Note 16 : ‘dharma’.
It expresses the idea of ‘law’, ‘truth’, ‘essence
of reality’. It also means the doctrine of the Buddha. In the
translation it is rendered by one of these words, according to the context.
Note 17 ''Divine'' should
not be understood here tin the Western sense of the word. ''Jinriki''
or ''jinzuriki'' : a mystical and spiritual
power that surpasses the level of our world of common sense and its
laws. This power is free in the sense that the Tathagata can see and understand the truth that is hidden to us, and that he can
effect our salvation in a way that is not accessible to us.
Note 18 : Hokke-mongu (ch. 10). One of the three main works written by Chih-i ( Zhiyi 538-97), considered the founder
of the Chinese T’ien-t’ai School of Buddhism because he
systematized the doctrine of the school. The three main works attributed
to him are in fact his lectures recorded by his disciples. The Fa-huan-wen-chu is a textual commentary on the Lotus Sutra. [The other two
major works are : the Fa-hua-hsuan-i (Hokke-gengi) : ‘Profound meaning of the Lotus Sutra’, and the Mo-ho-chih-kuan (Maka-shikan) : ''Great Concentration
and Insight''. All three are in 20 chapters of fascicles. In these
books is found all the Tendai doctrine which was brought to Japan by
Saicho (767-822 ; Dengyo Daishi) who established the Japanese Tendai
Sect of Mount Hiei.]
Note 19 sho-jodo, sometimes also called
sanju-jodo because the legend says that Shakyamuni achieved his enlightenment
at the age of thirty. It is one of the eight steps in the life of a
Buddha : 1) decent from heaven : geten
Note 20 This terminology is taken from
the Tendai systematization of the sutras,
which was perfected by Chih-i, and was
devised to harmonize the often-discordant doctrines contained in the
Buddhist scriptures. Briefly, according to this theory the Buddha revealed
his doctrine in five different stages of times (goji)
during the fifty years of his apostolic life. They are named after the
sutras representative of the different stages : 1) Avatamsaka (Kegon, the first
thirty-seven days of the Buddha’s preaching)
Note 21 Besides the theory on the Five
Times, Chih-i also developed the so-called
theory of the Eight Teachings
Note 22 Lit., ''The
full explanation of the three [vehicles] manifests the one [vehicle].''
In the second ch. of the Lotus Sutra (the Chapter on Skilful
Means) the Buddha explains to his disciples that there are not three
separate vehicles adapted to the three classes of man (the sravaka,
the pratyekabuddha, and the bodhisattva) but only one vehicle (the One
Buddha Vehicle of the Mahayana) which will lead all men to the supreme
enlightenment. In the traditional interpretation of the Tendai School,
this explanation is made by the Buddha in two steps, and the chapter
is divided accordingly in two parts. The two steps are : the ‘ryakukai
san-ken-ichi’, in which the Buddha explains in a short,
abridged manner (ryakukai), that there
are not three vehicles but only one, This he does by stating that all
sentient beings are capable of attaining the same Buddhahood. The second
step is the ‘kokukai san-ken-ichi’
in which the Buddha teaches, openly and extensively (kokai),
that there is only one vehicle to the attainment of the same Buddhahood.
23 The hommon. The Lotus Sutra in the Chinese version by Kumarajiva was traditionally divided into two parts of 14 chapters each. In the
first 14 chapters the Buddha appears as a man who has reached his enlightenment
and is teaching his disciples the way to reach the same enlightenment.
From the 15 th chapter the Buddha reveals himself as more than a common
mortal, and as a historical manifestation of the Eternal Buddha. The
doctrine contained in the first part of the sutra is called shakumon,
lit., ''the gateway of the Trace'', i.e. ''the doctrine of the Trace
Buddha''. The second part of the sutra teaches the hommon,
lit., ''the gateway of the Original Buddha''. The revelation of his
eternity is the full and complete doctrine Buddha came to reveal, the engyo. It must be added here that in the
earlier Tendai School the ''complete doctrine''
included both the first and second part of the Lotus Sutra.
24 Lit., ''the abridged
explanation that 'the close reveals the far away' ''. According to the
traditional commentaries of the Tendai School, the revelation made in
the Lotus Sutra of the true and eternal mature of the Buddha
is given in two passages of the same sutra and in two different ways : one short and implicit, the other extensive and explicit. The first
is called ryakukai gon-ken-on and is found
in the second part of the [15 th ] chapter on the issuing of the bodhisattva
from the earth (Yujutsu-hon), where bodhisattva
are said to have been instructed by the Buddha and therefore they are
given the mission of preaching, in the future, the doctrine of the Lotus
Sutra. Since the Buddha did not instruct them during his historical
lifetime, one can conclude from this that there is more to the Buddha
than his historical existence as Shakyamuni. The second revelation is
contained in the following (16 th) chapter on the Duration of the Life
of the Tathagata (Juryo-hon), where the
Buddha states and teaches extensively and explicitly the truth of his
eternity. This is called kokai gon-ken-on. Gon-ken-on : the close, present, historical
reality of the Buddha manifests his distant, eternal nature.
27 True Object of Worship : honzon ; Sacred Title : daimoku ; Seat of Ordination : kaidan.These are the objects of this work
and will be explained later.
28. Nichiren sees in the very name
of the Lotus Sutra the synthesis of the doctrine contained
in the sutra itself, which he then ormulates in the Three Great Mysteries.
29, the three worlds of past, present,
and future, in relation to the historical (present) life of the Buddha,
which are one in the eternity of his nature. However, it is implied
that this doctrine was not revealed to men right after the Buddha’s
entering into nirvana as it was to be preached only at the opportune
time of the Latter Law.
33 Honnu musa
sanjin. The doctrine of the Three Bodies (Trikaya)
is the final development of the Buddhology of Mahayana.
34 At the opening of the chapter of
the issuing of the bodhisattva from the earth, all the disciples who
have heard the revelation of the doctrine of the supreme enlightenment
offer themselves to preach it to men at the end of time. The Buddha
answers that he has already prepared the future apostles of that doctrine.
Thereupon he calls countless bodhisattva out of the earth. They appear
through crevices miraculously opened in the soil, and are led by four
bodhisattva : Visistacaritra (Jogyo
bosatsu : Superior Conduct) ; Anantacaritra (Muhengyo bosatsu : Endless Conduct) ; Visuddhacaritra (Jyogyo bosatsu : Pure Conduct) ; and Supratistitacaritra (Anryugyo bosatsu : Steady Conduct). Among
the four bodhisattva, Superior Conduct appears to be given the primacy.
39 The Buddhist view
of history (and salvation) is cyclical. The demise of the Buddha and
his entry into nirvana marks the beginning of the cycle. As time passed,
men’s acceptance of the doctrine preached by the Buddha decreases.
This decreasing process goes on till the point when men reach a degree
of total moral decay. This will be the end of the cycle. Another Buddha
will then appear, and a new cycle will start.
41 This quotation is taken from the Daihodo-daijikkyo (also called Daishukyo ), the Mahasamnipata
Sutra, its Hometsu jin-hon, the chapter on the complete destruction
of the Law. (Taisho Tripitaka, vol. 13, p. 363.) The expression ‘White
Law’ means ‘Right Law’.
‘Ki’ means the disposition
of the one who hears the doctrine of the Buddha and who is the object
of his salvific action. Nichiren uses in his writings other terms with
the same meaning ; for example ; kikon, which
indicates more directly the innate capacity of a person to respond to
the doctrine and the influence of the Buddha. Also kikan,
which indicates the interior sensitivity of a person who is attuned
to the doctrine and the influence of the Buddha, etc. ‘En’
indicates rather the relation between Buddha’s salvific action
and the man to be saved. Salvation is then realized when one’s
personal disposition and the Buddha’s action come together. In
his mercy the Buddha adapts his action to the disposition of the different
ages. Nichiren puts more emphasis on the historical context in which
one lives than on the single individuals ; according to his doctrine
the action of the Buddha and the propagation of the different doctrines
are measured by the particular age, rather than by a consideration of
the individuals. More on this can be found in Nichiren’s ‘Senji-sho’.
44 kyu-hokai (or kyu-hokkai ). In Mahayana Buddhism,
according to the Tendai system, the
45 Issendai : those who are so corrupted and rooted in their passions that they
have no receptivity at all to the doctrine and influence of the Buddha.
However, in Mahayana Buddhism this would seem to concern only their
present existence, and the Buddha will eventually bring them to a state
of existence in which they will finally be able to respond to his mercy
and be saved.
46 Provisional Mahayana as opposed to
the final or Real Mahayana. The first is a teaching of Mahayana which
uses skilful devices to prepare men for the full revelation of the ultimate
Buddhist teaching, to be revealed only in the final Mahayana. The Buddha
taught and explained all his doctrine in the course of his life, but
the understanding and propagation of the entirety of this doctrine after
his entry into nirvana were to be gradual and according to the ages
of mankind. This accounts for the division of the Buddhist teaching
into different 'vehicles', yana. The gradual
process can be summarized thus : AGES VEHICLES STATE OF BUDDHA'S TEACHING
47 Iwanami, III, p. 26. In
this chapter [Lotus Sutra, chapter 16], after having revealed
the eternity of his enlightenment, the Buddha recounts the parable of
the Good Physician. The Good Physician (the Buddha) is faced with the
problem of persuading some of his poisoned children to take the good
medicine he has prepared for them and which alone can cure them. But
some of them are so affected by the poison that they refuse to take
the medicine. The father has then recourse to a stratagem : he leaves
the medicine with them and tells them that he is going on a long journey.
After some time he sends a messenger with the news that he is dead.
The children are grieved at the news and, moved by sorrow and remorse,
take the medicine and are thus cured, saved by their father’s
52 This interpretation
of the two characters ('hi' secret) and
('mitsu' mystery) is rather arbitrary on
the part of Chih-i and does not seem to have any real etymological foundation.
In his interpretation Chih-i seems to consider the problem from the
objective and subjective cognitive points of view. The truth of the
eternity of the Buddha and, consequently, the fact that the Three Bodies
of the Buddha are nothing more than three states of existence of the
same eternal reality - this truth is a mystery that only the Buddha
himself can know and which he alone can reveal to us. Chih-i calls this
aspect 'hi'. The other aspect is that from
our point of view we cannot comprehend that the Three Bodies (states
of existence) are not three separate entities, but one and the same
eternal reality of the Buddha. This indicates our incapacity to comprehend
the fundamental truth of reality. Chih-i sees this expressed in 'mitsu'.
59 To explain the mystical meaning of
a sutra Chih-i devised a method consisting of five steps, the goju-gengi : 1) to explain the meaning of the title of the sutra (shakumyo)
69 Nichiren’s listing in inaccurate.
In the first place he includes the founder of Enryaku-ji, Saicho, as the first zasu.
But the official recognition of the Tendai institution was granted by the Court only after his death. Traditionally
his disciple Gishin (781-833) is considered
the first Chief Abbot of Enryaku-ji (from
824-33). Moreover, in the official list Ennin (794-862), who received the posthumous name of Jikaku
Daishi*, appears as the third zasu (from 854 to 862). Enchin (813-91), who
received the posthumous name of Chisho Daishi,
is listed as the fifth zasu (from 868-91).
71 The Marisen,
or Marisan : a mythical mountain in Southern
India covered with groves of sandalwood trees (sendan).
It was believed that the sandalwood tree was a medicinal plant, and
it was used as a remedy against fever. It was also called yoraku,
i.e. ‘pleasure (well-being) giving. It was also believed that
the sweet fragrance of this tree was so powerful that a single leaf
could nullify all bad scents within a radius of forty yoyana (one yoyana
being the distance a bull car could travel in a day). Nichiren compares
the mountain Marisen to Mt Hiei at the
time of Saicho and his first disciple Gishin,
and the healing and fragrant power of the sandalwood tree to the pure
doctrine of the Tendai institution : both the benefit and the good reputation
there have been destroyed by the introduction of Shingon doctrines.
73 ichinen sanzen, one of the fundamental doctrines of Tendai Buddhism.
It formulates the principle of the basic identity of the world of the
absolute and the world of phenomena. The number '3, 000' should not be
taken literally but only as expressing the totality of reality. In his Mo-ho-chih-kuan (Maka-shikan), vol. 5, first part,
Chih-i arrives at the figure three thousand in the following way : each
one of the ten worlds also includes the other nine, thus bringing the
total to one hundred. This number combined with the ten factors of existence
listed in the second chapter of the Lotus Sutra (see next note)
brings the total to one thousand worlds, or realms of existence. These
thousand worlds can be found at the three levels of phenomenal existence : 1) sentient beings (shujo) ; 2) non-sentient
beings (kokudo) ; 3) the five shandhas (go'un or go'on).
Thus the figure of three thousand, which symbolizes the totality of
reality. This totality is included in a single thought of an ordinary
man (bombu), i.e. in a single and insignificant
phenomenon existing in this changing world.
74 Hoben-bon, Iwanami,
I, p.68. The ten factors of existence given in the Kumarajiva translation
are : 1) form [appearance] (nyoze-so) ; 2)
nature (nyoze-sho) ; 3) substance [entity]
(nyoze-tai) ; 4) power (nyoze-riki) ; 5) activity [influence] (nyoze-saku) ; 6)
primary cause (nyoze-in) ; 7) relation (nyoze-en) ; 8) effect (nyoze-ka) ; 9) retribution (nyoze-ho) ; 10) the totality of the above nine factors (nyoze-hommatsu
78 Some scholars transcribe this passage
in a slightly different way. The two transcriptions are as follows : a) (I have followed this transcription.)
79 hi su lit. 'Keep it secret.' Perhaps better : 'Take good care of it.' But the
meaning intended by Nichiren is not that Ota Kingo must not reveal this
doctrine to anyone. The very reason for this essay is that this doctrine
be transmitted to his future disciples. However, this doctrine is the
most important message Nichiren is bringing to men and should not be
preached lightly, but only to those who are ready for it and can benefit
from it. See the letter Nichiren wrote to Toki Jonin when he sent to
him the Kanjin honzon sho (Heirakuji, I, p. 966) : 'This matter
[the Kanjin honzon sho and doctrine contained in it] is most
important to me, Nichiren. Keep it to yourself [ ] and disclose it only
to those who have the best disposition.'