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“The Lotus Sutra is the teacher of all the Buddhas of the ten directions and the three existences. The Buddhas of the ten directions are the Buddha Good Virtue in the east, the Buddha Sorrow-Dispelling Virtue in the southeast, the Buddha Sandalwood Virtue in the south, the Buddha Giver of Treasure in the southwest, the Buddha Infinite Brightness in the west, the Buddha Flower Virtue in the northwest, the Buddha Banner-like Virtue in the north, the Buddha Three Vehicle Practice in the northeast, the Buddha Vast Myriad Virtue of the zenith, and the Buddha Brilliant Virtue of the nadir.2

The Buddhas of the three existences are the thousand Buddhas of the past Glorious Kalpa,3 the thousand Buddhas of the present Wise Kalpa,4 and the thousand Buddhas of the future Constellation Kalpa,5 as well as all the other Buddhas depicted in the Mahayana and Hinayana, provisional and true, and exoteric and esoteric sutras, including the Flower Garland, Lotus, and Nirvana sutras. These Buddhas, as well as the bodhisattvas in the worlds of the ten directions who are as numerous as particles of dust, all originate from the single character myō, or wonderful, of the Lotus Sutra [Myoho-renge-kyo].”

 

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The benefit of making offerings to the Lotus Sutra is boundless. Through that benefit, we can triumph over any obstacle and devilish function. And nothing is stronger than a person whose life is instilled with this confidence. The Lotus Sutra-epitomized by the single character myo-is the source of the enlightenment of all Buddhas of the ten directions and three existences. The Sutra teaches that countless Buddhas have appeared in the universe from the infinite past and will continue to do so into the infinite future. The Lotus Sutra is the teacher by which all Buddhas attain enlightenment. Therefore, making offerings to the Lotus Sutra is equivalent to making offerings to all Buddhas throughout time and space, and the benefit that derives from doing so is immeasurable.

In the first part of this writing, Nichiren Daishonin cites the names of each of the Buddhas of the ten directions who are described in the sutras. He also explains that the Buddhas of the three existences- that is, of past, present and future- are depicted in a sutra as “the thousand Buddhas of the past Glorious Kalpa, the thousand Buddhas ofthe present Wise Kalpa, and the thousand Buddhas of the future Constellation Kalpa”. In this way, he describes the existence of myriad Buddhas and bodhisattvas over the vast expanse of time and space that is expressed as “the ten directions and three existences.” Why does Nichiren here present such a grand and magnificent view of the universe?

In terms of the worldview of the day, the letter’s recipient, the lay nun Sennichi, was an elderly woman of no particular distinction living on a remote northerly island of Japan, which was itself a tiny, isolated archipelago. But in terms of faith, her spirit to steadfastly support and assist Nichiren, leader of the widespread propagation of the Mystic Law, was admirable beyond compare and shone with sublime nobility. By describing the existence of countless Buddhas is the universe, Nichiren no doubt seeks to highlight her good fortune and benefit, which are as vast as the universe.

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