general and specific viewpoints ［総別の二義］ ( sōbetsu-no-nigi): Also, two categories of general and specific. A set of criteria for interpreting Buddhist teachings. “General” refers to an overall or surface view of a particular teaching or doctrine, and “specific,” to a more sharply delineated and profound view. In Nichiren’s doctrine, from the general viewpoint, the five periods and eight teachings, or Shakyamuni’s lifetime teachings, all reveal the truth, but from a specific viewpoint, only the Lotus Sutra represents the truth. Again, generally speaking, the entire Lotus Sutra is the Buddha’s true teaching, but more specifically, it is the essential teaching (latter fourteen chapters) of the sutra that contains the truth. Yet again, from the general viewpoint, the essential teaching represents the truth, but specifically, the Law implied in the “Life Span” (six-teenth) chapter of the essential teaching is the ultimate truth.
The terms general and specific also apply to the transfer or entrustment of the teachings of the Lotus Sutra as described in the sutra. In the “Entrustment” (twenty-second) chapter, Shakyamuni makes a general transfer of the sutra to all the bodhisattvas present, but in the “Supernatural Powers” (twenty-first) chapter, he entrusts it specifically to the Bodhisattvas of the Earth. Again, while he transfers the sutra to the Bodhisattvas of the Earth in general, he specifically entrusts it to Bodhisattva Superior Practices alone.