Concerning the Ten Such Qualities
The second year of Shōka , at 37 years of age
With the regard to our persons being the originally enlightened Tathāgata, whose three bodies [of the Dharma, reward, and corresponding bodies] are not separate from the one, it is expounded in the present sutra, where it says, “Such an appearance, such a nature, such a substance, such a strength, such an action, such a cause, such karmic relationships, such a fruition, such a requital, and then from such an appearance to such a requital – all these nine such qualities (nyoze) are equally the ultimate dimension of the real aspect of all dharmas.”
To begin with, “such an appearance” refers to how the colours and shape of our bodies look. This is said to be the corresponding body of the Tathāgata, as well as his freedom and release from transmigration, karma, and illusion and is also the axiom of phenomena. Next, we have “such a nature”. This refers to the inner quality of mind. It is the reward body of the Tathāgata, which is his wisdom and discernment and is said to be the axiom of relativity (kū, shūnyatā). Thirdly, we have “such a substance”, which is the fundamental reality of what we are. This is the Dharma body of the Tathāgata, the middle way of reality, and the fundamental nature of the Dharma (hosshin, Dharma-kāya), which is said to be silence and extinction.
Therefore, these three such qualities are the triple body of the Tathāgata. Since these three such qualities are the triple body of the Tathāgata, you must have thought that they were distantly set apart from the rest of us. Instead, this is something that concerns our very own persons. Those that know this to be so are said to be those who are enlightened by the Dharma Flower Sutra. These three such qualities are the basis out of which the other seven such qualities emerge, bringing the total up to ten such qualities.
These ten such qualities, combined with a hundred realms of dharmas, become a thousand such qualities. And then, combining again with the three existential spaces, they become the three thousand existential spaces. Thus, by being such a multifarious gateway to the Dharma, it could be thought of as the receptacle of the eighty-four thousand particles that make up the human body.
All of this is but the single Dharma of the triple axiom of existence – relativity (kū, shūnyatā), temporary phenomenal existence (ke), and the middle way of our perception of reality (chū). Outside of this triple axiom, there are no gateways to the Dharma. This is the reason why we refer to the ten [psychological] realms of dharmas as the axiom of phenomena (ke), the thousand such qualities as the axiom of relativity (kū, shūnyatā), and the three thousand existential spaces as the middle way of reality (chū). On account of the triple axiom of phenomena, relativity, and middle way, the hundred realms of dharmas, the thousand such qualities, and the three thousand existential spaces become a multifarious gateway to the Dharma.
Consequently, the triple axiom of the three such qualities, at the beginning, and the seven such qualities that come afterwards, are but one triple axiom. Also, from the beginning to the end, they are the intrinsicality that runs through the whole of ourselves. Then, there is this one item that is imponderable and inexplicable. It is regarded as being the ultimate superlative that runs equally from the beginning to the end of these nine such qualities. This is the Hon matsu kukyō tō that we recite.
With the first three such qualities, being the beginning, and the seven last such qualities, being the end, together they make up the ten such qualities that are the triple axiom of existence – relativity (kū, shūnyatā), temporary phenomenal existence (ke), and the middle way of our perception of reality (chū) – within ourselves. Since we are saying that this triple axiom is the triple body of the Tathāgata, then apart from the good and evil that sticks to our minds and bodies, there is not even the trace of a dharma to deny that our persons are not, in the long run, the inseparability of the three bodies from the one of the originally enlightened Tathāgata.
Thinking about this in another way, you could say that this is what sentient beings, people who are bewildered, and common mortals are. When we come to understand that this refers to our own persons, then you can say it is the Tathāgata, the enlightenment, the sage-like man (shōnin), or a person who knows. If we look upon it with clear understanding, we can say that our persons, in this present life, are finally none other than the manifestation of the originally enlightened Tathāgata. This means that becoming a Buddha is not separate from our persons just as we are.
For instance, because the fields are planted in spring and summer, we are able to collect the harvest in autumn and store it in winter. Likewise, the mind can be worked on in the same way. The time between spring and autumn seems to be drawn out, and we still have to wait most of the year. Similarly, it must seem that it takes an awfully long time, before we attain a stage where we can open our inherent Buddha nature and reveal our enlightenment. But, even so, within one lifetime, it can be shown that our persons are indeed the three bodies that are not separate from the one of the Buddha.
Accordingly, among the people who enter into the path, irrespective as to whether they have superior, middling, or lesser capabilities, all of them equally have the possibility to reveal their inherent Buddha nature in a single lifetime. People with greater propensities, on those hearing this teaching, can decidedly unveil their enlightenment to their inherent Buddha nature. Those whose capacities are average may take a day, a month, or even a year before it emerges.
But those of lesser capacities do not need more time, however thoroughly deadlocked they may become. This deadlock is only limited to a lifetime, so that when they come to the point of dying, it is as though they are startled into wakefulness from all the dreams they have had. It is only at that particular moment that their wild ideas that came from the cycle of living and dying, their strangest thoughts, and the reason for their resentments disappear without a trace. Through being startled, returning to the original enlightenment, they experience the Dharma realm and the uttermost joy of everything being silence and illumination. Then they may think of their normal lives as being something rather squalid, now that their persons can be the three bodies that are inseparable from the one of the Tathāgata of the original enlightenment.
Just as there are three sorts of rice plants that ripen in autumn – those that are harvested early, those that are reaped a bit later, and those that are gathered last of all – they are all collected within the one year. In the same way, even though there is difference between those of superior, average, and lesser propensities among humankind, they can all figure out, within a single lifetime, that they are in fact without any duality, the oneness of the fundamental substance of the Buddha Tathāgata.
With regard to the exquisiteness of the fundamental substance of Myōhō Renge Kyō, the Sutra on the White Lotus Flower-like Mechanism of the Utterness of the Dharma, you may ask: What is its composition?
It is the part of us that is the eight-petalled white lotus flower of the self-existing original mind. This means that the nature of our fundamental substance is Myōhō Renge Kyō. Even if there were no name for this sutra, yet at the same time if we had the knowledge of the fundamental substance of our persons, it would in due course turn out to be Myōhō Renge Kyō, which is the time and location of the simultaneousness of the cause and effect of the Utterness of the Dharma (Myōhō, Saddharma).
Due to the Buddha’s words, the Dharma Flower Sutra names and reveals what the fundamental substance of our persons really is, so that, in fact, at last we are able to become the three bodies that are not separate from the one of the originally enlightened Tathāgata. When we have deeply realised this, all the habitual worries we have had since the primordial infinity, as well as all our resentments and flights of the imagination, will become like the kinder reminiscences of those dreams gone by that have dissipated without a trace.
If you believe this and recite Myōhō Renge Kyō just once, becoming aware of what the Dharma Flower Sutra entails, it will be as though you were to read through the whole of this sutra with reverence, just as the Buddha expounded it. So, if you were to recite Myōhō Renge Kyō ten, a hundred, or a thousand times, it would be as though you had read and recited the whole sutra, the same number of times in the same way as the Dharma teaches. Therefore, you should hold faith in the person who practises in the same way as the Buddha taught. Nam Myōhō Renge Kyō.
Nichiren [formal signature]
The Purcell Mountains along the Columbia Valley, British Columbia
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.