Point One, concerning Bodhisattva Wonderful Sound
The Record of the Orally Transmitted Teachings says: The bodhisattva Wonderful Sound represents the living beings of the Ten Worlds. The word “wonderful” means inconceivable. The word “sound” refers to the sounds uttered by all living beings, the voice of the Wonderful Law. These are the wonderful sounds that are constantly present in the three existences. It is pity and compassion that make it possible for Wonderful Sound to recognize and meet the various needs of the living beings [by assuming various forms]. This is what is expressed by the word “bodhisattva.”
Or again, we may say that the words “wonderful sound” refer to the unfathomable and wonderful sound made at the present time, in the Latter Day of the Law, when Nichiren and his followers now chant Nam-myoho-renge-kyo. Therefore it is the wonderful sound that tells us that earthly desires are enlightenment, and that the sufferings of birth and death are nirvana.
Point Two, concerning the knob of flesh on top of Shakyamuni Buddha’s head and the tuft of white hair between his eyebrows
The Record of the Orally Transmitted Teachings says: These two auspicious features derive from the fact that the bearer is filial and obedient towards his teachers and elders. But to uphold the Lotus Sutra is the highest of all expressions of filial and supportive conduct.
Again, we may say that the white tuft of hair represents the sexual fluid of the father, while the knob of flesh represents the sexual fluid of the mother. These two fluids, one red and one 177white, appear in the Lotus Sutra in the form of these two auspicious features, the knob of flesh and the tuft of hair.
Or again, we may say that the knob of flesh represents the wisdom of the truth that functions in accordance with changing circumstances, while the white tuft of hair represents the principle of eternal and unchanging truth.
Now Nichiren and his followers, in their chanting of Nam-myoho-renge-kyo, are equipping themselves with these two auspicious features. The red color that accompanies the time of our birth represents the knob of flesh, and the white bones that remain after our death represent the feature of the white tuft of hair. The red color at the time of birth stands for the wisdom of the truth that functions in accordance with changing circumstances, while the white bones that remain after death stand for the principle of eternal and unchanging truth. But this should be treated as secret. This should be treated as secret.
Point Three, concerning the eighty-four thousand alms bowls made of the seven treasures that were presented by the bodhisattva Wonderful Sound
The Record of the Orally Transmitted Teachings says: This passage describes the alms bowls presented by the bodhisattva Wonderful Sound to the Buddha Cloud Thunder Sound King. Now when Nichiren and his followers chant Nam-myoho-renge-kyo, they are in effect presenting eighty-four thousand alms bowls to the Buddhas of the three existences.
The number eighty-four thousand stands for the eighty-four thousand dust-like cares or delusions that beset us. But when we chant Nam-myoho-renge-kyo, these cares manifest themselves as eighty-four thousand gates to the Law [that is, teachings].
The total number of characters in the Lotus Sutra, when it is combined with the introductory sutra, the Immeasurable Meanings Sutra, and the concluding sutra, the Universal Worthy Sutra, comes to eighty-four thousand.
Again we may say that the number eight stands for the eight 178sufferings, while the number four stands for the sufferings of birth, aging, sickness, and death. The seven treasures represent the seven openings in the head.
An alms bowl is a vessel for holding wisdom. You should understand that with this alms bowl one accepts and upholds the water of wisdom that is the Wonderful Law.