treasure tower ［宝塔］ ( hōtō): A tower or stupa adorned with treasures or jewels. Any of a variety of jeweled stupas depicted in Buddhist scriptures. The best known is the treasure tower of Many Treasures Buddha that appears in the “Treasure Tower” (eleventh) chapter of the Lotus Sutra. According to the sutra, this massive tower emerges from below the earth and measures 250 yojanas wide and 500 yojanas high. It is adorned with the seven kinds of treasures: gold, silver, lapis lazuli, seashell, agate, pearl, and carnelian, and seated inside the tower is Many Treasures Buddha. T’ien-t’ai (538–597) gives two reasons for the appearance of the treasure tower in the Lotus Sutra: (1) to substantiate the teaching of replacing the three vehicles with the one vehicle expounded in the theoretical teaching (first half) of the Lotus Sutra, and (2) to prepare for Shakyamuni’s revelation, in the “Life Span” (sixteenth) chapter of the essential teaching (the sutra’s latter half), of his original attainment of enlightenment numberless major world system dust particle kalpas in the past.
Nichiren viewed the treasure tower as an allegory for human life in its enlightened state achieved through the chanting of Nam-myoho-renge-kyo. In a letter Nichiren wrote in 1272 known as On the Treasure Tower, he says: “In the Latter Day of the Law, no treasure tower exists other than the figures of the men and women who embrace the Lotus Sutra. It follows, therefore, that whether eminent or humble, high or low, those who chant Nam-myoho-renge-kyo are themselves the treasure tower, and, likewise, are themselves the Thus Come One Many Treasures. No treasure tower exists other than Myoho-renge-kyo. The daimoku of the Lotus Sutra is the treasure tower, and the treasure tower is Nam-myoho-renge-kyo” (299). In the same letter, he also refers to the Gohonzon, the object of devotion in his teaching, as “the treasure tower.”