The Oral Transmission of the Meaning
Ways & Means
On The Ways & Means (Hoben)
The Prose & Verse of the Lotus Sutra1:
the ways are secret and the means is wonderful in the wonderful way to reach
the true secret. Inside the lining of the pauper’s clothes, there was a
priceless gem. On the top of the king’s crown there is but a single gem. These two
gems are one and the same. In pointing out the vagrant visitor, the rich man
made him his son. This too is no different. In words such as these there
is a wonderful secret. Like the Sutra says:
“Only I and the Buddhas of the Ten Directions recognize its aspect. No more, no more – it is not necessary to teach any more. My teaching is wonderful and inconceivable.”
Therefore we explain the ways as being secret and the means as being wonderful. This is truly the idea of this chapter, and so it is called The Chapter on Ways and Means (Hobenpon).
The Commentary on the Prose & Verse of the Lotus Sutra1 says:
“The third explanation of the Ways and Means is called Secret & Wonderful2. It is called Wonderful because the three3 agree with each other. In desiring to penetrate the first four periods4, they agree with each other by means of the their totality. The three do not agree with each other when considered separately. Therefore they also are dealt with as not agreeing in order to explain how they agree5.”
The Oral Transmission of the Meaning says:
In this explanation, the single gem that is in the lining of the clothes is the same as that on the top of the king's crown6. Nor is there anything different in the story of the vagrant who is made the rich man’s son7. These parables describe the slanderous people who embody the provisional teachings without faith. This includes the two kinds of ways & means that are called Teaching & Application and The Penetrable Door2, which are not without duality and divisions.
Now Nichiren and his kind chant “Nam-Myoho Renge Kyo” and inside embody The Secret and Wonderful Ways & Means. Therefore we first speak of The Lotus Sutra (“Myoho Renge Kyo”) and then The Ways & Means (“Hobenpon”)8.
The third volume by Miao-Lo explains the original commentary9, agreeing that the true secret is solved and explained by its totality10. This expression Totality is a special name for the teaching of The Lotus Sutra, in which the ordinary person accords with the ultimate. This is the enlightenment that is the true spiritual aspect of reality in all things. With Totality there are the three thousand spiritual aspects in a single thought11. The word Totality is substituted in the Sutra by the word Wonderful12 because the enlightenment that is the true spiritual aspect of reality in all things is wonderful and inconceivable.
People who slander this do not comprehend it and so it is called a Secret.
And we speak of the Three Thousand-fold Realm of Spirituality13 being Secret & Wonderful. It is spoken of being secret, and yet the three thousand are enumerated; this in itself is nothing outside of inconceivable.
Even people of great slander are said to accept and embrace The Lotus Sutra. This is called The Ways & Means of The Lotus Sutra (“Myoho Renge Kyo Hobenpon”)8.
Now, upon entering into the demise of the Dharma14, this is the true work of Nichiren and his kind. When those that embody the teachings prior to The Lotus Sutra enter into it, it is also called of The Ways & Means of The Lotus Sutra (“Myoho Renge Kyo Hobenpon”). This is the teaching that is the attainment of enlightenment in this very life and being ultimately consistent from beginning to end.
And the ways & means are the phenomenal reality of the ten
spiritual realms and existence whereas The Lotus Sutra (“Myoho Renge Kyo”) is
the crown atop the ten spiritual realms and the Nature of Spirituality15.
This is the same as saying:
‘With there being emotional desire & distress so there is enlightenment’ and
‘With there being Life & Death so there is Nirvana’.16
Because of Totality there are ‘the three thousand aspects of the spiritual realm in a single thought’. The word Wonderful signifies the same thing. This single term Wonderful signifies the total, wonderful phenomenal reality of the three thousand spiritual aspects in a single thought.
Totality is the ‘true spiritual aspect of all things’.
Totality is also explained as being ‘the total name, which is totally blended and totally fulfilled’.17
And this is the dual law of Calm-Observation as well as the dual law of matter and mind. The single expression of the ‘three thousand spiritual aspects in a single thought’ signifies the mind of spiritual insight circulating throughout the secret treasury.19
____ is a single thought. The number is three thousand.20
This ‘three thousand spiritual aspects in a single thought’ is called the inconceivable phenomenal reality. This wonder was not taught in the previous three doctrines, and so it was called a secret.
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1. The Commentary on the Prose & Verse of the Lotus Sutra: (C. Fa-Hua Wen-Chu Chi, J. Hokke Mongu Ki) The definitive commentary by Chan-Jan (7111-782 CE, posthumously known as Miao-Lo) on The Prose & Verse of The Lotus Sutra (C. Fa-Hua Wen-Chu, J. Hokke Mongu), which was written by Kuang-Ting based on the lectures of Chih-I.
three kinds of Ways & Means:
a. Teaching & Application: The teaching of different doctrines to others on the various aspects of the Dharma.
b. The Penetrable Door: The teaching from others that involves one's own practice to understand them.
c. The Wonderful Secret: The secret of one's own practice that transcends the duality of subject and object.
3. The three agree with each other: Three is a metaphor for that which is provisional wisdom, as in the three truths, the three vehicles, the three doctrines, etc. These three agree with each other in the real wisdom, the single mind, the one vehicle, the total doctrine, etc.
4. The First Four Periods: According to Chih-I, the first four of the five periods of the Buddha's progressively deeper teachings. The first four periods were said to be the gradual teachings that enabled the Buddha's disciples to develop their spiritual capacity so that they could understand the ultimate teaching of The Lotus Sutra.
5. They also are dealt with as not agreeing in order to explain how they agree: The idea explained by Chih-I as Separation & Union. With the provisional teachings (the Three Doctrines, the Three Truths, etc.) the Dharma is analyzed and distinguished in order to explain the aspects of spirituality. However this cognitive and discursive understanding, as useful and important as it is in helping one begin to understand the Dharma, serves to separate one from its reality. It produces some truth and some illusion at the same time. To truly comprehend the spirituality of the Dharma one must discard the illusion of the provisional teachings in order to reveal the reality.
6. The single gem that is in the lining of the clothes: Parable from the eighth chapter of The Lotus Sutra on The Prophecy of Enlightenment for 500 Disciples. A man gets drunk at a friend's house and falls asleep. The friend sews a precious gem inside the lining of the man's clothes. The man wakes up and ventures out into the world and falls on hard times. He works very hard for very little, not knowing of the precious treasure he carries. The poor man finally meets up again with his friend, who tells him of the treasure he carries. Upon hearing of it, the man awakens to the wealth he possesses.
7. The story of the vagrant who is made the rich man’s son: Parable from the fourth chapter of The Lotus Sutra on Faith & Understanding. A son wanders off and is separated from his wealthy father. Years later, the son, a penniless vagrant, unknowingly wanders onto the estate of his father. His father recognizes him and sends for him, but the son, not knowing that the man is his father, is afraid and runs away. His father sends out two men (representing the Two Vehicles) to give the son work shoveling dirt for wages and the son, needing money, takes the work. The son works hard for his meager wages. The father, not wanting to scare his son, dresses down and approached his son and 'adopts' him (as a Bodhisattva). When the father nears death he tells his son the truth and makes him the inheritor of his fortune (a Buddha, like his father).
8. We first speak of The Lotus Sutra (“Myoho Renge Kyo”) and then The Chapter on Ways & Means (“Hobenpon”): A reference to the recitation of the chapter's title and its meaning.
9. The third volume by Miao-Lo explains the original commentary: Here Chan-Jan is referred to by his posthumous name Miao-Lo. His commentary explains the original commentary of The Prose & Verse of the Lotus Sutra (C. Fa-Hua Wen-Chu, J. Hokke Mongu).
10. The true secret is solved and explained by its totality: Reference to the Total Doctrine (see The Four Doctrines)
11. The three thousand spiritual aspects in a single thought: Chih-I's detailed explanation of spiritual enlightenment. See his explanation in Volume Five of The Great Calm-Observation (C. Mo-Ho Chih-Kuan, J. Maka Shikan)
12. Wonderful: (C. Miao, J. Myo) The term used by Kumarajiva to explain the Totality of the Dharma and the purpose of the teachings when he translated The Lotus Sutra.
13. The Three Thousand-fold Realm of Spirituality: A description of the spiritual realm frequently found in the Sutras. See Chih-I's explanation in Volume Five of The Great Calm-Observation (C. Mo-Ho Chih-Kuan, J. Maka Shikan)
14. The demise of the
Dharma: (J Mappo) According to The Lotus Sutra & The Nirvana Sutra,
the Dharma (Teaching) of the Buddha will degrade over 500 or 1000-year periods
after the Buddha’s entry into Nirvana.
A. The first period is the True Dharma, which is practiced with the purity of the original inspiration.
B. The middle period is the Copied Dharma, in which followers revise the teaching for the times
C. The final period is the Demise of the Dharma, in which the original intent of the teaching is lost
15. The Nature of Spirituality: (S. Dharmata) According to the principle of the middle way
16. With there being emotional desire & distress so there is enlightenment: Spiritual
enlightenment is not detached from emotional desire & distress. They are
inseparable parts of each other.
With there being Life & Death so there is Nirvana: There is no Nirvana that is detached from Life & Death (Samsara). They are inseparable parts of each other.
17. The total name, which is totally
blended and totally fulfilled: The name refers to the power of the word
that is invested with meaning as well as illusory elements. The 'total name'
refers to the word or words that are without illusory elements (totally blended)
and having full meaning (totally fulfilled).
a. Totally blended: Words have the aspects of the Three Truths:
* They are temporary, arbitrary and illusory, contrived to represent meaning (The Truth of That Which is Temporary)
* They are empty of any real self-existence per se (The Truth of Emptiness)
* They have the meaning or significance that reveals their ultimate purpose (The Truth of the Middle Way)
When they have all three of these simultaneously in seamless harmony, The Three Truths are totally blended and the meaning of the words is clearly revealed without the residue of illusion.
b. Totally fulfilled: A reference to words in which the fullness of meaning transcends all illusion; The words that are most full of spiritual truth are those that express our most innermost aspiration for spiritual enlightenment. They are the words that are the most knowing of our true mind. These words would be our most heartfelt prayers (mantra, japa, dharani, shingon, daimoku, call them what you will) and the answers to them - the true words of the Buddha. In these words the cognitive aspects are utterly transcended and the meaning of significance is most clearly revealed, and the word is a pure vehicle for spiritual enlightenment.
18. The door to the manifestation:
(C. Chi-Men, J. Shakumon) The first fourteen chapters of The Lotus Sutra,
in which the manfestation ofenlightenment is revealed in the life of the Buddha
Sakyamuni The total
blending of the three truths: The one truth is three and the three truths are one; The threefold wisdom
of the single mind.
a. For the sake of real wisdom the provisional wisdom is offered
b. The provisional wisdom is opened up and the real wisdom is revealed
c. The provisional wisdom is discarded and the real wisdom is establshed
The door to the source: (C. Pen-Men, J. Honmon) The last fourteen chapters of The Lotus Sutra, revealing the eternal source of enlightenment from the manifestation Their total fulfillment: The ultimate spiritual purpose is revealed,beyond all manifestations
a. The manifestation arises from the source
b. The manifestation is opened up revealing the source
c. The manifestation is discarded establishing the source
(S. Samatha-Vipasyana, C. Chih-Kuan, J. Shikan) Buddhist method for
attaining menatal concentration and spiritual insight Matter and Mind:
Duality of material & spiritual, objective & subjective realms The secret treasury:
The realm of spiritual enlightenment, consisting of the Three Virtues:
Mind & Matter
20. ___ is a single thought. The number is three thousand: The first word of this passage has apparently been lost.
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