Ho means "Dharma," "the law of the Universe," or the Universe itself. Ke means "flowers." So hokke means "the Universe which is like flowers." The full title of the Lotus Sutra, Myoho-renge-kyo, "The Sutra of the Lotus Flower of the Wonderful Dharma," is usually abbreviated to Hokke-kyo. So hokke also suggests the wonderful Universe as manifested in the Lotus Sutra. Ten means "to turn," or "to move." So hokke-ten-hokke means "the wonderful Universe which is like flowers is moving the wonderful Universe which is like flowers itself." This is the Buddhist view of the Universe, and Master Dogen's view. In this chapter from the Shobogenzo, Master Dogen explains this view of the Universe, quoting many words from the Lotus Sutra. The message of the Lotus Sutra is "How wonderful is the Universe in which we are now living!" So here Master Dogen unfolds his view of the Universe, following the theory of the Lotus Sutra.
The content of the Buddha-lands of the ten directions is the sole existence of the Flower of the Dharma. Herein, all the buddhas of the ten directions and the three times, and beings of anuttara-samyak-sambodai, have [times of] turning the Flower of Dharma, and have [times of] the Flower of Dharma turning. This is just the state in which original practice of the bodhisattva-way neither regresses nor deviates. It is the wisdom of the buddhas, profound and unfathomable. It is the calm and clear state of samadhi, which is difficult to understand and difficult to enter. As the Buddha Manjusri, it has the form as it is of buddhas alone, together with buddhas, which is the great ocean or the Buddha-land. Or as the Buddha Sakyamuni, it is appearance in the world in the state of "Only I know concrete form, and the buddhas of the ten directions are also like that." It is the one Time in which he desires to cause living beings to disclose, to display, to realize, and to enter, [saying] "I and buddhas in the ten directions are directly able to know these things." Or it is Universal Virtue, accomplishing the Dharma-Flower's turning whose virtue is unthinkable, and spreading throughout Jambudvipa the profound and eternal [truth of] anuttara-samyak-sambodai, at which time the earth is able to produce the three kinds of plants, the two kinds of shrubs, and large and small trees, and the rain is able to moisten them. In the state in which an object cannot be recognized, he is solely accomplishing the total practice of the Flower of Dharma turning. While Universal Virtue's spreading [of the truth] is still unfinished, the great order on Vulture Peak comes together. Sakyamuni experiences, as the manifestation of light from his [circle of] white hair, the coming and going of Universal Virtue. The Flower of Dharma turns when, before Sakyamuni's Buddhist assembly is halfway through, the consideration of Manjusri swiftly gives affirmation to Maitreya. Universal Virtue, the many buddhas, Manjusri, and the great assembly, may all be the paramita of knowing the Dharma-Flowers turning, which is good in the beginning, middle, and end. This is why [the Buddha] has manifested himself in reality, calling sole reliance on the one vehicle "the one great matter." Because this manifestation in reality is itself the one great matter, there are [the words] "Buddhas alone, together with buddhas, just can perfectly realize that all dharmas are real form." The method for that is inevitably the one buddha-vehicle, and buddhas alone necessarily teach its perfect realization to buddhas alone. The many buddhas and the Seven Buddhas teach its perfect realization to each individual buddha, buddha-to-buddha, and they cause Sakyamuni Buddha to accomplish it. [Every place from] India in the west to China in the east in the Buddha-lands of the ten directions. [For every patriarch] until the thirty-third patriarch, Zen Master Daikan, [this method] is the method which is the one vehicle of buddhas alone, and which is just perfect realization itself. It is the one buddha-vehicle in which sole reliance is decisively the one great matter. Now it is manifesting itself in the world. It is manifesting itself at this place. That the Buddhist customs of Seigen have been transmitted to the present, and that Nangaku's Dharma-gate has been opened and preached throughout the world, are totally [due to] the Tathagata's real wisdom. Truly, this [real wisdom] is the perfect realization of buddhas alone, together with buddhas. The Dharma-Flower's turning may be preaching it as the disclosure, display, realization, and entering of buddhas who are rightful successors, and of rightful successors of buddhas. This [real wisdom] is also called the Sutra of the Lotus Flower of the Wonderful Dharma, and it is the method of teaching bodhisattvas. Because this [real wisdom] has been called all dharmas, Vulture Peak exists, space exists, the great ocean exists, and the great earth exists, with the Flower of Dharma as their national land. This is just real form; it is reality as it is; it is the wisdom of the buddha; it is the constancy of the manifestation of the world; it is the real; it is the Tathagata's lifetime; it is the profound and unfathomable; it is the inconstancy of all actions; it is samadhi as [the state of] the Flower of Dharma; it is the Flower of Dharma turning; it is the right-Dharma-eye treasury and the fine mind of nirvana; and it is manifestation of the body to save living beings. As affirmation and becoming buddha, it is maintained and relied upon, and dwelt in and retained.
To the order of Zen Master Daikan at Horin-ji temple on Sokei-zan mountain, in the Shoshu district of Kuangtung, in the great Kingdom of Tang, there came a monk called Hotatsu. He boasts, "I have recited the Lotus Sutra three thousand times already."
The Patriarch says, "Even if [you recite it] ten thousand times, if you do not understand the sutra, you will not be able even to recognize [your] errors."
Hotatsu says, "The student is foolish. Until now, I have only been reading [the sutra] aloud following the characters. How could I have hoped to clarify the meaning?"
The Patriarch says, "Try reciting a round [of the sutra] and I will interpret it for you."
Hotatsu recites the sutra at once. When he reaches the Expedient Means chapter the Patriarch says, "Stop! The fundamental point of this Sutra is the purpose of [the buddhas'] appearance in the world. Although it expounds many metaphors, [the Sutra] does not go beyond this. What is that purpose? Only the one great matter. The one great matter is just the Buddha's wisdom itself; it is to disclose, to display, to realize, and to enter [the Buddha's wisdom]. [The one great matter] is naturally the wisdom of the buddha and someone who is equipped with the wisdom is already a buddha. You must now believe that the Buddha's wisdom is simply your own natural state of mind." He preaches again in the following verse:
When the mind is in delusion, the Flower of Dharma turns.
Hotatsu, on hearing this poem, addresses the Patriarch again: "The sutra says that even if all in the great [order], from sravakas to bodhisattvas, exhausted their intellect to suppose it, they could not fathom the Buddha's wisdom. If you are now saying that the effort to make the common man realize his own mind is just the Buddha's wisdom, unless we are of excellent makings we can hardly help doubting and denying it. Furthermore, the sutra explains the three kinds of cart, but what kind of distinction is there between the great ox cart and the white ox cart? Please, Master, bestow your preaching again."
When the mind is in realization, we turn the Flower of Dharma.
Unless we are clear about ourselves, however long we recite [the sutra],
It will become an enemy because of its meanings.
Without intention the mind is right.
With intention the mind becomes wrong.
When we transcend both with and without,
We ride eternally in the white ox cart.
The Patriarch says, "The intention of the sutra is clear. You are straying off on your own and going against it. When people of the three vehicles cannot fathom the Buddha's wisdom, the trouble is in their supposition itself. Even if together they exhaust their intellects to consider it, they will only get further and further away. The Buddha originally preaches only for the benefit of the common man; he does not preach for the benefit of buddhas. Some are not fit to believe this principle and withdraw from their seats; they do not know that they are sitting in the great white ox cart yet still searching outside the gate for the three kinds of cart. The words of the sutra are clearly telling you: 'There is neither a second nor a third.' Why do you not realize it? The three carts are fictitious, for they belong to the past. The one vehicle is real, for it exists in the present. I only [wish to] make you get rid of the fiction and get back to the reality. When we get back to reality, reality is not a concept. Remember, your possessions are all treasures, and they totally belong to you. How you receive and use them is up to you. [The reality of the sutra] is neither the ideas of the father nor the ideas of the children, indeed it does not rely upon ideas at all; rather, it is called the Sutra of the Flower of Dharma. From kalpa to kalpa, from noon to night, [our] hands do not put down the sutra, and there is no time when we are not reading it." Hotatsu, enlightened already and jumping for joy, presents the following verse of praise:
Three thousand recitations of the sutra
When he presents this verse, the Patriarch says, "From now on, you may be called the Sutra-reading Monk."
With one phrase from Sokei, forgotten.
Before clarifying the import of the [the buddhas'] appearance in the world,
How can we stop recurring lives of madness?
[The sutra] explains goat, deer, and ox as an expedient,
[But] proclaims that beginning, middle, and end are good.
Who knows that [even] within the burning house,
Originally we are kings in the Dharma.
The story of how Zen Master Hotatsu visited Sokei is like this. Hereafter the Flower of Dharma began to be expounded as the Flower of Dharma turning and turning the Dharma-Flower. [Those terms] were not heard previously. Truly, the clarification of the Buddha's wisdom should always take place under a Buddhist patriarch who may the right-Dharma-eye treasury itself. [The Buddha's wisdom] cannot be known by literary scholars who vainly count sand and pebbles, as we can see again here in Hotatsu's experience. To clarify the true meaning of the Flower of Dharma, perfectly realize, as only the one great purpose, that which the ancestral Master disclosed and displayed. Do not intend to research other vehicles. The purpose is the reality as it is of the real form, the real nature, the real body,the real energy, the real causes, and the real effects of the Flower of Dharma turning. This was never heard in China, and it was never present [in China], before the time of the ancestral Master. "The Flower of Dharma is turning" means the mind is in delusion; the mind being deluded is just the Flower of Dharma turning. Therefore, when the mind is in delusion, we are being turned by the Flower of Dharma. This means that even when mental delusion is in myriad phenomena, form as it is is still being turned by the Flower of Dharma. This being turned is not to be rejoiced at, and it is not to be hoped for; it is not gained, and it does not come. Even so, when the Flower of Dharma is turning there is neither a second nor a third. Because [the Flower of Dharma turning] is the sole existence of the one buddha-vehicle, and because it is the Flower of Dharma with form as it is, whether it is the turner or the turned, it is the one buddha-vehicle, and the one great matter.
It is just moment by moment of red mind, upon which we rely solely. So do not worry about the mind being deluded. Your actions are the bodhisattva-way itself; they are to serve the buddhas which is original practice of the bodhisattva way. What you disclose, display, realize, and enter is, in every case, an instance of the Flower of Dharma turning.
There is mental delusion in the burning house, there is mental delusion just at the gate itself, there is mental delusion outside the gate, there is mental delusion just in front of the gate, and there is mental delusion within the gate. Mental delusion has created "within the gate" and "outside the gate" and even "the gate itself," "the burning house," and so on; therefore, disclosure, display, realization, and entering may take place even on the white ox-carriage. When we think of entry as adornment on this carriage, should we hope for open ground as the place to enter, or should we recognize the burning house as the place to leave? Should we reach the conclusion that the gate itself is merely a place of momentary passing? Remember, inside the carriage, there is turning [of the Flower of Dharma] which causes us to disclose, to display, to realize, and to enter the burning house; and on the open ground there is turning which causes us to disclose, to display, to realize, and to enter the burning house. There are cases in which the turning activates disclosure, display, realization, and entering through the whole gate as the gate here and now; and there are cases in which the turning activates disclosure, displays, realization, and entering through a single gate which is [an instance of] the universal gate. There is turning which discloses, displays, realizes, and enters the universal gate in each instance of disclosure, display, realization, and entering. There are cases in which turning activates disclosure, display, realization, and entering within the gate, and there are cases in which the turning activates disclosure, display, realization, and entering outside the gate. There are case of disclosing, displaying, realizing, and entering open ground in the burning house.
Therefore the burning house is beyond understanding and the open ground is beyond knowing. Who could make the turning of thewheel of the triple world into a carriage and ride it as the one vehicle? Who could leave and enter disclosure, display, realization, and entering as if they were a gate? If we seek the carriage from the burning house, how many times the wheel must turn! When we look upon the burning house from the open ground, how deep in the distance it is! Should we reach the conclusion that Vulture Peak existed in tranquility on open ground? Or should we study in action that the open ground is balanced and even on Vulture Peak? The place where living beings enjoy themselves has been made into eternal presence as my pure land which is immortal, and this also we must meticulously perform as original practice.
Do we realize in practice that whoile-heartedly wanting to meet Buddha is about ourselves, or do we realize in practice that it is about others? There are times when the truth is realize as an individual body, and there are times when the truth is realized as the Whole Body.
Appearance together on Vulture Peak comes from not begrudging one's own body and life. There is disclosure, display, realization, and entering in constantly abiding here preaching the Dharma, and there is disclosure, display, realization, and entering in, as an expedient method, manifesting nirvana. In the state of being close yet still failing to see, who could not believe in understanding of non-understanding by whole-heartedness?
The place which is always filled with gods and human beings is just the land of Sakyamuni Buddha and Vairocana, the eternally peaceful and bright land We who naturally belong in the four lands are just living in the Buddha'sland which is real oneness. When we look a atoms that does not mean we fail to see the world of Dharma. When we are experiencing the world of Dharma, tha tdoes not mean we fail to experience atoms. When the buddhas experience the world of Dharma, they do not exclude us from the experience, which is good at the beginning, middle, and end.
This being so, the present is the form as it is of the state of experience, and even alarm, doubt, and fear are nothing other than reality as it is. With the Buddha's wisdom, this [fear] is only the difference between looking at atoms and sitting in atoms. When we are seated in the world of Dharma it is not wide, and when we are sitting in atoms, they are not confining; therefore, without maintaining and relying upon [reality as it is], we cannot sit, but when we are maintaining and relying upon [reality as it is], there is no alarm or doubt about width and confinement. This is because we have perfectly realized the body and the energy of the Flower of Dharma. So should we think that our own form and nature now are originally practicing in this world of Dharma, or should we think that they are originally practicing in atoms? They are without alarm and doubt, and without fear; they are simply the profound and eternal state which is original practice as the Flower of Dharma turning. This seeing atoms and seeing the world of Dharma is beyond conscious action and conscious consideration. Conscious consideration, and conscious action too, should learn Flower of Dharma consideration, and should learn Flower of Dharma action. When we hear of "disclosure, display, realization, and entering," we should understand them in terms of [the Buddha's] desire to cause living beings. In other words, that which, as the Flower of Dharma turning, discloses the Buddha's wisdom, we should learn by displaying the Buddha's wisdom. That which, as the Flower of Dharma turning, realizes the Buddha's wisdom, we should learn by entering the Buddha's wisdom. That which, as the Flower of Dharma turning, displays the Buddha's wisdom. That which, as the Flower of Dharma turning, displays the Buddha's wisdom, we should learn by realizing the Buddha's wisdom. For each such instance of the Flower of Dharma turning, as disclosure, display, realizing, and entering, we can have ways of perfect realization. In sum, this wisdom-paramita of the buddha-tathagatas is the Dharma-Flower's turning, which is wide, great, profound, and eternal. Affirmation is just our own disclosure of the Buddha's wisdom; it is the Flower of Dharma's turning which is never imparted by others. This, then, is [the reality of] "When the mind is in the state of delusion, the Flower of Dharma turns."
"When the mind is in the state of realization, we turn the Flower of Dharma" describes turning the Flower of Dharma. That is to say, when the Flower of Dharma has perfectly exhausted the energy with which it turn us, the energy as it is with which we turn ourselves will, in turn, be realized. This realization is to turn the Flower of Dharma. Though th eformer turning is, even now, without cease, we, reversely, are naturally turning the Flower of Dharma. Though we have not finished donkey business, horse business will still come in. [Here] there exists sole reliance on the one great purpose as real appearance at this place. The multitudes of the thousandfold world that spring out of the earth have long been great honored saints of the Flower of Dharma but they sprang out of the earth being turned by themselves and they spring out of the earth being turned by circumstances. In turning the Flower of Dharma we should not only realize springing out of the earth; in turning the Flower of Dharma we should also realize springing out of space. We shoudl know with the Buddha's wisdom not only earth and space but also springing out of the Flower of Dharma itself. In general, the Time of the Flower of Dharma, inevitably, the father is young and the son old. It is neither that the son is not the son, not that the father is not the father; we should just learn that the son is old and the father young. Do not imitate the disbelief of the world and be surprised. [Even] the disbelief of the world is the Time of the Flower of Dharma. This being so, in turning the Flower of Dharma we should realize the one Time in which the Buddha is living. Turned by disclosure, display, realization, and entering, we spring out of the earth; and turned by the Buddha's wisdom, we spring out of the earth. At the time of this turning the Flower of Dharma, mental realization exists as the Flower of Dharma, and the Flower of Dharma exists as mental realization. For another example, the meaning of the downward direction is just the inside of space. This downward, and this space, are just the turning of the Flower of Dharma, and are just the lifetime of the Buddha. We should realize, in turning the Flower of Dharma, that the Buddha's lifetime, the Flower of Dharma, the world of Dharma, and the wholehearted state, are realized as downward, and realized also as space. Thus, downward-space described just the realization of turning the Flower of Dharma. In sum, at this moment, by turning the Flower of Dharma we can cause the three kinds of grass to exist, and by turning the Flower of Dharma we can cause the three kinds of grass to exist, and by turning the Flower of Dharma we can cause the two kinds of trees to exist. We should not expect [this to be a state of awareness, and we should not wonder whether it is a state without awareness. When we turn ourselves and initiate bodhi, that is just the southern quarter. This realization of the truth is originally present on Vulture Peak, which convenes as an order in the southern quarter. Vulture Peak is always present in our turning the Flower of Dharma. There are Buddha-lands of the ten directions which convene as an order in space, and this is an individual body turning the Flower of Dharma. When we realize it, in turning the Flower of Dharma, as already the Buddha-lands of the ten directions, there is no place into which an atom could enter. There is turning the Flower of Dharma as "matter just being the immaterial," which is beyond either disappearance or appearance. There is turning the Flower of Dharma as "the immaterial just being matter," which may be absence of life and death. We cannot call it "being in the world;" and how could it only be in a process of extinction? When [a person] is a close friend to us, we are also a close friend to that person. We must not forget to bow to and to work for a close friend; therefore, we must take care to perfectly realize moments of giving the pearl in the top-knot and of giving the pearl in the clothes. There is turning the Flower of Dharma in the presence before the Buddha of a treasure stupa, whose height is five hundred yojana. There is turning the Flower of Dharma in sprining out of the earth and abiding in the earth, [in which state] mind is without restriction and matter is without restriction. There is turning the Flower of Dharma in springing out from the sky and abiding in the earth, which is restricted by the eyes and restricted by the body. Vulture Peak exists inside the stupa, and the treasure stupa exists on Vulture Peak. The treasure stupa is a treasure stupa in space, and space makes space for the treasure stupa. The eternal buddha inside the stupa takes his seat along-side the buddha of Vulture Peak, and the buddha of Vulture Peak experiences the state of experience as the buddha inside the stupa. When the buddha of Vulture Peak enters the state of experience inside the stupa, while object adn subject on Vulture Peak [remain] just as they are, he enters intothe turning of the Flower of Dharma. When the buddha inside the stupa springs out on Vutlure Peak, while still of the land of eternal buddhas, while still long extinct, he springs out. Springing out, and entering into the turning, are not to be learned under common men and the two vehicles, [but] should follow turning of the Flower of Dharma. Eternal extinciton is an ornament of real experience that adorns the state of buddha. Inside the stupa, before the Buddha, the treasure stupa, and space are not of Vulture Peak; they are not of the world of Dharma; they are not a halfway stage; and they are not of the whole world. Nor are they concerned with only a concrete place in the Dharma. They are simply different from thinking. There is turning the Flower of Dharma either in manifesting the body of Buddha and preaching the Dharma for others or in manifesting this body and preaching the Dharma for others. Or turning the Flower of Dharma is the manifestation of Devadatta. Or there is turning the Flower of Dharma in the manifestation of "to retreat also is fine." Do not always measure the waiting, with palms held together and [faces] looking up, as sixty minor kalpas. Even if the length of wholehearted waithing is condensed intojust a few countless kalpas, still it will be impossible to fathom the Buddha-wisdom. As how much Buddha-wisdom should we see a wholehearted mind that is waiting? Donot see this turning the Flower of Dharma only as the bodhisattva-way practiced in the past. Wherever the Flower of Dharma is a total order the virtue is that of turning the Flower of Dharma, [and it is expressed] as, "The Tathagata preaches the Great Vehicle today." [When] the Flower of Dharma just now is the Flower of Dharma, it is neither sensed nor recognized, and at the same time it is beyond knowing and beyond understanding. This being so, five hundred [ink] drop [kalpas] are a brief thousandth [of an instant] of turning the Flower of Dharma; they are the Buddha's lifetime being proclaimed by each moment of red mind.
In conclusion, the hundreds of years since this Sutra was transmitted into China, to be turned as the Flower of Dharma, very many people, here and there, have produced their commentaries and interpretations. Some, moreover, have attained the Dharma-state of an eminent person by relying on this Sutra. But no-one has grasped the point of the Flower of Dharma turning, or mastered the point of turning the Flower of Dharma, in the manner of our founding Patriarch, the eternal buddha of Sokei. Now that we have heard these [points] and now that we have met it, we have experienced the meeting of eternal buddha with eternal buddha; how could [this] not be the land of eternal buddhas? How joyful it is! From kalpa to kalpa is the Flower of Dharma, and from noon to night, even though our own body-and-mind grows strong and grows weak, it is just the Flower of Dharma itself. The reality that exists as it is is a treasure, is brightness, is a seat of truth, is wide, great, profound, and eternal, is profound, great, and everlasting, is mind in delusion, the Flower of Dharma turning, and is mind in realization, turning the Flower of Dharma, which is really just the Flower of Dharma turning the Flower of Dharma.
When the mind is in the state of delusion, the Flower of Dharma turns.
-- Shobogenzo Hokke-ten-Hokke --
When the mind is in the state of realization, we turn the Flower of Dharma.
If perfect realization can be like this,
If perfect realization can be like this,
The Flower of Dharma turns the Flower of Dharma.
On a day of the summer retreat in the 2nd year of Ninji (1241) I have writtin this and presented it to Zen person Etatsu. I am profoundly glad that he is going to leave home to practice the truth. Just to shave the head is a lovely face in itself. To shave the head and to shave the head again; this is to be a true child of transcending family life. Leaving home today is the effects and results as they are of the energy as it is which has turned the Flower of Dharma hitherto. The Flower of Dharma today will inevitably bear the Flower of Dharma's Flower of Dharma fruits. It is not Sakyamuni's Flower of Dharma and it is not the buddhas' Flower of Dharma; it is the Flower of Dharma of the Flower of Dharma. Though form is as it is, our habitual turning of the Flower of Dharma has been suspended in the state of neither sensing nor recognizing. But the Flower of Dharma now is manifesting itself afresh in the state beyond knowing and beyond understanding. The past was exhalation and inhalation, and the present is exhalation and inhalation. This we should maintain and rely upon, as the Flower of Dharma which is too fine to think about.
Written by the founder of Kannon-dori-kosho-horin-ji temple, a sramana who entered Sung [China] and received the transmission of Dharma. Dogen (His written seal).
The copying was completed at Hogyo-ji temple at the beginning of spring in the 3rd year of Kagen (1305).
Master Dogen's Shobogenzo: Book 1 by Gudo Nishijima and Chodo Cross (Translators). Windbell Publ. Ltd.: 1994. pp. 203-220.