deviations of living and dying.
The advancement from the practices that bring about enlightenment and the rejection of the lower stages that the practitioner has gone through implies death. The progress upwards to the various higher stages of practice is thought of as life. In this way, the changes and deviations of living and dying become the bitter worries in the immaculate terrains (i.e., the three terrains of utmost joy).
However, when we ordinary people cultivate ourselves in the practice of the Dharma Flower Sutra in this impure and imperfect world of ours, there is the mutual possession of the ten [psychological] realms of dharmas. Since the dharma realm is of a single suchness, the alternating changes in the existence of the bodhisattvas of the immaculate terrains diminish, because when ordinary people intensify their practice on the Buddha path, the alternating changes of living and dying are condensed to a single lifetime, in which there exists the attainment to the way of the Buddha.
The two kinds of bodhisattvas of the temporary gateway, with human bodies, who have not broken off their unenlightenment, and those who have reached the forty-eighth or forty-ninth stages of the development of a bodhisattva into a Buddha and are also capable of perceiving the Dharma nature, on account of the increase of their wisdom of the middle way, are able to abandon their attachment to their lives that are made up of the alternating changes of living and dying. When those bodhisattvas whose entity is the Dharma, who at the same time have been able to reject a part of their troublesome worries and are also able to reveal something of their Buddha nature, relinquish the bodies they were born with, then they are able to dwell on the terrain of real reward. The bodhisattvas who are at the final stage of enlightenment are those who attained that stage of perfect and universal enlightenment [tōkaku].
However, the effective benefits of the temporary gateway are either to become a bodhisattva of the provisional teachings who has not yet broken off his unenlightenment or a bodhisattva who has attained through the dharma the patience to withstand the delusions of unenlightenment. The effective benefits of the original gateway are either to become a bodhisattva whose entity is the Dharma or a bodhisattva who is at the final stage before enlightenment. But now, through the temporary gateway being cleared away and the original gateway being replaced with the single teaching of the Utterness of the Dharma (Myōhō, Saddharma), then, according to the intensity of how we ordinary people carry out its practice in this impure and imperfect world of ours, our practice then becomes the effective benefit of the immaculate terrain of the ten stages of bodhisattva development into a Buddha and that of the perfect and universal enlightenment [tōkaku].
Furthermore, the merit of converting others is enormous. This refers to the virtue and benefits of proselytising. However, the vast, profound, and effective enrichment and also the enormous benefits are those derived from the personal practice of the Buddha who is the practitioner of the all-inclusive, direct teaching that is completely endowed with the one instant of mind containing three thousand existential spaces, without overlooking a single dharma. If we look at this concept horizontally, then it is as vast as the ubiquity of the dharma realms of the ten directions. From a perpendicular viewpoint, it is the utmost depth of the abyss of the Dharma nature that spans the past, present, and future. Such is the greatness of this sutra, when the personal practice of the Buddha is applied to it.
All the provisional sutras that were expounded for the conversion of others do not necessarily have the background of the Buddha’s personal practice, which makes these sutras comparable to birds with only one wing, incapable of flying through the air, because fundamentally there is nobody who became a Buddha in any of these sutras. Now, by exposing and disposing of the teachings that were an expedient means for the conversion of others and then leaving them reintegrated as the temporary gateway into the one vehicle that is the Buddha’s own practice, there can be nothing lacking in the Dharma whatsoever. Therefore, just as a bird with two wings can fly without hindrance, there can be nothing in the way of becoming aware that our own inherent Buddha nature is not separate from who we are now.
The Bodhisattva Sovereign Remedy (Yaku’ ō, Bhaishajya-rāja) used ten comparisons to show the potential and effectiveness of the personal practice of the Buddha, as opposed to the teachings he used for the conversion of others.
[These ten comparisons are as follows: “Just as out of all watercourses, effluents, streams, rivulets, and great rivers the sea is the greatest, so it is the same with this Dharma Flower Sutra, which is the most embracing and profound out of all the sutras that the Tathāgata has expounded. Just as out of all the mountains of soil, black mountains, the lesser inner ring of iron mountains that surround the world, and also the larger range of iron mountains that mark the boundary of this world, Mount Sumeru is the greatest, so it is the same with this Dharma Flower Sutra which is the highest peak among all sutras.”]
[“Just as, out of all the stars, the moon as prince of the deva (ten) is the first among the heavenly bodies at night, again it is the same with this Dharma Flower Sutra, which shines the brightest out of the thousands of myriads of millions of different kinds of sutric dharmas (things) that exist. Again, just as the sun as prince of deva (ten) can take away all darkness, so it is the same with this Dharma Flower Sutra that is able to reverse the darkness of everything that is not good.”]
[“Again in the same way a sage-like sovereign whose chariot wheels roll everywhere without hindrance (tenrinnō, chakravartin) is a monarch among all the lesser kings, it is the same with regard to this sutra, which is the most revered out of all the others. Just as Bonten (Brahmā) is the father of all sentient beings, it is the same with regard to this sutra, which is the parent of all those who aspire to the mind of a bodhisattva, all those who are sage-like and wise, and all those who are still studying to get rid of their delusions and those who have begun to cast them off.”]
[“Again, just as those whose practice is beyond the stream of transmigratory suffering, or those whose practice requires only one more lifetime before reaching nirvana, or those who have attained the supreme rewards of the individual vehicle, or those who realise nirvana for themselves and without a teacher are foremost among ordinary people, so it is the same with this sutra, whether it be expounded by the Tathāgata, or by a bodhisattva, or even by a person who has heard the Buddha’s voice.”]
[“Among all the dharmas, this sutra is superior to all. Also the person who is able to receive and hold to this archetypal sutra takes first place among sentient beings. Just as the bodhisattvas are foremost among the hearers of the Buddha’s voice and those who realise nirvana for themselves without a teacher, so it is the same with this sutra. Out of all the sutric dharmas, this sutra is superior to all. Just as the Buddha is the sovereign of all dharmas, so it is the same with this sutra that is the most important of all.”]
The first of these comparisons says, “All the other sutras are like all the watercourses; the Dharma Flower is like the great sea.” At least, this is the intended meaning of the quotation. In actual fact, all the watercourses of the sutras that were expounded for the conversion of others have been flowing ceaselessly day and night towards the great sea of the Dharma Flower Sutra that embodies the individual practice of the Tathāgata.
Nevertheless, even if these watercourses have been flowing into the great sea, the great sea itself neither diminishes nor increases, which reveals the imponderably inexplicable quality of the virtue and effectiveness of this sutra. But none of these watercourses of all the sutras, even for the slightest moment, add anything to the great sea of the Dharma Flower Sutra. Such is the superiority of the teachings that are derived from the Buddha’s own practice, as opposed to those that were used as an expedient means.
Through the quotation of this one comparison, we have an example which covers the other nine. Yet all the comparisons are what the Buddha expounded, without any words inserted by humankind. When you have taken the meaning of this concept to heart, then the significance of the Tathāgata’s lifetime of sage-like teaching will become as clear as daylight on a cloudless day. Who could have any doubts or confusion about this remark concerning the Dharma Flower Sutra?
Since this remark refers to the collation of the layers of teachings of all the Buddhas of the past, present, and future, I would not dare add a single word from the commentaries of the scholars of humankind. Also, this sutra is the ultimate aspiration and the reason of all the Buddhas of the past, present, and future for coming into this world. Furthermore, this sutra is the direct means for all sentient beings to become Buddhas.
The forty-two years of sutric teachings that were for the conversion of others led to the establishment of the Kegon School [the School of the Flower Garland Sutra (Kegon, Avatāmsaka)], the Shingon School [the Tantric and Mantra School], the Daruma School [the School of the teachings that were transmitted by Bodhidharma, i.e., Zen], the Jōdo School [the School of the Immaculate Terrain, i.e., Nembutsu], the Hossō School [the Cognition-only School], the Sanron School [the School of the Three Treatises on the Middle Way], Risshū, the Ritsu School [the School of Monastic Discipline], the Kusha School [the School of the Doctrinal Store of the Dharma, Abhidharma kosha], and the Jōjitsu School [the School of the Establishment of the Real Meaning]. All the teachings of these schools belong to the four doctrinal periods of the eight classifications of Shākyamuni’s teaching that were expounded prior to the Dharma Flower Sutra.
These first four doctrinal periods of the Buddha teaching are the following: i. the combined doctrinal period in which the all-inclusive and the particular teaching were also taught during the Flower Garland (Kegon) period; ii. the teachings that were taught during the period of the individual vehicle were those of the three receptacles; iii. the comparative doctrinal period which corresponds to the period of the equally broad teachings, in which the doctrines of the three receptacles, the interrelated teachings, the particular teaching, and the all-inclusive teaching were contrasted with each other; and iv. the comprehensive doctrinal period, which is the period of the wisdom (hannya, prajña) teachings that were the final preparation for the perfect teaching. These four doctrinal periods were all an expedient means to entice people towards the Dharma Flower.
This is the order in which all the Buddhas of the past, present, and future have expounded the Dharma. The fact that this order is the correct one makes this argument a discourse that is a gateway to the Dharma. If, however, the order is in some way divergent, then it cannot be the Buddha Dharma. The lifetime of instruction of the Lord of the Teaching, the Tathāgata Shākyamuni, was also founded on the precedence of doctrine, in which all the Buddhas of the past, present, and future expounded the Dharma without a single discrepancy of even one ideogram. I also expound the Dharma in exactly the same way.
In the sutra, it says, “In the same manner as all the Buddhas of the past, present, and future have expounded the Dharma, I now, in like fashion, expound the Dharma that is (a one suchness) that is devoid of discrimination.” If it were in any way otherwise, it would forever be in contradiction to the original intent of all the Buddhas of the past, present, and future. All the other teachers who have founded their own schools make the error of errors, by disputing the school of the Dharma Flower [Hokkeshū]. It is also the bewilderment of not knowing what the Buddha Dharma is about.
In the book called A Probe into the Errors of other Doctrines, where it refutes the arguments of these various schools, we have, “On the whole, if one were to look over the dharma store of eighty thousand sutras, the special characteristics of the four categories of teachings that came prior to the Dharma Flower would not be at all apparent. The four categories of teachings are those of i. the three receptacles, ii. the interrelated teachings, iii. the particular teaching, and iv. the all-inclusive teachings. These four teachings first become noticeable in the sense that the three receptacles teachings were for the hearers of the Buddha’s voice, the interrelated teachings were for those who were awakened due to karmic circumstances, the particular teachings were for the bodhisattvas, and the all-inclusive teachings were the Buddha vehicle.
How could the Shingon School, the Zen School, the Hossō School, the Ritsu School, the Jōjitsu School, go beyond the four categories of teaching just mentioned or any further than whatever their schools may have taught? How could they go beyond the teachings of their individual schools or their own theoretical concepts?
If I were to say that they do go beyond the four categories of teaching, then how could they not be distorting and incomplete practices outside the Buddha teaching? If I were to say that the teachings of these schools do not go any further than the four categories of teaching that came before the Dharma Flower Sutra, then did you have any other expectation through asking?
This is what the fruitions of the four vehicles amount to. Naturally, now that I have given you the answer, you must be sure of what you are inferring through your questioning. Through looking into the practice and study of the four categories of teaching that came prior to the Dharma Flower, I can decide what the anticipated fruitions will be. If you think I am wrong, then you must press for further answers.
In the meantime, I would like to say that, just like the Flower Garland Sutra (Kegon, Avatāmsaka), each one of the five teachings of Shākyamuni’s lifetime are those in which the cultivation and practice of the cause leads the practitioner towards the virtues of their fruition. [All the practices of the Buddha teachings prior to the Dharma Flower Sutra were conducted through fifty-two stages, right on from the first until the practitioner had reached the fifty-second stage, which was understood to be the Dharma realm of the Buddha. This quotation refers to these stages of practice as that] the first, middle, and later stages cannot become the oneness of the practice of the Dharma Flower Sutra.
Each single doctrine that came before the Dharma Flower Sutra (Hokke-kyō) has its own awaited fruition. If the three receptacle teachings, the interrelated teachings, the particular teachings, and the all-inclusive teachings did not have their respective causes and fruitions, they could not be the Buddha teaching. It has to be decided as to which one of the three dharma wheels one is referring to – whether it is the dharma wheel of the basic fundamentals [the period of the teaching of the individual vehicle (shōjō, hīnayāna)], the Dharma wheel of the branches and twigs [the period of the equally broad (hōdō, vaipulya) teachings], or the Dharma wheel of removing the twigs and returning to the roots [the period of the wisdom (hannya, prajña) teachings].
By which vehicle of the Dharma are you aspiring to become enlightened?
If you say it is the Buddha vehicle, you have not yet seen the practice or the contemplation for becoming a Buddha. If you say you wish to become a bodhisattva, it is the difference between the practices of the middle way that are perpetuated over innumerable kalpas, whose teachings consider phenomena (ke), relativity (kū), and the middle way (chū) as separate entities, and the practice of the middle way, whose doctrine is based on the all-inclusive, unobstructed accommodation of phenomenon, relativity, and the middle way.
Are you able to choose the correct vehicle?
If you choose the practices of the middle way that are perpetuated over many kalpas, then you need not expect any fruition at all. If you make the practices of the all-inclusive, unobstructed accommodation of phenomenon, relativity, and the middle way your central point, then, with the Buddha Shākyamuni as a precedent, it is going to be difficult. Even if you were mistakenly going to start reciting mantras, you will probably not understand the destination of utterness through perceiving the three axioms of relativity, phenomenon, and the middle way as not being separate from the oneness of the mind of sentient beings. Like many other people, I doubt that you will ever substantiate the underlying principle of utterness.
Hence, it is a principle of our school to judge other teachings according to their ultimate aspirations. This is because, if you are looking in the direction of the Dharma Flower, the Flower Garland, and the Sutra on the Buddha’s Passing over to Nirvana, you will find that these sutras are gateways to the dharma that were used as an expedient means to entice people towards the real teachings. Such people become amenable through their propensities for the provisional teachings, which will ultimately lead them forward. Since they are disciples who are following the individual vehicle or teachings that are distorting and incomplete, they should be brought to a level of insight that will bring them to the real teachings.
Therefore, when one is expounding, one should be aware of those people who relied on the four important principles of the practitioner These practitioners may have found it necessary in their preaching to keep the real teachings back, but they used various expedient means, until people were ready to hear what the real intention of the Buddha teaching was concerned with.
[The four principles are i. to practise according to the Dharma and not the person who expounds it, ii. to practise according to the intended significance and not the words used, iii. to practise according to one’s inner wisdom and not according to acquired knowledge, iv) to practise according to the real aspect of the middle way (chū) as it is revealed in the Sutra on the Inexhaustible Significance and none other.]
Nevertheless, one must not become attached to these provisional doctrines. When people are inquiring into the significance of one’s own school by means of the provisional teachings, one has to decide as to where these other teachings are right and where they are wrong. But on all accounts, one must not become a bigot.
Generally speaking, there are many direct, gradual, and undetermined doctrines, but only a very few have the implications of the all-inclusive teachings. This is what the virtuous universal teacher of the past had decided, when all the teachings of every school were held up to the bright light of day and set in order. The scholars of the final period are not aware of this. They are confused and cannot make judgements with regard to the gateways of the Buddha teaching. It is important that people make a thorough study of the three teachings that lead to the Dharma Flower Sutra.
There are three categories of teaching – the direct, the gradual, and the all-inclusive. Generally speaking, these three doctrinal categories were the three ways in which the truth was imparted during Shākyamuni’s lifetime of sage-like teaching. The direct and gradual doctrines were taught over a period of forty-two years, and, for the most part, the all-inclusive teaching was revealed during the last eight years of Shākyamuni’s life. Altogether this makes the fifty years of teaching, outside of which there is no other Dharma.
How is it that people can get so mixed up about this fact?
As long as we are sentient beings, we talk in terms of the categories of teaching as representing the all-inclusive accommodation of phenomena (ke), relativity (kū), and the middle way (chū). But when we attain to the fruition of becoming Buddhas, we then talk about the three bodies of the Tathāgata. These are two different ways of saying the same thing.
To give a further explanation, what I have just said implies the lifetime of sage-like teaching of the Tathāgata. When we fully realise this, it becomes the total singularity of the all-inclusive accommodation of phenomena (ke), relativity (kū), and the middle way (chū).
This was taught in terms of the direct teaching of the Garland Flower Sutra as being the axiom of relativity, all the gradual teachings of the individual vehicle, the Equally Broad and Wisdom Sutras as being the axiom of phenomenon, and the Dharma Flower Sutra as being the axiom of the middle way. This is what the Tathāgata taught in conformity with his own enlightenment.
Furthermore, there are eight of the established schools outside our own that classify the three axioms of phenomena (ke), relativity (kū), and the middle way (chū) as being the constituents of the lifetime of sage-like teaching of the Tathāgata. But according to the doctrine propounded by each of these schools, all of them lack the principle of being all-inclusive and completely filling the whole, thereby making it impossible for people to open up their inherent Buddha nature. This is the reason why all the other schools have no real Buddha.
What I dislike about these schools is their insufficiency of meaning. By taking the all-inclusive teaching, one can contemplate each and every dharma. Since the all-inclusive teaching is the unobstructed accommodation of phenomena (ke), relativity (kū), and the middle way (chū), as well as being the all-inclusive, replenished whole of the one instant of mind containing three thousand existential spaces (ichinen sanzen), it is like the full moon of the fifteenth night of every lunar month.
Because the all-inclusive teaching is the final superlative, it is absolutely perfect without any deficiency. It is beyond the dualities of good and bad, choosing the occasion, or seeking quiet places, or even personal qualities. Since you know that all dharmas are entirely the Buddha Dharma, there is nothing that cannot be fathomed or understood. Therefore, even if you take the path of wrongdoing and injustice, (you will learn sooner or later through your negative experiences), through the fivefold wisdom of the Tathāgata, which is heaven, earth, water, fire, and wind.
This fivefold wisdom dwells in the minds of all sentient beings and is not separated from them, for even an instant. This fivefold wisdom exists harmoniously in our minds, both in the realms of existence or in the hereafter. Outside our own minds there is no dharma whatsoever. Therefore, when you hear (or read) this, you will, just where you are standing at this very moment, attain the fruition of becoming aware of your own inherent Buddha nature and in no time will be able to reason your way through to the ultimate realisation.
This all-inclusive accommodation of phenomena (ke), relativity (kū), and the middle way (chū) was taught, in terms of the direct teaching of the Flower Garland Sutra (Kegon, Avatāmsaka), as being the doctrine of the axiom of relativity (kū), all the gradual teachings of the individual vehicle (shōjō, hīnayāna), the equally broad (hōdō, vaipulya) and wisdom (hannya, prajña) sutras as representing the axiom of phenomenon (ke), and the Dharma Flower Sutra (Hokke-kyō) as representing the middle way (chū).
These three categories of teaching could be compared to a gem, its brilliance, and the piece of jewellery in which it consists. On account of these three virtues, we talk of this all-inclusive accommodation of phenomena (ke), relativity (kū), and the middle way (chū) as the precious talismanic stone, capable of responding to every wish – hence, the metaphor of the three axioms. Were these three virtues to be separated from each other, then any effectiveness this gem possessed would be of no avail.
So it is the same with the schools whose teachings are the expedient means, which have to be practised over periods of separate kalpas. The gem is a metaphor for the Dharma body, its brilliance is analogous to the reward body, and the piece of jewellery itself is a metaphor for the corresponding body. If schools are founded upon partialities of the all-inclusive accommodation of phenomena (ke), relativity (kū), and the middle way (chū), one should have no use for them, due to their incompleteness. However, when all is said and done, the all-inclusive accommodation of the triple axiom is a oneness that is the inseparability of the three bodies from the single embodiment of the originally enlightened Tathāgata.
Furthermore, the terrain of silence and illumination is comparable to a mirror. The other three terrains – i. where the sage-like and ordinary people dwell alongside each other, ii. the terrain of expedient means, where its occupants still have the remains of misunderstanding to be cleared away, and iii. the land of the reward of enlightenment – in reality are the images that are reflected in that mirror. These four terrains are in fact a single terrain. The three bodies of the Tathāgata – i. the Dharma body, ii. the reward body, and iii. the body (i.e., manifestation) that corresponds to the needs of sentient beings – are the constituents of the one Buddha. Now, when these three bodies are joined in harmony with the four terrains, they become the virtue of the one entity of the Buddha that we refer to as the Buddha enlightenment of silence and illumination.
With the Buddha of silence and illumination becoming the Buddha of the all-inclusive teaching, then the Buddha of the all-inclusive teaching becomes the awakening to the enlightenment of the Buddha in reality. The Buddha in the three remaining terrains is the provisional Buddha in the midst of the dream.
But when all the Buddhas of the past, present, and future used the same modes of expression in collating their doctrines into a coherent definitive teaching, they did not use the terms of ordinary speech, nor did they give any discursive explanations that could be contradicted. If these definitive teachings had in any way been different from each other, then it would have been the enormous wrongdoing of someone who opposes the teaching of all the Buddhas of the past, present, and future – such as one of the Demonic Deva outside the Buddha path, who have for ages been opposed to the Buddha Dharma.
This esoteric treasure [the Fundamental Object of Veneration (gohonzon)] is to be kept hidden, so as not to let it be seen by profane people. If this esoteric treasure were not hidden, it would be bandied about in the open, and any substantiation of its intrinsicality through practice would be lost. Thus people would be left, in this present life and in their lives that are yet to come, to be eclipsed in an ever-increasing darkness. This is because both the people who vilify this Dharma and who turn their backs on all the Buddhas of the past, present, and future as well as those people who listen to these misguided concepts will fall into the paths of evil. It is on this account that I am letting you know and cautioning you against committing such an error.
You must make the effort to substantiate the intrinsicality of this esoteric treasure through your practice, since this is what all the Buddhas of the past, present, and future originally had in mind. The two sage-like persons, the Bodhisattva Sovereign Remedy (Yaku’ ō, Bhaishajya-rāja) and the Bodhisattva Giver of Courage (Yuze, Pradhānashura), along with the two Universal Guardian Deva Kings, Jikoku and Bishamon, as well as the Rakshashi Kishimojin and her daughters, will watch over you and protect you. When you die you will be immediately reborn in the ultimate supreme terrain of silence and illumination.
But should you for the shortest while return to the dream of living and dying, your person [Dharma entity] will completely fill all the realm of dharmas of the ten directions, and your mind will be in the physical incarnations of all sentient beings. You will urge them on towards enlightenment from within, and on the outside you will show these sentient beings which path to take. Since there is a mutual correspondence between what is on the inside and what is on the outside, as well as there being a harmony between causes and karmic circumstances, you will busy yourself with the immense compassion that lies in the fullness of the reaches of your mind that is independently free to effectively benefit all sentient beings simultaneously.
What was in the mind of all the Buddhas of the past, present, and future, with regard to the one universal matter of the cause and karmic circumstances for making their appearance in the world [existential spaces], is that ‘one’ stands for the middle way and the Dharma Flower Sutra; ‘universal’ represents the axiom of relativity and the Flower Garland Sutra (Kegon, Avatāmsaka); ‘matter’ refers to the axiom of phenomenon and the individual vehicle, the equally broad and wisdom (hannya, prajña) teachings.
What the above implies is that the all-inclusive accommodation of the axioms of relativity, phenomenon, and the middle way were taught throughout the lifetime of Shākyamuni, in terms of the direct teaching of the Flower Garland Sutra (Kegon, Avatāmsaka), as being the teaching of the axiom of relativity (kū), all the gradual teachings of the individual vehicle (shōjō, hīnayāna), the equally broad (hōdō, vaipulya) and wisdom (hannya, prajña) sutras as representing the axiom of phenomenon (ke), and the Dharma Flower as representing the axiom of the middle way (chū).
When you know and fully realise the implications of this all-inclusive accommodation of the three axioms, it means that your fundamental motive for coming into the world is to take the direct path for becoming enlightened. As for the ‘cause’, it is this all-inclusive accommodation of these three axioms that exist everlastingly and unchangingly in the midst of the incarnations of all sentient beings. This is generally referred to as the ‘cause’.
Although ‘karmic circumstances’ may be said to be the triple aspect of the Buddha nature – which is i. the direct cause for becoming enlightened due to our innate Buddha nature, ii. the cause for becoming enlightened through being able to perceive the intrinsicality of the dharma nature, and iii. the karmic circumstances that bring about the revelation of our own inherent Buddha nature – if the karmic circumstances do not exist for meeting a good friend who can stimulate you towards the Buddha wisdom, you will never be aware of it, or know it, or have it revealed to you.
On the other hand, due to the karmic circumstances of meeting a good friend who stimulates you towards the Buddha wisdom, you will certainly have it revealed to you as the Fundamental Object of Veneration (gohonzon) – hence, the use of the term ‘karmic circumstances’ being needed in the expression ‘the one universal matter of the cause and karmic circumstances for the Buddha’s coming into the world’. Nevertheless, by putting these five words of ‘the one’, ‘universal’, ‘matter of’, ‘cause’ and ‘karmic circumstances’ together, then you have met the difficultly-encountered good friend who stimulates you towards the Buddha wisdom.
Why are you still procrastinating?
When spring comes, due to the karmic circumstances of wind and rain, this season is when all the trees and plants whose minds are without consciousness start sprouting shoots and buds, which later become the blossoms and the carpet of flowers that greet the world with a feeling of light colourfulness. When the autumn comes, it is due to the brightness of the moon that all the plants produce and all of the fruits of the trees become ripe, in order to sustain all sentient beings. Then, on account of the nourishing qualities of all of this produce, the lives of people are prolonged. In the end, they will reveal the enormous virtue of their role of having become Buddhas.
Is there anyone who doubts this or cannot believe it? If the plants and trees that are devoid of consciousness can do such things, then why not humankind, that is endowed with a natural sense of right and wrong?
Even though we are bewildered common mortals, at least we are endowed with enough mind and understanding to be able to know whether something is good or bad. However, with the entrenched karmic circumstances that have their origin in former lives, you were born in a country (terrain and abode) that has been receptive to the dissemination of the Buddha Dharma. Therefore, you should be able to discriminate the cause and fruition of having met the good friend who has urged you towards the Buddha wisdom.
Nevertheless, through having met this good friend, you ought to be a person who should be aware that your inherent Buddha nature is not separate from who you are now.
Do you mean to say you that are going to remain silent and show even less than what the plants and trees have of the threefold aspect of the Buddha nature that is within your own person?
This time you must, by all means, dissipate your illusions about the dream of living and dying and cut away the bonds of successive lives and deaths, by returning to the arousal of the original awakening. From now onwards, you must not get yourself taken in by the gateways to the dharmas within the dream. You must open up an all-pervasive enlightenment, by cultivating yourself in the practice of reciting Nam Myōhō Renge Kyō, with your whole mind in perfect harmony with all the Buddhas of the past, present, and future.
The difference between the teaching of the Buddha’s own practice and the doctrines that the Buddha used for the conversion of others is as clear as the daylight on a cloudless day. The collation of the layers of the various teachings of all the Buddhas of the past, present, and future is precise about this point. This must be kept secret.
The tenth month of the second year of Kō.an 
The Hoodoos, rock formation outside Drumheller, Alberta
Martin Bradley, The Buddha Writings of Nichiren Daishōnin, ISBN: 2-913122-19-1, 2005,
The Buddha Writings of Nichiren Daishōnin by Martin Bradley
is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 2.5 Canada License.