Let’s suppose there was a man
         who when but a youngster ran
         far away from all he knew—
         father, home, and country, too—

         onward to another land
         in his journeying unplanned.
         Then he wandered to and fro
         for some fifty years or so

         all around the neighboring
         regions, where with laboring
         he would search for any kind
         of food and clothes he could find.

         On he roamed from place to place,
         oft without a resting space
         just to pause and catch his breath,
         feeling nearly starved to death.

         Sometimes there was naught to eat,
         barely shelter in the street.
         Neither was there work for him
         to subsist in life and limb

         but the most menial chores.
         With a body strewn with sores,
         he was quite a sorry sight,
         in this miserable plight.

         Meanwhile the father sadly
         had kept on seeking madly
         for news of his long lost son,
         asking each and everyone

         where’er he went thereabouts
         for clues to his whereabouts.
         He sought in all directions
         for pointers to connections

         that could offer him the key
         as to where his son might be.
         Yet, despite his querying,
         it was only wearying.

         Then, exhausted by this quest,
         finally he stopped to rest
         in a city where he would
         build afresh as best he could

         a palatial home in size,
         in a style that satisfies
         earthly cravings and desires
         plus what humankind requires.

         With enormous wealth supplied,
         he had riches far and wide—
         silver, pearls, jewels untold,
         warehouses crammed full of gold,

         opulence overflowing,
         and reserves ever growing,
         plus a host of aides to do
         all that they were bidden to.

         Foreign holdings he possessed.
         Delegates at his behest
         handled the financial needs
         for his enterprising deeds.

         As the father older grew,
         frequently he thought anew
         with a heaviness of heart
         of his son so long apart

         from his fond protective care
         and the burdens he must bear.
         Worry plagued him night to morn.
         Oh the father felt forlorn!

         Plus it gave him quite a fright
         sensing that the waning light
         of approaching death was near.
         Yet his son did not appear.

         Thus his assets would be left
         unattended and bereft
         of anyone to take charge
         or their profits to enlarge,

         and he wished to leave some kind
         of inheritance behind
         for his son, for whom he pined,
         always keeping him in mind,

         while saying nothing ever
         about him, or his never-
         ending searches everywhere,
         in his fatherly despair.

         The destitute son arrived
         one day where his father thrived,
         having settled down at last
         in a habitation vast.

         Yes, ultimately he came
         to be at the very same
         mansion adorned to the hilt
         that the wealthy man had built.

         He saw the elder inside
         of a courtyard long and wide,
         sitting on a lion throne
         with a stool of precious stone,

         on which he could rest his feet
         in a mode royally meet.
         The son remained at the gate,
         so awed by the grand estate

         with its luxury ornate
         and of the dominion great
         he feared the elder must hold
         that he shivered as from cold.

         ‘Why have I come to this place?’
         thought the son, hiding his face
         which betrayed his keen alarm.
         He felt he would come to harm

         or perhaps be arrested
         if he merely requested
         some employment at a task.
         No, he dare not even ask.

         As the son was faint-hearted,
         he hurriedly departed.
         But the elder had caught sight
         of the person taking flight

         whom he knew to be his boy,
         and he overflowed with joy,
         while the son withdrew in haste,
         dreading that he might be placed

         in jail, under lock and key;
         thus he lost no time to flee.
         Hence the father sent some men
         to directly seek him then.

         The attendants found him fast,
         whereupon the son, aghast
         and bewildered already,
         felt himself so unsteady,

         undernourished and unsound,
         that he toppled to the ground,
         out of courage, out of breath,
         certain he’d be put to death.

         The elder from a distance
         saw the frantic resistance
         of his panic-stricken child
         and the agitation wild

         with which he had reacted.
         So the father retracted
         his anterior decree,
         saying, let the man go free.

         For the elder could perceive
         that his son would not believe
         that he could deserve to share
         in wealth to which he was heir

         as offspring, alike in fate
         to a mighty potentate.
         The son, as fast as he could,
         fled to a poor neighborhood.

         So deluded was his mind
         that he’d long ago resigned
         himself to a life of pain,
         where his wishes were in vain.

         But the elder man was wise
         and decided to devise
         as an expediency
         not to immediately

         make his identity known—
         for now to leave him alone.
         He would not openly say
         to his pauper son that they

         were kin closely related.
         No, this would not be stated,
         until he had gained his trust
         and proved he was kind and just,

         which could happen, thought the man,
         through a carefully laid plan.
         He’d make a ruse to lure him,
         a mode to reassure him,

         so that the son would discern
         that he could safely return.
         To begin the scheme he’d hatched,
         the elder promptly dispatched

         some aides emaciated
         who then ingratiated
         themselves with the son slowly.
         Their appearances lowly

         did not seem to pose a threat
         when telling him they could get
         steady work for him to do
         as part of the labor crew

         at the elder’s spacious home.
         Thus he would not need to roam
         all about, year after year,
         looking for jobs far and near

         plus some place where he could stay,
         and he would earn twice the pay
         he was presently making.
         It was his for the taking,

         if he would willingly work,
         and his duties never shirk.
         The son accepted with joy,
         not knowing his father’s ploy.

         Though work was mainly cleaning,
         it didn’t seem demeaning.
         Nor did the son feel debased
         clearing away filth and waste.

         The vagrant was simply glad
         for whatever job he had…
         Looking from the windowsill,
         the elder saw him fulfill,

         for a small compensation,
         any base occupation,
         drudgery, or dreary chore.
         For his son he wanted more!

         So one day the elder came
         to the son, dressed in the same
         humble and dirty attire,
         and told him he’d get higher

         wages and lodgings better,
         since he seemed a go-getter.
         He said to him kindly, “I’m
         quite old, while you’re in your prime.

         “Like a son you’ll be treated,
         always specially greeted.
         You’ll come and go as you please
         without feeling ill at ease.”

         At the end of twenty years,
         he was well above his peers,
         no longer dressed in tatters,
         managing household matters.

         Soon the son had also learned
         how the elder’s commerce earned
         gains through buying and selling.
         Still he stayed in his dwelling

         apart from the huge mansion
         He cared not for expansion
         of his own situation
         and felt no deprivation

         though he lived in nothing but
         a very primitive hut.
         ‘These things don’t belong to me,
         nor do I want them,’ thought he.

         When the father was assured
         that his son’s mind had matured,
         he called a convocation
         to make the declaration

         that he would soon be dying
         and thus would be relying
         thenceforward upon his son
         who in former times had run

         away and suffered great lack,
         till by chance he had come back
         to his father’s home anew
         turning up out of the blue.

         Thereon the elder revealed
         what had erstwhile been concealed
         from his offspring included
         who’d before been deluded,

         but now could be clearly shown
         that the assets were his own.
         In the presence of the throng,
         the father announced the strong

         relation the two men had
         and divulged how he was glad
         to pass along to his son
         his wealth, when his days were done.

         The son was filled with delight
         that he’d been born with the right
         he did not anticipate
         to inherit riches great.

         In an equivalent way,
         the ultimate teachings say
         that we’ve already acquired
         the good fortune we desired.

         While we may not realize
         all the daimoku implies,
         Nichiren clearly stated
         (what scholars have debated

         with their so-called wisdom rife)
         that the true essence of life
         and the Dharma unsurpassed,
         with boundless treasures amassed,

         the title and theme to know,
         is Nam Myoho Renge Kyo.
         It was the Daishonin’s vow
         for the ever-present now

         to bestow this phrase profound
         that we voice aloud in sound,
         as the path for humankind
         of enlightenment to find.

         ~ Harley White

* * * * * * * * * *

This parable is found in Chapter Four of the Dharma Flower Sutra. Below is a passage of the commentary by Nichiren, from The Dharma Flower Sutra Seen through the Oral Transmission of Nichiren Daishōnin – Translated by Martin Bradley.

* * * * * * * * * *

“The Oral Transmission on the Meaning of the Dharma Flower Sutra states that, although there are various layers of explanations of the Buddha’s loving-kindness, the real point is that the seeds that are sown in the ever-present infinite in time are the returning of our lives and devoting them to the dimension in which the interdependence of cause, concomitancy and effect occurs (Nam Myōhō Renge Kyō). So, whatever form beings and things may have, they all follow this same fundamental path.

“Now, in the same way, Nichiren gives to the whole of humankind the teaching of the Sutra on the White Lotus Flower-like Mechanism of the Utterness of the Dharma (Nam Myōhō Renge Kyō).”

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