Point One, concerning “The Parable of the Medicinal Herbs” chapter
On “The Words and Phrases,” volume seven, says, “The inborn Buddha nature that is without beginning or end is comparable to the earth, and arousing the heart and mind of seeking the Great Vehicle is comparable to the seeds. Arousing the heart and mind of seeking the two vehicles [of voice-hearers and pratyekabuddhas] is comparable to the sprouts and stalks of the plants. After that, when one enters the first stage of security [and arouses the aspiration for Buddhahood], this is comparable to developing in a similar fashion the sprouts and stalks of the Buddha vehicle.”
The Record of the Orally Transmitted Teachings says: Belief in the heart of the Lotus Sutra is the seeds. And when one enters the enlightenment of the true aspect of all phenomena, then one achieves the fruit of Buddhahood. “Medicine” represents the mind of the living beings in the nine worlds. The mind that is devoted to the provisional teachings is comparable to a poison plant. But when one encounters the Lotus Sutra, then the mind ground of earthly desires that is beset by the three poisons of greed, anger, and foolishness is planted with the seeds of the complete enjoyment of the three bodies of a Buddha, and awakening to this fact is what is meant by “medicine.”
63Now Nichiren and his followers apply this medicine of the Wonderful Law to the plants of earthly desires. This is in effect a way of saying in parable form that earthly desires are enlightenment and that the sufferings of birth and death are nirvana.
A commentary [volume five of Words and Phrases] says, “A parable is that which enlightens and instructs.” Thus the parable of the medicinal herbs is in fact about us, we who are votaries of the Lotus Sutra.
Point Two, on the fact that this chapter represents the stage of presentation and mastery.
The Record of the Orally Transmitted Teachings says: The word “presentation” pertains to Mahākāshyapa [to whom the teachings were presented]. The word “mastery” or completion pertains to Shakyamuni Buddha [who acknowledges Mahākāshyapa’s mastery of them]. Thus the two words “presentation” and “mastery” signify the fact that Mahākāshyapa and Shakyamuni Buddha have attained an identical level of understanding. In the end, then, presentation denotes the student’s acceptance and understanding of the teachings that have been presented to him, and mastery denotes the seal of approval that the Buddha grants to the student.
Now, in the case of Nichiren and his followers, presentation is the student’s acceptance of Nam-myoho-renge-kyo, and mastery is the praise that Nichiren bestows upon that acceptance. This chapter explains to the full how we can attain Buddhahood in our present forms. The fact that the presentation and the mastery of the teachings match exactly, like the two halves of a tally, indicates that presentation and mastery are not two different things; that is, that we can attain Buddhahood in our present form. This presentation and mastery that we are speaking of here is the presentation and mastery of the means whereby all the beings in the three thousand worlds of the Dharma-realm can master and attain the Buddha way.
64Point Three, on the passage “Though all these plants and trees grow in the same earth and are moistened by the same rain, each has its differences and particulars.”
The Record of the Orally Transmitted Teachings says: The principle of eternal and unchanging truth and the wisdom of the truth that functions with changing circumstances derive from this passage. The Great Teacher Miao-lo [in his Diamond Scalpel] says, “The doctrine of that which accords with changing circumstances and that which is unchanging derives from the great teaching. The assertion that trees and stones have no mind comes from the lesser tradition.” The words “great teaching” do not refer to the Lotus Sutra as a whole, but only to the seventeen characters that make up the passage quoted above. The words “grow in the same earth and are moistened by the same rain” present a simile for the state of being without differentiation. The words “each has its differences and particulars” present a simile for the state of possessing differentiation. Because the simile speaks of things as being without differentiation, this aspect of it corresponds to myō, or wonderful. And because it speaks of things as possessing differentiation, this aspect of it corresponds to hō, or phenomena [manifested and conditioned by the Law (hō)].
Now when Nichiren and his followers chant Nam-myoho-renge-kyo, they are setting aside differentiation.
The twenty-eight chapters of the Lotus Sutra represent differentiation, but the five characters of the Wonderful Law are without differentiation. The “same earth” of the passage quoted above is the great earth of the theoretical teaching, and the “same rain” is the highest heaven of the essential teaching.
The “same earth” represents a teaching ‘from cause to effect,’ while the “same rain” represents a teaching ‘from effect to cause.’1 Now that the Latter Day of the Law has arrived, we are 65propagating the “same rain” that represents the teaching ‘from effect to cause.’ This “same rain” or “single rain” is the daimoku unmixed with any other religious practice.
The “Introduction” chapter of the Lotus Sutra speaks of how the Buddha wishes “to rain down the rain of the great Law.” Now this chapter, “The Parable of the Medicinal Herbs,” speaks of the plants and trees that “are moistened by the same rain.” “Moistened by the same rain” indicates that the Buddha has continued to “rain down the rain of the great Law” as stated in the “Introduction” chapter.
The “same earth” or “single earth” represents the character kyō in the five characters of Myoho-renge-kyo. The “same rain” or “single rain” represents the character myō. The other three characters, hō, ren, and ge, are the ten thousand phenomena of the three thousand worlds, particularly the plants and trees. They are the three vehicles, the five vehicles, the seven expedient means, and the nine worlds.
Point Four, the passage “The Dharma King, destroyer of being, / when he appears in the world / accords with the desires of living beings, / preaching the Law in a variety of ways.”
The Record of the Orally Transmitted Teachings says: “Being” (u)2 refers to those who slander the Law. “Destroyer of” (ha) refers to shakubuku, or refutation of the slander. “The Dharma King” means the votary of the Lotus Sutra. “The world” refers to the country of Japan.
Again we may say that the word “destroyer” stands for non-substantiality; “being” stands for temporary existence; and the 66Dharma King stands for the Middle Way. Since this is so, this passage is describing the seeds that lead to the state of the Thus Come One Shakyamuni. In fact, the appearance in the world of all the Buddhas of the three existences of past, present, and future comes about through this passage.
With regard to being, there are twenty-five realms of being or existence in the threefold world. To destroy means to destroy one’s attachment to these realms of being. The Dharma King is the mind-dharma of the living beings of the Ten Worlds. The word King means mind-dharma. When one gains enlightenment into the true aspect of all phenomena, this is what is meant by “the Dharma King, destroyer of being.”
Now when Nichiren and his followers chant Nam-myoho-renge-kyo, they are putting an end to the attachment to being, or slander of the Law, and becoming [Buddhas like] Shakyamuni, the Dharma King. These two words “destroyer [of] being” are the seeds that lead to one’s becoming [a Buddha like] the Thus Come One Shakyamuni.
Again we may say that the “being” stands for the realm of earthly desires and of birth and death. The essence of the provisional teachings and the provisional doctrines is that one must cast aside the realm of earthly desires and of birth and death and enter a different realm, which is that of enlightenment and nirvana. But the essence of the present sutra, the Lotus, is that, while remaining right here in the realm of earthly desires and of birth and death, one can achieve a state of enlightenment and nirvana. This is what is termed “destroyer.”
“Being” represents earthly desires, and that which destroys it is Nam-myoho-renge-kyo. Being is that which is destroyed, and the destroyer is that which is capable of destroying it. Both the destroyer and the destroyed participate in the single principle of the true aspect of all phenomena.
The “Introduction” chapter of the Lotus Sutra speaks of those who “had put an end to the bonds of existence (u, or being)”; the present chapter speaks of “the Dharma King, destroyer of being”; 67and the “Simile and Parable” chapter states that “this threefold world / is all my domain (u).”
Point Five, on the words “I look upon all things / as being universally equal, / I have no mind to favor this or that, / to love one or hate another. / I am without greed or attachment / and without limitation or hindrance.”
The Record of the Orally Transmitted Teachings says: The six lines of verse that make up this passage refer to the five levels of consciousness. The words “I look upon all things / as being universally equal” represent the ninth consciousness. The words “I have no mind to favor this or that” concern the eighth consciousness. The words “[I have no mind] to love one or hate another” concern the seventh consciousness. The words “I am without greed or attachment” concern the sixth consciousness. And the words “[I am] without limitation or hindrance” concern the other five consciousnesses. These five levels of consciousness constitute the basic nature of the way in which we living beings view things.
Now Nichiren and his followers, who chant Nam-myoho-renge-kyo, are practicing the ninth consciousness, that is, “I look upon all things / as being universally equal,” are they not? And because they do so, they have no mind “to favor this or that,” have they? They have no mind “to love one or hate another,” have they? They are “without greed or attachment,” are they not? They are “without limitation or hindrance,” are they not?