Point One, concerning Devadatta
Volume eight of Words and Phrases says, “His original state is pure and cool, but in manifested form he showed himself as Fever of Heavenly Beings.1”
The Record of the Orally Transmitted Teachings says: Devadatta in his original state is the bodhisattva Manjushrī. Therefore his original state is described as “pure and cool.” In his manifested form he is called Devadatta, hence it is said that he showed himself as Fever of Heavenly Beings.
“Pure and cool” is indicative of water and stands for the principle that the sufferings of birth and death are none other than nirvana. Fever of Heavenly Beings is indicative of fire and stands for the principle that earthly desires are none other than 101enlightenment. Now when Nichiren and his followers chant Nam-myoho-renge-kyo, they are showing that earthly desires are enlightenment and that the sufferings of birth and death are nirvana.
Devadatta is another name for Myoho-renge-kyo. In a past existence he was the seer Asita. The seer Asita is another name for myōhō, the Wonderful Law. The syllable “a” in Asita means “not” or “without.” The Law without self2 is myōhō, the Wonderful Law. Thus volume eight of Words and Phrases says, “One takes the Law that is without self and cleanses living beings with it.”
The seer Asita is another name for the three thousand worlds of the Dharma-realm. Therefore it is described as being “without self.” You should think about this principle of three thousand realms in a single moment of life.
Point Two, on the passage “At that time there was a seer who came to the king and said, ‘I have a Great Vehicle text called the Sutra of the Lotus of the Wonderful Law. If you will never disobey me, I will expound it for you.’”
The Record of the Orally Transmitted Teachings says: With regard to this expounding of the Lotus Sutra, one should understand the meaning [of the passage “If you will never disobey me, I will expound it for you”3] to be: “You never disobey me, and so you are qualified to expound it.” The character for “if” can also be read as the pronoun “you.”
Commenting on this [in volume eight of Words and Phrases], T’ien-t’ai says, “The king will receive the teaching and honor and practice it.” Now Nichiren’s followers chant Nam-myoho-renge-kyo; they do not disobey him, and so they are qualified to expound the Law. The seer Asita here represents Nam-myoho-renge-kyo.
102Point Three, on the passage “At once he [the king] accompanied the seer, providing him with whatever he needed, picking fruit, drawing water, gathering firewood, setting out meals, . . . He served the seer in this manner for a thousand years, all for the sake of the Law, working diligently, acting as a provider and seeing to it that the seer lacked for nothing.”
The Record of the Orally Transmitted Teachings says: “Picking fruit” applies to the earthly desire or defilement of foolishness. “Drawing water” applies to the earthly defilement of greed. “Gathering firewood” applies to the earthly defilement of anger. “Setting out meals” applies to the earthly defilement of arrogance.
In this passage, the eight kinds of services performed by the king for the seer Asita are listed. The king did not carry out any other actions outside of these in order to receive the transmission of Myoho-renge-kyo.
Now when Nichiren and his followers chant Nam-myoho-renge-kyo, they are carrying out such acts of service for a period of “a thousand years.” Such services represent the principle of three thousand realms in a single moment of life. This is what is needed to overcome greed, anger, foolishness, and arrogance.
Point Four, on the words “Because the Wonderful Law was in his thoughts / he never flagged in body or mind.”
The Record of the Orally Transmitted Teachings says: These two words “body” and “mind” refer to the transmission of the teaching that our bodies and our minds are the Wonderful Law. Nichiren and his followers chant Nam-myoho-renge-kyo, and thus attain Buddhahood in their present forms. “Never flagging in body or mind” refers to their embodiment of the principle of three thousand realms in a single moment of life.
Point Five, on the passage “Manjushrī said, ‘When I was in the ocean I constantly expounded the Lotus Sutra of the Wonderful Law alone.’”
103The Record of the Orally Transmitted Teachings says: “I” refers to Manjushrī. The “ocean” is the ocean of the sufferings of birth and death. The word “alone” or “only” corresponds to that in the passage “There is only the Law of the one vehicle” (chapter two, Expedient Means). The word “constantly” or “always” corresponds to that in the passage “I am always here, preaching the Law” (chapter sixteen, Life Span). Myoho-renge-kyo is the words and sounds of the Dharma-realm. The passage refers to Nichiren and his followers, who now chant Nam-myoho-renge-kyo.
The ocean of the sufferings of birth and death is none other than the great ocean of the true aspect of reality. “I” represents the wisdom of the Dharma-realm, which is personified in Manjushrī.
Point Six, on the passage “There is the daughter of the dragon king Sāgara, who has just turned eight. Her wisdom has keen roots and she is good at understanding the root activities and deeds of living beings. She has mastered the dhāranīs [that is, has gained the power to memorize the Buddha’s teachings], has been able to accept and embrace all the storehouse of profound secrets preached by the Buddhas, has entered deep into meditation, thoroughly grasped the doctrines, and in the space of an instant conceived the desire for bodhi and reached the level of no regression. Her eloquence knows no hindrance, and she thinks of living beings with compassion as though they were her own children. She is fully endowed with blessings, and when it comes to conceiving in mind and expounding by mouth, she is subtle, wonderful, comprehensive, and great. Kind, compassionate, benevolent, yielding, she is gentle and refined in will, capable of attaining bodhi.”
The Record of the Orally Transmitted Teachings says: Age eight is symbolic of the eight volumes of the Lotus Sutra. Devadatta stands for the world of hell, and the dragon king’s daughter stands for the world of Buddhahood. Thus together they represent the mutual possession of the Ten Worlds, that is, the hundred worlds 104and thousand factors, or the principle of three thousand realms in a single moment of life.
Or again we may say that age eight represents the eight volumes of the Lotus Sutra and the eight sufferings that we undergo because of our earthly desires. We should understand, therefore, that the attainment of Buddhahood embodied in the Lotus Sutra is symbolized by the age eight of the dragon girl. The eight sufferings are none other than the eight volumes of the Lotus Sutra, and the eight sufferings and eight volumes are personified in the dragon girl who is eight years old.
One interpretation reads the words “age eight” as the opening of a jewel. The age or jewel is the single mind of the dragon girl. The eight stands for the opening of her mind to the three thousand realms. The three thousand realms are the eight volumes of the Lotus Sutra. Thus the words “age eight” are representative of the “opening of the door of Buddha wisdom.”
The passage from the words “Her wisdom has keen roots” on down to the words “she is . . . capable of attaining bodhi” describes how she has accepted and taken faith in the Lotus Sutra. The words “when it comes to conceiving in mind and expounding by mouth” relate to the work of the mouth or verbal actions. The words “she is gentle and refined in will” refer to the work of the will or mental actions. The words “she . . . has been able to accept and embrace all the storehouse of profound secrets . . . has entered deep into meditation” refer to the work of the body or physical actions. Since these three categories of action are none other than the three virtues of the Dharma body, wisdom, and emancipation, they represent the Dharma nature, or the three truths.
Again we may say that the words “conceiving in mind” stand for a single moment of life, and the words “expounding by mouth” stand for the three thousand realms. The words “has been able to accept and embrace all” describe how the dragon girl has accepted and embraced the Lotus Sutra. The word “age” or jewel is a wish-granting jewel, namely, the Wonderful Law. The word 105“eight” or opening reveals that the body and mind of the dragon girl are the Wonderful Law.
Point Seven, on the passage “Before his words had come to an end, the dragon king’s daughter suddenly appeared before the Buddha, bowed her head in obeisance, and then retired to one side, reciting these verses of praise”
The Record of the Orally Transmitted Teachings says: This passage makes it perfectly clear that ignorance is none other than the Dharma nature, or enlightenment. For that reason, before Bodhisattva Wisdom Accumulated had even finished voicing his criticism, the dragon girl replied to him through her verses of praise in fourteen lines.
The viewpoint expressed in the bodhisattva’s criticism is that of the specific teaching expounded specifically for bodhisattvas, which is a view characterized by ignorance. The reply of the dragon girl represents the viewpoint of the perfect teaching, which is the viewpoint of the Dharma nature. Wisdom Accumulated represents fundamental darkness or ignorance, and the dragon girl represents a woman who has realized the Dharma nature. Hence we see that ignorance is inseparable from the Dharma nature, and the Dharma nature is inseparable from ignorance.
Now when Nichiren and his followers chant Nam-myoho-renge-kyo, they represent the moment referred to in the sutra as “Before his words had come to an end,” that is, the moment when the previous affair, the criticism of the bodhisattva, is just coming to an end, and the subsequent affair, the reply of the dragon girl, is just beginning. The moment, then, is one in which ignorance and the Dharma nature exist simultaneously. Such is the moment when Nam-myoho-renge-kyo is chanted.
The reason Bodhisattva Wisdom Accumulated is said to represent fundamental darkness lies in the words “I cannot believe” in his statement “I cannot believe that this girl in the space of an instant could actually achieve correct enlightenment” (chapter 106twelve). Not to believe is to harbor doubt and perplexity, and doubt and perplexity are symptomatic of fundamental darkness or ignorance. The reason the dragon girl is said to represent the Dharma nature, or enlightenment, is the passage in which she says, “I unfold the doctrines of the Great Vehicle / to rescue living beings from suffering” (ibid.).
As for the dragon girl, her father is a dragon and she is his eight-year-old daughter. The two words “dragon girl” imply that both father and daughter attain Buddhahood at the same time. That is why the passage says, “[then] the dragon king’s daughter [suddenly appeared before the Buddha, . . .].” Since it has said that she is the dragon king’s daughter, we know that the dragon king is her father, and she is his eight-year-old daughter. Thus the daughter is shown attaining Buddhahood in this chapter, while the attainment of Buddhahood by her father, the dragon king, has already been implied in the “Introduction” chapter, as seen in the passage that says that, at the assembly at which the Lotus Sutra was preached, “there were eight dragon kings.” However, we may say that both father and daughter attained Buddhahood simultaneously, since the “Introduction” chapter serves as an introduction to all the chapters in the Lotus Sutra.
“And having heard his teachings, I have attained bodhi” (chapter twelve)—these are the words of the dragon girl when she rebukes Wisdom Accumulated. And therefore she goes on to say that only the Buddha can testify to this fact: “And having heard his teachings, I have attained bodhi— / the Buddha alone can bear witness to this.” When she speaks of “rescuing living beings from suffering,” however, she is speaking of rescuing women in particular. The verses of praise in fourteen lines express the doctrine of three thousand realms in a single moment of life. The words “He profoundly understands the signs of guilt and good fortune / and illuminates the ten directions everywhere” (ibid.) refer to the Ten Worlds.
This passage on how the eight-year-old dragon girl attained Buddhahood is particularly noteworthy because it refers to the ancestors of the rulers who uphold the Lotus Sutra. The first 107human sovereign of Japan was Emperor Jimmu. Emperor Jimmu was the son of Ugayafuki-aezu-no-mikoto, the fifth of the five generations of earthly deities. The mother of Ugayafuki-aezu-no-mikoto was Princess Toyotama, the daughter of the dragon king Sāgara and an elder sister of the eight-year-old dragon girl. Therefore we know that the ancestors of the rulers of Japan were votaries of the Lotus Sutra, a fact of profound significance, a fact of profound significance!
Therefore this one chapter titled “Devadatta” is a vital sword to be worn at the waist everywhere throughout the world. It is a secret Law to cut down the foes of ignorance and earthly desires and to sever the bonds of birth and death, longing and attachment. Emperor Kao-tsu, founder of the Han dynasty, had his three-foot sword, but it cannot compare to this one-word sword of wisdom. Myō, or wonderful, the one-word sword of wisdom, can sever the bonds of birth and death and earthly desires.
Devadatta represents fiery flames, the dragon girl represents a giant reptile, and Manjushrī represents the sword of wisdom. An orally transmitted teaching says that all these three elements are represented in the form of the wisdom king Immovable [the fire in the flames surrounding him, the reptile in the dragon that winds itself around his sword, and the sword of wisdom in the sword he holds].
Devadatta also represents the principle that our earthly desires are none other than enlightenment. The dragon girl represents the principle that the sufferings of birth and death are none other than nirvana. The name Manjushrī can be translated as Wonderful Virtue. This Wonderful Virtue contains within it both earthly desires and the sufferings of birth and death. In this chapter it serves as the element that acts to convert others to the truth.
Point Eight, on the passage “At that time the dragon girl had a precious jewel worth as much as the thousand-millionfold world [or the major world system] which she presented to the Buddha. The Buddha immediately accepted it. The dragon girl said to Bodhisattva Wisdom Accumulated and to the 108venerable one, Shāriputra, ‘I presented the precious jewel and the World-Honored One accepted it—was that not quickly done?’
“They replied, ‘Very quickly!’
“The girl said, ‘Employ your supernatural powers and watch me attain Buddhahood. It will be even quicker than that!’”
Volume eight of Words and Phrases says, “First, the presentation of the jewel symbolizes the attainment of perfect understanding.”
The Record of the Orally Transmitted Teachings says: In the phrase “a precious jewel,” the word “a” or “one” indicates Myoho-renge-kyo [abbreviated as myōhō, or the Wonderful Law]. “Precious” indicates the workings of the Wonderful Law, and the jewel indicates the entity of the Wonderful Law. Because it is myō, or “wonderful,” it embodies the element of the mind. And because it is hō, or the “Law,” it embodies the element of form or the body. The body phenomena are the “jewel” and the mind potentials are the “precious” element in it. The words “Wonderful Law” indicate that body and mind are not two different entities.
Expressing the principle of three thousand realms in a single moment of life, the dragon girl presents the precious jewel to the Buddha. When Words and Phrases says that this “symbolizes the attainment of perfect understanding,” it is referring to the principle of three thousand realms in a single moment of life. At the time when the precious jewel was still in the hands of the dragon girl, it represented the attainments that were inherent in her nature. But when the Buddha accepted the precious jewel, it became representative of the attainments acquired through religious practice. Herein is embodied the principle that “acquired through practice” and “inherent in nature” are not two different things.
The words “very quickly” represent the doctrine of sudden fulfillment, sudden and swift attainment, or sudden enlightenment. The same idea is expressed in the passage [in chapter eleven of 109the Lotus Sutra] that reads, “This way one will quickly attain / the unsurpassed Buddha way.”
In the term jinriki, or “supernatural powers,” the word jin, or “supernatural,” represents the element of the mind, and the word riki, or “powers,” represents the element of the body.
When the dragon girl says, “Watch me attain Buddhahood,” Shāriputra thinks she is referring only to her own attainment of Buddhahood, but this is an error. She is rebuking him by saying, “Watch how one attains Buddhahood.” The word kan, or “watch,” refers to the kan of the six stages of practice [of T’ien-t’ai’s Great Concentration and Insight]. Here one should understand it as pertaining to the kan, or perception, that is represented in the second of the six stages, the stage of hearing the name and words of the truth. Therefore, as soon as one hears Nam-myoho-renge-kyo, one has [as volume eight of Words and Phrases says in speaking of the dragon girl] “without doubt sat for a moment in the place of practice and thus attained Buddhahood.”
When the sutra says that the members of the assembly saw the dragon girl “change into a man,” it means that the dragon girl’s original state, that of a dragon girl, was already in the state of Nam-myoho-renge-kyo. This idea is brought out very clearly in this passage of the sutra.