The Threefold Transmission on the Fundamental Object of Veneration

 

These three all-embracing matters were transmitted to Nikkō and signed and sealed by Nichiren.

Gohonzon diagram

 

Part 1: An explanation of the archetypes inscribed on the Fundamental Object of Veneration (gohonzon)

(1)  Nam Myōhō Renge Kyō – which means to devote our lives to and found them on (Nam[u]) the Utterness of the Dharma (Myōhō) [entirety of existence, enlightenment and unenlightenment] permeated by the underlying white lotus flower-like mechanism of the interdependence of cause, concomitancy and effect (Renge) in its whereabouts of the ten [psychological] realms of dharmas [which is every possible psychological wavelength] (Kyō).

(2) The Buddha Shākyamuni – the historical founder of the Buddha teaching. According to Chinese Buddhist tradition, he was born on April 8th, 1029 BCE and died on February 15th, 949 BCE. However, there are a number of uncertainties regarding these dates. Western Buddhist scholarship puts these dates at above five hundred years later.

(3) The Tathāgata Abundant Treasure (Tahō Nyorai, Prabhūtaratna) – This is the Buddha who appeared, seated in the stupa made of precious materials, during the ceremony in empty space, and verified the teachings of Buddha Shākyamuni in the Dharma Flower Sutra (Hokke-kyō). [See the Eleventh Chapter on Seeing the Vision of the Stupa made of Precious Materials.]

(4) The Bodhisattva Superior Practice (Jōgyō, Vishishtachāritra) was one of the four leaders of the bodhisattvas who swarmed up out of the earth. He appears in the Fifteenth Chapter on the Bodhisattvas who Swarm up out of the Earth of the Dharma Flower Sutra (Hokke-kyō). Nichiren suggests in various writings that he himself is the incarnate manifestation of the Bodhisattva Superior Practice (Jōgyō, Vishishtachāritra), whose real identity is the original Buddha of the ever-present infinite in time (kuon ganjo).

(5) The Bodhisattva Pure Practice (Jyōgyō, Vishuddhachārita) was one of the four leaders of the bodhisattvas who swarmed up out of the earth. He appears in the Fifteenth Chapter on the Bodhisattvas who Swarm up out of the Earth of the Dharma Flower Sutra (Hokke-kyō).

(6) The Bodhisattva Infinite Practice (Muhengyō, Anantachārita) was one of the four leaders of the bodhisattvas who swarmed up out of the earth. He appears in the Fifteenth Chapter on the Bodhisattvas who Swarm up out of the Earth of the Dharma Flower Sutra (Hokke-kyō).

(7) The Bodhisattva Firmly Established Practice (Anryūgyō, Supratishthichārita) was also one of the four leaders of the bodhisattvas who swarmed up out of the earth. He appears in the Fifteenth Chapter on the Bodhisattvas who Swarm up out of the Earth of the Dharma Flower Sutra (Hokke-kyō).

(8) The Sovereign Tainted by Sensuality (Aizen Myō’ ō, Raga-rāja Vidyā-rāja) is also one of the forces of the Buddha teaching that is able to release people from their troublesome worries (bonnō, klesha) and the suffering that comes from sensual desires in particular. In the Esoteric School (Shingon), he is represented on the mandala of the Existential Dimension of the Diamond Thunderbolt (Kongōkai, Vajra-dhātu) as being coloured red, with three eyes and an angry expression. He holds a bow with arrows in his hand. The Sovereign Tainted by Sensuality (Aizen Myō’ ō, Raga-rāja Vidyā-rāja) is on the left-hand side of the Fundamental Object of Veneration (gohonzon) [as one faces it]. The germ syllable of his name “Hum” is written in the Siddham letters from a medieval Sanskrit alphabet, which represents that “troublesome worries are not separate from and can lead to enlightenment”.

(9) The Sovereign of Immovable Wisdom (Fudō Myō’ ō, Achala Vidyā-rāja) is one of the psychological forces that help practitioners overcome obstacles and negative energies that hinder Buddhist practice. The images of the Sovereign of Immovable Wisdom (Fudō Myō’ ō, Achala Vidyā-rāja) are represented by this personage as being the colour indigo and being immersed in a meditation that produces flames (kashō zammai), which destroy all karmic impediments. Like Sovereign Tainted by Sensuality (Aizen Myō’ ō, Raga-rāja Vidyā-rāja), the images of the Sovereign of Immovable Wisdom (Fudō Myō’ ō, Achala Vidyā-rāja) are wrathful and holding a rope and sword. The germ syllable (Ham) that is used to evoke this entity is on the right side of the Fundamental Object of Veneration (gohonzon) [as one faces it] and implies that “the cycles of living and dying are not separate from nirvana” (shōji soku nehan).

(10) The Bodhisattva Mañjushrī (Monjushiri), whose name is often shortened to Monju, is a bodhisattva who appears in a number of sutras as a symbol of the perfection of wisdom. He is also described with the Bodhisattva Universally Worthy (Fugen, Samantabhadra) as one of the bodhisattvas who are assistants to the Buddha Shākyamuni. Bodhisattva Mañjushrī (Monjushiri) is usually depicted on the left of the Buddha and the right-hand side on the Fundamental Object of Veneration (gohonzon) [as one faces it]. He is seated on a lotus flower on the back of a lion and symbolises the truth and practice of the Buddha teaching.

(11) The Bodhisattva Universally Worthy (Fugen, Samantabhadra), along with the Bodhisattva Mañjushrī (Monjushiri), is one of the bodhisattvas who assists the Buddha Shākyamuni in giving directions and advice to the other bodhisattvas. He is usually represented on the right side of the Buddha, which is the left-hand side on the Fundamental Object of Veneration (gohonzon) [as one faces it], the Buddha being Nam Myōhō Renge Kyō. The Bodhisattva Universally Worthy (Fugen, Samantabhadra) is normally depicted as seated on a lotus flower and riding a white elephant with six tusks. In the Flower Garland Sutra (Kegon, Avatāmsaka), he made ten vows with regard to Buddhist practice. In the Twenty-eighth Chapter on the Persuasiveness of the Bodhisattva Universally Worthy (Fugen, Samantabhadra) of the Dharma Flower Sutra (Hokke-kyō), he made a vow to protect this sutra along with those that do its practices. Both the Bodhisattva Mañjushrī (Monjushiri) and the Bodhisattva Universally Worthy (Fugen, Samantabhadra) symbolise the truth of the Buddha teaching and its practices.

Page from training book

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Facsimile of a diagram from A Collection of the Essential Studies of the Fuji School, Volume 1, originally published by Soka Gakkai, Shōwa, p. 35, Japan, 1974

 

A Transmission on the Fundamental Object of Veneration (gohonzon)

It is pointed out that these five mental images (gokei) for Myōhō Renge Kyō are what really constitute our own bodies and persons. In the teachings derived from the external events of the Buddha Shākyamuni’s life and work, these five images were either indicated as separate entities, or they were generally lumped together and included in the explanations of our objective surroundings. In this sense, these five mental images as separate entities are applicable to the wisdom of Buddha Shākyamuni’s initial enlightenment in Buddhagāya [which originated from and became the Buddha enlightenment of the original archetypal state]. Here we have, in the Second Chapter on Expedient Means of the Dharma Flower Sutra (Hokke-kyō) the phrase, “the wisdom and discernment of all the Buddhas is exceedingly deep and immeasurably profound”, and then the sutric text continues right on to the real aspect of all dharmas.

This passage in the sutra is explained by saying that the objective environment of the Buddha is like a yawning abyss, without any boundaries to it. Therefore, it is exceedingly deep, and the water of the Buddha wisdom can only be fathomed with difficulty, which, to quote the sutric text, is immeasurably profound. Again, it can be said that all dharmas are his objective surroundings and that their real aspect is represented by the wisdom of the Buddha.

At the time of the Eleventh Chapter on Seeing the Vision of the Stupa made of Precious Materials, the Buddha Abundant Treasure (Tahō Nyorai, Prabhūtaratna) represents the objective surroundings of the Buddha, and that the Buddha Shākyamuni stands for the wisdom to be able to understand them. Both of these Buddhas are seated in the same stupa, so as to indicate that our objective surroundings and the wisdom to perceive them are not separate entities.

What then is the concept of our objective surroundings and the wisdom to perceive them not being separate entities?

They are and have been, from beginningless time to the present, the lives and deaths that we sentient beings have received that consist of the inseparability of mind and materiality, as well as our subjective and objective existences and the movement and stillness of a thousand blades of grass and ten thousand trees.

Because the Buddha Abundant Treasure (Tahō Nyorai, Prabhūtaratna) has already passed over to the extinction of nirvana, he symbolises death. And, because the Buddha Shākyamuni had not yet entered into the extinction of nirvana at that time, he represents life. When the two concepts of mind and materiality are placed in front of each other, then it is the mind that is always on the move and represents mobility, whereas materiality being inanimate stands for stillness. As a result, the Buddha Abundant Treasure (Tahō Nyorai, Prabhūtaratna), as the aspect of death, symbolises our dying one death after the next, and the Buddha Shākyamuni, as the aspect of life, represents the continuity of living and dying being the characteristics of our total existence.

This is said to be the workings of the all-embracing nirvana (hosshin, Dharma-kāya), that neither comes into being, nor does it ever cease to exist. If we are to apply the fundamental principle of this phenomenon and the wisdom to perceive it (richi), the Buddha Shākyamuni represents four of the five aggregates of our minds and bodies, which are [1) physical form (shiki), 2) the receptivity of our sense organs (ju), 3) that provokes our thinking () and 4) influences our behaviour (gyō), 5) thereby resulting in our individual understandings of existence (shiki)]. This is because the mind has the function of going round and round in our heads.

In the Buddha Shākyamuni’s explanation of the Dharma, the Tathāgata Abundant Treasure (Tahō Nyorai, Prabhūtaratna) stands for the first of the five aggregates which is our physical (shiki) aspect. And, since materiality as such is silent, the Tathāgata Abundant Treasure (Tahō Nyorai, Prabhūtaratna) does not expound the Dharma. If we really can absorb this concept, neither our minds nor our bodies are ever really set in motion; they are entirely the working of the Buddha Shākyamuni or the Tathāgata Abundant Treasure (Tahō Nyorai, Prabhūtaratna).

This notion, however, was expounded as the opening up of our inherent Buddha nature with our persons just as they are, according to the teachings derived from the external events of the Buddha Shākyamuni’s life and work (shakumon). [In many of the teachings prior to the Sixteenth Chapter on the Lifespan of the Tathāgata, such as those of the Tantric (Shingon) and Zen Schools, all dharmas were expounded as vacuity or being non-existent (, shūnyatā).]

In the teachings of the original archetypal state, the Buddha Shākyamuni declares, in the Second Chapter on the Lifespan of the Tathāgata, “(Since) I really became a Buddha . . . .” [including the whole of the passage from The Oral Transmission on the Meaning of the Dharma Flower Sutra (Ongi Kuden)]. The explanation for this is that materiality (shiki) and mind (shin) have existed since beginningless time and are the immutable reality of the Utterness (Myō) of the objective environment [of the Fundamental Buddha (honbutsu)] and the utterness of his wisdom that can perceive it.

The Universal Teacher Dengyō (Dengyō Daishi) says, “The whole of the underlying significance of the whole teaching consists of this particular wisdom and objective environment.” The words “the whole of the teaching” refer to all the contents of the Dharma Flower Sutra (Hokke-kyō), and the “underlying significance” is the five ideograms for Myōhō Renge Kyō [which means the Utterness of the Dharma (Myōhō) (entirety of existence, enlightenment and unenlightenment) permeated by the underlying white lotus flower-like mechanism of the interdependence of cause, concomitancy and effect (Renge) in its whereabouts of the ten (psychological) realms of dharmas (which is every possible psychological wavelength) (Kyō)], and is fundamentally subtle. What we understand by the word “fundamental (fukai)” is that it comes from the profoundest of causes and is therefore significant.

On the whole, all that the twenty-eight chapters of the Dharma Flower Sutra (Hokke-kyō) imply are simply the wisdom and objective environment of the five ideograms of the Utterness of the Dharma (Myōhō) [entirety of existence, enlightenment and unenlightenment], even though the significance of the objective environment and perceptive wisdom of the teachings of the original archetypal state (honmon) and those derived from the external events of the Buddha Shākyamuni’s life and work are discussed, to the bewilderment and misunderstanding of his listeners, caused by his initial enlightenment in Buddhagāya [which originated from and became the Buddha enlightenment of the original archetypal state]. Therefore, any ineptitude in his ability to be compassionate never really came about. This is placed on the side of wisdom on the left side as you face the Fundamental Object of Veneration (gohonzon) where Buddha Shākyamuni is also placed.

On coming to the teachings of the original archetypal state, that were discussed according to the virtue of his awareness of the original enlightenment and consequently on account of this essential truth, he was unable to break the bonds of having all the qualities of a sentient being. So on the surface of the Fundamental Object of Veneration (gohonzon), Buddha Shākyamuni established it as a gateway to the unimpeded interaction of noumena and phenomena. The Tathāgata Abundant Treasure (Tahō Nyorai, Prabhūtaratna) is on the right-hand side as you face the Fundamental Object of Veneration (gohonzon). The right-hand side represents the ruling principle.

Nevertheless, both the left and the right elements of this Fundamental Object of Veneration (gohonzon) are fully endowed with the qualities of subjective and objective existence, mind and materiality, intent, contemplation (samādhi), and compassion, as well as living and dying. All these aspects of existence are referred to as the fusion of the objective environment and the wisdom to experience it (kyōchi myōgo) of the completely enlightened.

The rest you ought to know.

Here, for instance, the all-embracing, wise the Bodhisattva Mañjushrī (Monjushiri) is present in the First and Introductory Chapter and, therefore, represents the whole subject matter of the sutra; the Bodhisattva Universally Worthy (Fugen, Samantabhadra) appears at the end of this sutra and represents the propagation of this canonical text. After the testimony of the Buddha Abundant Treasure (Tahō Nyorai, Prabhūtaratna), in the Chapter on Seeing the Vision of the Stupa made of Precious Materials is where the two Buddhas [Shākyamuni and Abundant Treasure] are seated in the one stupa. This expresses the significance of the Fundamental Object of Veneration (gohonzon).

Coming to the point, what do all these various deep meanings imply? – They are only the subjectivity and objective environment of the five ideograms for Myōhō Renge Kyō, whose meaning is the entirety of our existences permeated by the underlying white lotus flower-like mechanism of the interdependence of cause, concomitancy and effect in its whereabouts of the ten [psychological] realms of dharmas.

Since our physical existence, in terms of the Tathāgata Abundant Treasure (Tahō Nyorai, Prabhūtaratna), and our mentally subjective existence, in terms of the Buddha Shākyamuni, have already been discussed, the part of us that is incapable of words is represented by the Tathāgata Abundant Treasure (Tahō Nyorai, Prabhūtaratna), who does not explain the Dharma. And the part of us that expresses opinions is represented by the Buddha Shākyamuni, who does expound the Buddha teaching. The explanation for this is as easy to see as a mango in the palm of the hand; it is obviously the essence of the Dharma Flower Sutra (Hokke-kyō).

This essence is the five ideograms for Myōhō Renge Kyō that is the fundamental source of our existence. This gateway to the Dharma is esoteric and should never be divulged to anybody.

Next, there are the two wrathful emanations of enlightenment (myō’ ō, vidyārāja). The Sovereign Tainted by Sensuality (Aizen Myō’ ō, Raga-rāja Vidyā-rāja) is the entity that represents that our troublesome worries are not separate from and can lead to enlightenment. His red colouring stands for our love of beauty and our sexual desires. That is to say that this wrathful emanation of enlightenment is the way we look upon beauty and carnal desires. The Sovereign of Immovable Wisdom (Fudō Myō’ ō, Achala Vidyā-rāja) is the entity that represents that our cycles of living and dying are not separate from and can lead to nirvana. The blackness of his colouring represents the eternally inaccessibly black karma within the realms of dharmas, which is impossible to renew and is, therefore, the Sovereign of Immutable Wisdom (Fudō Myō’ ō, Achala Vidyā-rāja).

Nevertheless, the Wrathful Sovereign Tainted by Sensuality (Aizen Myō’ ō, Raga-rāja Vidyā-rāja) bestows loving-kindness, whereas Fudō Myō’ ō represents the psychological immobility of one’s perfect absorption into the one object of meditation (samādhi).

What then do these two dharmas of our loving-kindness and mental immobility represent? They are the two dharmas of our subjective perception and our respective objective environments.

So what then are the two dharmas of our subjective perception and our respective objective environments? They are simply where we stand in terms of the Utterness of the Dharma (Myōhō, Saddharma).

By this we mean that, by enjoying and taking pleasure in the sutra, as well as appreciating it, we then become capable of discriminating with discernment a thousand myriads of different ways of speaking and skilfully putting concepts into words, so that we can explain it in a way to induce people to hold to it.

It is said that, when the Buddha entered into the absorption of the Sutra on Implications Without Bounds (Muryōgisho zammai, ananta nirdesha pratishthāna samādhi) [the meditation on the infinite meaning of existence (Nam Myōhō Renge Kyō), which is the samādhi into which the Buddha entered before expounding the Dharma Flower Sutra (Hokke-kyō)], neither his body nor his mind stirred.

When Aizen and our troublesome worries (bonnō, klesha) disturb us, we should then recite the title and theme (daimoku), in order for the Sovereign Tainted by Sensuality (Aizen Myō’ ō, Raga-rāja Vidyā-rāja), who is an emanation of enlightenment, to lead us towards a deeper understanding. When we are taken aback by the rotations of living and dying, then we should contemplate and mentally take in the implications of the Fundamental Object of Veneration (gohonzon), so that the Sovereign of Immovable Wisdom (Fudō Myō’ ō, Achala Vidyā-rāja), who is a wrathful sovereign that is an emanation of enlightenment, can teach us that nirvana implies the way existence works.

Apart from the Sovereign Tainted by Sensuality (Aizen Myō’ ō, Raga-rāja Vidyā-rāja) and the Sovereign of Immovable Wisdom (Fudō Myō’ ō, Achala Vidyā-rāja), there is no other meaning of existence – only our physical and mental bodies, their subjective perception and objective environment, along with our wisdom and the directions where our minds lead us, as well as all that takes our fancies. All this is the Utterness of the Dharma (Myōhō, Saddharma). The rest you already know.

These orally transmitted instructions, concerning the Fundamental Object of Veneration (gohonzon), contain esoteric material, and you should not make the least attempt to transmit them.

Gohozon diagram-small

Here is a transmission on placing the palms of our hands together in reverence.

There exist three references with regard to putting the palms of our hands together with a mind of complete veneration, because we wish to listen to the path of enlightenment. Tendai (T’ien T’ai) said, “Even though we do not open our mouths to speak, the tips of our tongues are empowered with myriad of virtues.” Myōraku (Miao-lo) said that if you have understood these concepts, then you should know that the essence of the Dharma Flower Sutra (Hokke-kyō) is like looking at a mango in your hand.

These three all-embracing matters were transmitted to Nikkō and signed and sealed by Nichiren.

There is also a transmission that this mandala, as the Fundamental Object of Veneration (gohonzon), is inscribed in a way so as to express the assembly of the ceremony on Vulture Peak (Ryōjusen, Gridhrakūta). This was in order that, during the final period of the Dharma of the Buddha Shākyamuni (mappō), which is a time for the broad propagation of this teaching, the people who are capable of accepting and holding to the Sutra on the White Lotus Flower-like Mechanism of the Utterness of the Dharma (Myōhō Renge Kyō), which is the fundamental truth of the original archetypal state that is to be widely published, will be able to directly see this assembly on Vulture Peak (Ryōjusen, Gridhrakūta).

In the Dharma Flower Sutra (Hokke-kyō), it says, “Even if it is in a garden or if it is in the middle of the woods, or even if it is at the base of a tree, or even if it is in the living quarters of the monks or the residence of an ordinary person, all such locations are unquestionably the raising of a stupa made of seven precious substances (gold, silver, lapis lazuli, crystal, agate, ruby, cornelian). After the Buddha’s extinction into nirvana, people must certainly accept and hold to this sutra. Without a doubt, such persons are definitely set upon the path to enlightenment.”

 

Part 2: What I have heard and written down, concerning the Fundamental Object of Veneration (gohonzon)

(1)  The Buddha Shākyamuni and the archetypal numen Amaterasu both appear in the western sky, so as to express the fundamental pledge of all the Buddhas to explain that existence is Myōhō Renge Kyō, which means the Utterness of the Dharma (Myōhō) [entirety of existence, enlightenment and unenlightenment] permeated by the underlying white lotus flower-like mechanism of the interdependence of cause, concomitancy and effect (Renge) in its whereabouts of the ten [psychological] realms of dharmas [which is every possible psychological wavelength] (Kyō), and to assert that all sentient beings everywhere are the Buddha’s children [endowed with the Buddha nature]. Again, on account of the appearance of these archetypes, one should directly throw away all teachings that are an expedient means, so as to requite this essential desire and the pledge that people should keep it in their heads.

Now in this muddled age of the end of the Dharma of the Buddha Shākyamuni, Nichiren reveals the original thinking of all the Buddhas. Nevertheless, the Buddha Shākyamuni, the Bodhisattva Superior Practice (Jōgyō, Vishishtachāritra), the archetypal numen Amaterasu, and Nichiren Daishōnin are being referred to as a single entity. [Nichiren writes his name underneath the Nam Myōhō Renge Kyō in the centre of the Fundamental Object of Veneration (gohonzon).]

The enclosure of the hundred sixty-second radical in Chinese ideograms 2 dot is written with three dots 3 dot instead of two, so as to express 1) Nichishin [sun numen] as the archetypal numen of the sun Amaterasu, 2) the Buddha Shākyamuni, by using his childhood name Nichishu (Sūryavamsha) [sun seed], and 3) Nichiren himself [sun lotus]. [All these names refer to the clear light often seen in near-death states.]

Regarding Amaterasu, the Buddha Shākyamuni, and Nichiren Shōnin as being a single entity, Nichiren uses the childhood name of the Buddha Shākyamuni, Nichishu (Sūryavamsha), as well as the childhood name of Amaterasu, who was called Numen of the Sun (Nichishin). When Nichiren was Amaterasu, his entity was present in the assembly of the Dharma Flower Sutra (Hokke-kyō), during the time of the teachings derived from the external events of the Buddha Shākyamuni’s life and work (shakumon) as well as those of the original archetypal state (honmon).

Superficially, Amaterasu appears with a body of a woman, but, in fact, she sat at the assembly as a spirit that harmonises both the qualities of yin and yang. The ideogram for heaven (ama) is written as a combination of two ideograms heaven 1 and heaven 2. In this way, once put together, they both imply yin and yang. The word “bright” in the other appellation of Amaterasu, Brightness of the Heavens, is written with the ideogram for the “sun” next to the ideogram for the “moon”. Both these ideograms together have the undertone of yin and yang, as well as the gateway to the teachings derived from the external events of the Buddha Shākyamuni’s life and work (shakumon), along with those that belong to the original archetypal state (honmon).

(2)  Nichiren is seated as the Bodhisattva Superior Practice (Jōgyō, Vishishtachāritra) and the Four Bodhisattvas who surged up from the earth. The wrapping that makes half of the ideogram for lotus 2 dot and is read “gyō”, in the sense of practice and people, should be at one with the concept of practice. With regard to the ideogram that is half the wrapping of the ideogram for lotus, another dot has been added onto the two dots, both intentionally and unintentionally. However, the extra dot has to be shown 3 dot.

(3)  When inscribing the name of the four Deva Guardians of existence, Bishamon Tennō (Deva Sovereign Guardian Vaishravana, Vaishrarana Mahādeva-rāja) should guard the northeast corner of the Fundamental Object of Veneration (gohonzon) [the demon gateway through which spirits can come and go], albeit it is not quite the same with the Fundamental Object of Veneration (gohonzon) in the Honmonji Temple.

The altar (kaidan) of the Honmonji Temple faces west. The reason for this is that, during the period when the Buddha teaching was more like a superficial show than a teaching that could instigate the deepest of contemplation (zōbō), the Buddha teaching in the East was on the decline and gradually passed over towards the West. During the final period of the Dharma of the Buddha Shākyamuni (mappō), the Buddha teaching will cross over towards the countries in the west, so the western direction had to be protected. In this instance, the western direction was made the demon gateway through which the spirits could come and go.

(4)  The entity of Hachiman Daibosatsu (Universal bodhisattva) is the same as the Dharma Flower Sutra (Hokke-kyō). The word “hachi” means eight and refers to the eight scrolls of the Dharma Flower Sutra (Hokke-kyō). [Hachiman Daibosatsu is probably a deification of the Emperor Ojin. The title Daibosatsu (Universal bodhisattva) was conferred on him, circa 765 and 781 C.E. by the Imperial Court. Often referred to as the god of war, he is also sometimes said to be a deification of the Empress Jingu, who invaded Korea in the third century.]

At the side of the “man” part of Hachiman’s name, this ideogram is put into the category (radical 50) of articles of clothing. [The meaning of this ideogram in Buddhist texts is a tubular banner.] At the top of the phonetic part of this ideogram is the character for “wild rice”; underneath it is the ideogram for “field”. Therefore, this ideogram has the latent meaning of “rice”. But since this ideogram is put into the category (radical) of articles of clothing, the name Hachiman is endowed with the benevolence and virtue of both food and clothing. One should think in the terms of the seeds of Buddhahood being sown in the field of the mind. Since Hachiman is on a par with the Bright Universal Numen (Amaterasu), the ideogram for Brightness ought to be placed before Hachiman’s name.

(5)  The reason for placing the Bodhisattva Superior Practice (Jōgyō, Vishishtachāritra) at the side of the Tathāgata Abundant Treasure (Tahō Nyorai, Prabhūtaratna) is in conformity with Indian etiquette, where the guest is placed next to the host. Since the Tathāgata Abundant Treasure (Tahō Nyorai, Prabhūtaratna) is the Buddha who is the guest, the Bodhisattva Superior Practice (Jōgyō, Vishishtachāritra), as the leader of the bodhisattvas who swarmed up out of the earth, is placed by the side of the Tathāgata Abundant Treasure (Tahō Nyorai, Prabhūtaratna).

(6)  Since the Fundamental Object of Veneration (gohonzon) is inscribed almost entirely in Chinese, then why are the Sovereign of Immovable Wisdom (Fudō Myō’ ō, Achala Vidyā-rāja) and the Sovereign Tainted by Sensuality (Aizen Myō’ ō, Raga-rāja Vidyā-rāja) written in Sanskrit? The reason is that Nichiren knew the Siddham alphabet [a medieval Sanskrit alphabet used in Tibet, China, Korea, and Japan, for ritual purposes] and that he knew both Sanskrit and Classical Chinese as well.

Although Amaterasu is worshipped as a venerable numen of good, there are also numina of negative qualities. Amaterasu is the expression of our original Buddha nature. The Demon Sovereign of the Sixth Heaven above Mount Sumeru (Dai Roku Ten no Ma' ō) represents our fundamental unenlightenment. Both Amaterasu and The Demon Sovereign of the Sixth Heaven above Mount Sumeru are inscribed on the Fundamental Object of Veneration (gohonzon), in a way similar to husband and wife, thereby being an expression of the concept that our troublesome worries (bonnō, klesha) are not separate from and can lead to enlightenment.

Furthermore, this venerable numen of the sun (Amaterasu) is placed on the Fundamental Object of Veneration (gohonzon), in a dimension beyond the clouds in her palace. The sun, figuratively speaking, is the Dharma nature, whereas the clouds are a representation of our inherent unenlightenment. Nevertheless, when Amaterasu finally comes out of her rocky cave, this venerable numen shines forth as a single individuated entity. For instance, when the morning sun comes up in the east, it is first covered up by clouds stretching horizontally across the sky. But when the sun rises, the clouds disappear. In this way, we get an insight of the truth that our unenlightenment sinks downwards, so that the Dharma nature increases in brightness.

 

Part 3: The Buddha Transmission on the Fundamental Object of Veneration (gohonzon)

Nichiren states that, apart from the enlightenment of the Buddha mind, the essence of reality which can be perceived is Myōhō Renge Kyō [which means the entirety of existence permeated by the interdependence of cause, concomitancy and effect in its whereabouts of the ten (psychological) realms of dharmas]. He also says that, after the two thousand two hundred thirty or so years after the Buddha’s extinction into nirvana, this is the all-embracing mandala that has never been seen before in the world of humankind (Ichienbudai, Jambudvīpa). In the morning, we should bow our heads towards it, as well as putting the palms of our hands together. And in the evening, we should reverently sit upright with admiration and praise for our teacher and guide.

The Fundamental Object of Veneration (gohonzon) shows the ten [psychological] realms vertically in front of you, whereas the contiguous quality of materiality (ke), relativity (), and the middle way of reality as we perceive it (chū), are clearly apparent when you look at the Fundamental Object of Veneration (gohonzon) horizontally.

Why should this be so?

This is solemnly suggested by the title of the sutra running down the centre [Nam Myōhō Renge Kyō], which is the all-inclusive reality and the inclusion of all dharmas of existence that are the five [or seven] ideograms for the Utterness of the Dharma (Myōhō, Saddharma), without leaving a single item out. Nevertheless, there is not a single entity that is not swallowed up by it. The reason for this is that it is only a proof for the time being of the relativity () that engulfs the whole of existence.

Each entity of the ten [psychological] realms of dharmas shown on the Fundamental Object of Veneration (gohonzon) implies that each of these ten [psychological] realms of dharmas is to be found in one another, or each of these ten [psychological] realms of dharmas contains the other nine realms within itself. But in this case, they are named according to their physical (ke) appellations.

The Buddha Shākyamuni and the Tathāgata Abundant Treasure (Tahō Nyorai, Prabhūtaratna), along with the Buddha emanations of the ten directions, represent the Dharma realm of the Buddha. The Bodhisattva Superior Practice (Jōgyō, Vishishtachāritra), the Bodhisattva Infinite Practice (Muhengyō, Anantachārita), the Bodhisattva Pure Practice (Jyōgyō, Vishuddhachārita), and the Bodhisattva Firmly Established Practice (Anryūgyō, Supratishthichārita) are the four bodhisattvas who were converted in the original archetypal state of existence (honmon).

The Bodhisattva Universally Worthy (Fugen, Samantabhadra), the Bodhisattva Mañjushrī (Monjushiri), Maitreya (Miroku), and Sovereign Remedy (Yaku’ ō, Bhaishajya-rāja), and so forth, are all bodhisattvas who were converted during the time of the teachings derived from the external events of the Buddha Shākyamuni’s life and work (shakumon). The revered sages Kashō (Mahākāshyapa), Anan (Ānanda), Sharihotsu (Shariputra), Mokuren (Maudgalyāyana), along with others, represent the two realms of dharmas of 1) the people who exerted themselves to attain the highest state of the individual vehicle (shōjō, hīnayāna) through listening to the Buddha (shōmon, shrāvaka) [the intellectuals of today] and 2) the realms of dharmas of people who have become partially enlightened, due to a profound search for the meaning of existence (engaku, pratyekabuddha). Bonten (Brahmā), Taishaku (Indra), the deva of the sun and the moon, along with the four major guardian deva who protect existence, represent the realms of dharmas of the deva (ecstasy).

The sage-like sovereigns, whose chariot wheels roll everywhere without hindrance (tenrinnō, chakravartin), King Ajase (Ajātashatru), as well as others, represent the realm of dharmas of human equanimity. The shura (ashura) [titans or giants] and the Sovereigns of the dragons (ryū, nāga) represent these two realms of dharmas of 1) the titan-like behaviour of the shura (ashura), as well as 2) the realm of dharmas of animal-like behaviour when human beings act without conscious intention. The Demon Mother Numen (Kishimojin, Hāritī) and her ten cannibalistic demon daughters (rasetsu, rākshasī) are the two leaders of the hungry ghosts. The extremely evil Daibadatta (Devadatta) represents the innate idea of the realm of hellish suffering. However, it is undecided as to whether the two revered personages, the Sovereign of Immovable Wisdom (Fudō Myō’ ō, Achala Vidyā-rāja) or the Sovereign Tainted by Sensuality (Aizen Myō’ ō, Raga-rāja Vidyā-rāja), harvest the effects of the ten [psychological] realms of dharmas.

Amaterasu [the Sun goddess] and the Universal Bodhisattva Hachiman [the god of war], along with others, are appended to other numina and demons. Furthermore, Nāgārjuna (Ryūjū), Tenjin (Vasubandu), Tendai (T’ien T’ai), Dengyō (Dengyō Daishi), and others, have been added as representatives of the Universal Teachers of the two periods of when 1) the Dharma was correct and could bring people to enlightenment, and 2) when it was an ostentatious and superficial show of piety (zōbō).

On the whole, all the personages have been recommended and invited – not even the most humble has been left out – because this is the supreme and universal mandala of the original archetypal state, in which the auspicious, iniquitous, ordinary, and sage-like qualities of the universal  (daijō, mahāyāna) and individual vehicles (shōjō, hīnayāna) have all been thoroughly pounded and sieved.

How sublime it is!

With the Buddha realm at the top, from where one goes down to the hellish regions at the bottom, each realm of dharmas is endowed with the other nine, so that they become a hundred realms of dharmas, which are multiplied by the ten ways in which dharmas make themselves present to our six senses (nyo ze). In this way, we have a thousand ways in which dharmas make themselves perceptible to our six senses.

Then, when this thousand is bundled together with the three existential spaces upon which sentient beings depend in order to exist (san seken), we then open up the gateway to the Dharma [of the one instant of thought containing three thousand existential spaces (ichinen sanzen)]. For the sake of argument, this is called, “each of the ten [psychological] realms of dharmas contains the other nine in itself (jikkai gogu)”.

For a more detailed explanation, you should look into Tendai’s (T’ien T’ai) Universal Desistance from Troublesome Worries in Order to See Clearly (Maka Shikan). However, the Desistance from Troublesome Worries in Order to See Clearly (Maka Shikan) is for the subjective inspection of our own minds, since it is based on the teachings derived from the external events of the Buddha Shākyamuni’s life and work (shakumon).

When we look upon the Fundamental Object of Veneration (gohonzon) that is in front of us and written out on paper, it reveals the original archetypal state of existence (honmon). It is the all-inclusive, unobstructed accommodation of both the dharmas of relativity () and materiality (ke), bound together just as they are, neither being two nor separate. This is the view that the name and words applied to phenomenal existence are only provisional and are not separate from the middle way of reality (chū), as we perceive it in our ordinary lives. This is explained as materiality (ke), relativity (), and the middle way of reality (chū) not being separate (soku) from each other. Or it could be said that, even if the axiom of the middle way of reality (chū) and relativity () are two concepts, they are not really separate.

The question is asked that, when we look upon the Fundamental Object of Veneration (gohonzon) with all the depths of reverence and esteem in our minds, why is everything inscribed in Chinese, except for the names of the Sovereign of Immovable Wisdom (Fudō Myō’ ō, Achala Vidyā-rāja) and the Sovereign Tainted by Sensuality (Aizen Myō’ ō, Raga-rāja Vidyā-rāja), which are written out in Sanskrit? Although the answer to this question refers to another topic, I will say something about its meaning.

The favourable influences of both the Sovereign of Immovable Wisdom (Fudō Myō’ ō, Achala Vidyā-rāja) and the Sovereign Tainted by Sensuality (Aizen Myō’ ō, Raga-rāja Vidyā-rāja) are the Sanskrit germ syllables themselves. The Chinese ideograms for these names have been omitted and replaced with the Sanskrit germ syllable. In the same way as, if people hear the sound of the incantations in the Chapter on Dhāranī, they can derive benefit from [hearing] them, the Sanskrit version of these two germ syllables is given, without translating them into Chinese.

All this is the deep purpose and the all-embracing esoteric, practical content of our school.

If the occasion and conditions are not right, then, even for a thousand pieces of gold, you must not transmit these teachings to anyone else. All I ask is that when disciples choose this receptacle of the Dharma, it should be transmitted to them face to face, and in secret.

This Threefold Transmission on the Fundamental Object of Veneration was written out by Nichigen.

 

FOOTNOTE:
Nichigen  1263 – 1315 C.E. was a disciple of Nichiren during his lifetime. Before he took up the holy orders, his name was Harima Hōin. He was schooled at Jissō Temple and became known as Chikai (Ocean of Wisdom). In 1278, he gave up all his lands and took refuge in the teaching of Nichiren, in Minobu. Later, he returned to Jissō Temple, where he converted and taught the clerical community (sō, sangha). He also founded temples in Marashi, which is now part of Tōkyō, and also in Suraga which is now in the Shizuoka Prefecture.

 

Creative Commons LicenseTHE DHARMA FLOWER SUTRA SEEN THROUGH THE ORAL TRANSMISSION OF NICHIREN DAISHŌNIN by Martin Bradley
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