A Reply to the Lady Nun Myōhō



The fact that you ask questions about the Dharma Flower Sutra is a source of putting down good roots and a reason to be thankful. You are fewer than those who can throw Mount Sumeru to another world or can kick a billion existential dimensions like a ball.

[An existential dimension includes a Buddha and is where the inhabitants have appetites and needs and are born with an apparently material body, with seemingly physical surroundings, and who at the same time are endowed with the possibility of dreaming, having fantasies, thoughts and ideas. One thousand times a thousand make a million.]

You are also teaching lay people and the clergy boundless sutras, as well as inducing your listeners to attain the six reaches of the mind. In this present time of the end of the Dharma of Shākyamuni, you can answer questions as to what is referred to as “the one phrase and metric hymn”, which is a reason for being grateful.

There is another reason to be grateful to a nun who can clarify what people do not understand about the Dharma Flower Sutra. The fourth scroll of the Dharma Flower Sutra contains the Eleventh Chapter on Seeing the Vision of the Stupa made of Precious Materials and there are also the six difficult acts and the nine easy ones. This is an important gateway to the Dharma. Now you ask about the six difficult acts and the nine easy ones. If you can hold to them (i.e., the Dharma Flower Sutra), you will open up your inherent Buddha nature with your person just as it is.

In the Dharma Flower Sutra our persons are defined as the entity of the Dharma of the Tathāgata; our minds are the wisdom entity of the Tathāgata; and the way we behave is the manifest entity of the Tathāgata. If you hold to and believe in the one phrase and metric hymn, then it is indeed by these meritorious virtues. Nam Myōhō Renge Kyō is the one phrase and metric hymn of this sutra. The very same one phrase and metric hymn is the essence of this sutra. Then you should by only reciting Nam Myōhō Renge Kyō be able to become a Buddha.

What you do not realize is that this theme and title is the essential point as well as being the viscera and framework of the eight scrolls of this sutra. The soul within our bodies of five or six feet is only visible in our faces which are only a foot long. The soul that lies in one’s face may only appear in one’s eyes, which are only an inch across each. In the ideograms for Japan (Nihon) are comprised sixty-six provinces, the people, animals, paddies and other fields, both those of high and low positions, the nobles and commoners, the seven kinds of rarities and all the other valuables, without leaving a single one out. In such a way, the whole sutra with its eight scrolls, its twenty-eight chapters, along with its sixty-nine thousand three hundred eighty-four ideograms, without leaving out a single character, is all included. The poet Haku Raku Ten (Li T’aī Po) stated that the title of a sutra is like the eyes of the Buddha. In the “Annotations to the Words and Phrases”, Myōraku (Miao-lo) puts it simply by saying that, when one reads the title and theme, the whole of it is contained in the title alone.

Everything has its point of reference and essential meaning. The title and theme of the entire Dharma Flower Sutra is Nam Myōhō Renge Kyō. When you recite this title and theme morning and evening once, you are correctly reading the whole of this sutra each time. If you recite this title and theme twice, you are correctly reading the whole of this sutra two times, and so on to a hundred times and a thousand times. In this way, if you recite the theme and title without stopping, then you will be a person who ceaselessly reads the Dharma Flower Sutra. The sixty scrolls of the writings of Tendai (T’ien T’ai) give an explanation in the same way as this. Such a Dharma that is so easy to hold to and practice was expounded for the benefit of all sentient beings during the evil age of the final Dharma of Shākyamuni.

In the sutra it says, “In the final period of the Dharma of Shākyamuni – the final period that comes hereafter when the Dharma is about to become extinct – if someone holds to, reads, and recites this sutra… In the evil age of the final Dharma of Shākyamuni, if someone can hold to this sutra… In the last fifth five-hundred-year period (after the demise of Shākyamuni) there will be the broad propagation of this teaching.”

The intention of these phrases is that, at the time of the final phase of the Dharma of Shākyamuni, they were propounded for you to hold to and believe in the Dharma Flower Sutra. Such a clear intention has been misunderstood by the scholars of Japan, China, and India. All these scholars have slandered this teaching. Instead, they have expounded the teachings of the schools that depend on the Buddha Amida (Amitābha) [a pie-in-the-sky-like doctrine], the Tantra or Mantra School, the Zen School, and the school that bases its teaching on monastic discipline. As a consequence, they have misinterpreted and strangled all knowledge of the Buddha teaching. Because they appear to be learned monks, the people believe them without the slightest doubt. Without any thought, these people become the enemies of Shākyamuni Buddha. Their prayers will not be answered and their lives will be short. Also, in the life hereafter, they will find themselves in the city of the Hell of Incessant Suffering. Just look at the sutric text.

Well now, by learning and not just reading the title and theme of this sutra, this is a cause for putting down all-embracing good roots. The Dharma Flower Sutra expounds that sentient beings, whether they be evil persons, or women, or persons with animalistic tendencies, or those who are suffering in their respective hells as well as all the other ten existential realms, can open up their inherent Buddha nature with their persons just as they are. This is comparable to a stone taken out of the water and yet produces fire, or a lantern that lights up a place that has been dark for a hundred thousand years. Is it due to the three inherent potentials of the Buddha (the innate Buddha nature, the wisdom to be aware of it, and the actions to comply with such a quality), or such as the Dharma entity, the entity of wisdom, and the manifest entity that can open up our inherent Buddha nature with our persons just as they are?

The Universal Teacher Dengyō says, “Through the power of the Dharma Flower Sutra, people can open up their inherent Buddha nature just as they are.” He is referring to the Dragon King’s daughter who was able to open up her inherent Buddha nature in her reptilian form. This you must not doubt.

Please tell your husband that I must explain all this in detail.


The third day of the seventh month in the first year of Kōan (1278), cyclical sign tsuchinoe-tora

Myōhō-ama gozen gohenji
Goshō Zenshū
, p. 1402

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