Point One, concerning “the phantom city” (kejō)
The Record of the Orally Transmitted Teachings says: The word ke, or “phantom,” refers to the element of form or the body. The word jō, or “city,” refers to the element of the mind. The provisional teachings declare that these two elements of body and mind are characterized by impermanence. But the message of the Lotus Sutra is the assertion that this impermanence is in fact a state of permanent abiding. That is, the phantom city is identical with the treasure land, the place where the treasure is to be found. In effect, now Nichiren and his followers, people who chant Nam-myoho-renge-kyo, gain enlightenment into the fact that our bodies and minds are the Wonderful Law itself, namely, that the phantom city is identical with the treasure land. The Ten Worlds are all of them phantom cities, and each of these Ten Worlds is a treasure land.
Or again, the phantom city is the nine worlds [other than Buddhahood], and the treasure land is the state of Buddhahood. From the phantom city to the treasure land is a distance of five hundred yojanas. This distance of five hundred yojanas is symbolic of the illusions of thought and desire, of the dusts and sands that impede religious practice, and of darkness or ignorance. To understand that these five hundred yojanas of earthly desires are the five characters of the Wonderful Law means to realize that the phantom city is identical with the treasure land. In this statement that the phantom city is identical with the treasure land, the single word “identical” is symbolic of Nam-myoho-renge-kyo. Each moment of life in the phantom city is a moment of life in the treasure land.
The provisional teachings assert that the elements of our 73bodies and minds are characterized by impermanence. But the Lotus Sutra asserts that they are permanently abiding. To wipe out all attachment to this concept of impermanence means to wipe out the phantom city.
Again, the phantom city is our skin and flesh, and the treasure land is our bones. To gain enlightenment into the fact that these two elements of our bodies and minds are the Wonderful Law is to grasp the essential substance of the statement that the phantom city is identical with the treasure land. That essential substance is the realization that impermanence and permanence are simultaneous and inseparable, that that which accords with changing circumstances, that which is unchanging, these are tranquil and shining in a single moment of life.
Each of these moments of life is Nam-myoho-renge-kyo, a moment of life in which one exercises a faith that is free of doubt. One should give particular thought to the word “identical” in the statement that the phantom city is identical with the treasure land.
Point Two, concerning the Buddha Daitsū-chishō or Great Universal Wisdom Excellence1
The Record of the Orally Transmitted Teachings says: Daitsū, or Great Universal, represents the mind king or the core of the mind, while chishō, or Wisdom Excellence, represents the distinctive functions of the mind. Great Universal is the theoretical teaching, and Wisdom Excellence is the essential teaching. Great Universal Wisdom Excellence is this body that each of us possesses.
Now, Nichiren and his followers, who chant Nam-myoho-renge-kyo, are Great Universal; the act of chanting the daimoku is Wisdom Excellence. The wisdom of the votaries of the Lotus Sutra is a hundred, a thousand, ten thousand times more excellent than the greatest wisdom of the schools of the provisional teachings. Hence it is called Wisdom Excellence.
The “Great” of Great Universal represents the element of the 74body, while the “Universal” represents the element of the mind. Our [lives that undergo the cycle of] birth and death are Great Universal. The thoughts that occur in our bodies and minds that repeat birth and death are Wisdom Excellence. When we look at it in this way, we see that the votaries, who chant Nam-myoho-renge-kyo, are the Buddha Great Universal Wisdom Excellence, and the sixteen princes, who are his sons, are the functions of our minds.
Point Three, on the words “Their mothers, weeping, followed after them” in the passage “Before this Buddha left the householder’s life, he had sixteen sons, the first of whom was named Wisdom Accumulated. These sons each had various kinds of rare objects and toys of one kind or another, but when they heard that their father had attained anuttara-samyak-sambodhi [supreme perfect enlightenment], they all threw aside their rare objects and went to where the Buddha was. Their mothers, weeping, followed after them.”
The Record of the Orally Transmitted Teachings says: “Their mothers” are mothers of the sixteen sons. But in its true meaning “mother” represents fundamental darkness or ignorance. The obstacles of illusions that arise from this ignorance may be termed “mothers.”
While one is transmigrating through the realm of birth and death, one is journeying in company with this mother that is ignorance. But when one turns away from that realm and reaches a state of nirvana, then one kills the mother, ignorance. The mother ignorance is embodied in persons such as those who follow the Nembutsu, Zen, or True Word teachings.
When the sutra says that the mothers “followed after them,” it means that the mothers represent slanderers of the Law [who are trying to impede the progress of the sixteen sons]. Nevertheless, in the end, when the teachings of the Lotus Sutra have been 75widely propagated and made known, then they and all others alike throughout the world will become votaries of the Lotus Sutra. This is what the sutra means when it says that millions of people “followed them [that is, the sixteen sons] to the place of practice, all wishing to draw close to [the Great Universal Wisdom Excellence Thus Come One].”
Point Four, on the words “Their grandfather, who was a wheel-turning sage king” in the passage “Their grandfather, who was a wheel-turning sage king, along with a hundred chief ministers, as well as a hundred, thousand, ten thousand, million of his subjects, all together surrounded the sons and followed them to the place of practice, all wishing to draw close to the Great Universal Wisdom Excellence Thus Come One.”
The Record of the Orally Transmitted Teachings says: In this passage we learn about the Buddha of the original state [that is, the Buddha of limitless joy]. “Grandfather” is another name for the Dharma-realm. The first three of the ten factors listed in the “Expedient Means” chapter, the factors of appearance, nature, and entity, are referred to as “grandfather.” Outside of these three factors, there is no wheel-turning sage king.
The word “wheel-turning” refers to the phases of birth, abiding, change, and extinction. The words “sage king” refer to the element of the mind. These three factors, appearance, nature, and entity, are the father and mother of all the Buddhas of the three existences of past, present, and future.
Now, when Nichiren and his followers chant Nam-myoho-renge-kyo, they are acting as father and mother of the Buddhas of the three existences, as their grandfather, the wheel-turning sage king.
With regard to the four kinds of wheels possessed by the wheel-turning sage kings, wheels of gold, of silver, of copper, and of iron, the gold ones represent birth, the silver ones the white 76bones of death, the copper ones the appearance of aging, and the iron ones sickness. These correspond to the four types of actions relating to the Buddha wisdom, namely, opening the door of Buddha wisdom, showing it to living beings, causing them to awaken to it, and inducing them to enter its path.
To go round and round unendingly in the cycle of birth and death, birth and death, throughout the three existences of past, present, and future, is what is called being a wheel-turning sage king. The wheels that the wheel-turning sage kings possess when they make their appearance in the world, their “wheel treasures” are the words and sounds that we ourselves utter. And these sounds, our “wheel treasures,” are Nam-myoho-renge-kyo. This is what is called [in chapter eleven, Treasure Tower] “the great wisdom of equality.”
Point Five, concerning the sixteen sons of the king
The Record of the Orally Transmitted Teachings says: In the number “sixteen” [“ten and six” in Japanese], the ten represents the Ten Worlds, and the six represents the six sense organs. The “king” is the mind king, and the “sons” are the functions of the mind.
These then are the sons of the Buddha Great Universal Wisdom Excellence, the single principle that constitutes the true aspect of all phenomena. Now, when Nichiren and his followers chant Nam-myoho-renge-kyo, they are acting as the sixteen sons of the king.
The sutra states that these sixteen sons all became Buddhas in one or another of the various lands in the eight directions. This means that we will come to realize that our earthly desires, with the eight sufferings that they entail, are none other than enlightenment.
Point Six, on the words “wipe out the phantom city” in the passage “At that time the leader, knowing that the people have become rested and are no longer fearful or weary, 77wipes out the phantom city and says to the group, ‘You must go now. The place where the treasure is is close by.’”
The Record of the Orally Transmitted Teachings says: These entities or bodies of ours are wiped out, and in this sense it is a phantom city. That is, if we take this wiping out as a true wiping out or extinction, then our bodies are a phantom city. But if we have the wisdom to see that this wiping out is not a true wiping out or extinction but only an aspect of eternal life, then it is a place of treasure, a treasure land. This is what the “Life Span” chapter means when it says, “But in truth I do not pass into extinction.”
To wipe out the concept of wiping out itself is the true wiping out. This is the doctrine embodied in the assertion that the three vehicles expounded in the provisional teachings are in fact the one vehicle of the true teaching.
Again, we may say that the words “wipe out the phantom city” refer to the wiping out of the temples of the slanderers of the Law.2 Now, when Nichiren and his followers chant Nam-myoho-renge-kyo, they are revealing that the phantom city is none other than the treasure land. These mountain valleys and broad plains where we live are all, every one of them, treasure lands of Eternally Tranquil Light.
Point Seven, on the passage “Now you must press forward diligently / so that together you may [all] reach the place where the treasure is.”
The Record of the Orally Transmitted Teachings says: The word “all” refers to the Ten Worlds. The word “together” refers to the words [of the Buddha in chapter two, Expedient Means] “hoping to make all persons / equal to me, without any distinction between us.” The word “reach” means to arrive at the level of the highest effect, the state of Buddhahood. “The place where the treasure is,” the treasure land, is the holy mountain, Eagle Peak.
Nichiren and his followers, those who chant 78Nam-myoho-renge-kyo, one and all will “together reach the place where the treasure is.” This one word “together” means that, as long as they are together with Nichiren, they will reach the treasure land. But if they are not together with him, they will fall into the great citadel of the Avīchi hell.