Thesis on the Whole, being Contained
in the One Instant of Mind

Sōzai ichinen shō
Goshō Shimpen, pp. 111-116

The second year of Shōka [1258], at 37 years of age

In the sixth fascicle of the Explanatory Notes on the Recondite Significance of the Dharma Flower, it says, “The whole is contained in the one instant of mind, which, in further detail, is divided into materiality and mind.”

The question is asked: What are the implications of the whole, being contained in the one instant of mind?

The answer is given: It is not easy to give an even perfunctory answer. There is, however, one significant point that is decided. It must be what happens in the primal instant of life of sentient beings, when they are first conscious.

If one carefully investigates the samādhi of stopping all mental activity and allowing no distraction whatsoever, then one can say that nothing is repressed by it, nor is anything recorded by it. Nothing is taken for being good, and nothing is taken for being evil, it is a state of mind that is like the ocean depths overflowing with darkness.

This is said to be the eighth cognition. This eighth cognition, by being the embodiment of all existence, and because it contains all dharmas, is said to be the whole, contained in the one instant of mind. It is, however, the one instant of mind of the eighth cognition, in a practical sense.

However, when this one instant of mind moves and fluctuates, looking out towards the environments that are determined by karma, it does not yet discern what those karmically determined realms, with which it associates, are. This is called the seventh cognition. This seventh cognition, by fluctuating and being agitated by confrontation with good and evil situations and its delight in joyfulness and grief through sadness, gets itself entangled with both good and bad karma. This is called the sixth cognition (dairokushiki). When this sixth cognition is made aware of its karma, it then becomes aware of its physical form (shiki) and the karmically deserved situation, such as family, race, country and economic conditions, etc, for life in the future ().

It is as though the primal one instant of mind is cavernous, unfathomable water. By its undulation and swell, it faces all kinds of situations. But even if the wind blows and makes the water billow, it does not break into waves and bubbling foam.

Through the fluctuations of being agitated, through facing both good and evil environments that are conditioned by karma, the delight in joyfulness and the grief in sadness are like the appearance of the undulating waves of the water, rising to their height. Then, with the acquisition of the physical form and the requitals for life in the future, the waves break upon the rocks and turn into a mass of foaming bubbles, both large and small. The bursting of those bubbles is like a return to death. You should skilfully and thoroughly think this through.

Whether one refers to waves, or whether one refers to bubbles, both come from the one water we have been using as a metaphor. In terms of the Dharma, the progressive changes of the primal one instant of mind become our physical characteristics and what we karmically deserve. This is due to the fact that there is absolutely no exception to the totality of mind becoming our person and body.

You must take care that every single exception to this concept has to be discarded. For instance, when all this water becomes extremely cold, it turns into smaller or larger pieces of ice. Consequently, one might say that this is a person who falls into hell in the midst of a cavern of raging fire, and becomes completely consumed by the flames. We can continue until we come to the reality of the Buddha realm, which becomes its own sublime and solemn manifestation.

Nevertheless, this is all the working of the oneness of the mind. Similarly, when wickedness comes to the surface, we become sensitive to the embodiment of the three evil paths, and, when we resolve to attain to a mind of enlightenment we feel the personification of the Buddha and the bodhisattvas. In this way, the awareness of the workings of karma solidify into pack ice in the ocean of the oneness of mind, with the ten realms becoming separate entities, since the source of the ten [psychological] realms of dharmas is the singularity of the fundamental substance.

Although there may only be one realm of dharmas called hell, hell is also endowed with nine realms of dharmas. It is also the same with all the realms of dharmas, including that of the Buddha. In this way, the ten [psychological] realms of dharmas are mutually furnished with the same ten realms so that the total of these dharma realms becomes one hundred. Then, as each single one of these hundred realms of dharmas is equipped with the ten such qualities, the hundred realms of dharmas become a thousand such qualities. These thousand qualities, by being furnished with the existential spaces of sentient beings, the existential space of the five aggregates and the existential space of abode and terrain – the thousand such qualities become three thousand.

The Dharma gateway of these three thousand existential spaces is fully present in the primal instant of mind, without any omission whatsoever. It is due to the fact that the one instant of mind is not separate from the physical body, but is endowed with the three thousand existential spaces. This is the Dharma gateway of the one instant of mind containing three thousand existential spaces (ichinen sanzen).

In this way, the realm of hell is not to be feared, nor is the Buddha to be particularly venerated. They are the perfect combination of our physical aspect and what we are essentially. You should abide completely in the unshakeable silence of the oneness of mind, without any further thought.

The Dharma gateway, which I have just mentioned, is an insight that is referred to as the contemplation of the real aspect. Superfluous cogitation becomes the movement of thought. The movement of thought becomes a lack of clarity, and this unenlightenment becomes bewilderment. But if one abides in the contemplation of the real aspect, then what is projected from the inseparability of our person and the fundamentally existing three thousand existential spaces is called the Buddha.

In view of this, the Universal Teacher Myōraku (Miao-lo) says, “Indeed, you should know that, in the body and its terrain, there are three thousand existential spaces. Because when one attains to the path it is in accordance with this fundamental principle, the one instant of mind in the body includes all the realms of the dharmas.” Those who cannot hold on to this insight pass on to other contemplations, but they should contemplate the state of mind that arises out of the primal instant of thought.

The condition of mind that arises and sets the stillness of this one instant of thought in motion becomes one of bewilderment. This movement of thought is entirely the triple axiom of existence – relativity (, shūnyatā), materiality (ke), and the middle way of reality as we perceive it (chū). The triple axiom is in the midst of the fundamental substance of our minds; the instant of thought that arises in it is phenomenon; and the non-existence of self-nature in the instant of mind is relativity (, shūnyatā). When this threefold contemplation of the dharmas is realised, the instant of mind that moves becomes inseparable from the instant of mind that is immovable.

This insight into the inseparability of enlightenment and unenlightenment is referred to as the insight that existence is nothing other than cognition. Nonetheless, even though it becomes the insight that existence is nothing other than cognition, it is ultimately the insight into the real aspect of all dharmas. Myōraku (Miao-lo) says in his explanation, in Illustrations of the Significance of Desistance from Troublesome Worries in order to See Clearly, “The roots and the branches reflect each other. Phenomena and its intrinsicality are not two.”

The roots are the insight of the real aspect of all dharmas; the branches are the insight that existence is nothing other than cognition. Phenomena become the insight that existence is nothing other than cognition, and the essential point of that insight is the insight into the real aspect of all dharmas.

When this imponderably unutterable insight is attained, then one ascends to the consequent fruition of temporarily cutting off and destroying the ever-revolving cycle of birth and death. This is called the single fundamental substance of phenomena, and its essential quality is that “the whole of existence is contained in the one instant of mind”.

The manifestation of each and every thing being endowed with the one instant of thought containing three thousand existential spaces (ichinen sanzen) is the revelation of the thirty-two bodies of Kannon, and the luminosity of everything being endowed with this intrinsic fundamental of the one instant of thought containing three thousand existential spaces (ichinen sanzen) is the manifestation of the thirty-four bodies of Myō.on. If it were not so, then the emanations of the Buddha or the transformations of the bodhisattvas would have no reason to become apparent.

Again, when this principle of the one instant of thought containing three thousand existential spaces (ichinen sanzen) is not adhered to, then the one thousand two hundred Buddhas of the two mandalas of the Womb Store Realm (Garbhadhātu) and the Vajra Realm (Vajradhātu), the homogeneous body of the Tathāgata Dainichi as well as his transformations, would be difficult to know. The essential to these gateways to the Dharma is each and every thing being endowed with the one instant of thought containing three thousand existential spaces (ichinen sanzen). You must retain this secret and keep it to yourself.

On explaining this one instant of thought containing three thousand existential spaces (ichinen sanzen), Tendai (T’ien T’ai) said: “In the oneness of mind, there are ten [psychological] realms of dharmas, and then, when each realm of dharmas is again furnished with the same ten realms, it comes to one hundred. Each realm of dharmas is then provided with three thousand sorts of existential space, so that the hundred existential spaces amount to three thousand. These three thousand are present in the one instant of thought in the mind. If there is no mind, we need go no further. But if there is even the tiniest scrap of mind, it is provided with the three thousand.” Myōraku (Miao-lo) said, on explaining the words “tiniest scrap”, “It alludes to the feeblest presence of mind. What is intended is hardly any.”

Consequently, we must understand this as, whatever the occasion, the oneness of mind is the root, and the ten [psychological] realms of dharmas are the branches. This is a gateway to the Dharma that can be thought out and deliberated upon. But when it is taken as an imponderable that cannot be deliberated upon, it is because the whole fundamental substance of the oneness of mind is the ten dharma realms becoming the three thousand. There is no one thing that can be set apart from it; neither has it an inside nor an outside. The oneness of mind is not separate from the three thousand, and neither are the three thousand separate from the oneness of mind.

One could make a comparison with the unknowing person who believes that ice exists apart from water. Therefore, one should realise that there is no disparity between the one instant of thought and the three thousand. They are both a single dharma.

Accordingly, Tendai (T’ien T’ai) explains this, by saying, “At all events, mind is all dharmas, and all dharmas are mind. There is neither a vertical nor a horizontal, and there is neither oneness nor multiformity. It is abstruse, utter, profound, and superlatively all-embracing. There is no way of knowing that can know it, and there are no words that can formulate it. Therefore, we refer to it as the imponderable that cannot be deliberated upon. It is here where the meaning lies.”

The one instant of thought is not the one instant of thought, by being inseparable from the three thousand. The three thousand are not the three thousand, by being inseparable from the one instant of thought. Therefore, it is the Dharma gateway to the cultivation of the essential non-duality of the fundamental substance and its intrinsicality.

What is unthinkably unutterable about this one instant of thought containing three thousand existential spaces (ichinen sanzen) is that the existential space of abode and terrain is a part of the three thousand, so that plants, trees, tiles, and stones, by being also furnished with the three thousand, are completely filled with the fundamental substance of enlightenment.

However, that may be, because we are provided with three thousand existential spaces, we too, are the originally existent, fundamental substance of the Buddha. Therefore, it follows that the sentient beings in the hell of incessant suffering, by being endowed also with the three thousand existential spaces, are at one with the fundamental substance of the Tathāgata, who is enlightened to utterness without any discrepancy whatsoever.

This is why Daibadatta (Devadatta) – who in the flames of the hell of incessant suffering, due to his unpardonable sins of creating a schism in the clerical community (sō, sangha), stoning the Buddha to the shedding of his blood, and killing a nun – received, contrary to all expectation, the prophecy by the Buddha that he would become the Tathāgata Tennō.

If this is the case of a person in hell, then why should it not be so with the other nine realms? When their discriminative thinking and intellectual knowledge is cleared away, and even people of the two vehicles can become Buddhas, then why should it not be so with people of the remaining eight realms?

As each and every blade of grass – trees, as well as all the rest of the environment – is the originally existent Buddha substance with its three thousand existential spaces, it is not a matter of casting aside evil thoughts and evil dharmas, nor adopting good thoughts and good dharmas.

Because this principle is being discussed and revealed in the present sutra, it is given the title Myōhō Renge Kyō, the Sutra on the Lotus Flower of the Utterness of the Dharma. The Utterness of the Dharma (Myōhō, Saddharma) is furnished with the ten [psychological] realms of dharmas and the three thousand existential spaces of plants and trees without a single dharma being left out.

As for the lotus flower, the person who has become enlightened to this principle must, as an equal to the Buddha, be placed upon the calyx of the lotus flower. The lotus flower solemnly ennobles that person, and it is said that the lotus flower is the adornment of abode and terrain. That is to say that his body is not separate from the fundamental substance of all the Buddhas of the past, present, and future.

Without a grasp of this principle, it cannot be referred to as the seeds of the Buddha. Myōraku (Miao-lo) explains this, when he says, “If it is not the objective realm of the Buddha wisdom, if it is not a random counterfeit, even then it cannot be the seeds.”

You are already aware that, since all the sutras that were expounded prior to the Dharma Flower have provisional dharmas entwined into them, even if one were to accept and hold to them for a continuity of kalpas, as many as there are grains of dust, they can never become the seeds of Buddhahood. This is due to the fact that the sutras do not reveal and account for the totality of the Buddha wisdom; nor do they expound the whole of the wisdom of the Buddha; nor do they state that women and people of evil disposition can become Buddhas.

Among the elucidations of Tendai (T’ien T’ai), it says: “In the other sutras, the Buddha prophesied that only his disciples who were bodhisattvas would become Buddhas, and that people of the two vehicles would not be able to do so, and that only good people could become Buddhas and wicked people could not. He prophesied that only men could become Buddhas and that women were excluded, that only humans and deva (ten) could become Buddhas but not animals. But in the present sutra, all these categories are foretold as being able to become Buddhas.”

Myōraku (Miao-lo) justifies this, by saying, “Even if there are sutras that are designated as the King of Sutras they are not said to be the foremost to have been expounded, are expounded or will be expounded in the future. You must be able to understand the significance of the doctrine that the particular teaching stands in addition to the others, that it is only the teachings of the three receptacles, that the equally broad teachings (hōdō, vaipulya) were in answer to people who had the propensities for the four teachings, and that the wisdom (hannya, prajña) teachings include both the interrelated and particular doctrines, in preparation for the all-inclusive teachings.” Just as these explanations infer, all the sutras prior to the Dharma Flower are an expedient means and are not the direct cause for becoming a Buddha.

The question is asked: Among all the sutras that came before the Dharma Flower, are there any that illustrate the so-called all-inclusive teachings as being particularly superior, how is it that you pick out all those sutras that came prior to the Dharma Flower as not being the seeds for Buddhahood?

The answer given is that, even though the all-inclusive teachings are dealt with, the all-inclusive teachings prior to the Dharma Flower Sutra (Hokke-kyō) let the Buddha seeds go astray since they do not discuss the hearers of the voice, those who are partially enlightened due to a profound search for the meaning of existence (engaku, hyakushibutsu, pratyekabuddha), people of evil disposition, and women becoming Buddhas. This is the ultimate extremity of the all-inclusive teachings. Without this final superlative, they would not uphold the original intention of the Buddha. And also because they are devoid of the Buddha’s wisdom, they could not be the seeds for becoming a Buddha.

It is on this account that I have pointed to all the sutras in contrast to the Dharma Flower. Referring to this point, there is a Universal Teacher, who said, “Both people who are refined and those who are coarse have made this mistake [through not understanding the simultaneity of cause and effect], which means that both those who are refined and those who are coarse can be referred to as being crude and oversimple.” Consequently, none of the other sutras are called the Sutra on the White Lotus Flower-like Mechanism of the Utterness of the Dharma (Myōhō Renge Kyō).

The question is asked: What advantage would a dunce who cannot read have in reciting Nam Myōhō Renge Kyō?

Answer: Even though somebody who may be illiterate and who does not even know one ideogram were to exert his faith by reciting it, then, out of the three karmas of body, mouth, and mind, it would be his mouth that would be the first to realise its meritorious virtue. When this meritorious virtue is accomplished with the Buddha seeds being stowed within his breast, he evidently becomes a person who is coming out of the bewilderment of the realm of life and death.

The fact that this sutra surpasses all other sutras, it is taught that those who ridicule and disparage it reverse their karmic relationship for enlightenment and become people whose values are mean disregard and vilification.

What would one then say about the people who exert a mind of faith and comply with the affinities to become a Buddha?

Accordingly the Universal Teacher Dengyō (Dengyō Daishi) wrote, “It is decidedly preordained that both the person who slanders and the person who has faith will become Buddhas.”

The question is asked: On becoming a Buddha, what is the significance of the three bodies?

Answer: The three thousand existential spaces that are in our bodies, by being completely merged into each other, are the same as dharmas. The body whose wisdom exhaustively knows this principle is that which is called the reward body. As this principle is the final superlative, then, from the eighty-four thousand features and distinguishing marks on the body of the Buddha to the bodies of the tigers, wolves, and jackals which are made apparent for the effective benefit of all beings, all are understood as being designated as the corresponding body.

The Dharma Flower Sutra (Hokke-kyō), in its exposition of these three bodies, says, “Such an appearance, such a nature, such a substance”. The appearance is the corresponding body, the nature is the reward body; and the substance is the dharma body. We have been endowed with these three bodies since the primordial infinity, with no exceptions whatsoever. However, the clouds of our bewilderment hide these three bodies, so that we are not aware of their existence. But he who is referred to as the enlightened Buddha knows this essential element and is also the practitioner of the Dharma Flower Sutra (Hokke-kyō).

Having been unaware and ignorant of these three bodies since time immemorial, we become closer to an enlightenment to them, by being induced by the preaching of a moderated Buddha discourse, which is called the temporary gateway. Without any sort of confusion with regard to the fundamental principle of our being endowed with these three bodies, it is also explained that they have their abode in the past, present, future, and throughout eternity. There is no dimension that is not pervaded by these three entities. This is referred to as the original gateway to the Dharma.

Even though it may be that the difference between the original and temporary gateways is merely a matter of the relatively recent past and primordiality, the fundamental substance of the Dharma remains the same. This is the reason why Tendai (T’ien T’ai) says in his explanations, “Even though the original and temporary teachings have their peculiarities, their oneness is their imponderable inexplicability.”

When we say enlightenment, it simply means to be enlightened to and to know what the intrinsicality of the fundamental substance is. It could be compared to the opening of a door of a storehouse of wealth and taking away the treasure within.

Enlightenment does not come from the outside. When we clear away the clouds that bewilder the oneness of mind, it becomes the substance of dharmas, which is the axiom of relativity (, shūnyatā), materiality (ke), and the middle way of reality as we perceive it (chū) that always abides in the past, present, and future, and throughout eternity. It is like a mirror that no longer reflects, because it is covered with dust. But when it is cleaned, every kind of image glides across it. The dust is removed by people cleaning the mirror. But if it were not cleaned, the images would not appear.

It is supposed of course that the person who transforms the bewilderment into an enlightened awakening is the one who practises. The intrinsicality of the substance that is the three thousand existential spaces, the three axioms of relativity (, shūnyatā), phenomena (ke), and the middle way (chū), as well as the three bodies, is inherently and infinitely existing, which has nothing to do with the makings of humankind.

Again, even though the cultivation of bewilderment is something that is done by human beings, one does not see this bewilderment going away of its own volition. It is like sitting in a dark room for a hundred years with a burning candle, wherein the lightlessness does not go away entirely. This transforming of bewilderment into an enlightened awakening is to turn back the flow and finish at the source.

The inseparability of enlightenment and unenlightenment as only being bewilderment and enlightenment, is none other than the single entity or the oneness of the substance of unenlightenment and the Dharma essence. I respectfully fear and beg of you to be prudent and discard all other ways of knowing. If you ever perceive bewilderment and enlightenment as two separate entities, you will be distancing yourself from becoming a Buddha. It will be like climbing one Mount Sumeru after another.

Those who, since the origins, have been bewildered about the non-dual nature of the intrinsicality of the fundamental substance are called sentient beings, and the person who is enlightened to this non-duality is called the Buddha. You must really get to understand the all-embracing significance of what I have written, without any omissions or misconceptions.

These writings involve the Buddha’s one universal concern about living and dying. Also these writings are the Buddha’s fervent desire to come into the world, in order to save people from the bewilderment of living and dying.

How can you enter into a treasure mountain and come out with empty hands? It would bring about a thousand myriad regrets, and there would be no advantage to it whatsoever.

When Emma takes someone to task or the lictors of hell raise their staves, they do not choose people at random, but only those who have done wrong. If these wrongdoers can get away from this harsh situation by being born as human beings, they will live through hundreds of thousands of myriads of kalpas, without even hearing of the name or ideogram for the Buddha.

They will also become progressively immersed into the three realms where i) sentient beings have appetites and desires, which ii) are incarnated in a subjective materiality with its physical surroundings, who, iii) at the same time, are endowed with the immateriality of the realms of thoughts and ideas (sangai, triloka), as well as being persons who must drift about the six paths of unenlightenment.

To not be able to hear the essential Dharma, in order to escape from the bewilderment of the realm of life and death, is sad indeed. It is also frightening to suffer the punishment of the ox-headed demon lictors of hell.


Looking north as the Kettle River flows southward towards Rock Creek, BC (Home of the Sky High Blues Festival)

Looking north as the Kettle River flows southward towards Rock Creek, BC (Home of the Sky High Blues Festival)


Martin Bradley, The Buddha Writings of Nichiren Daishōnin, ISBN: 2-913122-19-1, 2005,
Chapter 2, pp. 109 (Revised, June 2013)


Creative Commons LicenseThe Buddha Writings of Nichiren Daishōnin by Martin Bradley
is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 2.5 Canada License