The Essential Point of the Dharma Flower Sutra

Goshō Zenshū, pp. 331-338
Goshō Shinpen, pp. 732-738

The twenty-fourth day of the fifth month of the eleventh year of Bun’ei [May 1274], at 53 years of age

(Nichiren instructs the novice monk Fusō.)

When one comes to think it over, the sutras and other teachings that have come from under the Western Skies over India to Chinese soil and then on to Japan amount to five or seven thousand fascicles (scrolls). Among all these sutras and other teachings, if you will accept my point of view as well as the parts that are not clear, this has to include their precedence and sequence, their depths or lack of it, along with their difficulties or double meanings, or even whether they came before or after the exposition of the Dharma Flower Sutra.

According to most people whose knowledge is confused, they say that the Flower Garland Sutra, which has an enormous following, is contained in all the sutras that were subsequently expounded. The Hossō School (the school that aims at the ultimate entity through meditation and the specific criteria of all that is stored up in the storehouse consciousness) says that, underlying all the sutras that exist, the foremost sutra is the Abstruse Esoteric Secret (Himitsukyō).

The Sanron School (the “triple doctrine school”) bases its doctrine on “the Mean”, as translated by Kumārajţva. The doctrine on the “twelve points” and the “hundred verses” of the Sanron School was founded in India by Nagarjuna. The Middle School (Sanron) denied all reality of phenomenal (ke) existence and denied the noumenal world in negative terms. The reality of this school is a reality beyond human conception and expression. (All this may be termed a “Nirvanic” realm.) It says that “in the midst of all the sutras lies the ‘Wisdom Teaching’ which is first of them all”.

The Tantra and Mantra School (Shingon) says, “In the midst of every sutra is the presence of the Tathāgata ‘Universal Sun’, Dainichi Nyorai (Mahāvairochana), who is the first of all.” The Zen School says moreover that its teaching is the Ryōgakyō (the Buddha comes to Adam’s Peak in Ceylon) and that its practice is the mental concentration (in which the reasoning process of the intellect is cut short and consciousness is heightened by the exclusion of extraneous thoughts). They say that their school has no teaching whatsoever and is a separate transmission from the Buddha to Kashō (Mahākāshyapa).

The school that depends on the recitation of the name and title of the Buddha Amida (Amitābha) says, “Embedded in every single sutra there are the three volumes of the basic scriptures of the Pure Land School” and that a corresponding propensity for this teaching comes first of all for the final period of the Dharma of Shākyamuni. The Kusha School (whose principal teaching is based on the Abidatsuma [Abhidharma]) and which is one of the teachings of the Individual Vehicle along with the Jōjitsu School says [That which concerns the Dharma…] and it is claimed by those who follow the Individual Vehicle teachings to be the highest perfection attained by such a philosophy.

Also the Risshū claims equally that the four Agon (Āgama) sutras and the Rishu sutra, which is said to be the expression of the perfect wisdom of Dainichi Nyorai Buddha (Mahāvairochana), are the real teachings of Shākyamuni Buddha and says that sutras such as the Flower Garland and the Dharma Flower Sutra were not expositions of the Buddha but were written out by people outside the Buddha teaching. Or they will go on to say that those founders of the various schools, such as Tōgan, Chigon, Hōzō, Chikan, Genjō, Ji’on, Kajō, Dōrō, Zenmui, Fukū, Dōsen, Ganjin, Donran, Dōshō, Zendō, Daruma, and Keika – all these Tripitaka universal teachers are all worthy, and their wisdom is like the sun and moon. Their virtue and their wisdom are as far-reaching as the four seas that surround Mount Sumeru and are extolled in such a manner.

Nevertheless, they have not yet arrived at the mountain of treasures… and are still climbing and picking up old tiles and stones. But they will walk into groves of camphor trees. Should they take a liking to the eranda (castor-oil plant), they will hate it and have regrets.

Because lots of people have given up slander, without sufficient reason they make other choices. My disciples have made detailed enquiries into the matter. All the teachers of every school look into the older translations of the Buddhist texts and ignore the new translations of the holy compilations. Or they base their arguments on the new interpretations and push the older versions to the side. Or they even hold to the writings of their own schools and follow their personal opinions. They punctuate and annotate texts with stupid ideas, in order to influence successive generations. Surprisingly, like frightened and startled rabbits, they enquire after the truth. They hold up their fans of wisdom (that they use for instruction), pointing them towards the moon in the sky. They put aside their errors and simply take up reason as people of wisdom.

Now, for teaching in the final period of the Dharma of Shākyamuni, real teachers of humankind should put false concepts to the side and in particular do research into the fundamental sutra and the fundamental discourse [i.e., Tendai (T’ien T’ai) and Myōraku (Miao-lo)]. For fifty or so years, out of all the sutras in the fourth scroll of the Dharma Flower Sutra, the Tenth Chapter on the Dharma as a Teacher has been, in relation to the three words of past, present, and future, the most important.

It would seem that all the commentators and all the teachers of humankind should indeed definitely look at the sutric texts. Nevertheless, they should aim at the sutras that are an approximation or identity of the individual to the Buddha of the Sixteenth Chapter on the Lifespan of the Tathāgata.

Or should they simply hold to the distorted views of their original teachers? Or should they take refuge in their sovereigns and ministers? Or should they trust in the “Golden Light Sutra” (Konkōmyō-kyō, Suvarnaprabhāsa Sutra) which is regarded as the king of sutras, or even the Esoteric Garland Sutra (Daijō-mitsugon kyō), which is seen as the superlative amongst the sutras? Or should they trust in the “Six means of reaching the other shore of Nirvana“ (Ropparamitsu kyō), which generally is considered the first to be held to, or even the chapter on ”What is Enlightenment?” from the Sutra on Dainichi Nyorai (Mahāvairochana Sutra)? Or should they trust in the chapter on “Being able to have faith in this sutra is the most difficult of all” from the Flower Garland Sutra (Kegon kyō), along with “Not seeing a single item so as to see the Dharma nature” from the Wisdom Sutras, or even in the passage from “Discourse on Reaching the Other Shore” (Mahāpraj˝āparamita padesha), where we have, “The wisdom that ferries us to the shore of Nirvana is foremost of all”? The Nirvana doctrine (Nehan Ron, Nirvana Shastra) says that “The truth of today is Nirvana”, and so forth.

All these quotations are from the past, present, and on to the future and are an approximation or identity of the individual and the Buddha in the Sixteenth Chapter on the Lifespan of the Tathāgata in the Dharma Flower Sutra (i.e., life itself).

Be that as it may, either Brahma (Bonten) or the four deva kings on the corners of the Fundamental Object of Veneration are the sovereigns of the sutras. Or they would coincide with the sutras of the Individual Vehicle or as sovereigns of them. Or even Shoman [(Shrimala) who was the daughter of King Prasenajit of Shravasti] from the Flower Garland Sutra (Kegon kyō) could be seen as being the superlative from amongst the sutras.

For fifty years, of all the sutras, which include the whole Individual Vehicle and the Universal Vehicle, as well as the provisional teachings along with the real teachings, the esoteric, and the teachings for everybody, not one of these teachings has been the supreme ruler of them all. As a result, looking at all of them, we have to judge which is superior and which is inferior.

A powerful enemy has to be put down or else it will begin to make its strength known. Furthermore, all the sutras are from the single Buddha Shākyamuni, who promoted the sutras of the Individual Vehicle, or else it was Bodhisattva Ma˝jushrī (Monjushiri) or the Bodhisattva Gedatsugatsu or Kongosatta (Vajra Sattva), etc. Or it was other bodhisattvas that were involved in the propagation of the sutras who were not the bodhisattvas under Jōgyō (Bodhisattva Superior Practice, Vishishtachāritra bodhisattva) who swarmed up out of the earth.

Now the Dharma Flower Sutra, as well as all other sutras, in contrast to a lifetime’s teaching, goes beyond, so that there are twenty categories of sutras. The most important among them are two, and then there is a third. In five of these sutras there exist only two dharmas. The third contains the three thousand kalpas of dust.

Suppose a person grinds down a universe into a big ink stick and makes ink with it. This person then puts a dot on each of one thousand worlds with this ink. Then he puts another dot on each of another thousand worlds. In this way, he makes as many dots as possible until the ink is exhausted. Then this person smashes into dust all the worlds that are dotted. This is a concept of as many kalpas made in this way.

Each sutra clearly originated from Shākyamuni Buddha. Or else it was due to the period necessary for a bodhisattva to become a Buddha, i.e., three asōgi (asankhya) and one hundred regular kalpas, or even as many kalpas as there are grains of dust, or even boundless kalpas that cannot be counted.

For more than twenty-nine kalpas, Shākyamuni was the lord of wisdom and practice, in the same way as the Demon Deva of the sixth heaven above Mount Sumeru, Taishaku (Indra) and the Sovereigns of the Four Quarters on the four corners of the Fundamental Object of Veneration. Beginning with the Sovereign Brahma (Bonten) and Shākyamuni, as to who is the foremost in wisdom and practice is a matter for discussion. But since Bonten raises one finger, he is able to suppress, and when he slightly inclines his head towards the Demon Deva Sovereign, the sentient beings of the three dimensions all take refuge in the Dharma of Shākyamuni.

(The three dimensions are where the sentient beings have desires and live in an apparently physical world with material surroundings, and such beings are endowed with thoughts, ideas, fantasies, and dreams.)

Again, should one inquire into the causative position of all the Buddhas and the causative position of Shākyamuni, every Buddha’s causative position lies in the three asōgi (asankhya) kalpas and one hundred regular kalpas of practice or even the number of particles of dust that are left over from grinding up five hundred kalpas. Shākyamuni’s causative position was already established three thousand dust particle kalpas ago, for all the sentient beings in this world of ours [shaba (sahā)] who have a karmic relationship with this original teacher.

(Suppose a person grinds down a universe into a big ink stick and makes ink with it. This person then puts a dot on each of one thousand worlds with this ink. Then he puts another dot on each of another thousand worlds. In this way, he makes as many dots as possible until the ink is exhausted. Then this person smashes into dust all the worlds that are dotted. This is a concept of as many kalpas made in this way. Gohyaku jintengō means as many kalpas as particles of dust made in this way.)

All the sentient beings of this world of ours are submitted to the six paths of sentient existence and have other teachers and other bodhisattvas with whom they have a karmic relationship, and there is not a single person without one. As the Dharma Flower Sutra says, “At that time, among those who listened to the Dharma, everyone had a place with each and every Buddha. Tendai (T’ien T’ai) states, “In the West there is a Buddha Amida (Amitābha) and those who have a karmic relationship with him are unrelated, because they do not have the morality of the relationship between father and son. Myōraku (Miao-lo) said, “The two Buddhas Amida and Shākyamuni were already separate. In the past they had a separate affinity. And were not their ways of transmitting the Dharma different?”

Karmic relationships are comparable to family karma, and fulfillment has to be nourished. When family karma and upbringing become different, then father and son do not get on with each other.

At the present time, all the sentient beings of Japan are waiting for Amida (Amitābha) Buddha’s welcome. For instance, if a calf is brought up on a horse’s milk, it would be like a mirror made from a tile so as to reflect the moon in the sky. Then we should talk about this result.

All the Buddha Tathāgatas attained enlightenment in the past of either ten, a hundred, or even a thousand kalpas ago. The lord of the teaching Shākyamuni had already attained a completely fulfilled utter enlightenment five hundred kalpas of particles of dust ago. Dainichi Nyorai (Mahāvairochana), Amida Nyorai (Amitābha Tathāgata), and Yakushi Nyorai (Bhaishajyaguru Tathāgata), etc., are Buddhas of the extremities of the ten directions, and all are followers of the original teacher of our doctrine Shākyamuni, who makes the moon in the sky float on all waters.

In the Flower Garland Sutra, upon the platform of the ten directions, there is Vairochana. In the Dainichi kyō (Mahāvairochana Sutra) and in the Kongōchō kyō (Vajrashekhara Sutra) there are two dimensions to Dainichi Nyorai. In the Eleventh Chapter on Seeing the Vision of the Stupa made of Precious Materials, there are two, as supporters to the left and right of Tahō Nyorai (Prabhūtaratna Tathāgata), in the same way as a sovereign of this world has two ministers beside him. This Buddha Tahō was in the Sixteenth Chapter on the Lifespan of the Tathāgata and was a follower of the lord of our teaching.

Ever since five hundred dust particles ago, we sentient beings have been the beloved children of Shākyamuni, the lord of our teaching. Through having made the mistake of not having filial piety, are not perceptive people of the present age similar to people from another direction of the compass?

To have a karmic relationship with a Buddha should be like the moon in the sky being reflected in clear water, wherever it may be. If we have no karmic relationship with a Buddha, it is like a deaf person listening to the thunder or a blind person facing the sun and moon. Or else it is like some teachers who put Shākyamuni down and glorify Dainichi Nyorai (Tathāgata Mahāvairochana). Or there are some teachers who say that we have no karmic relationship with the World Honored One, but we do have a karmic relationship with Amida Buddha (Amitābha). Or there are some teachers who say that we have a karmic relationship with the Shākyamuni of the Individual Vehicle, or the Shākyamuni of the Flower Garland Sutra (Kegon kyō, Avataṃsaka Sutra), or even with the Shākyamuni whose teaching was derived from the external events of his life and work (shakumon).

All these teachers, along with those who contribute regularly to their temple and belong to its congregation, would have Shākyamuni forgotten so they could accept all the other Buddhas. For instance, it would be as if Prince Ajātashatru was to kill King Bimbisāra, or like opposing Shākyamuni in the same way as Devadatta.

Two months and fifteen days after Shākyamuni’s Parinirvana, or even after twelve months and fifteen days, there was a memorial service for the Benevolent Father of the threefold world. Zendō (613–681, the founder of the Zendō School of the Chinese Immaculate Terrain Doctrine), Hōnen (1133–1212, the founder of the Jōdo School), along with Yōkan and others, were deluded by Devadatta in such a way, so that the day of Shākyamuni’s Parinirvana was made the day for Amida (Amitābha) Buddha, up to the point when the fifteenth day of the twelfth month was recorded as a day when the three Buddhas were born. The memorial day of our Benevolent Father has been altered for other Buddhas. Those people with a sense of filial piety, what are they supposed to do?

In the Sixteenth Chapter on the Lifespan of the Tathāgata it says, “I am furthermore the father of this dimension”, because he tried to cure the children who had lost their minds. The Universal Teacher Tendai (T’ien T’ai) says, “Originally the Buddha’s intention was that people should resolve to attain supreme enlightenment.” Again, according to this Buddha, people should abide at the stage of not giving up their practice, until a hundred rivers become salty like the water of the sea, or when we die and our affinities are pulled away, so that one has to be reborn time and time again.

The question is asked: For whom was the Dharma Flower Sutra expounded?

The answer is given: From the Second Chapter on Expedient Means right on until the Ninth Chapter on the Announcement of the Future Attainment to Buddhahood of Both Those who Need and Do Not Need Instruction, all these eight chapters have two meanings.

Starting at the top and reading downwards, then the first is for the bodhisattvas, the second is for people of the two vehicles, and the third is for ordinary people. From the Fourteenth Chapter on Practicing in Peace and with Joy, the Thirteenth Chapter on Exhorting the Disciples to Receive and Hold to the Buddha Teaching, and the Twelfth Chapter on Daibadatta (Devadatta) as well as the Eleventh Chapter on Seeing the Vision of the Stupa made of Precious Materials along with the Tenth Chapter on the Dharma as a Teacher, if those chapters were to be read in reverse order, they were expounded for sentient beings as a basis for practice after the Parinirvana of Shākyamuni Buddha.

Putting to the side the sentient beings of when the Buddha was in this world, this is a teaching for the thousand years after the Buddha’s extinction into Nirvana. And the period of the next thousand years is when the Dharma of Shākyamuni is an imitation of itself, if we were to put this period to the day. And then the final Dharma (of Nichiren) becomes the period of the righteous Dharma (when people can become enlightened by it). In the midst of this final Dharma, there is Nichiren, whereby the Dharma becomes righteous.

[Nichiren Daishōnin is the Buddha for our time (mappō).]

The question is asked: What proof is there?

The answer given is as follows: Why should it not be after Shākyamuni’s extinction into Nirvana?

Again the question is raised and full of doubts: For the Dharma (of Nichiren) becoming the correct Dharma, what evidence is there in the texts?

The answer is given: All people devoid of wisdom, in an evil way, vilify him, even up to the point where there are numerous people who lay on staves and swords.

What about self praise?

The following reply is given: Because my person has been given too much joy, so that it is difficult to bear– hence, I praise myself.

The question is then asked: What is the significance of the teachings of the original archetypal state?

The answer is given: There are two meanings of the teachings of the original archetypal state. One is roughly opening up that which is near, so as to reveal the distant past, which is in the Fifteenth Chapter on the Bodhisattvas who Swarm up Out of the Earth, as well as the previous four tastes that were defined by Tendai (T’ien T’ai) as the four periods of Shākyamuni’s teaching preliminary to the fifth (i.e., that of the Dharma Flower Sutra), in order that all sentient beings shall get freedom from sufferings and delusions in the three worlds (where the sentient beings have desires and live in an apparently physical world with material surroundings, and such beings are endowed with thoughts, ideas, fantasies, and dreams).

The second significance is also in the Fifteenth Chapter on the Bodhisattvas who Swarm up Out of the Earth, from the half chapter where Shākyamuni’s disciples were moved by giving rise to doubts. Also there is the Sixteenth Chapter on the Lifespan of the Tathāgata and half of the Seventeenth Chapter on Discerning the Meritorious Virtues. Above all, there is the one chapter and two halves which contain what is called the “Broadly Clearing Away of that which is Near at Hand in order to Reveal the Distant Past” which is for after the Buddha’s (Shākyamuni’s) Parinirvana.

It is asked: What is the meaning of the “Broadly Clearing Away of that which is Near at Hand in order to Reveal the Distant Past”?

The reply is given: From the moment when Shākyamuni was first enlightened, he was able to live in the freedom of the Wisdom (Praj˝ā) teachings. Shākyamuni did not even have a single disciple when all these bodhisattvas and deva-like beings– both Monju (Ma˝jushrī bodhisattva) and Miroku (Maitreya bodhisattva), along with all the bodhisattvas who had renounced their extinction into nirvana for the sake of the needs of the sentient beings, along with Bonten (Brahma), Taishaku (Indra), the deva of the sun, moon and all the stars, as well as the Dragon Kings– attained Buddhahood. And when all these bodhisattvas and deva-like beings attained Buddhahood, Shākyamuni had not yet started teaching. At first he simply existed in an unthinkable state of freedom. He then expounded the two doctrines of the teachings especially for bodhisattvas (bekkyō) and also the prelude to the All-inclusive Teaching (engyō). After that, Shākyamuni broadly expounded the Agon teaching (Āgama), the equally broad teachings (hōdō, vaipulya), and the wisdom teachings (praj˝a).

Nevertheless, all these teachings were only of small benefit. Already when people knew the two teachings of those Especially for Bodhisattvas (bekkyō) and those that were a prelude to the All-inclusive doctrine (engyō), they were capable of completely understanding the teachings of the Tripitaka Canon (Canon of the Three Baskets, Teachings of the Individual Vehicle) and the three interrelated teachings (Tsūgyō, which was Shākyamuni’s way of introducing the Universal Vehicle), so that both the Superior and Inferior were folded together. In detail, if we are to discuss this further, either Shākyamuni was extremely skillful or else he had a good friend (to help him) who was not in his following.

When Shākyamuni expounded the eight chapters of the Dharma Flower Sutra that were based on the teachings that are derived from the external events of the Buddha Shākyamuni’s life and work (shakumon), on hearing such a Dharma that had never been heard before, the listeners became disciples of the World Honored One. When Sharihotsu (Shariputra) and Mokkenren (Maudgalyāna) had come to Deer Park (where Shākyamuni was preaching), they made a resolution to attain supreme enlightenment and become disciples. However, only the provisional doctrine of the Universal Vehicle was acknowledged at the time. Now when we come to the Dharma Flower Sutra, the reality of the Dharma is conferred.

When we come to the roughly clearing away of what is near so as to reveal the far distant past in the original archetypal state of the Dharma Flower Sutra, more than the important bodhisattvas, the people of the two vehicles, Bonten (Brahma), Taishaku (Indra), the deva of the sun and moon, the four deva kings who guard the cardinal points of Mount Sumeru, and the kings of the dragons of the Kegon Kyō (Avatāmsaka Sutra) came close to being enlightened to Utterness. Or again, the doctrine of the Dharma Flower Sutra can bring people to the stage of enlightenment to Utterness. Nonetheless, if we look towards the heavens, we can see the living entity of the Buddha enlightened to Utterness, in his original state, benefitting all beings.

The question is asked: For whom was the “Broadly Clearing Away of that which is Near at Hand in order to Reveal the Distant Past” in the Sixteenth Chapter on the Lifespan of the Tathāgata expounded?

The answer is given: The whole of the Chapter on the Lifespan of the Tathāgata and the two halves of the chapters preceding and after it, from the beginning to the end, are indeed for the sentient beings of after the Buddha’s extinction into nirvana. During the time of after the Buddha’s extinction into nirvana is the final period of the Dharma of Shākyamuni and the present time, which is for Nichiren along with his disciples.

The question is asked full of doubts: It is said that such a gateway to the Dharma has not been heard previously and that these teachings were for after Shākyamuni’s Parinirvana. Is there anything about this in the sutras? This is beyond my wisdom and intelligence. For instance, even if one were to quote the sutras, who would believe it?

(The answer is given:) Albeit when “roughly clearing away of what is near so as to reveal the far distant past” was expounded and when the bodhisattvas swarmed up out of the earth the congregation was moved by doubts, the text of the Dharma Flower Sutra goes on to say, “Moreover, all the new bodhisattvas who have resolved to attain the supreme enlightenment will, after the extinction of Shākyamuni into nirvana, if they were to again listen to these words, and to believe them and have not committed slander, then these words are the cause and concomitancies for karma.”

The meaning of this text is that when the Chapter on the Lifespan of the Tathāgata was expounded, the people of the final period would fall into demerited paths. It says in the Chapter on the Lifespan of the Tathāgata, “I will leave this good and excellent medicine here.” The meaning of this quotation is that the previously mentioned from the far distant past was expounded earlier. By this phrase, the following concept is expressed and after Shākyamuni’s Parinirvana is to be the foundation of the Buddha teaching.

First I will go back to the previous examples. In the Seventeenth Chapter on Discerning the Meritorious Virtues, there is the expression “the demerited age after Shākyamuni’s extinction into nirvana”. And in the Twenty-first Chapter on the Reaches of the Mind of the Tathāgata, it says, “After my extinction into nirvana, you should therefore hold to this sutra. All the Buddhas will be filled with joy and boundless reaches of the mind will come to the fore.” In the Twenty-third Chapter on the Original Conduct of the Bodhisattva Sovereign Medicine (Yaku’ ō, Bhaishajya-rāja), it says, “After my extinction into nirvana and during the fifth five-hundred-year period, there will be the broad propagation (of this teaching) (kōsen rufu) throughout the world of humankind (Embudai, Jambudvīpa) without any break whatsoever.” It also says, “This sutra is accordingly the good medicine for the people who dwell in the terrains of humankind.”

It says in the sutra on the Buddha’s passing over to nirvana, “For instance, there were seven children. Even though the father and mother were on equal terms (with all of them), yet they paid particular attention to the child that was sick. Among the seven children, the first and the second reviled the Dharma of that world of humankind (Ichenbudai, Jambudvīpa). Out of all the illnesses, slandering the Dharma Flower Sutra brings about the most severe illness. But out of all the medicines, Nam Myōhō Renge Kyō was the best of all good remedies.”

{Nam Myōhō Renge Kyō means to devote our lives to and found them on (Nam[u]) the Utterness of the Dharma (Myōhō) [entirety of existence, enlightenment and unenlightenment] permeated by the underlying white lotus flower-like mechanism of the interdependence of cause, concomitancy and effect (Renge) in its whereabouts of the ten [psychological] realms of dharmas (Kyō).}

This world of humankind (Ichenbudai, Jambudvīpa) was seven thousand yojanas across and contained eight thousand different states. Between the periods of the correct Dharma in which people could become enlightened and the period in which the Dharma becomes an imitation of what it should be, there will not yet be a broad propagation of this teaching. If the Dharma Flower Sutra does not comply with its propagation during the present time (13th Century), then Shākyamuni is responsible as a Buddha for making reckless statements.

Then the Buddha Abundant Treasure’s (Tahō, Prabhūtaratna) testimony bubbled up, and at the same time the Buddha emanations of the ten directions helped by saying, “It is true,” like a bunch of bananas on a tree.

The question is asked full of doubt: The testimony of Abundant Treasure and the bodhisattvas who swarmed up out of the earth, for whose benefit were they? According to people of our society, they say, “For the Buddha when he was in the world”.

But Nichiren replies, Both Sharihotsu (Shariputra) and Mokkenren (Maudgalyāna), along with others, would say, if we were to discuss this now, then it is the “summit of wisdom”. (See The Threefold Transmission on the Fundamental Object of Veneration.)

The most important of Shākyamuni’s reaches of the mind and his holiest aspect, if we are to talk about the past, would be Konryūda Buddha along with Seiryūda Buddha (and was the original terrain of Mokkenren). Then, by discussing the future, Sharihotsu will become Tathāgata Kekō (Flower-like Brilliance). And if we are to talk about Vulture Peak (Ryōjusen, Gridhrakūta), Sharihotsu suddenly terminated and got rid of his three mental confusions and became a great bodhisattva.

[The three mental confusions (Sanwaku) are things seen and thought; i.e., 1) delusions that are derived from the Individual Vehicle, 2) delusions preventing a bodhisattva from saving others, and 3) delusions preventing a bodhisattva from understanding the middle way of existence (chūdō jissō).]

Then, if we are to talk about him from the point of view of the original archetypal state, he was a bodhisattva who since ancient times kept his wisdom to himself. Monju (Ma˝jushrī) and Miroku (Maitreya), as well as other great bodhisattvas, are incarnations of people who had studied under ancient Buddhas.

Both Bonten (Brahma) and Taishaku (Indra), as well as the devas of the sun and moon, along with the four Great Deva Sovereigns who guard the cardinal points of Mount Sumeru, were already, before Shākyamuni became enlightened, beings who were extremely sacred. Besides, they were aware of the four flavors (of the Tendai teaching, i.e., fresh milk, cream, curdled milk, and butter), as well as the four teachings, down to knowing each single word of these sutras.

[The four teachings refer to those 1) such as the Agon (Āgama) teachings wherein the four noble truths are taught, 2) sutras of the Universal Vehicle, such as the Praj˝aparamita sutras which explain relativity (kū), 3) teachings such as Lankāvatāra sutras that teach that all sentient beings are the absolute reality in themselves, 4) the teachings of the Universal Vehicle in which the concept of instantaneous enlightenment is taught.]

When Shākyamuni was in this world, not all people were completely ignorant. Who would there be to dispel the doubts of the congregation when the Buddha Tahō (Prabhūtaratna Buddha) lent his testimony? All the Buddha emanations were protruding their tongues as far as the heaven of Bonten (Brahma). And had not the bodhisattvas who swarm up out of the earth been summoned? Are they not said to come from every direction? Therefore, as a result, the sutric text says, “still more after the Buddha’s extinction into nirvana’ or ‘so that the Dharma will go on for a (very) long time”. The quotations from the sutra suggest that they all seriously refer to us. Consequently, the Universal Teacher Tendai (T’ien T’ai) referred to the future, saying, “After five hundred years, we will finally be refreshed by the Utterness of the Dharma (Myōhō, Saddharma).”

The final period of the Dharma of Shākyamuni (Mappō) is terribly close. These five ideograms represent the age we are living in. Is this not the period for the broad propagation of the Dharma Flower Sutra?

The question is asked: After two thousand years after the Parinirvana of Shākyamuni, do Ryūju (Nāgārjuna), Tenjin (Vasubandhu), Tendai (T’ien T’ai), and Dengyō still remain?

The answer is given: (They are included in) the Fundamental Object of Veneration on the Altar of the Precept and the five ideograms of the theme and title.

The question is asked: The Dharma in its correct phase and when the Dharma is a caricature of what it should be, will they not be propagated as such?

The answer is given: If the correct Dharma is propagated, then the Individual Vehicle, the Provisional Universal Vehicle, the teachings derived from the external events of the Buddha Shākyamuni’s life and work, and the teachings of the original archetypal state must come to an end. (This only leaves Nam Myōhō Renge Kyō!!)

The question is asked: When the Buddha Dharma comes to be entirely extinguished, what will be taught in its place?

The answer is given: In the final period of the Dharma (of Shākyamuni), the Individual Vehicle, the Universal Vehicle, the Provisional teachings, those teachings that are to be revealed and those that should be kept secret, as well as all the teachings that do not attain to any purer realization should be seen as slander throughout the world and should be terminated. But, because of my (as well as others’) having bad causes which disrupt any aspiration to attain enlightenment, only the five ideograms for Myōhō Renge Kyō should remain. For instance, in the same way as in the Twentieth Chapter on the Bodhisattva Not Holding Anyone or Anything in Contempt Ever, my disciples are all followers of their affinities (jun-en) and the rest of Japan (the world) has bad causes that disrupt any aspiration to attain enlightenment.

It is said doubtfully: Broadly making an abridgment, should we not keep the essentials?

The reply is given: The Tripitaka Genjō (HsŘan Tsang) threw the abridgments away and preferred the essentials, which amount to the forty scrolls of the “Major Wisdom Sutra” (Daibon Hannya Kyō, Mahāpraj˝ā Paramita Sutra), which all together come to six hundred scrolls. The Tripitaka Raju (Kumārajţva) set aside the complete editions and preferred the more concise texts. He wrote a thousand scrolls of the “Treatise on the Perfection of Wisdom” (Makahannya Haramitsu, Mahāpraj˝āparamita Shastra) along with another hundred scrolls.

Nichiren puts rough abridgments to the side and holds on to the essential, which is the version of the Sutra on the White Lotus Flower-like Mechanism of the Utterness of the Dharma that was transmitted by the bodhisattva Jōgyō (Bodhisattva Superior Practice, Vishishtachāritra bodhisattva), which consists of five (seven) characters.

When Shi Tō Rin was giving lectures on the sutras, he put aside the parts that were delicate and merely mentioned the general outlines. When the Buddha entered the stupa made of precious substances, the two Buddhas sat side by side. The emanations of Shākyamuni had been assembled, so as to summon up the bodhisattvas who swarm up out of the earth.

Concerning the essence of this matter, it would not have a separate meaning for the present generation. Nevertheless, these five (seven) ideograms were conferred as corresponding to (the needs of the people) of the final period after Shākyamuni’s Parinirvana.

It is asked full of doubt: If this teaching were to be spread around to the present generation, they would ask what the previous phenomena were, wouldn’t they?

The answer is given: In the Dharma Flower Sutra it says, “Such a phenomenon…” and the text goes on until it says, “… has a coherence with their apparent karmic consequences” which are present in every instant of life. Tendai (T’ien T’ai) stated, “A spider hanging down on its thread is welcomed gladly. A magpie implies that a guest is coming. Even little events can point to something, so what about those that are bigger?”

The question is asked: Could it be by any chance that such things would really happen?

The answer is given: In the reign called Shōka (1257), there was that great earthquake. During the reign called Bun’ei (1264), there was that comet. From that time onwards up until now, there have been enormous natural disasters. All these events occurred because of an earlier warning phenomenon. In the “Sutra on the Benevolent King” (Ninnō-kyō), it speaks of seven calamities, twenty-nine calamities, and boundless calamities. In the “Golden Light Sutra” (Konkōmyō-kyō, Suvarnaprabhāsa Sutra), the “Sutra of the Great Assembly” (Daijikkyō), the “Sutra on Protection”, and also in the “Sutra on Yakushi” (Bhaiajya-guru), all those sutras talk about the prevention of every kind of misfortune. Apart from the places that did not have them, there were two thousand three hundred forty-five major natural disasters. Or did not such things happen at all?

In the chapter on the Correct Discourse, from the laws of the king in the most supreme sovereign of the sutras, it says: “Shooting stars that fall and bring about terrible natural disasters, or when two suns even come up together… Pillagers from other parts come and cause losses and confusion among the dwellers of the kingdom.” At the beginning of the Ryōgon Kyō (Shurangama Sutra) it says, “Either one sees two suns in the sky or two moons appear at night.” The “Sutra on Yakushi” (Bhaisajya-guru) says, “When the eclipse of either the sun or moon is recorded, it is a sign of disaster.”

The “Golden Light Sutra” (Konkōmyō-kyō, Suvarnaprabhāsa Sutra) says, “When there are numerous comets appearing, as well as two suns, along with irregular watery eclipses…” In the “Sutra of the Great Assembly” (Daijikkyō) it says, “If the Buddha Dharma really declines to the point where the light of the sun and moon do not shine…” The “Sutra on the Benevolent King” (Ninnō-kyō) says, “The sun and moon pass away, and the seasons will come in reverse order. Or either a red or black sun will appear for one or two, or three or four, or five days. Or either the sun will be eclipsed and will not shine, or the sun’s disk will repeatedly become manifest one or two or three or four or five times over.”

The different calamities of the sun and moon predict either the seven disasters or the twenty-nine disasters or even all kinds of natural disasters. And among all these disasters there will be the one all-embracing ominous disaster.

The question is asked: What is it that brings about all those minor, middling, and all-consuming disasters?

The answer is given: It says in the Superlative King of Sutras, “If one sees somebody transgressing the Dharma, then indeed one should give rise to love and respect and, as a person who practices the good Dharma, should, with a painful caning, administer punishment.” In the Dharma Flower Sutra and also in the Nirvana Sutra, as well as in the “Golden Light Sutra” (Konkōmyō-kyō, Suvarnaprabhāsa Sutra), they say, “Because a good person should administer punishment on a bad one, the constellations as well as the wind and the rain will not seasonably come in order.”

In the “Sutra of the Great Assembly” (Daijikkyō) it says, “Should the Buddha Dharma fall to naught, then it is due to a wicked king and evil monks who revile my correct Dharma.” The “Sutra on the Benevolent King” (Ninnō-kyō) says, “When wise and good and correct people depart, then the seven disasters will come about.” Also the same sutra states, “When the Dharma no longer exists, there will be regulations so that ordained monks will be bound and lawfully thrown into prison. During that time, rightful laws will be extinguished, and they will not be resuscitated for a long time. At that time, the Dharma will accordingly be destroyed, and it will not be restored for a long time.” Again, the same sutra says, “All the demerited monks who seek the advantages of fame, through their causes and concomitancies destroy the Buddha Dharma in front of the sovereign, the prince, and the king’s offspring. This will be the cause of the destruction of the state.” If the sovereign does not realize this, then he should listen to these words and take the text to heart.

By virtue of these clear mirrors, one can then take a look at contemporary Japan (of the 13th century). The sky and earth will be carried off. Those that have eyes are my disciples– all can see. Indeed you should know that in this country there are demerited monks. The emperors and princes, as well as the Shoguns, all falsely charge the Daishōnin in such a way that the world might be lost.

The question is asked: King Pushyamitra who was the successor of King Ashoka, the Emperor Kaisho, and Moriya foresaw that the Buddha Dharma in Turkestan, China, and Japan would be lost and destroyed. And both Āryasimha and Devabodhisattva were killed, weren’t they? At that time, such great disasters did not appear, did they?

The answer is given: Disasters are according to people being either great or small. In the two thousand years of the correct Dharma and the period of its imitation, there have been wicked rulers and demerited monks who either took advantage of teachings outside the Buddha Dharma or proclaimed themselves as leaders of the Dharma, but really were believers in a false divinity. Although to cause the loss and destruction of it is still considered a rather superficial wrongdoing, at the present time a wicked ruler and demerited monks are a danger for the possible destruction and disappearance of the Buddha Dharma.

By being small, we can hit that which is big. Through the provisional teachings, the real essence of the Buddha teaching has been made to be absent. When a person’s mind is whittled away, the body is not lost. By not burning temples to the ground, they will be destroyed by nature. Will we ever get over the loss of the previous age?

On seeing my disciples, they believe in and hold to the Dharma Flower Sutra. When you are angry, then take a look in the mirror. When the heavens are enraged, then it is humankind that is at fault. In one kingdom or two, when there appear two suns, the sovereigns then compare their respective phenomena. Afterwards, the two sovereigns go to war. When the sun, moon, and stars are off course, then it is a sign that the sovereign has offended his ministers. When the sun and sun quarrel, all those under the four quarter kings quarrel with each other. When a bright star appears, then the princes of the kingdom are quarreling with each other.

In such a manner, when the country is in confusion, then Jōgyō (Bodhisattva Superior Practice, Vishishtachāritra bodhisattva) appears as the Daishōnin and establishes the three gateways to the Dharma. Then, doubtlessly, will not the singularity of the four heavens and the four seas together bring about the broad propagation (kōsen rufu) of the Sutra on the White Lotus Flower-like Mechanism of the Utterness of the Dharma?


Unsigned by Nichiren

[This was written at Mount Minobu when the Daishōnin was 53 years old and entrusted to Toki Jōnin. As far as we know, it has never before been translated into English.]

Goshō Zenshū, pp. 331-338
Goshō Shinpen, pp. 732-738


Note: These various Buddhas, Dainichi and Amida, are figments of the imagination of Shākyamuni. All wisdom I may have is the result of reciting the theme and title Nam Myōhō Renge Kyō! ~ Martin Bradley

Nam Myōhō Renge Kyō means to devote our lives to and found them on (Nam[u]) the Utterness of the Dharma (Myōhō) [entirety of existence, enlightenment and unenlightenment] permeated by the underlying white lotus flower-like mechanism of the interdependence of cause, concomitancy and effect (Renge) in its whereabouts of the ten [psychological] realms of dharmas [which is every possible psychological wavelength] (Kyō).

* * * * * * * * *

[This writing is listed on a page entitled, “The Ten Major Writings of Nichiren Daishōnin”, which says the following: “Nikkō Shōnin designated ten of Nichiren Daishōnin’s writings as the most important of his works. Listed in chronological order, these ten are briefly described in the following paragraphs, including the background and main points.” This writing is the fifth of the ten writings listed here and designated as “Unavailable”.]



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