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The Entity of the Mystic Law
- Totaigi Sho -


From the cover letter, it is clear that this treatise was addressed to Sairen-bo, one of Nichiren Daishonin's followers. However, it does not bear the date or the name of the place where it was written. One conjecture is that it was authored in 1273, at Ichinosawa on Sado Island, when the Daishonin was fifty-two years old and living in exile.

Sairen-ba was an extremely learned scholar of the Tendai sect and had been living in exile on Sado for some unknown reason. one of the Daishonin's letters to him, entitled "Reply to Sairen-bo" (P- 20 in this volume), reveals that he converted to the Daishonin's teachings in the second month of 1272, during the period the Daishonin was living on Sado in exile. Sairen-bo received this treatise one year later.

"The Entity of the Mystic Law" is one of the most profound writings of Nichiren Daishonin and explains the great effects of having faith in the Gohonzon, the true object of worship. When examined in terms of the concept of teaching, practice and proof, this treatise corresponds with proof, while "The Opening of the Eyes" and "The True Object of Worship" are related to teaching and practice, respectively. "Teaching" means the Buddha's teaching and "practice" means the practice that accords exactly with the teaching. "Proof" means the merit resulting from the practice of the teaching.

"The Opening of the Eyes" establishes a fivefold comparison, a system of comparative classification of all of Shakyamuni Buddha's teachings, and demonstrates the superiority of the Lotus Sutra over all the other sutras. Ultimately it clarifies the supremacy of Nam-myoho-renge-kyo among all the Buddhist teachings, and accordingly it corresponds to "teaching." "The True Object of Worship" states that embracing faith in the Gohonzon is in itself enlightenment. By believing in the Mystic Law one acquires all the practices in which all the Buddhas engaged, as well as all the benefits and virtues that they obtained through these practices. Therefore, it corresponds to "practice." "The Entity of the Mystic Law" corresponds to "proof," because it reveals that by believing in the Mystic Law one can manifest oneself as the entity of Myoho-renge-kyo.

In this treatise, Nichiren Daishonin uses the question-and-answer format in order to make his teaching more accessible to his contemporary and later followers. Its contents are divided into six parts. The first part teaches that the beings of the Ten Worlds and their environments, that is, all things and phenomena in the universe, are entities of Myoho-renge-kyo. Concerning this view, a question is posed: "If the entity of all living beings is the Mystic Law in its entirety, then are all the actions and their results that are associated with the nine worlds, from Hell up to Bodhisattva, In effect the entity of the Mystic Law?" in reply to this question, the Daishonin states thatjust as Buddhahood is the functioning of the Mystic Law, so likewise are the nine worlds of illusion and suffering. This is explained from the viewpoint of the defiled aspect and the pure aspect, both of which constitute the functioning of a single Law, that is, the Mystic Law.

The second part reveals from a more profound standpoint that actually only those who have faith in the Mystic Law are the entities of the Mystic Law. The Daishonin states, "The Buddha who is the entity of Myoho-renge-kyo, of the Juryo chapter of the essential teaching.... is to be found in the disciples and followers of Nichiren." In the third part, citing T'ient'ai's Hokke gengi, the Daishonin discusses the lotus of the entity and also uses the lotus figuratively. The lotus flower was used as a metaphor to explain the lotus of the entity, since the entity of the Law is difficult to understand. He clarifies the lotus of the entity that inherently exists and is not created, and identifies it as the supreme single Law that simultaneously possesses both cause and effect. He also says that in the infinite past a sage perceived the reality of this Law and named it Myoho-renge. This is what the lotus of the entity means. The lotus blooms and produces seeds at the same time, and so represents the simultaneity of cause and effect, which is the expression of the Mystic Law.

In the following three parts, the treatise describes those who ha,e become enlightened to the lotus of the entity. The fourth part reveals that the original Buddha first became enlightened to the lotus of the entity in kuon ganjo. This revelation is found in the passage that reads: "The Shakyamuni Buddha who lived in a past even more distant than gohyaku-jintengi achieved enlightenment with regard to the lotus that is the entity of the Mystic Law." The Shakyamuni Buddha referred to here is the Buddha of kuon ganjo, not the Shakyamuni Buddha who, as described in the jurya (sixteenth) chapter of the Lotus Sutra, attained enlightenment in gohyaku jintengo. "A past even more distant than gohyaku-jintengo" means kuon ganjo, an eternity without beginning.

Next, this treatise asserts that the passage in the Haben (second) chapter on the true aspect of all phenomena and the passage in thefinriki (twenty-first) chapter on the transmission of the essence of the Lotus Sutra both contain perfect elucidations of the lotus of the entity. Then the treatise explains that the title "Myoho-renge-kyo" itself, appearing at the beginning of each of the twenty-eight chapters of the Lotus Sutra, represents the lotus of the entity. In response to the question regarding who was able to obtain the lotus of the entity during Shakyamuni Buddha's lifetime, the fifth part singles out those who received instruction from the Buddha of the Juryo chapter of the essential teaching.

The sixth and last part clarifies who is able to obtain the lotus of the entity in the present Latter Day of the Law. This part also makes clear what Law it is that enables the people of the Latter Day to realize the lotus of the entity and to attain Buddhahood. Clarification of this point is found in the passage that states: "But those who follow the teachings of Nichiren ... are able to gain the lotus of the entity and to manifest the mystic principle of the entity of the a y anqu Light. This is because they put their faith in the golden words of the Buddha indicated in the Juryo chapter of the essential teaching and chant Nam-myoho-renge-kyo." "The Buddha indicated in the Juryo chapter" means the advocate of the teaching hidden it, the depths of the Juryo chapter.

Subsequently this treatise explains why the Mystic Law was not propagated in the Former and Middle Days. it identifies Nam-myoho-renge-kyo as the Great Pure Law that is to spread in the Latter Day. Nan-yueh and T'ien-t'ai of China and Dengyo of Japan employed the recitation of Nam-myoho-renge-kyo as their private practice, but they did not spread this practice to other people. The treatise sets forth two reasons for this fact: "First of all, the proper time to do so had not yet arrived. Second, these men were not the persons entrusted with the task of doing so."

Then, in conclusion, the Daishonin writes: "Therefore Nanyiieh, T'ien-t'ai and Dengyo, though in their hearts they understood the truth, left it to the leader and teacher of the Latter Day to spread it widely, while they themselves refrained from doing so."

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