Here are some guidelines that the editors think will be helpful for readers of this book. In the Japanese text of the Ongi kuden, or The Record of the Orally Transmitted Teachings, the Lotus Sutra passages on which Nichiren lectured are indicated in abbreviated form, but in this translation the passages are cited in full and in boldface. Then, in some cases, the sutra passages are followed by T’ien-t’ai’s explanation of them from his Words and Phrases of the Lotus Sutra and by Miao-lo’s commentary on those explanations. Nichiren’s lectures follow, beginning with the set phrase “The Record of the Orally Transmitted Teachings says . . .”
All the Lotus Sutra quotations in this work are from The Lotus Sutra, translated by Burton Watson and published by Columbia University in 1993. The sources of the quotations are indicated by their chapter number and a shortened form of the chapter title, as in “chapter sixteen, Life Span,” which is enclosed in parentheses. However, when quotations are from the same chapter as is being discussed in Orally Transmitted Teachings, only the chapter number is shown, as in “chapter twelve.”
In the commentaries on the Lotus Sutra by T’ien-t’ai and others, reference is made to the related section in the Chinese text with the number of lines composing it. Usually one line consists of one verse, which consists of four phrases. Nichiren also makes similar references. In this translation, however, such references are made based on Dr. Watson’s Lotus Sutra, indicating the number of lines in the English text. Thus, in chapter twelve, point seven, you will find the expression “The verses of praise in fourteen lines express the doctrine of three thousand realms in a single moment of life,” which is the translation of “the verses of praise in three and a half lines . . .” in the Japanese text.
In the Japanese text, some passages of commentary have been cited without their source titles. When these passages have been found in collections of Buddhist texts such as Taishō daizōkyō, or Taishō Tripitaka, we have identified their source titles in the translation in brackets. All book titles are given in English.
Additionally, most of the names of the Buddhas, bodhisattvas, and deities mentioned in the text have been translated as in The Writings of Nichiren Daishonin (The Soka Gakkai, Tokyo, 1999). The names of actual historical figures, such as Shakyamuni and Shāriputra, naturally remain unchanged. And all personal names are given according to the usage of their land of origin.
Most diacritical marks are omitted from Sanskrit words, of which there are few in the text. But with the exception of the formula Nam-myoho-renge-kyo or Myoho-renge-kyo, all Japanese words are shown, where appropriate, with macrons to indicate the long vowels.
Shortened forms of the longer book titles cited in the text are used in this translation. The short forms are as follows:
Words and Phrases for The Words and Phrases of the Lotus Sutra by T’ien-t’ai
On “The Words and Phrases” for The Annotations on “The Words and Phrases of the Lotus Sutra” by Miao-lo
Profound Meaning for The Profound Meaning of the Lotus Sutra by T’ien-t’ai
On “The Profound Meaning” for The Annotations on “The Profound Meaning of the Lotus Sutra” by Miao-lo
On “Great Concentration and Insight” for The Annotations on “Great Concentration and Insight” by Miao-lo
Outstanding Principles for The Outstanding Principles of the Lotus Sutra by Dengyō
Supplement to “The Words and Phrases” for The Supplement to “The Words and Phrases of the Lotus Sutra” by Tao-hsien
For more information regarding the Buddhist terms, personal names, book titles, and Buddhas, bodhisattvas, and deities that appear in the text, readers may find helpful The Soka Gakkai Dictionary of Buddhism (The Soka Gakkai, Tokyo, 2002). Footnotes to the translation explain any terms not found in this dictionary.