Point One, on the passage “Among these bodhisattvas were four leaders. The first was called Superior Practices, the second was called Boundless Practices, the third was called Pure Practices, and the fourth was called Firmly Established Practices. These four bodhisattvas were the foremost leaders and guiding teachers among all the group.”
The Record of the Orally Transmitted Teachings says: This chapter, “Emerging from the Earth,” is devoted entirely to matters pertaining to the bodhisattvas of the essential teaching, those who were taught and converted by the Buddha in his true identity.1 The action carried out by the bodhisattvas of the essential teaching is Nam-myoho-renge-kyo. This is referred to in the character shō [“advocating” in the compound shōdō, or “advocating and guiding”]. The character dō signifies that they will lead and guide all the living beings of the country of Japan to the Pure Land of the Holy Mountain [Eagle Peak]. As for these guiding teachers of 118the Latter Day of the Law, the term “teachers” can only be applied to the bodhisattvas of the essential teaching.
In explaining the identity of the four great bodhisattvas described here, volume nine of Supplement to “The Words and Phrases,” following the explanation given in volume nine of Words and Phrases, says, “The four leaders described in the sutra passage here represent the four virtues. Superior Practices represents the virtue of true self. Boundless Practices represents the virtue of eternity. Pure Practices represents the virtue of purity. And Firmly Established Practices represents the virtue of happiness.
“There are times when a single person possesses all four of these principles. To transcend the two types of death [birth and death in the six paths and birth and death in the higher realms] is known as Superior Practices. To go beyond the two opposing views that life is cut off after one existence or that it is eternally the same is called Boundless Practices. Because one overcomes the five categories of illusions and entanglements,2 that state is designated Pure Practices. And because one is as perfect in virtue as [the Buddha who attained enlightenment under] the bodhi tree, that state is named Firmly Established Practices.”
Nichiren and his followers, who now chant Nam-myoho-renge-kyo, are all followers of these bodhisattvas who emerged from the earth.
Again, one may say that fire is that which burns things [and hence it corresponds to Superior Practices3]. Water is that which purifies things [and hence it corresponds to Pure Practices]. Wind is that which blows away dust and grime [and hence corresponds to Boundless Practices]. The great earth is that which nourishes plants and trees [and corresponds to Firmly Established Practices]. These are the respective merits of the four bodhisattvas. Though 119the practices of the four bodhisattvas differ from one to another, all are in effect the practice of Myoho-renge-kyo.
These four bodhisattvas dwell in the lower region. Therefore the commentary [Words and Phrases, volume nine] says that they dwell “in the depths of the Dharma nature, the ultimate region of the profound source.” The lower region is where they live and abide, and the lower region represents the principle of truth. Supplement to “The Words and Phrases” says, “The lower region is described by Master Tao-sheng as the place where one abides in the principle (ri).” What emerge and become manifest from this dwelling in the principle are referred to as actual events (ji).
Again, the Record of the Orally Transmitted Teachings says that, of all the thousand plants and ten thousand trees in the world, there are none that are not in essence bodhisattvas who emerge from the earth. Thus we may say that the bodhisattvas who emerge from the earth are the bodhisattvas of the essential teaching. The word “essential” or “original” represents the merits handed down from the past of numberless major world system dust particle kalpas ago, the merits that are without beginning and without end.
These bodhisattvas are possessors of the essential or original Law. The original Law is Nam-myoho-renge-kyo. This daimoku, Nam-myoho-renge-kyo, is something that is without exception possessed by the bodhisattvas who emerge from the earth, but it is not possessed by the bodhisattvas of the theoretical teaching, those who were taught and converted by the Buddha in his transient status. From the substance of this original Law is derived the function that is propagated as the practice of concentration and insight, and is called the principle of three thousand realms in a single moment of life. In effect, all the explanations given by great and ordinary teachers are directed toward the propagation of this function of the Wonderful Law.
The accepting and upholding of this original Law is expressed in the single word “belief” or “faith.” The single word “belief” is the sharp sword with which one confronts and overcomes 120fundamental darkness or ignorance. The commentary [Words and Phrases] says, “Belief means to be without doubt.” You should think about this.
The Record of the Orally Transmitted Teachings, Part One, ends here.
The first day of the first month of the first year of the Kōan era (1278), cyclical sign tsuchinoe-tora
Recorded by Nikkō