Originally Posted by PassTheDoobie
The Unanimous Declaration by the Buddhas of the Three Existences regarding the Classification of the Teachings and Which Are to Be Abandoned and Which Upheld (originating from post 1657)
WNDII / pg. 835
Written by Nichiren
By grasping the meaning of these two words “provisional” and “true,” we may distinguish in the sacred teachings of the Buddha’s lifetime which ones are provisional and deal with the instruction and conversion of others, and which are true and pertain to the Buddha’s enlightenment. The first three of the four teachings, the first four of the five periods of teachings, and the first nine of the Ten Worlds all alike deal with affairs of good and evil as these exist in the realm of dreams. Hence they are called provisional teachings.
With regard to these doctrinal teachings, the Buddha in the Immeasurable Meanings Sutra stated that “in these more than forty years, I have not yet revealed the truth.” These various sutras in which the truth is not yet revealed are provisional teachings pertaining to the realm of dreams.
Therefore The Annotations on “The Profound Meaning of the Lotus Sutra” states: “Though the nature of the mind does not vary, it is inevitably engaged with phantoms, and so it gives rise to phantom capacities, phantom receptiveness, phantom responses, and phantom salvation. Both the Buddha, who is capable of responding, and the living beings, who receive instruction and undergo conversion, are provisional in aspect and not true.”
This passage is saying that these teachings are all expedient means relating to a realm of dreams and phantoms. The words “though the nature of the mind does not vary” mean that the nature of the mind when it is viewing dreams and the nature of the mind when it is wakened is one uniform mind nature and never varies. However, there are two types of events viewed by this single mind, the false events encountered in dreams and the true events of a time of waking. But though we realize this, we know that both are simply the workings of one’s own mind.
Therefore Great Concentration and Insight states: “In the four universal vows set forth in the first three of the four teachings, [distinctions between] both the doer and the ones who receive the doing are wiped out.”(2)
The four universal vows declare: “Living beings are numberless: I vow to save them. Earthly desires are countless: I vow to eradicate them. The teachings are endless: I vow to master them. Enlightenment is supreme: I vow to attain it.”
The doer is the Thus Come One, and the ones who receive the doing are living beings. The passage of commentary is explaining that in these four universal vows set forth in the first three of the four teachings, the Buddha who carries out the act of saving, and the living beings who are saved, all belong to the dream realm of right and wrong.
Thus the various sutras preached in the forty-two years prior to the Lotus Sutra are provisional teachings in which the Buddha has “not yet revealed the truth,” an expedient means. They are an expedient means designed to lead one to the Lotus Sutra and hence do not represent the truth itself.
The Buddha himself acknowledged this fact when he grouped the works preached in the first forty-two years together and then, in preparation for the preaching of the Lotus Sutra, preached the Immeasurable Meanings Sutra to serve as an introduction for the Lotus Sutra, and in it made a declaration regarding the classification of the teachings [in terms of their relative worth]. This declaration no one can controvert, nor can any doubt be cast on it.
(2) This passage is actually found in Miao-lo’s Annotations on “Great Concentration and Insight.”
I didn't hear any questions so I will continue with the expression of my personal understanding of what this teaching is conveying.
So what is this saying above? I've already given much of the background that is reiterated here, but again, understand that because many people live in a world in which they fail to recognize the powers and wisdom inherent in their lives as Buddhas--exactly as they are, being unaware of that truth or lacking the means to awaken to it--they go about living in a deluded state, as if being in a dream. What they think is real is not real. But like in a dream it seems real and so they have experiences that they think are real.
Pertaining to the teachings of Buddhism, Nichiren says to regard these as delusions of phantom perceptions. He quotes Miao-lo, the ninth patriarch of the T'ien-t'ai School in China calling them out as: "phantom capacities, phantom receptiveness, phantom responses, and phantom salvation," saying that the Buddha teaching these pre-Lotus Sutra teachings, the teachings themselves, and the salvation of those who have embraced them, are just expedients ("provisional in aspect and not true"). He follows that by quoting Great Concentration and Insight as saying the same thing: "…all belong to the dream realm of right and wrong."
They are the deluded belief that one has understandings that are correct, when in fact one does not. They are the deluded belief that one has encountered correct teachings, when in fact one has not. They are the deluded belief that one is experiencing advance or benefit from these teachings, when in fact one is not. And they are the deluded belief that one will reach the other shore of the attainment of enlightenment and salvation from this, that in fact, one will not.
He says at the end of this segment that these declarations of fact, which might seem hard to believe, having been substantiated in the above commentaries are not his own declaration of the Truth, but rather the Declaration of the Truth by the Buddha Shakyamuni himself in his Immeasurable Meanings Sutra (and the Lotus and Nirvana Sutras). They are therefore incontrovertible teaching of the Buddha Shakyamuni which no one can dispute or doubt.
Again, all of the the above is based on the Buddha Shakyamuni's own admonitions and then studied and further broken down by virtue of content and teaching period, by teachers in the lineage of the Indian Buddhist scholar Nagarjuna, and then Hui-wen, Nan-yueh, T'ien-t'ai, Chang-an, Chih-wei, Hui-wei, Hsuan-lang, Miao-lo and others of China who transmitted this Truth to Dengyo and Geshin of Japan.
Nichiren used the commentaries of these scholars of this lineage of 'Masters of the Lotus Meditation,'--based on the teachings of the Lotus Sutra--to substantiate as existing doctrine or Buddhist principals of correct understanding, for the teachings and merits of the Buddhism left behind by Shakyamuni of India. But now here is the cool part many people don't understand. A friend in an earlier post referred incorrectly to the "Nichiren School."
In fact there are over 40 different Nichiren schools. In reality, Nichiren Buddhism is an entire other mainstream of Buddhism from the Buddhism of Shakyamuni--one that is rooted in the Essence of the Lotus Sutra which could not be revealed until the Latter Day of the Law (now).
For much of Shakyamuni's preaching life he was laying down Sutras that ultimately contradicted one another in different ways. But then, as we see, in the Lotus Sutra Shakyamuni Buddha reveals that they were all just expedient means to lead to the truth anyway. They were not the real Truth itself, according to his declaration in the Immeasurable Meanings Sutra, which Nichiren quotes above.
In Nichiren's Teachings, he refers to the preceding teachings of Shakyamuni as the "Buddhism of the Harvest," while he considers the teachings of Nam-myoho-renge-kyo, one of his Three Great Secret Laws, to be what he calls The "Buddhism of the Sowing." He acknowledges that while his teaching of Nam-myoho-renge-kyo is rooted in Shakyamuni's teaching of the Lotus Sutra, the practice and efficacy of the two are as different as night and day because of the time: The Latter day of the Law.
The prediction that his teaching and practice (In the Latter Day of the Law) of the Great Pure Law of His "Buddhism of the Sowing" (the practice of Faith in his Teachings and chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo; realizing the attainment of Buddhahood in your present form and leading others to the same reward) is COMPLETELY grounded in all of the teachings of Shakyamuni and the lineage of the 'Masters of the Lotus Meditation' that followed in the two thousand year period of the Former Day of the Law (first thousand years after Shakyamuni's death) and the Middle Day of the Law (second thousand years). According to Shakyamuni, two millennia after his death the power inherent in his teachings would become so convoluted that they would no longer be effective and no longer lead to enlightenment.
But Shakyamuni taught that within that first 500 years following the end of the Middle Day of the Law, the Bodhisattvas of the Earth--Original Disciples of the Buddha in his True Identity who appear in the 15th chapter of the Lotus Sutra and are transferred the Sutra's essence on the 21st chapter--make their appearance and bring forth and propagate the True Teaching. This Great Pure Law which has been referred to and been exhorted to be upheld in the Lotus Sutra, but is never specifically identified; is to be propagated as the teaching for those whom make their advents as living beings in the Latter Day of the Law. Please see the definition and reference of that transfer from the Supernatural Powers of the Thus Come One chapter of the Lotus Sutra following this post.
This is the teaching that is to be upheld in the Latter Day of the Law, which begins at the end of the Middle Day and continues for "ten thousand years and beyond." Please understand then, that in Nichiren Buddhism, the "Buddhism of the Harvest" serves as an expedient for introduction to the "Buddhism of the Sowing" in the Latter day of the Law. In the reality of what is the Correct Teaching? It is the essence of the Lotus Sutra transferred to the Bodhisattvas of the Earth in the Latter Day of the Law as taught and introduced by Nichiren Daishonin of Japan: Nam-myoho-renge-kyo.
Bowing in humble obeisance,