Explanation of the Hoben Chapter


Explanation of the Hoben Chapter

by Reverend Kanno Tajima and Reverend Rikido Takeyasu

Today, for this Overseas Believers Summer Study Tozan held here at
the Head Temple Taisekiji under the aegis of the Dai-Gohonzon of the
High Sanctuary of the Essential Teachings, during the time I have
available I will give an explanation of “Myoho-Renge-Kyo Hoben-pon
Dai-ni,” the Hoben Chapter that we recite during each morning and
evening Gongyo.
Because of time limitations, I will not be able to lecture on all of the
Hoben Chapter, so I hope you will study the rest of the text after you
return home to your own countries.

It goes without saying that the Lotus Sutra is the supreme sutra in
the Buddhism of Shakyamuni Buddha. Among the many sutras from
ancient times, few sutras have been as treasured by common people
for as long as the Lotus Sutra.
Many factors have made the Lotus Sutra loved by common people:
its seven parables that are so easy to understand; the amazing
sermon in the Hoto Chapter, which is quite beyond the imagination;
and the brilliant, resplendent figure of the eternal Buddha who
appears in the Juryo Chapter. Why, though, is the Lotus Sutra so
great? The real reason is that much more than in other sutras, the
Lotus Sutra emphasizes the awesome nature and importance of life,
which is eternally here throughout the three existences.
Many of the Daishonin’s Goshos make it clear that owing to their
gravity, the Hoben and Juryo Chapters are the core of the Lotus
Sutra. For example, in “Recitation of the Hoben and Juryo Chapters,”
the Daishonin teaches:
As I said before, though no chapter of the Lotus Sutra is negligible,
among the entire twenty-eight chapters, the Hoben chapter and the
Juryo chapter are particularly outstanding. The remaining chapters
are all in a sense the branches and leaves of these two chapters.
(M.W., Vol. 6, p. 10; Shinpen, p. 303)
This is the background to why we recite the Hoben and Juryo
Chapters in Gongyo every morning and evening.
The innermost depths of Shakyamuni’s Buddhism are all
encompassed within the Lotus Sutra, and the Lotus Sutra contains
the most fundamental principles and forms the very marrow of all
the teachings of Shakyamuni Buddha’s lifetime. Therefore, if we do
not understand the reason for this, we will not be able to understand
the essence of Shakyamuni’s Buddhism. Moreover, we must recognize
the importance of the Lotus Sutra in order to understand the
difference between Shakyamuni’s Buddhism and the Daishonin’s
Buddhism, which is the Buddhism for the age of Mappo (Latter Day
of the Law) The Lotus Sutra is not merely the culmination of
Shakyamuni’s Buddhism; it also predicts the appearance of the Nam-
Myoho-Renge-Kyo of Nichiren Daishonin, and was preached as the
preparation for its appearance. In a word, the Lotus Sutra teaches
the Law that will enable all people to reach the most august life-state
of the Buddha. It is the sutra at the summit of Buddhism. Various
other sutras preach that the Buddha is an august being, and various
sutras reveal wisdom for solving the sufferings of life. However, no
other sutra can compare to the Lotus Sutra in the sense of leading all
common mortals to Buddhahood itself.
The Hoben Chapter teaches of the insight into the ultimate truth of
all phenomena that is the Buddha’s wisdom. It explains that the
purpose of the Buddha’s appearance in this land is to open the door
of the Buddha’s wisdom to all living beings, show the Buddha’s
wisdom to all living beings, cause all living beings to awaken to the
Buddha’s wisdom, and cause all living beings to enter into the path of
the Buddha’s wisdom. The Hoben Chapter makes it clear that the life
and wisdom of the Buddha fundamentally exist inside the lives of all
living beings. As evidence of this, the Hoben Chapter teaches that
Shakyamuni’s disciples Shariputra and Mahakashyapa will attain
However, Nichiren Daishonin is the one who revealed the Original
Law for attainment of Buddhahood and who established the Entity of
that Law. Therefore, the true reason that the twenty-eight chapters
of the Lotus Sutra are so magnificent is that they tacitly include this
Original Law. In other words, the Lotus Sutra will truly come alive
when we know of the Original Law for attaining Buddhahood that
Nichiren Daishonin taught, and return back to the Lotus Sutra and
read it from that viewpoint. Reading and studying the Lotus Sutra
will have no meaning if we neglect to read it in this way.
The Lotus Sutra begins with the Muryogi Sutra (“Sutra of Infinite
Meanings”), which serves as the introduction to the Lotus Sutra. The
Muryogi Sutra is, so to speak, a preface that leads into the main
subject. The Muryogi Sutra states, “Infinite meanings are born of this
one Law.”1 It is the Lotus Sutra that teaches the Original Law to
which from innumerable meanings come forth. In addition, the Kan
Fugen Bosatsu Gyoho Sutra (“Sutra of Meditation on the Bodhisattva
Universal Wisdom”) is preached after the Lotus Sutra as its closing
sutra. The word “fugen” means “universally wise,” or “universality.”
Thus, the one Law that is taught as the origin of infinite meanings
then moves outward to pervade everything.
The “Annotations on the Lotus Sutra”2 states:
Because this Lotus Sutra is the Entity of the Law that is endowed
with the mutual possession of the ten worlds and the three thousand
[factors], the three thousand factors and ten worlds are all, without
exception, the universal wisdom. The realm of the ultimate reality
(universe) is the universal wisdom, without leaving out even a single
phenomena. (Shinpen, p. 1798)
In this way, the Lotus Sutra is the philosophy of life that returns
from infinite meanings to the one Law and then spreads outward
universally throughout all phenomena.
Out of the twenty-eight chapters of the Lotus Sutra, the first fourteen
(from the Jyo {“Introduction”} Chapter to the Anrakugyo {“Peaceful
Practices”} Chapter) are called the theoretical teaching. The last
fourteen chapters (from the Yujutsu {“Emerging from the Earth”}
Chapter to the Kanbotsu {“The Encouragement of Bodhisattva
Universally Wise”} Chapter) are called the essential teaching.
The theoretical teaching of the Lotus Sutra is preached from the
position of a Buddha who attained enlightenment for the first time in
India. The core of the theoretical teaching is the Hoben (second)
Chapter, which discloses the wisdom that can only be understood and
shared between Buddhas Ñ the ultimate truth of all phenomena and
the ten factors. It also states that all living beings possess the Buddha
nature and teaches the attainment of Buddhahood by people of the
two vehicles (learning {shomon} and self-attained realization
{engaku}). This is known as “opening the three vehicles to reveal the
one vehicle,” that is, opening up the three vehicles of learning, self-
attained realization, and bodhisattva to reveal that there is actually
one vehicle: the Buddha vehicle.
The essential teaching of the Lotus Sutra discloses that Shakyamuni
“actually attained Buddhahood in the remote past” of Gohyaku-
jindengo (five hundred dust-particle kalpas). This core idea appears
in the Juryo (sixteenth) Chapter, which teaches that Shakyamuni
himself actually attained the Way in the remote past of Gohyaku-
jindengo. This is called “opening the near to reveal the distant”: this
concept refers to how Shakyamuni shows that his recent attainment
of Buddhahood in India was actually based far in the past. The Juryo
Chapter also shows how this attainment of Buddhahood actually
occurred by revealing the True Cause, True Effect, and True Land of
the Buddha’s enlightenment. Furthermore, there is the specific
entrustment to the Bodhisattvas of the Earth in the Jinriki (twenty-
first) Chapter.
When we consider Nichiren Daishonin and Myoho-Renge-Kyo, what
we cannot afford to overlook is the distinction between the Inner
Realization of the Buddha’s enlightenment and the External Function
of the Buddha’s enlightenment. First, viewed from the standpoint of
the External Function, the “Four Teachers in Three Countries” occupy
the position of External Function for propagating the Lotus Sutra.
This Nichiren Daishonin himself stated in Goshos such as “On the
Buddha’s Prophecy” and “On the True Cause.” The Four Teachers in
Three Countries are Shakyamuni Buddha, who preached the Lotus
Sutra (India), the Great Teacher T’ien-t’ai, who lectured on the Lotus
Sutra (China), the Great Teacher Dengyo, who established the
ordination platform of the theoretical teaching of the Lotus Sutra
(Japan), and of course Nichiren Daishonin himself.
Next, viewed from the standpoint of Inner Realization, Nichiren
Daishonin has hidden within himself the reality that he is the
Original Buddha of Mappo.
The one idea that is most important in revealing this Inner
Realization is the importance of “time” in the propagation of
Buddhism. One must also understand the existence of the “three
kinds of Lotus Sutra” that arise in accordance with the sequence of
“time.” I am sure you already know that in time, the propagation of
Buddhism is divided into three periods: Shobo (Former Day of the
Law), Zobo (Middle Day of the Law) and Mappo (Latter Day of the
Law). The Shobo period is the first one thousand years after
Shakyamuni’s passing. During this age, there were many people with
a deep causal relationship to Shakyamuni. The Zobo period is the
next one thousand years. It is an age of people with a shallow causal
relationship to Shakyamuni. Finally, the Mappo period is the age
from two thousand years after Shakyamuni’s passing. In this age, the
people who are born have absolutely no causal relationship to
Shakyamuni Buddha. Therefore, the Buddhism taught by
Shakyamuni cannot save them.
The three kinds of Lotus Sutra appeared in the sequence that
corresponds to their suitability for the three periods of Shobo, Zobo
and Mappo.
Nichiren Daishonin taught that there is only one Law that can save
the people of Mappo, who have no relationship to the Buddhism of
Shakyamuni. This Law is Nam-Myoho-Renge-Kyo, which is hidden in
the depths of the Juryo Chapter.

Why We Recite the Hoben and Juryo Chapters
Why, out of all the twenty-eight chapters of the Lotus Sutra, do we
recite the beginning of the Hoben (second) Chapter and the whole
Juryo (sixteenth) Chapter during our daily Gongyo in the morning
and evening? In the “Recitation of the Hoben and Juryo Chapters,”
which I mentioned before, Nichiren Daishonin teaches:
As I said before, though no chapter of the Lotus Sutra is negligible,
among the entire twenty-eight chapters, the Hoben chapter and the
Juryo chapter are particularly outstanding. The remaining chapters
are all in a sense the branches and leaves of these two chapters.
Therefore, for your regular recitation, I recommend that you practice
reading the prose sections of the Hoben and Juryo chapters. In
addition it might be well if you wrote out separate copies of these
sections. The remaining twenty-six chapters are like the shadows
that accompany a form or the value inherent in a jewel. If you recite
the Juryo and Hoben chapters, then the remaining chapters will
naturally be included even though you do not recite them. (M.W.,
Vol. 6, p. 10; Shinpen, p. 303)
However, even though the Hoben and Juryo Chapters are extremely
important, if we just recite the words in and of themselves, this
would still be the Lotus Sutra of Shakyamuni. We would be merely
reading the surface meaning of the words. In Mappo, reciting the
Lotus Sutra has a completely different significance.
Therefore, although the words of the Hoben and Juryo Chapters are
the same, Nichiren Daishonin’s recitation of these same words is as
“the theoretical teaching that I recite” from the standpoint of the life
condition of the Original Buddha of Mappo and as “the Juryo Chapter
of my Inner Realization” Ñ that is, their recitation is to reveal and
praise the merit of the Gohonzon of Nam-Myoho-Renge-Kyo hidden
in the depths of the words. In short, we don’t recite the Hoben and
Juryo Chapters as the Entity of the Law of the Lotus Sutra; we recite
them for the sake of Buddhist practice. Overall, Buddhism has two
aspects: the Entity of the Law and Buddhist practice.
In Nichiren Shoshu, the “Entity of the Law” is Nam-Myoho-Renge-Kyo
of the Three Great Secret Laws. In Mappo, absolutely nothing other
than this should be the object of worship.
The significance of our recitation of the Hoben and Juryo Chapters for
the sake of Buddhist practice, then, is as follows: The recitation of the
Hoben Chapter is first, recitation “for the sake of refutation,” and
second, recitation “to borrow the words.” The first of these, recitation
“for the sake of refutation” means that we read the Hoben Chapter in
order to refute all the sutras, since Shakyamuni’s Buddhism is not
the Buddhism for the age of Mappo. That is, we read it to follow what
Nichiren Daishonin taught in many Goshos:
Now in the Latter Day of the Law, neither the Lotus Sutra nor the
other sutras lead to enlightenment. Only Nam-Myoho-Renge-Kyo can
do so. (“The Teaching for the Latter Day,” M.W., Vol. 3, p. 266;
Shinpen, p. 1219)
With the coming of the Latter Day of the Law, however, with regard
to these Hinayana sutras, Mahayana sutras and the Lotus Sutra . . . .
though the words of these sutras still remain, they will no longer
serve as medicine for the illnesses of living beings. The illnesses will
be too grave, and these medicines too ineffectual. (“Reply to
Takahashi Nyudo,” M.W., Vol. 6, p. 125; Shinpen, p. 887)
Recitation “for the sake of refutation” means to read the Hoben
Chapter to refute all the other sutras, following the teachings of
Nichiren Daishonin.
Next, recitation “to borrow the words” means that we borrow the
words of the Hoben Chapter so as to reveal the enlightened life
condition of Nichiren Daishonin and the merit of Nam-Myoho-Renge-
Kyo. The purpose of recitation lies in borrowing the words.
Next, our recitation of the Juryo Chapter is first, recitation “for the
sake of refutation” and second, recitation “for the sake of utilization.”
First, recitation “for the sake of refutation” is exactly the same as in
the case of the Hoben Chapter. The second sense, recitation “for the
sake of utilization,” means that we recite the Juryo Chapter in order
to adopt it, since Nam-Myoho-Renge-Kyo is hidden in its depths.
We recite the Hoben Chapter “to borrow the words” because the
Hoben Chapter was, in a surface sense, taught for the sake of the
people of Shakyamuni’s day. In contrast, we recite the Juryo Chapter
“for the sake of utilization” because the Juryo Chapter was itself
taught for the age of Mappo.
When it comes to the essential teaching, the main purpose of our
recitation is “for the sake of utilization,” the second of the two.
This was Nichiren Daishonin’s own way of reciting the Juryo Chapter.
This is obvious according to what is written in the “Annotations on
the Lotus Sutra,” the record of Nichiren Daishonin’s lecture on the
Lotus Sutra written down by Second High Priest Nikko Shonin.
Nichiren Daishonin states:
When it comes to understanding the Lotus Sutra, I have only a
minute fraction of the vast ability that T’ien-t’ai and Dengyo
possessed. (“The Opening of the Eyes,” M.W., Vol. 2, p. 118; Shinpen,
p. 540)
This indicates that the understanding of the surface meaning of the
words of the Lotus Sutra had already been completed in every detail
by T’ien-t’ai and Dengyo. However, after the appearance of Nichiren
Daishonin, reciting the surface meaning of the words no longer has
any meaning.
At present, the best method for gaining a true and correct
understanding of the Lotus Sutra is to study the transmission
documents of Nichiren Daishonin, such as the “One Hundred and Six
Articles,” “On the True Cause,” and the “Annotations on the Lotus
Sutra.” In any case, at today’s meaningful Overseas Believers
Summer Seminar, I hope you will gain an understanding of the
significance of reciting the Hoben and Juryo Chapters. Now that I am
sure you understand this, I would like to speak about the part of the
Hoben Chapter that is in our sutra book, beginning with the words,
“ni ji seson.”

“Myoho-Renge-Kyo, Hoben-pon, Dai-ni” (this is the full title of the
Hoben Chapter. )
“Ni ji seson. Ju sanmai. Anjo ni ki. Go Sharihotsu.”
At this time, the World Honored One serenely rose from his samadhi
(state of deep meditation) and addressed Shariputra.
The title of the Hoben Chapter is “Myoho-Renge-Kyo Hoben-pon Dai-
ni.” The commonly-held standpoint is that “Hoben-pon Dai-ni” means
“Chapter Two: Expedient Means.” In ordinary sutras, though, such as
the Kegon Sutra or Agon Sutras, only the names of the chapters
themselves appear in the chapter titles. The title of the sutra is not
mentioned. In contrast, all twenty-eight chapters of the Lotus Sutra
begin with “Myoho-Renge-Kyo.” This indicates a deep significance,
that none of the chapters can exist apart from Nam-Myoho-Renge-
Fundamentally, the Lotus Sutra is the pure, perfect one truth (jun’en-
ichijitsu). Therefore, the Lotus Sutra itself does not contain any
expedient teachings. The “expedient means” referred to in the title of
the Hoben Chapter refer to the fact that the Hoben and other
chapters of the Lotus Sutra reveal how the Buddha had used various
expedients to teach people in the pre-Lotus sutras. In other words,
the Lotus Sutra explains the different types of expedients used by
the Buddha.
Just before preaching the Lotus Sutra, Shakyamuni preached the
Muryogi Sutra and entered into a state of deep meditation called
muryogi-sho-zanmai. Here, “muryogi” refers to the three thousand
(sanzen) realms, or all phenomena, and “sho” refers to the one mind
(ichinen) that is the source from which they all arise. The Seppo
(“Preaching the Law”) Chapter of the Muryogi Sutra states, “Infinite
meanings are born of this one Law. (Kaiketsu, p. 84) It is the Lotus
Sutra that teaches what this “one Law” is.
That is, prior to preaching the Lotus Sutra (the ultimate purpose of
his appearance) Shakyamuni Buddha deeply considered the Law of
ichinen sanzen (the core doctrine of the Lotus Sutra). In order to
determine how to best teach this, he entered into a state of deep
meditation wherein his mind was concentrated wholly in one place.
This is called muryogi-sho-zanmai (literally, “the samadhi on infinite
meanings”; samadhi is a Sanskrit Buddhist term meaning a state of
mental concentration on one object). When Shakyamuni Buddha
entered muryogi-sho-zanmai, his body and mind did not move and
he did not preach the Law.
Various strange phenomenon occurred when he entered into this
state. Lotus flowers fell from the sky, a ray of light came forth from
between the Buddha’s eyebrows and illuminated eighteen thousand
worlds showing the state of living beings in them all, and the world
shook in six directions (east, west, south, north, up and down). At
that time, Bodhisattva Maitreya asked Bodhisattva Manjushri, “What
is the reason for these mysterious phenomena?”
Bodhisattva Manjushri said:
In past existences, the Buddha Sun Moon Light preached various
laws. However, it was when he was about to preach the Myoho-
Renge-Kyo, the purpose of his advent, that mysterious phenomena
the same as these occurred. Based on this, Shakyamuni Buddha is
surely about to preach the Myoho-Renge-Kyo (Lotus Sutra), the
deepest and most secret Law, and fulfill the purpose of his advent.
Bodhisattva Maitreya and the rest of the assembly were delighted to
hear this. They tensely waited for Shakyamuni to begin preaching,
determined not to miss a single word. This is the situation referred to
in the first words of the Hoben Chapter, “at this time” (ni ji).
At that time, Shakyamuni entered meditation and quietly
contemplated. Then he stood up overflowing with conviction, as he
had attained full confidence about how to unfold his sermon on the
doctrine of the ultimate truth of all phenomena (shoho jisso) Ñ
ichinen sanzen Ñ and how to finally lead his disciples to attain
Buddhahood, so that they would harvest the true benefit of his
Buddhism. The sutra describes this as, “the World Honored One
serenely rose from his samadhi.”
Shakyamuni then turned to his shomon (learning) disciple
Shariputra, who was said to be “foremost in wisdom” among all his
disciples, and began to preach. Why did he preach to Shariputra?
The purpose of the Hoben Chapter is to reveal the Law of ichinen
sanzen, and the basis of ichinen sanzen is the mutual possession of
the ten worlds. Shakyamuni taught that each of the ten worlds
possesses the ten worlds within itself. Therefore, all people possess
the world of Buddhahood and are able to attain Buddhahood. He
taught this to refute the idea that “people of the two vehicles cannot
attain Buddhahood,” which Shakyamuni himself had continuously
preached for forty-some years. He taught this to predict that his
disciples of the two vehicles, such as Mahakashyapa, Shariputra, and
Maudgalyayana, would attain Buddhahood.
When Shakyamuni taught that the people of the two vehicles would
attain Buddhahood, this meant that the attainment of Buddhahood
was recognized for all people. This was the case even though
Shakyamuni did not predict the attainment of Buddhahood for each
and every individual. Nichiren Daishonin speaks of this in the Gosho
“Letter to Horen”:
The Lotus Sutra. . . reveals the principle that all living beings will
attain Buddhahood. For example, if one breaks one joint of a
bamboo, then all the other joints will also break. It is like the move
called shicho in the game of go. If one stone dies, then many stones
will also die.3 (Shinpen, p. 815)
It was in this sense that Shakyamuni Buddha taught the Law to
Shariputra, as a representative of the people of the two vehicles.

When the Buddha Begins Preaching Without Being Asked
Usually, the sutras were taught in response to questions people
asked the Buddha about the Law. However, in the Hoben Chapter
Shakyamuni Buddha stood up from his samadhi and began to preach
even though no one had asked him anything. This is called “teaching
of the Buddha’s own accord without being asked.”
If a teaching is especially deep, its content will be beyond people’s
consideration. Thus they will not even be able to ask questions about
it. Shakyamuni therefore chose Shariputra, “foremost in wisdom,”
and began to preach to him one-sidedly. This indicates how
important and profound are the doctrines in the Hoben Chapter.

“Shobut-chie. Jinjin muryo. Go chi-e mon. Nange nannyu.”
The wisdom of the Buddhas is incomparably profound and
immeasurable. The gate to this wisdom is difficult to understand and
difficult to enter.
The Japanese word “chi-e” in this passage has been translated
“wisdom,” since both its characters (chi and e) roughly mean wisdom.
The “Daijo Gisho” of Kumarajiva contains this passage about the true
wisdom of the Buddha: “‘To illuminate and see’ we call ‘chi,’ and ‘to
completely understand’ we term ‘e.'”
“To illuminate and see” means to view the differences between all
things. In other words, the character “chi” indicates viewing the
entire realm of the ultimate reality (universe) from the aspect of
discrimination. “To completely understand” means to view from the
aspect of sameness; thus, the character “e” means to view everything
from the aspect of equality. The true wisdom of the Buddha is
incomparably profound and immeasurable; the Buddha sees through
to the ultimate truth of all phenomena correctly Ñ from both aspects
without leaning to either side.
“Jinjin” (incomparably profound) means to be exceedingly deep, or
boundless in the vertical direction, penetrating all truths. “Muryo”
(immeasurable) means to have limitless width in the horizontal
“The gate to this wisdom is difficult to understand and difficult to
enter” ultimately means that it is impossible to jump right into the
realm of the Buddha’s wisdom with the wisdom of a common mortal.
In the end, there is no way for us to enter except through faith.

“Issai shomon. Hyakushibutsu. Sho fu no chi.”
None of the shravakas or pratyekabuddhas are able understand it.
(or: None of the people of learning or self-attained realization are
able to understand it.)
The original Sanskrit Buddhist term for “people of learning” is
“shravaka,” which is “shomon” in Japanese. This term literally means
“one who hears the voice,” in other words, one who hears the Law.
(Thus shomon is written with Chinese characters that mean “voice-
hearer.”) The shravaka are disciples who completely eliminate the
illusions of thought and desire of the threefold realm. Among
Shakyamuni’s disciples this category included Shariputra, who was
foremost in learning, Ananda, who was foremost in hearing the
sermons of Shakyamuni, and Maudgalyayana, who was foremost in
supernatural powers.
The original Sanskrit Buddhist term for “people of self-attained
realization” is pratyekabuddha. (The word “hyakushibutsu” is the
transliteration of that term into Chinese characters as pronounced in
Japanese.) In Japanese, “engaku” is the term that is usually used for
pratyekabuddha. Pratyekabuddhas, like shravakas, eliminate
illusions of thought and desire, but they do this by achieving
realization on their own, through some relation such as seeing leaves
fall. (Thus engaku is written with Chinese characters that mean
“relation-awakening.”) However, pratyekabuddhas are even stricter
than the shravakas. They also eliminate the faint, unconscious
movements of the mind that remain as remnants of the illusions of
thought and desire, in the same way that the scent of incense still
lingers in one’s clothing, etc., even after the incense has burned
completely. Thus, as disciples they are one stage higher than the
Reaching the levels of shravaka or pratyekabuddha (which are
known as the two vehicles) is the result of an extremely long and
arduous practice. It is very seldom that anyone achieves this.
However, even if one were to reach these levels of learning, one
would still not know the method for attaining the wisdom of a
Buddha. Shravakas and pratyekabuddhas eliminate all earthly
desires and also accumulate a great deal of practice and learning.
However, they practice and study for themselves alone in order to
break free of the cycle of birth and death among the six paths. They
lack the compassion and motivation to widely save many living
beings. Their situation is as if they have fallen into a big hole with no
way to get out. For this reason, they cannot attain Buddhahood.
Even with faith in Nichiren Daishonin’s Buddhism, one will never
understand the Daishonin’s Buddhism as long as one only maintains
faith for oneself alone. We must reflect on ourselves to see if we are
merely repeating the theories of Buddhism, to see if we are lacking
in the real feeling to propagate True Buddhism so as to enable people
in other religions to take faith in the True Law. In order to truly
awaken to Buddhism and attain Buddhahood one must trust, respect,
and follow the High Priest, who has inherited the Heritage, propagate
Buddhism under one’s direct teacher (chief priest, etc.) and
encounter various troubles and difficulties.

“Sho-i sha ga. Butsu zo shingon. Hyaku-sen-man-noku. Mushu
shobutsu. Jin gyo shobutsu. Muryo doho. Yumyo shojin. Myosho fu
mon. Joju jinjin. Mizo-u ho. Zui gi sho setsu. Ishu nange.”
Why is this? A Buddha has personally attended a hundred, a
thousand, ten thousand, a million, a countless number of Buddhas
and has fully carried out an immeasurable number of religious
practices. He has exerted himself bravely and vigorously, and his
name is universally known. He has realized the Law that is profound
and never known before, and preaches it in accordance with what is
appropriate, yet his intention is difficult to understand. (Watson, The
Lotus Sutra, p. 23-4)
Why is the wisdom of the Buddha so profound? In the past, the
Buddha intimately approached innumerable Buddhas Ñ a hundred,
thousand, ten thousand, million Ñ and thoroughly carried out
Buddhist practices such as the practices of wisdom and endurance,
and devoted himself courageously and energetically to each of these
paths. As a result, his name became admired not only in this impure
saha world, but also in all worlds throughout the ten directions.
To “fully carry out” means to endeavor by putting one’s whole heart
and soul into something and to do one’s best. It is very important
that we endeavor this way in our practice of Buddhism, until it
penetrates into our faith.
This portion of the Hoben Chapter contains the phrase “yumyo
shojin,” which is translated here, “exert oneself bravely and
vigorously.” Nichikan Shonin explains the meaning of this phrase in
his work “Interpretation Based on the Law,”4 saying that yu
(courage) means to boldly carry out, myo (valiant) means to exhaust
all one’s wisdom, sho (pure energy) means to exert oneself with a
pure, unadulterated heart, and jin (progress) means to move forward
continuously without a break. Yumyo is to endeavor bravely in faith,
and shojin is to embrace the Gohonzon wholeheartedly and chant
Daimoku without mixing in anything else. The Buddha teaches the
Law to save infinite varieties of living beings in accordance with the
people and the time, using the Supreme Law never before known.
This Supreme Law cannot be understood at all even by shravakas,
pratyekabuddhas, or bodhisattvas. This mind of the Buddha can
never be fathomed by common mortals.

“Sharihotsu. Go ju jobutsu irai. Shuju innen. Shuju hiyu. Ko en gonkyo.
Mushu hoben. Indo Shujo. Ryo ri shojaku.”
Shariputra, since I attained Buddhahood, through using various
causes and relations and various similes I have widely set forth the
spoken teachings, and have led the people using innumerable
expedient means to enable them to separate from their attachments.
Shariputra, in the forty-some years since I attained Buddhahood, I
have taught the various causes and relations that span the three
existences of past, present and future of various people. Or, I have
lead people by teaching them using various similes, and I have
exerted myself to make them uphold Buddhism by separating them
from their mind to neglect Buddhist practice. They neglect Buddhist
practice because they are so attached to trivial things that it is as if
they live in a dream.
When people cannot attain Buddhahood even though they embrace
the True Law it is because they are attached to trivial things. Thus it
is important to remove those attachments. Buddhism enables us to
get rid of foolish, mistaken attachments by correctly penetrating
through to the ultimate truth of all phenomena. Buddhism teaches
and leads us along the practice of Buddhism one step at time in order
for us to have the same mind as the Buddha.

“Shoi shaga. Nyorai hoben. Chiken haramitsu. Kai i gusoku.”
Why is this? Because the Thus Come One is fully possessed of
expedient means and the paramita of knowledge and insight.
The Buddha possesses each and every kind of expedient means and
the paramita of knowledge and insight. “Chiken” is the Buddhist term
that has been translated as “knowledge and insight.” The “chi” of
chiken means to realize with the mind, while the “ken” means to see
with the eye of the five sense organs. That is, “chiken” means the
power to see through to the truth with wisdom. The word paramita
means to cross over to the opposite shore, that is, to receive or be
made to receive enlightenment. In the first part of the “Annotations
on the Lotus Sutra” the Daishonin teaches:
Therefore, “chiken” (knowledge and insight) is the Mystic Law. It is
to open the mind of the Buddha, which possesses the nine worlds,
through the chiken (knowledge and insight) of the Lotus Sutra.
(Shinpen, p. 1728)
Ultimately, “chiken” means that the world of Buddhahood also exists
within the common mortal. It means to see through to the truth that
one can attain Buddhahood. The Buddha correctly discerns not only
all truths, but also that all living beings possess Buddhahood, and he
possesses the power to make all attain Buddhahood.

“Sho-i shoho. Nyoze so. Nyoze sho. Nyoze tai. Nyoze riki. Nyoze sa.
Nyoze in. Nyoze en. Nyoze ka. Nyoze ho. Nyoze honmak-kukyo to.”
That is to say, all phenomena [have] the suchness of their
appearance, the suchness of their nature, the suchness of their entity,
the suchness of their power, the suchness of their influence, the
suchness of their cause, the suchness of their relation, the suchness
of their effect, the suchness of their retribution, the suchness of
absolute identity of beginning and end.
The ultimate truth of the universe is such that when all things are
viewed in terms of cause and effect, they possess ten “suchnesses” Ñ
the ten aspects of appearance, nature, entity, power, influence, cause,
relation, effect, retribution, and absolute identity of beginning and
end. (These “ten suchnesses” have also been called the “ten factors of
life.”) The “beginning” (appearance, nature, and entity) and the “end”
(effect and retribution) are always equal.
These ten factors are all possessed by each of the ten worlds, making
one hundred factors. Since the ten worlds are all each endowed with
the ten worlds, this makes one thousand factors. And since these
possess the three realms of existence (the realms of living beings,
land, and five components), this makes three thousand factors.
Moreover, the aspects of all three thousand (sanzen) are within our
“one mind” (ichinen).
“Absolute identity of beginning and end” means that the beginning
and end are, in the last analysis, equal. The first of the ten factors
(appearance) may be regarded as “beginning” and the last
(retribution) as “end”; or, appearance, nature, and entity may be
regarded as “beginning” and the last seven of the ten factors as “end”;
or, the first three factors may be regarded as the Thus Come One of
original enlightenment and the last seven factors as the living beings
of the nine worlds Ñ in any case, the beginning and end are always
absolutely identical, or equal.

About the “Ten Factors of Life”
“Appearance” is outward appearance. “Nature” is natural disposition
that exists within; characteristics that are not easily changed, such as
water being cool and fire being hot. “The Threefold Secret Teaching”5
by Nichikan Shonin teaches, “nature” is that which is fixed in the
inner heart and will not change in future existences.
“Entity” is the physical constitution that makes up the body, the
substance of things. In the “Profound Meaning of the Lotus Sutra”6
there is a passage that states, “The principle quality is termed the
“Power” is the functioning brought about by the uniting of body and
mind. “Influence” is action that the immanent power does in relation
to the outside. “Cause” is a condition that produces an effect. For
example, a cause would be setting firewood on fire. The effect would
be the end result, when the firewood has completely burned up and
turned to ashes. But the firewood will burn more easily if favorable
conditions (such as putting on oil and dryness) are added, while the
fire will go out midway if bad conditions (such as becoming wet) are
added. Conditions that are added midway are “relation.” They alter
the ultimate effect. “Effect” is the end result that is brought about by
“relation” added to “cause.” “Retribution” is the reward or
punishment received owing to the effect. For example, causing an
accident is a cause, while becoming physically handicapped as a
result is an effect. And suffering for a long time because of that is
retribution.7 The “absolute identity of beginning and end” means
that with the first of these, “appearance,” there is beginning and with
the last of these, “retribution,” there is end; if the beginning is bad,
this will give rise to a bad effect. A bad effect will in turn become a
bad cause. And since this bad cause will also give rise to a bad effect,
it is said that the beginning and end are ultimately identical.
The Great Teacher Miao-lo stated, “With the ultimate truth there is
sure to be all phenomena; with all phenomena, there is sure to be the
ten factors; with the ten factors, there is sure to be the ten worlds;
with the ten worlds, there is sure to be the body and land.”8 These
are called the “four certainties.” The ultimate truth is the true aspect
in all nature in the universe. If all things in nature are viewed in
terms of cause and effect, they will definitely possess the ten aspects.
If viewed from another angle, they will be portioned into ten worlds,
from hell at the bottom to Buddhahood at the top. Moreover, if the
ten worlds exist, so will the place where they exist, the realm of the
land. All of these things are ultimately identical.
It is not only that the ten worlds all mutually possess each other. The
land also possesses the ten worlds and the ten factors. The ten
factors possess the ten worlds, the land, and the three realms of
existence. The mutual possession of the ten worlds makes one
hundred worlds; that they possess the ten factors makes one
thousand factors, and that they possess the three realms of existence
(living beings, land, and five components) results in the quantity of
three thousand realms (sanzen) in one mind (ichinen). (This has also
been termed “three thousand realms in a single moment of life.”)
This is the makeup of ichinen sanzen. Strictly speaking, “three
thousand” means infinite, since it designates all phenomena.
The ultimate truth is in itself all phenomena; this expands outward to
three thousand realms, becoming ichinen sanzen Ñ “three thousand
[realms] in one mind.” The one ultimate truth, which is the source, is
in itself “three thousand realms in a single moment of life” (ichinen
sanzen). Hence the source passage for the theory of ichinen sanzen is
this passage in the Hoben Chapter about the ten factors, which
contains the meaning that everything is within a single moment of
life. The deep significance of ichinen sanzen is particularly indicated
in the final words of this passage, “ultimately identical.”

1. Kaiketsu, p. 84.
2. The “Ongi Kuden.” A translation of the full formal title of the “Ongi
Kuden” is “Oral Transmission of Annotations on the Lotus Sutra.”
3. The game of “go” is a board game in which two opponents place
round stones on a board with a grid on it (one person uses white
stones and the other uses black). If a player uses his own stones to
surround one of the other person’s stones, it is said that the stone
“dies.” (It is removed from the board.) One can also make a whole
group of the opponent’s stones die by surrounding the whole group.
4. The “Egi Hanmon Sho,” one of the Six Volume Writings of Twenty-
sixth High Priest Nichikan Shonin. The term “egi hanmon” means “to
interpret the words of the sutras based on the deep meaning hidden
5. The “Sanju Hiden Sho,” one of the Six Volume Writings of Twenty-
sixth High Priest Nichikan Shonin.
6. The “Hokke Gengi” by the Great Teacher T’ien-t’ai.
7. The English word “retribution” may refer to both good and bad
things that are received. It has been used in that sense here.
8. For reference, please see M.W. 1, p. 89 for another translation of
this quote.

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