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Record of the Orally Transmitted
Teachings of Nichiren Daishonin

- Ongi Kuden -

Background on this Work

The Ongi Kuden, also called the Shu Chu Hokkekyo Ongi Kuden, or the Nikko Ki [Nikko's record]. It is a record of oral lectures, on the Lotus Sutra, given by Nichiren Daishonin to his six senior disciples. One of them, Byakuren Ajari Nikko, the founding high priest of Taiseki-ji, recorded these lectures and obtained Nichiren Daishonin's seal of endorsement on the first day of the first month of 1287. The text is divided into two portions, the main portion of which consists of an introduction of the meaning of Nam Myoho Renge Kyo and of two hundred thirty one important matters. These 'matters' are phrases, symbols, and passages selected from the Lotus, Muryogi, and Fugen Sutras. The second portion [betsuden] of the Ongi Kuden consists of commentaries upon a portion of a particular chapter of the Lotus Sutra, which the Daishonin felt summed up the essence of that chapter. Excerpts of this main section and specific are set forth on this site. Sections of the main transmission are numbered consecutively from 708-786. Sections of the specific transmission are numbered from 790 to 813. I included both portions in each chapter commentary for greater ease of reading by the viewers of this material.

In recent years, considerable controversy has arisen over the authenticity of this work since no written text was listed in existence prior to 1539. Other scholars point out that the Ongi Kuden does not match, or relate to, the Daishonin's personal copy of the Annotated Lotus Sutra, in which he wrote relevant passages from the works of T'ien-t'ai and other sources. Still, other persons argue that Nichiren never called himself a Buddha, considered himself only as Bodhisattva Jogyo, and the Ongi Kuden is a forgery designed to mislead readers into a false Tendai-inspired theology. I leave it up to the readers of this work to come to their own conclusions about the veracity of the Ongi Kuden. For myself, reading this work has enriched my life and practice of Buddhism. I am confident it will help others to do so and change many misconceptions about the Lotus Sutra as Nichiren interpreted it. The essential message of this Gosho is that we all have the capacity to become a Buddha through the practice of the Lotus Sutra. The Ongi Kuden is nothing more than a very detailed explanation of Nam Myoho Renge Kyo and clarifies the correct meaning of the Lotus Sutra in the Latter Day of the Law when Shakyamuni's teachings are now powerless to help others.

Regarding the history of this compilation, several years ago I noted that the Ongi Kuden was quoted numerous times in various Buddhist publications, but no complete copy existed in English. I then began a project to compile all of these English excerpts into a single text and match them with the correct portions of the sutra. This has not been an easy task as I have been working on it since 1995. Originally, I did this for myself and wrote the matching portions in my personal copies of the Lotus Sutra. However, with the advent of the Internet, I now realized it was possible to share the Ongi Kuden with others in the Buddhist community. It is with the spirit of sharing that I offer this compilation as a testimony to the greatness of Nichiren Daishonin's Buddhism and so that all persons can advance in their faith, practice, and study of True Buddhism through this work. I also hope this work will lead to a better understanding of the Daishonin's teachings throughout the world. I believe the Ongi Kuden to be highly necessary to understand the essence of Nichiren Daishonin's Buddhism.

In 1992, Soka Gakkai International announced that Burton Watson, Professor of Asian Studies at Columbia University, had agreed to translate the Ongi Kuden into English, following his translation of the Lotus Sutra. At this time, Dr. Watson has completed his translation but extensive proofreading and revision is still in progress. In the meantime, my wish is that that this compilation will suffice to give readers a better understanding of the Ongi Kuden. Please also note that this site will be updated with additional materials as they become available. All sections of the Ongi Kuden on this site are from the Gosho Zenshu which is the current complete Japanese edition of Nichiren Daishonin's works as compiled by Nichiko Shonin, Fifty-Ninth High Priest of Nichiren Shoshu, and the Soka Gakkai over thirty years ago. I have also used Dr. Jacqueline Stone's "Some Disputed Writings in the Nichiren Corpus" to obtain additional materials on the Ongi Kuden. Quotes from the Lotus Sutra are from Burton Watson's translation of the Threefold Lotus Sutra. Page references for quotes common to both works are contained here. "LS" denotes Mr. Watson's translation and "3LS" denotes the Threefold Lotus Sutra. I will post more material as it becomes available. Any errors herein are solely my own as this is a work in progress. Additions or corrections to this work are much appreciated.


Paul Wersant
September 20, 1999

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