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The Lotus Strla and the Dialogue of Religions

Hiroshi Kanno

THE JOURNAL
OF
ORIENTAL STUDIES
Vol. 16
0ctober, 2006

INS'm OF ORIENTju PLOSOPZrr

The Lotus Siitra and the Dialogue of Religions

Hiroshi Kanno
The Problem
N the contemporary world, the signiacance of the dialogue of civiliza-

tions

and the dialogue of religions, which are the yery foundation of

human civilization, is becoming ever greater John Hick has advocated a


pluralistic approach, approving the equalalue of religions in contem-

porary society'where it is unavoidable that many religions coexist

Hick,s pluralism is a hypothesis designed to be a foundation for the dialogue of religions, an attempt to prevent harmful, uselessghting among

religions.

on the other hand, John Hick criticizes inclusivism for not renouncing the old exclusivist dogmal His pluralism can be called a certain kind
of inclusivism, however, one that assumes uultimate realityn as a central
concept To speak metaphorically,there aa Plurality of ways which

lead tothe summit of a mountain If that plurality of ways is compared

tothe plurality of human religions and the sumit of a mountain is


compared to the "ultimate reality" at which those religions aim, the

metaphor is quickly applicable as an explanation of Hick's concept of


pluralism
However, what if the situation were that there is not only a single

mountain, but many peaks of various heights? Wemight imagine each


mountain having a unique COmmand of its own beautiful scenery, each
with its independent and originalValueour goal is to explain a plural-

ism which afBrms the diversity of religions, I think that this image is

more appropnate than that of a multiple paths to the sumit of a single


ultimate reality It is in this understanding that true armation of the

differences between religions originates I personally take my own


stance in Just a Such pluralism
on the other hand, many actualfollowers of specic religions seem to

bewithout any feelings of harmonywith any sort of religious pluralism,


whether it is Hick,s variety ormine i think that it is quite difBcult for
ardent and faithful devotees of any one religion to take a pluralistic
stance. I do not at all think that such devotees are unenlightened people

139

140THE LOTUS SUTRA ANDTHE DIALOGUE OF REuGIONS

THE

who cannot understand pluralism, and whom we should criticize for

to undertake the role

being lgnOrant Rather, such devotees are likely to pour out their ener-

and in generalto wiel

gies into a wide variety of realachievements, in globalethics, world

The dialogue of re

peace, social justice, etc. They make very substantialcontributions to

only swirrmlng With

the world and their fellow htlmanS Without the least regret, and we need

excavate the meanln

appreciate their efforts even though they are based on non-pluralistic

basis of each of our

viewpoints Therefore, I cannot avoid discounting the meaningfulness of

of religions is likely

Hick's pluralism for some kinds of followersI If they can share with

even the daer Of

other certain secular values, such as respect for humanrights and protec-

tion of global environment, even though they fall into groups whose
inclusivism is criticized by Hick, I think they can JuStiably sit at a table

of dialogue of rehgionsalong with the rest of humamity


Keiji Hoshikawa has stated that awareness of the limits of the human

ability to recognize truth" should be the basis of religious tolerance,2 and

paperaims to enable
stding of the prob

possible for other pet

1=csh:e:fsfee.rafOOft:h:i

this position is entirely appropnate. However, the history of religions

indicates that some kinds of faith were established on entirely transcendentalbases such as revelations deriving from God or the enlightenment

experiences of the founders of religions, which were entirely beyond the


access of ordinary humans How shall we overcome this unbridgeable
gulf? Even though to take a stance in such extreme exclusivism makes it

difBcult to join the dialogue of religions, each individual may choose to


accept the transcendental component of his or her religion's doctrines

However, if in the dialogue of religions some people directly express to


followers of other religions their beliefs, which accept the transcendental component of their religions, itmight be dicult to expecHheir

understanding &om those dialogue partners I think rather that we


should try to Communicate with others by means of ordinary spoken lan-

guages and teminology that lies within the range of our own recognition, as well as our own experiences. Anyone being able to do so, even
those whose standpoint is exclusivist, can participate in at least certain

themes within the dialogues of Feligions


As fr the many of serious problems now facing the human race such

TggoefshP.aE

asglobal environmentaldestruction, the rapid increase in world popula-

to this problem is q

tion, and issue offood supply, etc" I think that scientibc and social-

Means Chapter. 7

politicalmethods aye the most important fr their solution However,

famous doctrine oi

even though solutions are shown to people, nationaland racialchauvin-

introducing the stq

ism, not to mention simple human greed, sometimes renders such solu-

h the Iducl

tions less than easily accepted As long as followers of religions occupy


a considerable proportion of the world population and religions provide

guidance for their followers, religions are expected to share theirknowledge of the serious problems facing the human race and their solutions,

iIONS

THE LOTUS SUTRA ANDTHE DIALOGtOF RELIGIONS 141

e should criticize for

to undertake the role of teachers of suchknowledge to their fllowers,

and in generalto wield their inauence broadly to solve those problems

The dialogue of religions is in fashion at present However, instead of


Egb?lSubrT.onihcu:i;.:eo:re:I.;

only swi-ngwiththe current of the times it is necessary for us to

regret, and we need

excavate the meaning and the spirit of the dialogue of religions on the
basis of each of our various religious traditionsl Otherwise, the dialogue

:ed on non-pluralistic

he meaningfulness of

they can sharewith

of religions is likely to become a superacialperformance, and there is


even the danger of declining into an unprincipled adaptability Ths

naJlrights and protecLl intoOuPS Whose

paperaims to enable followers of the Lotus Shtra to deepen their understanding of the problem of dialogue of religions as well as to make it

lStibly sit at a table

nity.

possible for other people to understand the Lotus Shtra3

e limits ofe human

lglOuS tolerance,2 and

i history of religions
on entirely transcenof the egbtenment

a entirely beyond the

ne this unbridgeable

1. The Idea of theOne VehicleM in the Skillful Means

Chapter of the Lotus Sii&a


The sras of Indian Mahyna Buddhism were generated one after

another over a period of about a thousand years, beginmng amund the


st century befre the common era (hereafter BCE) Although the pas-

sage of hundreds of years ftom the death of Sakyamuni Buddha was

bXclusivism makes it
necessary before the specic content of early (ie, pre-Mahayna) Bud-

Fidualmay choose to

dhist sras wasnally aXed, the generaldimensions of that content had


been virtuallyxed since shortly after the Buddha's lifetime4 h con-

Lefedhkgl:nd;S edxopc,:etsi

trast, Mahayana sras continued to develop new Buddhist ideas, under

the assumption that they shouldaim at creative rehgious development

based on interpreting the fundamentalintention of the Buddha according

to the needs of thegiven age and reglOn Generally speaking, some criticisms of established ideas must be included in the background of any

articulation of new ideas. How did the Lotus Shira COmPrehend the past

ieabie alto.edaostsoc,e:V;

history of Buddhism and thereby generate its own distinctive standpoint? This problem is related to the position of the Lotus Shtra in the

history of lndianBuddhism. Therewill presumably be no objection to


he human race such
se in world popula:ientic and social_

solution. However,
and racial chauvin_

the suggestion that the doctrine of the Lotus Shira most directly related
to this problem is the idea of the Hone vehicle" expounded in the Skillful

Means Chapter The concept of the "One vehicle" isalso the most
famous doctrine of the Lotus Siitra. Allow me to explain its meaning by

introducing the story of the Skillful Means Chapter

i fenders such solu_

of religions occupy
Ld rehgions provide

l Share their knowl_


and their solutions,

In the introduction Chapter of the Lotus Sdtraakyamuni Buddha


enters into the samdhi of the place of immeasurable meanlngS and then

in the sequential Skillful Means Chapter he arises from that samdhi and
addresses Sriputra After pralSlng the greatness of thewisdoms of the
Buddhas, he states, The true chwacteristics ofall the dhannas (ie,

142THE LOTUS SUTRA ANDTIiE DIALOGUE OF RELIGIONS

supreme merits which are perfected by the Buddhas and compose the

lng beings to become

Btlddhas'spiritualstage) can only be understoodand shared between

Buddha preachede 1

Buddhas"5 Then, Sariputra asks the Buddha three times to preach the

aim at the goalof ark

teaching When the Buddha begins to preach in response,ve thousand

I,otus Siitra explains d

arrogant monks, nuns, laymen, and laywomen leave the assembly, refusl

he taught three differ.

lng tO listen any longer6 At the time the Buddha does not stop them

practitioners,e vo

from withdrawing, and he states that it was well that these persons of

respectively That is, i

overbearing arrogance had withdrawn, so that his assembly was now

es and conditions, anl

made up solely of the steadfast and truthful. He then elucidates the rea-

of doctrines and pract

son why he emerged in this world.

and Buddha. Furtherrl

Skyamuni Buddha states that the Buddhas of three times, including

vious assertions of thi

himself, emerge in the world for the purpose of accomplishing one sin-

e:A:piacdfnp:.eu:ndo:ttdOg

gle important task. This task is to open the door of Buddha wisdom7 to

all living beings, to show the Buddha wisdom to them, to cause them to
awaken to the Buddha wisdom, and to indtlCe them to enter the path of

Buddha wisdom h other words, the scnpture clearly states that the

:H:ueeaec:il;oduEsdha%b;igs:a

Buddhas emerge in the world to make alHiving beings become Buddhas.

To makeall living beings become enlightened shows that even voice-

in ac.C:redve?,iT.Tehher

hearers and pratyekabuddhas can become Buddhas, even those who

gave up the supremeaim of becoming Buddhas and instead directed

their efforts at the lesser goals of becoming either an arhat or a pratyekabuddha.

This statement concerning the Hone single great reason" is a direct


expression oge idea of the "One vehicle," and it is one of the most

important religious messages of the Lotus Sdtrla. In the following Simile

?t eteedanatt ds:s sq

and Parable Chapter, gods in the assembly say about this message, "h
the past at Vrasi the Buddhast turned the wheel of the Law. Now

he turns the wheel again, the wheel of the unsurpassed, the greatest Law

of all" (T no 262, 9.12a15-17; Watson, p. 54). This statement compares

nentlyXed types ofi

the teaching of the `One vehicle'of the LDtuS SBira with therst tuming

are sufBciently educi

of the wheel of the Law at Deer Park (Mrga-dva) in Varasi (modern

ly to attain Buddhah

Benares) On that earlier occasion, the Buddha accepted Brahm's

t attain BuddhahoJ

request and went to Deer Park to teach theve practitioners who had

and indicates the Lb

been hisends in religious training, expounding themiddle way tran-

only the Buddha ve]

scending self-indulgence and self-mortication, the four noble truths,

combininge two tt

d the eightfoldright path. This occasion is widely known as therst

This is the idea of 'd

tuming of the wheel of the Law; and in contrast the preaching of the
"One vehicle" in the Skillful Means Chapter of the Lotus Shtra is
described as the second turning Of the wheel of the unsurpassed Law
If theaim of the emergence ofkyamuni Buddha is to enable all liv-

-).

1GIONS

E LOTUS SUTM AND THE DIALOGUE OF RELIGIONS 143

ddhas and compose the

ing beings to become enlightened, the problem develops of whye

od and shared between

Buddha preached the vehicles of voice-bearer and pratyekabuddha, who

ee times to preach the

aim at the goalof arhatship and pratyekabuddhahood, respectively. The

response,ve thousand

LDtuS Siitra explains that befre the Buddha expounded the Lptus Sdtra,

ave the assembly, refuS-

he taught three different types of teaching for three different types of

a does not stopem

practitioners, the voice-bearers, pratyekabuddhas, and bodhisattvas,

ll that these persons of

respectively That is, the four noble truths, the twelve-fold chain of caus-

his assembly was now

es and conditions, and the six paramitas constituted three different sets

then elucidates the Tea_

of doctrines and practices leading to the states of arhat, pratyekabuddha,

and Buddha. Furthermore, the Lotus Sdira reveals that the Buddha's prethree times, including

vious assertions of the existence of three different teachings were only

accomplishing one sin-

expedient and not of absolute truth value In other words, the Lotus

of Buddha wisdom7 to

shtra explains that the Buddha could not preach the teaching that any-

them, to cause them to

one can become enlightened immediately after his own achievement of

em to eItere paof

Buddhahood, because the spiritualcapacities of the voice-headers and

clearly states that the

pratyekabuddha practitioners in his congregation at the time were dull

g beings become Bud-

He caused them to mature spiritually and educated them through use of


the lesser teachings of the vehicles of voice-healer and pratyekabuddha,

shows that even voice_


as, evenose who

in accord with their religious abilities


However, for the voice-healers and pratyekabuddhas themselves the

A and instead directed

expedient nature of the teacbingsey received was a secret toe end,

L an arhat r a p,atyek-

and they remained convinced that teachings which had been g"en them

were true. At this stage the teachings presented by the Buddha are
eat reason" is a direct

regarded as true by the disciples, for whom the comparison between true

it is ole Of the most

and expedient does not exist atall Next, the Lotus Siiira reveals for the

h the following Simile

st time that the statement that there are three different teachings is

bout this message, "h

itself only an expedient Therefore, the vehicles of voice-healer and

Fheel of the Law. Now

pratyekabuddha are only expedient and provisionalteachings, and the

ISSed,e greatest Law

categories of voice-hearerand pratyekabuddha do not represent perma-

ds statement eompaS

nentlyed types of practitioner When such beings become mature and

awith therst turning

are sufaciently educated, they are said to become bodhisattyas andnal-

) in Vasi (modern

ly to attain Buddhahood This teaching'which enablesall living beings

a accepted Brahm's

to attain Buddhahood, is called the HBuddha vehicle" (Buddha-ya-na)

practitioners who had

and indicates the Lotus Siiira itself. Therefore, since there is ultimately

themiddle way tran-

only the Buddha vehicle, it is called "One vehicle" (eka-ya-na), oralso,

the four noble truths,

combining the two terms, the one Buddha vehicle" (eka-Buddha-yana)

ely known as therst

This is the idea of `eee vehicles as expedient ande one vehicle as

[ the preaching ofe

real', which in the specialized termi11010gy of Chinese exegeticaldis-

f the Lotus Shtra is

course becomes "elaborating the three to reyealthe one" (kaisan xianyi

i unsurpassed Law.

-).

a is to enableall liv_

That is how the Lotus Siitra arranges and evaluates the previous hist0-

144THE LOTUS SUTRn ANDTE DALOGUE OF RELIGIONS

ry of Buddhism, and how from this standpoint it explains its own novel
doctrine of the "One vehicle."

(1) Therst interpre

preached for the s

that one vehicle; i


2 The hterpretation of theOne Vehicle,n and Exclusivism,

IncltlSivism, and Phlralkm

explicitly preache
ob solete.
In this case, onl'

Frome explanation just given ofe idea ofe "One vehicle" ine

scendent above all

Skilll Means Chapter, We can see that the one vehicle is related to the

demied as useless. i

three vehicles of voice-heater, Pratyekabuddha, and bodhisattva. BefbFe

exclusivist.

considering the relationship between the one vehicleand the three vehi-

Concretely, the !

cles, let me explain the relationship between the bodhisattva vehicle as it

fTearless, in the mid

occurs in the three vehicles and the Buddha vehicle According to the

means, will pea

LDtuS Siiira, the bodhisattva vehicle indicates the Mahyna sGtras

9.10a18-19; Wats.

before the Lotus Siitra, while the Buddha vehicle indicatesthe Lotus

discarding ofall s

Sdtra itself Historically, there appeared two different interpretations,

)r whom the Loll

that the bodhisattva teaching lS equivalent to the Buddha vehicle and

tude toward peopl

that the Buddha vehicle is superior8 In my understanding, the bodhisatt-

well as non-Bud

va vehicle (great vehicle) in the three vehicles is related to the two vehi-

Chapter I 1

cles of voice-healer and pratyekabuddha (the lesser vehicles), while that

of Buddha transcends the poladty of the two vehicles and the bodhisatt-

(2) The second interF

va vehicle On this basis, the bodhisattva vehicle should not be merely

truthfulness of the

equated with the Buddha vehicle From the standpoint of the Lotus

However, at the sl

Siitra, voice-heaers and pratyekabuddhas should awake to being bod-

three vehicles rec(

hisattvas themselves, while bodhisattvas, for whom the bodhisattva

appreciated as tea(

vehicle is preached, should not contest with voice-heaers and pratyek-

expedient teachin

abuddhas, but rather maintain a profound discernment that voice-heaters

h other words, tl

and pratyekabuddhas are actually practicing the way of the bodhisattva.

only that we shol

Therefore, voice-healers, pratyekabuddhas, and bodhisattvas, for whom

expounded before

the three vehicles are preached, are States Of existence whichall demand

alexpedients-(c

personal transfbmation.
By the way, even though the concepts of exclusivism, inclusivism,

that those very sa

and pluralism, which John Hick set forth with regard to how relations

teachings (corresI

between religions are understood, are awed to the extent thatthey are

ful means" has tw

only very rough frameworks, it camot be denied that they have a certain

thanose oge

conceptualefEectiveness9 At this point, Iwill suggest the possibility of

noniotus teachil

certain different interpretations of the one vehicle based on the expedi-

described as incll

ent use of this framework Therst and second of the following Inter-

teaching s. 1 2

recognize both A

pretations appeared in the history of Buddhism, but the third is only a

h a previous I

theoreticalpossibility implied by pluralism and has not appeared in his-

Lotus Si2ira relati

tory.

SBtra is basically
exclusive or plurl

THE L.OTUS SOTRA AND THE DIALOGUE OF RELIGIONS 145

explains its own novel

(1) The arst interpretation of the one vehicle: The three vehicles are
preached for the sake of the one vehicle as preparatory teachings to
that one vehicle; it is only at the stage where the one vehicle is

! and Exclusiyism,

explicitly preached that the three vehicles should be abandoned as

obsolete.

In this case, only the one vehicle of the Lotus Siitra stands trane "One vehicle" in the
rebicle is related to the

nd bodhisattva. Before

scendent above all other teachings, and all those other teachings are

denied as useless. Hence this first interpretation can be described as


exclusivist.

cle and the three vehi_

Concretely, the Skillful Means Chapter states, "Now I, joyful and

Ddbisattva vehicle as it

fearless, in the midst of the bodhisattvas, honestly discarding skillful

icle According to the

means, will preach only the unsurpassed way" (T no 262,

the Mahyna satras

9.10a18-19; Watson, pp. 4445). This statement emphasizes the

le indicates the LDtuS

discarding of all skillful means10 Also, Concemlng the problem of

erent Interpretations,

for whom the I,otus Stra should be preached, the exclusivist atti-

Buddha vehicle and

tude toward people who prefer sGtras other than the Lotus Siitra, as

landing, the bodhisatt-

well as non-Buddhist texts, is shown in the Simile and Parable

lated to the two vehi_

Chapter.

Er vehicles), while that

:les and the bodhisatt_

(2) The second interpretation: If three vehicles insist on the ultimate

should not be merely

truthfulness of their own doctrines, they should be strictly criticized

ndpoint of the I,otus

However, at the stage where the one vehicle is clearly preached, if

awake to being bod-

three vehicles recognlZe their own expediency their doctrines can be

hom the bodhisattva

appreciated as teachings preparatory to the one vehicle, So that those

-bearers and pratyek-

expedient teachings may ultimately be included in the one vehicle

entat voice-heaers

In other words, the idea of the one Buddha vehicleM implies not

ay of the bodhisattva.

onlythat we should abandon all the teachings which the Buddha

)dhisattvas, for whom

expounded before the L10tuS Sdtra-since they are merely provision-

ace wbicb all demand

al expedients-(Corresponding to the Brst interpretation), but also

that those very same teachings become revitalized once again if we


usivism, inclusivism,

recognlZe both their limitations and their advantages as skillful

gaFd to how relations

teachings (coeSpOnding to the second interpretation) Here skill-

e extent that they are

ful means" has two aspects One is to severely reject teachings other

tat they have a certain

than those of the LDtuS Shtra, while the other is to revitalize those

!esHhe possibility of

non-LLOtuS teachings once again The second interpretation can be

based on the expedi-

described as inclusivist because the one vehicle includes all other

the following inter-

teachings. 12

ut the third is only a

In a previous paper,13 I considered some of the teachings of the

not appeared in his-

LJOtuS Stra relating to its inclusivism, and i claimed that the LJOtuS

siitra is basically inclusive, even thoughit canalso be said to be


exclusive or pluralistic according to different interpretations Here I

146THE LOTUS SUAND TIE DIALOGUE OF RELIGIONS

will not repeat that detailed explanation, but restrict myself to mere-

while recogmzlng

ly listing the issues involved: (a) the idea that even "trivialgood

we participate the

actions lead to the attainment of Buddhahood;"14 (b) the Arhat Pa

L,Otus Siitra, which

is regarded as a bodhisattva inwardly while appeamng outwardly as

us some indicators

a voice-hearer; (C) the Lotus Siitra is said to teach only bodhisattvas

and regard alHiving beings as bodhisattvas; (d) Bodhisattva Never


Disparaglng Carried out the practice of paying respect tOall living

beings as future Buddhas15; and (e) on the basis of the story of the

3 TE:seeiSiupsr::-BTcaJ
c.meone" 1

Emergence of the Treasure Tower Chapter, the Lotus Sdtra inte

grates various Buddhas into the one Buddhaakyamuni in te-s of

In Buddhist sras sd

space, and on the basis of the story of the Life Span of the Thus

dial.gues between thJ

come one chapter, it integrates various Buddhas into the one Bud-

there is equality in th

dhaakyamuni in terms of time.16

naturaldifferences be:

words, the dialogue tt

(3) The third interpretation: When the one vehicle is considered as uni-

ples is not one betwee

versal truth that transcends even Buddhism itself, this interpretation

the most important

may come close to pluralism In this case the relationship between

wider sense it may (

the one vehicle and pluralism becomes the main topic,d accord-

L,otus Shtra, but it wc

lngly the relationship between the one vehicle and other religions

lines that would be af

becomes problematic, while the connict of the one vehicle and the

eeless, we need to

three vehicles is not a problem any more It is certainly possible to

four easeful practices

make the interpretation that the one vehicleaims at universality, in


e sense of having transcended alle distinctions of country, race,

gender,and culture, etc However, even though the one vehicleaims

robe, and seat ofe 1

Even though the fo


Lotus Shiva in the evi

at alHiving beings'atminment of Buddhahood it will be regarded

they are worth referr

as a kind of the inclusivism from the standpoint of Buddhism

religionsI W Actually,

because its ultimateaim is expressed in the temiology of the

appear in the Lotus S

"attainment Of Buddhahood."

Now if we describe "Buddha,n the goalat which Buddhismaims,


as an idealstate possesslng human values that are more universal

According to the Fab


example, they refer t(
Ate beginmng

than Buddhism, what does this imply? This conception may cone

akyamtmiBuddha,

close to being pluralistic.17 However, this is merely my attempt to

nirva], how shoull

approximate John Hick's standpoint, which espoused pluralism by

sra?" (T262, 937;

rephrasing various expressions of salvation in different religious tra-

bodhisattva mahasatl

ditions as Hthe actualtransformation of human lifeom self-cen-

they should abide b3

tredness to Reality-centFedness"18

I think thatalthough different interpretations remain possible, the

196). Heen proce

which came to be kn

fundamental standpoint of the Lotus Sdtra is close to inclusivism In

Therst is the ea5

the history of Indian Buddhism, the Lotus Sdtra tried to establish a

0f practice or action'

new Buddhist doctrine that alHiving beings can attain Buddhahood


It did so by generating a novel doctrine of the one vehicle, even

of practice" rrs t

to the bodhisattva,

IGIONS

THE LOTUS SUTRA AND THE DIALOGUE OF RELIGIONS 147

restrict myself to mere-

wbile recognlZlng the role played by previous Buddhist docnes If

that even "trivialgood

we partlCIPate the dialogue of religions ftom this standpoint of the

;"14 (b) the Arhat Pa

Lotus Shtra, which attitude shall we take? Does the Lotus Saira give

appeanng outwardly as

us some indicators?

teach only bodhisattvas

(d) Bodhisattva Never

ng respect toalHiving
asis of the story of the

the Lotus Siitra inte-

3. The Lotus Suand the Dialogue of Religions-The Fotlr

Easeful Practices and uRoom, Robe, and Seat of the Thus


Come OneM

Sakyamuni in terms of

In Buddhist sas such as the Lotus Shtra, the contents are composed of

Life Span of the Thus

dialogues between the Buddha and his disciples We cannot say that

dbas into the one Bud-

there is equality in the level of enlightenment and practices given the


natural differences between a teacher and his or her students. In other

words, the dialogue that takes place between the Buddhaand his discile is considered as uni_

tself, this interpretation

ples is not one between individuals standing on equalfootings, which is


the most important foundation of true dialogue Therefore, in some

e relationship between

wider sense it may be possible to lean the spirit of dialogue &om the

aim topic, and accord-

Lotus Siltra, but it would be quite difBcult to seek in the text for guide-

cle and other religions

lines that would be applicable to the modern dialogue of religions Nev-

he one vehicle and the

ertheless, We need to consider this problem a littlefurther, taking up the

is certainly possible to

four easehl practices of the Easebl Practices Chapter and the room,

aims at universality, in
ctions of country, race,

robe, and seat of the Thus Come OneM of the Dbama Preacher Chapter
Even though the four easeful practices are emphases for spreading the

;h the one vehicleaims

Lotus Shtra in the evil age after Skyamuni Buddha has entered nirva,

od, it will be regarded

they are worth referring to for those of us engaged in the dialogue of

tndpoint of Buddhism

religions19 Actually'the names of the four easeful practices do not

le teminology of the

appear in the Lotus Siiira itself, and the exegetes'usages for them differ
According to the Eahua wenjuof Zhiyi and Guanding, for

which Buddhismaims,

example, they refer to body, mouth,mind, and vows, respectivelyl20

hat are more universal

At the beginning Of the Easeful Practices Chapter, Maajuasks

COnCept10n may COme

skyamuni Buddha, "h the latter evil age, after the Buddha has entered

merely my attempt to

nirva], how should bodhisattva mahsattvas go about preaching this

espoused pluralism by

sGtra?" (T262, 9.37alO, cf. Watson, p. 196). The Buddha replies, If

diqerent religious tra-

bodhisattva mahsattvas inthe latter evil agewish to preach this sra,

an life&om self-cen-

they should abide by four practices" (T262, 937a12-13; cf Watson, p

1S remaizI possible, the

which came to be known as the four easeful practices

196). He then proceeds to explain the meaning of these four practices,


:lose to inclusivism.

lerst is the easeful practice of body Wend in it the terms "locus

rtded to establish a

of practice or action" () and locus of associations" () Locus

an aain Buddhahood.

of practicen refers to the repertoire of activities or practices appropnate

e one vehicle, even

to the bodhisattva, while "locus of associations" refers to the sphere and

148THE i,OTUS SOTRA AND THE DIALOGUE OF REuGIONS

forms of social interaction appropnate to the bodhisattva. As for the


Hlocus of practice or action," the sra states:

abuddhas, or seeJi
causingem to h

removed from the


If a bodhisattva abidesrmly on the ground of forbearance when faced

don of all modes

with humiliation (), if he or she is gentle and congenial (),

and willful peopl

skilled at accommodating and bringing others into compliance (),

never engage in fl

not given to impulsiveness (), and never ala-ed in mind (

wrangle overel

%), if,furthermore, he or she performs no ldiscriminatory] act with

them with great c

respect to phenomena (), but contemplates the true character

ofem as kindly

of all phenomena (); if he or she also does not act wior

as great teachers

engage in non-discrimination (), then this is called the

all times m

locus of practice or action appropriate to the bodhisattva mahsattva (T

sance. Toall lil

no. 262, 9.37a14-17; Watson, p. 197)

Because a perSO
vary the amount

Next, there are two categorical distinctions with respect to the Hlocus of

fore Law one

associations or interactions appropriate tO the bodhisattva" The first

no. 262, 9.38b3

seeks to delimit the sphere of socialinteractions, with particular attention given tO behavior in unavoidable situations of social intercourse2

The fourth is the ease

The second involves thoroughgoing realization of the emptiness Of exisTowarde beli(

tence.

The second is the easeful practice of the mouth It shows a central

left the househ(

should cultivate
preoccupation wiwords and speech As described in the sra,

not bodhisattvas

when he opens his mouth to expound or when he reads the sra, he

and should thinl

should not delight in speaking of the faults of other people or scnptures

Though the Tht

He should not display contempt for other teachers of the law or speak of

accordancewith

other people's tastes or shortcomingS With regard to the Voice-heaers,

not realize, do

he should not refer to them by name and describe their faults, Or name

althoughese

them and praise their good points Also he should not allow his mind to

understands

becomeled with resentment and hatred. Because he is good at culti-

wherever I hapl

vatlng this kind of peaceful mind, his listeners will not oppose his ideas

the power of wi

If he is asked difhcult questions, he should not reply in terms of the law

Law (T no. 262

of the Lesser Vehicle. He should explain things solely ln terms Of the

Great Vehicle so that people will be able to acqulre Wisdom of all


modes ofexistence] (T no. 262, 9.38a1-7; Watson, pp 20202)

The satra emphasize


sion towardall livin
LDtuS Stra.

The third is the easeful practice of mind It concems mental dispositions. As described in the stra, the bodhisattva

must not harbor a mind marked by jealousyjawnlng Or deceit And he


must not be contemptuous of or revile those who study the Buddha-way
or seek out their shortcomlngS HIf there are monks, nuns, laymen, or
laywomen who seek to become voice-heaers, seek to become pratyek-

I think the fbllowi


practices as a menta
participating in the
Lotus Stra. The

which is a basic on
regard our own re

THE LOTUS SUTRA AND THE DIALOGUE OF RELIGIONS 149

jGIONS

bodhisattva. As fr the

abuddhas, or seek the bodhisattya way, one must not trouble them by

causlng them to have doubts or regrets, by saying tO them LYou are far

removed from the way and in the endwill never be able to attain wisof forbearance when faced
dom of all modes lof existence. Why? Because you are self-indulgent

entle and congenial (),


rs into compliance (),

and willful people who are negligent of the way!'AIso one should
never engage in frivolous debate over the various doctrines or dispute or

veTalamled in mind (

r ldiscriminatory] act with


mplates the true character

e also does not act with or

U), then this is called the


bodhisattva mahsattva (T

wrangle over them With regard toall living beings one should think of
them with great compassion With regard to the Thus Come Ones, think

of them as kindly fathers;with regard to the bodhisattvas, think of them


as great teachers Toward the great bodhisattvas of the ten directions at
all times maintain a serious mind, paying them due reverence and obei-

sance. To all living beings preach the Law in an equitable manner


Because a person is heedful of the Law, that does not mean one should
vary the amount of preaching Even to those who show a profound love

respect to the ulocus of

bodhisattva." The first

for the Law one should not on that account preach at greater length" (T

no. 262, 9.38b3-14; Watson, pp. 203-204)

s, with particular atteni of social intercourse.21


The fourth is the easeful practice of vows The sra states,

)fe emptiness Of exisTowarde believers who are still in the household or those who have

)nth lt shows a central

left the household they lwho accept and embrace the LDtuS Stra]

bed in the sra,

should cultivate a mind of great compassion, and toward those who are

not bodhisattvas they should also cultivate a mind of great compassion,


hen he reads the s5tra, he
and should think to themselves: These persons have made a great eOr

other people or scnptures


hers of the law or speak of

tgnrbde ttohS,ef;uOlltCs7-.hre=S;

Though the Thus Come One as a skillful means preaches the Law in
accordance with what is appropnate, they do not listen, do not know, do

not realize, do not lnqulre, do not believe, do not understand But


although these persons do not lnqulre about, do not believe and do not

buld not allow his mind t


understand this sra, when I have attained anuttara-samyak-sambodhi,
aS h is good at ulti_

Lwi1l n?i oppose his ideas

wherever i happen to be, i will employ my transcendental powers and

the power of wisdom to draw them to me to cause them to abide in this

Law (T no. 262, 9.38C5-1 1; Watson, p 205)


The sa emphasizes that we should cultivate a mind of great compas-

Eo?rsse.apiyLpil,et2?.=;d2is,Fooeffltaah;

sion toward all living beings and that we should vow to save them by the
Lotus Siitra.

ncems mental disposi-

I think the followlng three lessons can be gained from the four easeful
practices as a mental attitude that advances the dialogue of religions, if

awnin2 0r deceit. And he

partlCIPatlng in the dialogue of religions from the standpoint of the

ho study the Buddha-way

L.Otus Siitra. Thest is to be based on the realization of emptiness,

monks, nuns, laymen, or

which is a basic ontology of Mahyna Buddhism This shows that we

seek to become pratyek-

regard our own religion and other religions not as unchangeable and

150THE LOTUS SOTRA AND THE DIALOGUE OF RELIGIONS

THE

Xed but as changeable and Aucttlatlng i think it is important for us to

to afBrm the indepen

take an open attitude to our own transfrmation which might appear

the importance Of the

through the dialogue. In Buddhism, a gentle and calm attitude to others

inclusivists nor exclt]

shollld be based one realization of emptiness.

understanding of one

The second is to pay respect to other religions, not to excessively crit-

staLnding. Throughsu-

icize others, and not to prefer doctrinalcontroversy in the dialogue of

the various religions 1

religions. Otherwise, it will become impossible for various religions to

ing the very serious i

sit ae same table of dialogue.

reveal hitherto unre(

The third is that the dialogue of religions exists for the sake of

adherents, thtlS facihl

approaching solutions for the serious problems of our global society,

trary, we can rather

even if that progress only consists of small steps based on the coopera-

enrichment of our ovi

tion of various religions, and that in the foundation of the dialogue

From the standpo

therefre must be our vows and dedication to compassion, which will

logue of rehgions a

bring peace and happiness toall of humanity.

globe, a taskat is

When interpreted in this way, wend that the emphases of the Ease-

mately connected to

ful Practices Chapter are shared in the "room, robe, and seat of the Thus

more, in our actual e

Come One" expounded in the Dharma Preacher Chapter22 The Dharma

emptiness and the sf

Preacher Chapter states that after the Thus Come One has entered

forbearance will co

nirva, those who wish to expound the LDtuS Shtra for the four kinds of

strange, forbearazICC

followers should enter the Thus Come One's room, put on the Thus

misunderstanng a]

Come One's robe, sit in the Thus Come One's seat, and then expound

This is especially tt

the Lotus Sdtra. The "Thus Come One's room" is nothing less than the

either had no mutu

state of mindat shows great pity and compassion toward all of human-

long histories of

ity. The "Thus Come One's robe" is the verymind that is gentle and for-

engage in dialogue

bearing. The "Thus Come One's seat" is the ultimate emptiness Ofall

internationalconfer

phenomena. 23
In Mahayna Buddhism, the realization of emptiness is based onright

wisdom. As wisdom and compassion are the two main qualities of a

h addition, it shou
ande if it is nott

Finally, in the pB

Buddha, we can say that bodhisattvasaiming at the attainment of Bud-

kinds of trees of

dhahood are beings who seek to achieve wisdom and compassion

sdtra, wealsod

Moreover, because various difBculties are pregured when bodhisattvas

ences and diversiti

play active roles in the realsociety, forbearance becomes very necessary


Needless to say, the foundation of this forbearance is none other than
wisdom and compassion. It is presumably common knowledge that the
perfection of fTorbearance is included in the six pa-ramita-S (the six per-

Very simple Dens

equally and saturat


plants (the three
up according to it

fected practices ofalmsglVlng, keeping the precepts, forbearance, assid-

medicinalherbs ar

uousness, meditation, and wisdom).

medicinalherbs, a

to ordinarypeopl.
4. Conclusion
As mentioned at the beginning Of this paper, my own personalstance is

Compared to perso
trees are compared

The thrust of thj

THE LOTUS SUmA AND TE DIALOGUE OF RELIGIONS 151

ELIi;Ii:"ISmpf.I us t

to afBrm the independent value of each religion However, Considering

the importance of the dialogue of religions, we should exclude neither


LaLidOib-igehtt. a.pEee

inclusivists nor exclusivists, So as best to remove the obstacles to the

Es.

understanding of one another's religions and to promote mutualunder-

Ot tO excessively crit-

standing. Throughsuch dialogue itwill become possible for members of

roversy in the dialogue of

the various religions to associate with each other for the purpose of solv-

)le for various religions to

ing the very serious problems of the modern world,d even at times to

revealhitherto unrecognized potentialideswithin each religion to its


ns exists for the sake of

adherents, thus facilitating a deepening Of our own religions; on the con-

ms of our global society,

trary, We can rather expect that such transformations will lead to the

eps based on the coopera-

enrichment of our own religious lives

undation of the dialogue

From the standpoint of the Lotus Shira, the vitalization of the dia-

a COmPaSSion, whichwill

logue of religions as a method to solve the serious problems of our


globe, a task that is vitally important to contemporary society, is inti-

he emphases of the Ease-

mately connected to the vows and compassion of bodhisattvas Further-

robe, and seat ofe Thus

more, in our actualexchanges, we willall benet)m the realization of

er Chapter.22 le Dhama

emptiness and the spirit of forbearance Even thoughthe suggestion that

Come One has entered

forbearancewill contribute to the dialogue of religions may seem a little

SThira for the fTour kinds of

strange, forbearance is very Important in the removalof obstacles to

S room, Put On the Thus

misunderstanding and the patient promotion of malunderstanding

's seat, and then expound

This is especially the case whenpeople of various religions, who have

i" is nothing less than the

either had no mutualhistoricalrelationship or who have experienced

sion towardall of human_

long histories of marked confrontation, age slttlng at the same table to

that is gentle and fb-

engage in dialogue It would be possible to cite many examples &om

ultimate emptiness Ofal1

intemationalconferences that would eloquently describe such situations

h addition, it should bear noting that forbearance cannot become real

ptlneSS is based onright

and true if it is not based on wisdom and compassion

two main qualities of a

Final1y, in the parable of the three kinds of medicinalherbs and two

I the attainment of Bud_

kinds of trees of the Parable of MedicinalHerbs Chapter of the Lotus

isdom and compassion

siiira, Wealsond the message that we should respectand praise differ-

gtlred when bodhisattvas

ences and diversities of human beings24 The content of this parable is

becomes very necessary

yery simple Dense clouds spreading throughout the sky send down.rain

lance is none other than

equally and saturate the ground everywhere, so that each of the vanous

mom knowledge that the

plants (the three kinds of medicinalherbs and two kinds of trees) grow

Pa-ramita-S (the six per-

up according to its particular species and nature The "three kinds of

:epts, forbearance, assid-

medicinalherbs and two kinds of trees" are little,middle-sized, and big


medicinalherbs, and big and small tFeeS The httle herbs are compared

to ordinary people and heavenly beings, andmiddle-sized herbs are


compared to persons of the two vehieles Big herbs small trees and big
trees are compared to dFee ranks of bodhisattvas25
y owll personal stance is

The thrust of this parable is that (1) the Buddha's preaching is equally

152THE LOTUS SUTRA ANDTHE DIALOGUE OF REuGIONS

available to all; (2)ere is great diversity in living beings; (3)e Bud-

dha does not irrediately preach comprehensivewisdom at the begin-

ally proffered great white o


the two types Of cart are
sentative exegete of the for

ning of his teaching career; and (4) it is ultimately in the LDtuS 5ira

ci'enMonastery, wbi

thate Buddha enables living beings tO reach comprehensive wisdom.

school were Fayun(4t

The central intention of the parable is to explain the reason why the

had been identied with tt

Buddha preachesthe Lotus Sdira only through the medium of many

research he seemed to take

skillI teachings, ie, why he does not immediately preach comprehen-

hstead, given that hving bea

sive wisdom That is, because the Lotus Sdtra ultimatelyaims at

it very Important that each t

enabling living beings to reach comprehensive wisdom,e goal ofe

9 See Nishitani K6suke, i

scnpture is not to afBrm any absolute distinctions between the natures of

teki t6ron no tameni Croky

voice-hearers, pratyekabuddhas, and bodhisattvas.we understand cor-

that the typology of religiol

rectly the original meaning Of this parable, can we not imagine that this

tive-propositional, experienl

stupendous image-thatall the many pltS grow uP energetically on

tive than that of JohzI Hick.

the earth each recelVlng SufBcient rain for its own needsISymbolizes
thatall mankind should coexist on this earth mutually respecting our
many differences?

ing beings'enlightenment

and Theology m a Postlib(

Also see Hoshikawa Keij


Guro-baru jiddi no sh7 k

(Tokyo: Taish6 daigaku sht

LO On the contrary, "disca

Notes

l See John Hick, Problems of Religious PIwalism (London: Macmillan, 1985), p. 33.
2 See TamNoriyoshi, Hoshikawa Keiji, and Yamanashi Yukiko, Kamigami no
wakai-Nljiiisseiki no shii0- kan taiwa Crokyo: ShunjGsha, 2000), p. 86.

3 See my previous paper on this topic, "Inclusivism and Religious Tolerance in the
Lotus SBira," in The Joumal ofOriental Studies 15 (2005): 94-108.
4 It is said that the Pli canons was written down around therst century BCE in Sri

LaIlka.

text.

"If a person, eameSt i


dha's relics, and having gal
of seeking other stras and

dhist doctrines, to a Person

Easeful Practices Chapter


dhists such as heretics and

Buddhists, Brahmans or Ja
books extolling the hereti

5 T no. 262, 9.5C1011 1; Burton Watson, The Lotus Sutyla (New York: Columbia Uni-

anti-Lokayatas" Cr no 2

versityPress, 1993), p. 24. For the reader's convenience, throtlghout this paper I have

(1222-1282) adopts basic

cited the translation by Burton Watson, albeit withminor changesAsfor my interpreta-

one. As for the theoFedc


"Nyoraino tsukai-Nic

tion of this famous sentence, see Kamno Hiroshi, "Hokeky6 h6benbon no shoh6 jiss6 no
gengi rrhe Original Meaning of the true characteristics of dhamws inthe Skilll
Means Chapter of the Lotus Si2tra],''in lchinen sanzen iowa nani ka [Wat is the doc-

trine of "die macrocosm in a moment of thought"?] Crokyo: Daisan bunmeisha, 1992),


pp. 46JO.

Daiz6 shuppan, 2003)I pp

12 Even thoughZhyi of

pretation, he also includes


carding skillful means,

6 Thiswithdrawalof theVe thousand arrogant persons suggests that, in order to lis-

Fahua xuany(T

ten to the Lotus Siitra, We should remove all traces of our own overbearing arrogance.

the effectthat lotus blosso

See Hiroshi KanJIO, "The Modem Signicance of the Lotus SB," in The Jounuzl of

skillfuHeachings and esta

Oriental Studies 14 (2004): 95-1 1 1_

siiira and claried that it i

7 Buddha wisdomM (zhlj'ian) corresponds to the Sanskrit term "tatha-gata-

jna-na-dayliana." We may understand it as Buddha'Swisdom.

8 Concerning the parable of three carts and the buming house of the Simile and Para-

is to refer to him as a "Lt

Zhiyi's and Jizang's View

Absolutism'?:'in Annual.

ble Chapter, two interpretaOns appeared among exegetes on the LDtuS Satra in China.

h other words, there were two interpretations concernlJlg Whether or not the ox-carts the
father promised to givethe children in the burning house, are identicalwith theeat
white ox-carts henally gave them If the promised ox-carts are identicalwith the actu-

747f_dhology at Sob Unil


It seemsat

absolutism of Tiantaisch

ELIGIONS

THE L,OTUS SUTIL4 AND THE DIALOGUE OF RELIGIONS 153

iving beings; (3) the Bud

ally proffered great white ox-carts there would then be three kinds of carts inal1, and if

;ivewisdom at the begin-

the two types of cart are different frc.m each other then there are four kinds The repre-

71ately ln the Lotus Siitra

sentative exegete of the former three kinds of carts" school was Ji(632-682) from

1 COmprehensive wisdom.

ci'enMonastery, while the representative exegetes of the "four kinds of cartsM

school were Fayun(467-529) and Zhiyi(538-598)A Jizang(549-623)

plain the reason why the

had been identifiedwith the "three kinds of carts" school, but according to recent

gh the medium of many

research he seemed to take a free stance in which he advocated neither understanding

lately preach comprehen-

Instead,given that living beings become enlightened onthe basis of theories, he thought

;ii&a ultimately aims at

it very lmPOrtanHhat eachtheory should be evaluated on the basis of its relation to liv-

) wisdom, the goalof the

ing beings'enlightenment
q See Nishitani K6suke, Sh; kan taiwa to genri shugE. nO kokubLku-shiib70- rinri

ns between the natures of


teki tron no tameni (Tokyo: Shinky6 shuppansha, 2004), pp 40-55 Nishitani insists

Fas. If we understand col_


we not imagine that this

Pow up energetically on
own needsISymbolizes

mutually respecting Our

that the typology of religions Proposed by George A Lindbeck, which includes cognitive-propositional, experiential-expressive and cultural-linguistic models, is more effective than that of John Hick. See George A. Lindbeck, The Nature of Doctrine-Religion

and Theology in a Postliberal Age (Kentucky: Westminster John Knox Press, 1984)A
Also see Hoshikawa Keiji, "Shhky6 kan taiwa ni okeru `ky6ri'no mondai,M in

Gur0-banEjidai no shiib70- kan taiwa, edited by Hoshikawa Keiji and Yamanashi Yukiko

(Tokyo: Taish6 daigaku shuppankai, 2004), pp 148


o on the contrary, "discarding skillful means" is not clearly expressed inthe Sanskrit

text.

l=`If a person, eamest inmind, seeks this satra as though he were seeking the Bud-

don: Macmillan, 1985), p. 33.

dha,s relics, and having gained and gratefully accepted it, thatperson shows no intention

anashi Yukiko, Kamtgami no

of seeking other sdtras and has never once glVen thought to the writings Of the non-Bud-

la, 2000), p. 86.

dhist doctrines, to aperson such as this (T no 262, 916blA; Watson, p 79) Also, the

md ReliglOuS Tolerance in the

Easeful Practices Chapter admonishes not to approach to other followers except Bud-

r: 94-108.

dhists such as heretics and Brahmans See "They should not associate closely with non-

1d the arst century BCE in Sri

Buddhists, Brahmans or Jais, Or with those who compose works of secular literature or

books extolling the heretics, nor shouldey be closely associated with Lokayatas or

ra (New York: Columbia Uni-

anti-LokayatasM (T no. 262, 9.37a19-21; Watson, p 197) In my opinion, Nichiren

throughout this paper I have

(1222-1282) adopts basically therst interpretationand partially includes the second

changes.As for my lnterPreta-

one.As for the theoretical standpoint of Nichiren's exclusivism, see Kanno Hiroshi,

6 h6benbon no shoh6 jiss6 no

Nyorai no tsukai-Nichiren,M in: Hokeb, shis ski kara manabu bukb, (Tokyo:

s of dha77naS in the Skillful

DaiZ6 shuppan, 2003) pp 190-206

wa nani ka lWhat is the doco: Daisan bunmeisha, 1992),

.2 Even thoughZhiyi of the Tiantaischool in China adopts basically the second inter-

pretation, healso includes a partial form of the Brst The previous citation "honestly discarding skillful means, I will preach only the unsurpassed way" was quoted in Zhiyi's

suggests that, in order to tis-

Fahua xuanyi(T no. 1716, 33681b3-5) as evidence from the sGtra evidence to

I Own OVerbearingarrogance.

the effect that lotus blossoms falling and fruit npenlng Should be compared to discarding

tus Shtra," in The Joumal of

skillful teachings and establishing the truth I have discussed Zhiyi's views of the LDtuS

siilra and clarified that it is more Gtting to call him a Hperfect teaching absolutist"than it
the Sanskrit term Htathagata

is to refer to him as a uLotus Stra absolutist." See Hiroshi Kanno, "A Comparison of

zhiyis and Jizang's Views of the LDtuS Siitra: Did Zhiyi, afteral1, Advocate a 'Lotus

house of the Simile and Para_

Absolutism'?," in Annual Report of The Intemational Research Institute for Advanced

onthe L,otus Siitra in China.

Buddhology at Soka University for the Academic Year I999, (March, 2000): pp1 125-

Whether or noHhe oxICartS the

147.

), are identicalwith the great

1t seems that Zhanran(711-782) played a big role to form the LDtuS Siitra

ls are identical with the actu_

absolutism of Tiantai schoolJ infer that as the Huayanschool which claims the

154THE LOTUS SUTRA ANDTHE DIALOGUE OF RELIGIONS

supremacy of a single sBtra such as die AvataqlSaka Siitra, Dharma Characterisdcs

THLO

completely ftee from the res

22 The four easeful pracdce

school which advocates the idea of the "expediency of the one vehicle and the reality of

the three vehicles," and the Zen school which advocates Hseparate transmission outside
the sitras were established dming the period between Zhiyi and Zhran, Zhanran

came to emphasize on the Lotus SBira absolutism to oppose those schools Nichiren
seemed to accept the direct inauence of Zhaan

13 See Hiroshi KnO, "hclusivism and Religious Tolerance in the Lotus SWa," loc

both originally expound men

si2tra. However, I referred to I


logue of religions The dialogl
but the locus of associadon t

global problems On the othe


other in a fashion of good w

it.

14 This concept appears in the Fahua wenju Cf T no1 1718, 34179a24-25

reveale wisdom and ener

.5 The practice of Bodhisattva Never Disparaging becomes something that gave living

requlreS a Serious atdtude to l1

expression to the concept of the one vehicle, namely the idea thatall sentient beings can
equally attain to Buddhahood See Hiroshi Kanno uThe Practice of Bodhisattva Never

23 Cf. T no. 262, 9.3lc21-2


24 The parable of theee

Disparaging in the Lotus Siitra and its Reception in China and Japan," in: 771e Joumal of

the representative seven paral

On'ental Shidies 12, 2002, pp. 104-1221


16 Ibid., pp. 50-51

in being based on the natural

17 The "One vehicle has never in the history of Buddhism been interpreted from the

standpoint of plurahsm The current globalage, when religions cannot avoid coexisg,

is a novel experience for the human race. However the idea that Confucianism Bud-

bles illustrate the doces o

Therefore, since this parable

thought of the Lotus SWa, W


25 Cf. T no. 262, 9.19a25-

dhism, and Taoismallaim at the same ultimate truth had been popular since the end of
Tang Dynasty in China, and in addition the idea that Shintoism, Confucianism, and Buddhismal1aim at the same ultimate truth was advocated by some thinkers during the Edo
period (160311868) in Japanl

.a see John Hick, Problems of Religious Pluralism, locICit, p 32

19 Nichiren thought that the teaching of the Easeful Practices Chapter and that of the

Encouraging Devotion Chapter arealternative and under a special limitation concemng


the age and the region such as Japan and Kamahra era (the Latter Day of the Law),
selected the teaching of the EmcotLraging Devotion Chapter However, I think that it is

worth reviewing Once again the value of the teaching of the Easeful Practices Chapter
under the new conditions of our modern world.

20 See the second part of the eighth fascicle of the Fahua wenju, where it states, "Mas-

ter Tiantai says, `The compassion of calming and contemplation directs or informs the
three deeds lof body, speech, and mind] and vows'. I We refer to this as the easeful
practice that permins to the deeds or actions of body For the other laspects of] speech

mind, and vows it is the sameM (T no. 1718, 34.1 19a19-27)Asfor interpretation of the
four easeful practices by Huisiand other exgetes, see Hiroshi Kanno, "Huisi's Per-

spective on the Lotus Siitra as Seen through the Meaning of the Course of Ease and
Bliss in the Lotus Si2tra, in Daniel B. Stevenson and Hiroshi Kanno, The Meaning of

the LbtuS SBira's Course of Ease and Bliss:AnAnnotated Translation and Study of
Nanyue Huisi'S (5151577) Fahua jing anlexing yi, 2006, Bibliotheca Philologia et
philosophica Buddhica, vol , The hternatiorLal Research Institute for Advanced Bud-

dhology, pp. 208-21 21


21 h this lihtion of the sphere Of social interactions wend the exclusivist attittlde

that followers of the Lotus SWa should not approach to persons seeking to become
voice-heaters (cf. T no. 262, 9.37a25-26).Also, the sra considers certain occupations

whose representatives we should not approach, revealing discriminadon against certain


kinds of occupation I feel this represents a contradiction of the universalistic standpoint

of the Lotus Si2tra, which shouldaim for the attainment of salvation by all living beings,

and I think we shotlld admit that the Lotus Shiva, like other ancient religious texts, is not

Note: i would like to offer


prooeadingis pap

RELIGION S

2 Siitra, Dharma Characteristics


:the one vehicle and the reality of

ES "Separate transmission outside


l

len zhiyi and Zhanran, Zhanran

THE LOTUS SOTRA AND THE DIALOGUE OF RELIGIONS 155


completely free from the restrictions of thought of its own times

22 The four easeful practices and the "room robe, and seat of the Thus Come One"
both orlglnally expound mentalattitudes to be adopted when propagatlng the Lotus

stra. However, I referred to them as providing suggestive insights pertaining tO the dia-

oppose those schools. Nichiren

logue of religions The dialogue of religions differs from the realm of propagation atal1,
buHhe locus of association between various religions aimed at the solution of serious

)lerance in the Lotus Sbtra," loc.

global problems On the other hand, it is sometimes necessary to compete against each
other in a fashion of good will and to try to improve by leamlng from others so as to

1718, 34.79a24-25.
:omes something that gave living
a idea that all sentient beings can

Le Practice of Bodhisattva Never

na and Japan,M in: The Jout7ml of

revealthewisdom and energy necessary for the resolution of problems Clearly it


requires a Serious attitude to learn from others and deepen one's own religious views
1 Cf. T no. 262, 9.3lc21-27; Watson, p. 166

24 The parable of the three kinds of medicinalherbs and two kinds of trees is one of
the representative seven parables of the LDtuS Stra Of the seven, this parable is unique

in being based on the natural phenomenon of the heavy rain in India; the other six parables illustrate the doctrines of the Lptus Strawithout reference to regionalConditions

dhism been interpreted from the

Therefore, since this parable might include aspects that are inconsistent with the overall

ligions cannot avoid coexistlng,

thought of the Lotus Siitra, we need to interpret it carefully

e idea that Confucianism, Bud-

25 Cf. T no. 262, 9.19a25-20b19, Watson, pp 98-105

d been popular since the end of


ntoism, Confucianism, and Bud-

by some thinkers dming the Edo


c.cit, p. 32.

tactices Chapter and that of the


r a special limitation concermng

ra (the Latter Day of the Law),


tpter. However, I think that it is

Df the Easeful Practices Chapter

Ma WenJu, Where it states, "Mas

mplation directs or informs the


. We refer tois as the ease11

'or the other laspects of] speech,

-27).As for interpretation of the


;ee Hiroshi Kanno, "Huisi's Per-

ting of the Course of Ease and

boshi Kanno, The Meaning of


)tated Translation and Study of
2006, Bibliotheca Philologla et

kch Institute for Advanced Bud_


l

we Bnd the exclusivist attitude

oc.pnesriSdOenrSs SeeeiilnngtCOcubpeact7.-n;

Lg.;itshCenu:lnVaet;:an. i;ncde,a.Tnnt
f salvation byall living beings,

er ancient religious texts, is not

Note: i would like to offer my appreciation to Prof John R McRae for his assistance in
proofreading this paper