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The Essence of the Juryo Chapter


In "The Opening of the Eyes," Nichiren Daishonin establishes a comparison between the provisional and true teachings of Buddhism. Every teaching of the Buddha reveals some aspects of the truth, but all the provisional teachings were ultimately meant only to lead to the perfect truth of the Lotus Sutra. Moreover, the heart of the Lotus Sutra is the essential teaching or latter fourteen chapters, specifically the Juryo (sixteenth) chapter in which the supreme Law is implicit. As the Daishonin states, "The doctrine of ichinen sanzen is found in only one place, hidden in the depths of the Juryo chapter of the essential teaching of the Lotus Sutra" (The Major Writings of Nichiren Daishonin, vol. 2, p. 80). He attributes the cause of the miseries and disasters ravaging Japan to the confusion in Buddhism and the failure to recognize the supremacy of the Lotus Sutra.

In this Gosho, the Daishonin points to the supreme teaching via successive levels of comparison-the comparison of the pre-Lotus Sutra teachings and the theoretical teaching (former half of the Lotus Sutra), and the comparison of the theoretical teaching and the essential teaching (latter half of the Lotus Sutra). He cites two reasons why the Lotus Sutra is supreme. One is that the theoretical teaching reveals that people in the states of shamon (Learning) and engaku (Realization) can attain enlightenment, a possibility utterly denied in the previous forty-two years of Shakyamuni Buddha's preaching. The predictions in the theoretical teaching that those of the two vehicles will attain Buddhahood substantiate the mutual possession of the Ten Worlds and the concept that Buddhahood is open to all. The other reason is that, in the Juryo chapter of the essential teaching, Shakyamuni Buddha denied that he had first attained enlightenment in India, and instead revealed his original enlightenment in the unfathomably remote past-a time called gohyaku-jintengo. Then, the Daishonin concludes by saying that the heart of the Juryo chapter is Nam-myoho-renge-kyo, the ultimate Law which is the seed for the direct attainment of Buddhahood.

In contrast to the Hoben (second) chapter of the theoretical teaching, which discusses Buddhahood as a potential inheren in the lives of all people, the Juryo chapter shows Buddhahood as a reality manifested in the life of Shakyamuni and also reveals its eternity beyond his birth in this world. In this chapter, Shakyamuni Buddha points to the cause for his original enlightenment by saying: "Once I also practiced the bodhisattva austerities, As a result, he attained the effect of Buddhahood, as stated in the same chapter: "Since I attained Buddhahood, an unimaginably long period has passed." He also clarifies that ever since that time, he has been here in the world preaching the Law, appearing as many different Buddhas and using various names. However, Shakyamuni did not reveal the true cause which enabled him to attain Buddhahood in the remote past of gohyaku-jintengo. To conclude, Nichiren Daishonin identifies the true cause or fundamental Law which enables all Buddhas to gain their enlightenment as Nam-myoho-renge-kyo of the Three Great Secret Laws "hidden in the depths of the Juryo chapter of the essential teaching."

This Gosho is dated April 1271 but both the year of its writing and the identity of its recipient are uncertain. Its contents are quite similar to what the Daishonin wrote about the importance of the Juryo chapter in "The Opening of the Eyes." Therefore, although it is generally thought to have been written in 1271, some think that it might have been completed after the Daishonin wrote his treatise, "The Opening of the Eyes," in 1272. In any event, it states in a very clear and concise manner the successive comparisons of the pre-Lotus Sutra teachings, the theoretical and the essential teachings of the Lotus Sutra, and true Buddhism.

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