he Imagery of Nichiren's Lotus Sutra





Choose a category at left for a deeper explanation of the Chinese radicals 
that compose these characters.

Introduction ... 
Even though there may be many interpretations as to why Mona Lisa is smiling, there is no argument that she is smiling. Though art critics and others may argue over Van Gogh's state of mind when he painted "The Starry Night," it is obvious to children that the title matches the painting.  Regardless of the age, or the language, Mona Lisa will continue to smile, and "The Starry Night" will continue to shine. The power of images to convey meaning is universal, and timeless. 

Though the meanings of sounds in Japanese and English may change over time, the images of archaic Chinese do not change. They convey a universal and timeless meaning as does Mona Lisa's smile and Van Gogh's "Starry Night." 

Chinese words are modified by the words around them but the images they contain are indelible. Japanese speaking people use Chinese characters when they wish to convey a specific meaning. These borrowed image/meaning characters are called "kanji." Because a single kanji can have many different Japanese pronunciations, it is accompanied by Japanese pronunciation characters (kana). They give Japanese sounds to foreign words. 

When translating words from the original Chinese, I have chosen to go to the primitives, radicals, contractions, and composites that give each character its own unique image and meaning.  

These images are found on cave walls, shards of pottery, and bronze castings from the most ancient times. The first printing presses were invented by Chinese Buddhists to print the sutras. The Lotus Sutra is amongst first printed messages to humankind. 

Whenever possible, which is most of the time, I return to the original primitive images to translate their derived meanings. 

English is a linear language, ancient Chinese is not. Most translations reduce a Chinese image to a single word or phrase. This approach sacrifices beauty for simplicity. I want the reader to enjoy the rich imagery of the Lotus Sutra. Though dictionaries can help in this process, there are no dictionaries (that I know of) that can do this kind of translation.

This Indras.Net site is owned by Terry Ruby. 
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Updated 6/7/06 
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