Outstanding Principles of the Lotus Sutra, The ［法華秀句］ ( Hokke-shūku): A work written in 821 by Dengyō, the founder of the Japanese Tendai school. It explains why the Tendai school, which is based on the Lotus Sutra, is superior to the Dharma Characteristics (Hossō), Three Treatises (Sanron), Flower Garland (Kegon), True Word (Shingon), and other schools. It was written to refute the arguments of Tokuitsu, a priest of the Dharma Characteristics school, who asserted that some people are by nature eternally incapable of attaining Buddhahood, and that the three vehicle teachings are true while the one vehicle teaching is provisional. In this work, Dengyō lists ten superior characteristics of the Lotus Sutra, in light of which he argues its supremacy over all other teachings.
The ten superior characteristics of the Lotus Sutra are as follows: (1) Shakyamuni Buddha reveals the truth only in this sutra. (2) The title of the sutra as well as various names later given to the sutra has profound meaning. (3) In this sutra, the Buddha spontaneously expounds the teaching of his enlightenment without being asked to do so. (4) The sutra reveals that the five categories of Buddhas (all Buddhas, past Buddhas, present Buddhas, future Buddhas, and Shakyamuni Buddha) employ a similar device to lead people to the one Buddha vehicle; that is, they first expound the teachings that serve as expedient means to develop the people’s capacity, and then reveal the one Buddha vehicle, the direct path to Buddhahood. (5) Shakyamuni declares the Lotus Sutra to be foremost among all the sutras. (6) He expounds ten similes to illustrate the superiority of the Lotus Sutra over all other sutras. (7) The sutra can purify the workings of the six sense organs. (8) The sutra enables people to attain Buddhahood in their present form. (9) In the assembly of the Buddha Many Treasures and the Buddhas of the ten directions who are Shakyamuni’s emanations, Shakyamuni declares that he will entrust the sutra to someone to ensure that it will be perpetuated. (10) The sutra expounds the encouragements of Bodhisattva Universal Worthy who said to Shakyamuni Buddha that he will guard and protect those who accept and uphold the sutra after the Buddha’s death.