Martin Bradley has returned to translating the Writings of Nichiren Daishônin effectively putting aside his painting endeavours. The Sô Kan Mon Shô is Nichiren's most concise explanation of the workings of existence and worthy of a fresh and more accessable translation. The project began last December 2007 and has trickled across the Atlantic where it has been converted from hand written faxes to web readiness.
This site is located in Canada, another site located in Germany hokkeko.de contains a mirror of this one as well as translations from English to German.
~. Dharma versus dharma .~
One of the more difficult words encountered in Buddhist studies is Dharma with a capital “D” and dharma with a lowercase “d”.
Dharma when it is written with a lowercase “d” refers to anything that touches upon our senses whether it be seeing, hearing, tasting, smelling or something conjured up in our minds. Although Buddhas perceive existence as a oneness, we ordinary people tend to see existence as an enormous agglomeration of all sorts of different items, tables, chairs, pencils, music, sounds outside or inside the house, smells and the search for words in our heads. Whatever anything may be it is a dharma which in Japanese is hô. The Daishonin in many of his theses uses the word hô (dharma) in this way. For those who study the Buddha teaching the word dharma is very convenient since “phenomena and noumena” do not convey this term. In the Oral Transmission on the Significance of the Dharma Flower Sutra (Ongi kuden) it says in the first article on Nam Myôhô renge kyô, “Myô is the essence of the Dharma (i.e. the Triple Body Independent of All Karma), dharmas are unenlightenment, both unenlightenment and the essence of the Dharma as a single entity are the Utterness of the Dharma (Myôhô).” In The Thesis on the Real Aspect of All Dharmas the Daishonin says “The answer given is the actual quintessence (tôtai) of the subjectivities and their dependent environments of the ten conditions of life (jikkai, ten worlds), from hell at the bottom to the state of Buddhahood at the top, all of them without leaving a single dharma (hô) out is what the text of the Sutra on the Lotus Flower of the Utterness of the Dharma (Myôhô renge kyô) is concerned with. “Each dharma whatever it may be is its own one instant of thought containing three thousand existential spaces (ichinen sanzen), so that any allusion to existence must involve the whole of existence.
There was a time when I considered translating the word dharma by existence, but since the word dharma has entered many European languages it is important for those who follow the teachings of Nichiren Daishônin to understand this word in a Buddhist sense rather than with Brahmanistic undertones.
In Edward Soothill and Lewis Hodous’ Dictionary of Chinese Buddhist Terms they define the Chinese ideogram Fă or as read in Japanese as hô or nori in the following manner: Dharma, Law, truth, religion, thing, anything Buddhist. Dharma is ‘that which is held fast or kept, ordinance, statute, law, usage, practice, custom, duty, proper, morality, character.’ Monier Williams’ Sanskrit English Dictionary has it as used in the sense of all things or anything small or great, visible or invisible, real or unreal, affairs, truth, principle, method, concrete things, abstract ideas etc. Dharma is described as that which has entity and bears its own attributes. It connotes Buddhism as the perfect religion, it also has the second place in the Triratna–Buddha, Dharma, Sangha, ... etc.
With regard to the word Dharma as a oneness, the obvious quote is Myôhô renge kyô which is the sutra on the Simultaneity of Cause and Effect throughout the Whole of Existence. Although I have translated Myôhô as the Utterness of the Dharma, the intended meaning remains the same. Dharma as a teaching involves the whole of existence without leaving anything out as well as being the solution to all our problems. Dharma with a capital letter refers to the Buddha’s vision of life as a singularity.
Therefore what does this wholeness imply within the bounds of available experience? The English painter John Constable (1776–1837) said something to the effect of “You will find the glory of creation under every English hedgerow.” In the writings of many mature artists there are numerous references that all visual experiences are aesthically valid. This sort of experience is often referred to as “a sense of wonderment.” This means that however sensitive people may suffer; nothing can take away the wonder of the branches of the trees in winter, the crumbling wall or the rubbish in the gutter. Again this kind of impression makes haiku spiritually significant. Musicians and composers hear all sounds as music, whether it be the shuffling of slippers on the wooden floor, running water or the sound of an electric saw. Needless to say may poets and writers perceive even single words as poetry. Is this how the Buddha views the universe but with the underlying compassion as well as the wisdom to perceive the realms of sentient existence in terms of the one instant of thought containing three thousand existential spaces?
Finally the Buddha has the wisdom to solve every problem that besets the whole human race. This is the oneness of the Buddha realm.
Martin Bradley, February 2008