Point One, concerning the “Virtuous Practices” chapter of the Immeasurable Meanings Sutra
The Record of the Orally Transmitted Teachings says: Regarding the three characters mu-ryō-gi, or “immeasurable meanings,” in the title of the sutra, if we consider them in terms of the three categories of theoretical teaching, essential teaching, and observation of the mind, then the first character, mu, represents the theoretical teaching. This is because it puts the theoretical perfection [that is, perfection in the theoretical truth] in the foreground and discusses that aspect of the meaning of the eternal and unchanging truth.
The theoretical teaching pertains to what is impermanent; it does not discuss that which is eternal and immutable. True, it states clearly that “these phenomena are part of an abiding Law, / that the characteristics of the world are constantly abiding” (Lotus Sutra, chapter two, Expedient Means). But this is to present the theoretical aspect of the eternal and immutable, not the actual aspect. It speaks of the characteristics of the theoretical eternal and immutable.
The word mu means kū, emptiness or non-substantiality. But this is not the mu of dammu that means that nothing remains after death. It is the mu that corresponds to the kū that is not separate [from temporary existence and the Middle Way]. This is the kū that 200is spoken of in terms of the perfect teaching [or the unification of the three truths].
While the essential teaching deals with the actual aspect of the eternal and immutable, the Buddha eternally endowed with the three bodies, the theoretical teaching deals with impermanence. On the Protection of the Nation says, “The Buddha of the reward body, which exists depending on causes and conditions, represents provisional result obtained in a dream, while the Buddha eternally endowed with the three bodies represents the true Buddha from the time before enlightenment.”
Now Nichiren and his followers, who chant Nam-myoho-renge-kyo, are this true Buddha from the time before enlightenment who is eternally endowed with the three bodies.
Point Two, concerning the character ryō
The Record of the Orally Transmitted Teachings says: The character ryō, “to measure” or “to estimate,” pertains to the essential teaching, because ryō has the meaning of “to weigh” and “to include.” The heart of the essential teaching is the exposition of the eternally endowed three bodies of the Buddha. This concept of the eternally endowed three bodies does not refer to the Buddha alone. It explains that all the ten thousand things of the universe are themselves revealed to have Buddha bodies of limitless joy. Therefore, while the theoretical teaching makes clear the theoretical perfection of the unchanging truth, the essential teaching takes over this explanation without change and deals with the eternally endowed three bodies present in each individual thing itself, setting forth the actual perfection of three thousand realms in a single moment of life as it is revealed in the essential teaching. When one comes to realize and see that each thing—the cherry, the plum, the peach, the damson—in its own entity, without undergoing any change, possesses the eternally endowed three bodies, then this is what is meant by the word ryō, “to include” or all-inclusive.
Now Nichiren and his followers, who chant 201Nam-myoho-renge-kyo, are the original possessors of these eternally endowed three bodies.
Point Three, concerning the character gi
The Record of the Orally Transmitted Teachings says: The character gi, or “meanings,” pertains to the observation of the mind. The reason is that, while words deal with the surface aspects [the text] of the teachings, meaning must be derived through observation of the mind. That is, the words that are preached in the sutras are referred to the realm of the mind in order to arrive at the meaning.
This is particularly true of the “immeasurable meanings” of the sutra, since the sutra discusses the “immeasurable meanings” that are born from a single Law. That which gives birth is gi, or “meaning” [that is, the “single Law”], and that which is given birth is muryō, that which is “immeasurable.” Hence this Immeasurable Meanings Sutra concerns both that which gives birth and that which is given birth. This, however, should not be taken as a statement of how these qualities of giving birth and being given birth apply to the relationship between the Lotus Sutra and the Immeasurable Meanings Sutra.
The Immeasurable Meanings Sutra states, “That which is without marks is devoid of marks and does not take on marks. Not taking on marks, being without marks, it is called the true mark [or the true aspect].” From this principle [the true aspect], the ten thousand things are derived. Their source is the true aspect, and hence this is a matter pertaining to the observation of the mind.
In this way, the three characters of the title, mu-ryō-gi, pertain to the theoretical teaching, the essential teaching, and the observation of the mind, respectively. And this expresses the transferred idea that this title of the sutra as it has just been explained and the title of the Lotus Sutra, Myoho-renge-kyo, form a single entity that is not dual in nature, and [of the three divisions of a sutra] the former serves as preparation and the latter as revelation.
202Point Four, concerning the character sho [in the phrase muryōgi-sho, “the origin of immeasurable meanings,” from the Lotus Sutra (chapter one, Introduction)]
The Record of the Orally Transmitted Teachings says: This one character sho, “origin,” stands for the Lotus Sutra. The Tripitaka teaching and the connecting teaching are subsumed under the character mu of muryōgi; the specific teaching is subsumed under the character ryō; and the perfect teaching is subsumed under the character gi. Thus these four teachings of the sutras that preceded the Lotus Sutra are designated as that which was given birth, while this sutra, the Immeasurable Meanings Sutra, which acts as preparation for the Lotus Sutra, is designated as that which gives birth.
But now for the moment we use the character sho to indicate that which gives birth, and then the “immeasurable meanings” will be designated as that which was given birth. In this way we designate the sho, “the origin [of immeasurable meanings],” as it relates to the distinction between the true and the provisional teachings.
Point Five, concerning the phrase “the origin of immeasurable meanings”
The Record of the Orally Transmitted Teachings says: The eight volumes of the Lotus Sutra correspond to the word “origin,” while the Immeasurable Meanings Sutra corresponds to the words “immeasurable meanings.”
The “immeasurable meanings” are the three truths, the threefold contemplation, the three bodies, the three vehicles, and the three categories of action. In the Lotus Sutra it is stated that “the Buddhas, utilizing the power of expedient means, apply distinctions to the one Buddha vehicle and preach as though it were three” (chapter two, Expedient Means). Thus the Immeasurable Meanings Sutra serves as preparation for the Lotus Sutra.
Here it is shown that the three truths viewed as separate from and independent of one another will not lead to the attainment of 203the way; only the unification of the three truths will lead to such attainment. Hence the Immeasurable Meanings Sutra demolishes the former view by stating, “But in these more than forty years, I have not yet revealed the truth” (chapter two, Preaching the Law).
Point Six, concerning the phrase “the origin of immeasurable meanings”
The Record of the Orally Transmitted Teachings says: The origin of immeasurable meanings represents the principle of three thousand realms in a single moment of life. Each of the Ten Worlds has its origin of meanings in immeasurable numbers. But these entities, just as they are, are none other than the one principle of the true aspect; this is explained [in the Lotus Sutra] as the true aspect of all phenomena. And this sutra serves as preparation for the Lotus Sutra, that is, preparation for the principle of three thousand realms in a single moment of life, and hence it is called “the origin of immeasurable meanings.”
The word “origin” corresponds to a single moment of life. The words “immeasurable meanings” correspond to the three thousand realms. The words that we utter morning and evening, as well as the two elements of environment and self, likewise have their origins of meanings in immeasurable numbers. And these are called Myoho-renge-kyo. Therefore this sutra serves as preparation or the opening sutra for the Lotus Sutra.