“Coming now to the character myō, the Lotus Sutra says, “This sutra opens the gate of expedient means and shows the form of true reality.”19 The Great Teacher Chang-an states, “Myō means to reveal the depths of the secret storehouse.”20 The Great Teacher Miao-lo says of this, “To reveal means to open.”21 Hence the character myō means to open.
If there is a storehouse full of treasures but no key, then it cannot be opened, and if it cannot be opened, then the treasures inside cannot be seen. The Buddha preached the Flower Garland Sutra, but he did not therein expound the key to open this sutra. Likewise, in the more than forty years that followed, he preached the sutras of the Āgama, Correct and Equal, and Wisdom periods as well as the Meditation Sutra, but he did not reveal their meaning. Their doors remained closed, and therefore no one could understand these sutras. Even though people thought they understood, their understanding was in fact distorted.
But then the Buddha preached the Lotus Sutra and in this way opened the storehouses of the sutras. And for the first time in more than forty years, all the people of the nine worlds were able to view the treasures that lay within. To give an analogy, even though there are people and animals, plants and trees on the earth, without the light of the sun or moon, even those with good eyes cannot make out their shapes and colors. It is when the sun or moon rises that one can discern for the first time what these things really look like. The sutras that preceded the Lotus Sutra were shrouded in the darkness of a long night, and the essential and theoretical teachings of the Lotus Sutra were like the sun and moon.
Among the bodhisattvas with their two good eyes, the cross-eyed people of the two vehicles, ordinary people with their blind eyes, or icchantikas who have been blind since birth, there were none who could make out the true color or shape of things by means of the earlier sutras. But when the Lotus Sutra was preached and the moon of the theoretical teaching came forth, first the bodhisattvas with their two good eyes gained enlightenment, and then the cross-eyed people of the two vehicles. Next the blind eyes of ordinary people were opened, and then even icchantikas, who had been blind from birth, were able to establish a relationship with the Lotus Sutra that assured them that their eyes would one day open. All this was due entirely to the virtue of the single character myō.
There are two myō, or mystic, principles expounded in the Lotus Sutra, one in the first fourteen chapters, which constitute the theoretical teaching, and one in the latter fourteen chapters, which constitute theessential teaching.22 From another point of view, there are twenty mystic principles,23 ten in the theoretical teaching and ten in theessential teaching; or there are sixty mystic principles,24 thirty in thetheoretical teaching and thirty in the essential teaching. From yet other points of view, forty mystic principles25 may be discerned in each half of the Lotus Sutra. By adding these to the forty mystic principles concerning the observation of the mind,26 the single character myō will be found to contain fully one hundred and twenty myō, or mystic, principles.
One fundamental myō, or mystic, principle underlies every one of the 69,384 characters that make up the Lotus Sutra. Hence the Lotus Sutra comprises a total of 69,384 mystic principles.
Myō in India is rendered as sad, and in China, as miao. Myō meansto be fully endowed, which in turn has the meaning of “perfect and full.” Each word and each character of the Lotus Sutra contains within it all the 69,384 characters that compose the sutra. To illustrate, one drop of the great ocean contains within it the waters of all the various rivers that flow into the ocean, and a single wish-granting jewel, though no bigger than a mustard seed, is capable of showering down the treasures that one could wish for with all the wish-granting jewels.
To give another analogy, plants and trees are withered and bare in autumn and winter, but when the sun of spring and summer shines on them, they put forth branches and leaves, and then flowers and fruit. Before the preaching of the Lotus Sutra, the people in the nine worldswere like plants and trees in autumn and winter. But when the single character myō of the Lotus Sutra shone on them like the spring and summer sun, then the flower of the aspiration for enlightenment blossomed, and the fruit of Buddhahood or rebirth in the pure landemerged.
Bodhisattva Nāgārjuna in his Treatise on the Great Perfection of Wisdom says, “[The Lotus Sutra is] like a great physician who can change poison into medicine.” This quotation occurs in a passage in Great Perfection of Wisdom that explains the virtues inherent in the charactermyō of the Lotus Sutra. The Great Teacher Miao-lo remarks, “Because it can cure what is thought to be incurable, it is called myō, or wonderful.”27.
In general, there are four kinds of people who have great difficulty in attaining Buddhahood or rebirth in the pure land. First are those predestined for the two vehicles,28 second are icchantikas, third are those who cling to the doctrine of void,29 and fourth are those who slander the Law. But through the Lotus Sutra, all of these people are ableto become Buddhas. That is why the Lotus Sutra is called myō.”
Nichiren explains that myo has three meanings: “to open,” “to be fully endowed” and “to revive”:
(1) “The character myo means to open”. This means that the Lotus Sutra is the key that opens the storehouses of all the sutras preached by the Buddha, making it possible for the treasures that lie within those sutras to be utilized.
(2) ” Myo means to be fully endowed, which in turn has the meaning of ‘perfect and full'”. This means that just as all treasures emerge from a wish-granting jewel as small as a mustard seed, and just as all plants and flowers bloom due to the light of the sun, so each struggle character of the Lotus Sutra contains all teachings and benefits within it.
(3) “Myo means to revive, that is, to return to life”. This means that the Lotus Sutra can impart fresh life and hope to all people-even those who had been deemed incapable of attaining enlightenment in the pre-Lotus Sutra teachings-and enable them to attain Buddhahood without fail.
The Mystic Law is the fundamental and perfect Law that encompasses all phenomena (the principle of “full endowment”) and has the power to open or bring out the inherent value of all things (the principle of “opening”). As such, it also has the power to revitalize and invigorate even those facing the most adverse and intractable circumstances and enable them to attain Buddhahood (the principle of “reviving”). By chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo and teaching others to do the same, we can concretely manifest the power of “the single character myo” in our own lives. That is the wonderful benefit of Nichiren Buddhism. We carry out our Buddhist practice in order to profoundly engrave “the single character myo” in our lives and to master this meaning through experience. This is also the point of our activities for kosen-rufu.