The Imagery of Nichiren's Lotus Sutra: The Gohonzon - The Great Mandala of the True Dharma
The Structural Meaning of Mandalas ...
The mandala form originated in India and evolved in Tibet. Tibetan mandalas have four (or multiples of four) sides. The outer corners are usually protectors of the Buddha wisdom within. Tibetans use images instead of words to enable those who can't read to feel reverence.
Mandalas are splendid religious art. If you see one in a museum, lean close, you may catch a whiff of the incense offered to it. It may have the fragrance of hundreds of years of devotion. Rich.
The mandala's center is the central Buddha. This Buddha holds his/her body in different ways (mudras), to convey meaning. For instance, you may have seen the Tantric Mandala depicting a black man in sexual union with a white woman, or a white man in sexual union with a black woman.
To the western eye this mandala appears to be about sex or race. It is neither. It is the fusion of opposites. The Mystic Embrace. The gate of emancipation. Clear Light. The denial of duality. Ku. To this consciousness, sex and race are illusions.
Many of the characters on our Gohonzon have mandalas of their own. Each are Laws, Buddhas and vast experiential realms.
In the Lotus Sutra, Taho and Shakyamuni are seated in the treasure tower, facing each other and speaking the Lotus Sutra in unison.
On the Gohonzon they face each other and "Namu Myoho Renge Kyo" indicating the fusion of objective reality (Taho) and subjective wisdom (Shakyamuni).
"Taho represents all phenomena and Shakyamuni, the true entity. The two Buddhas also indicate the two principles of object (kyo) and subject (chi), or reality and wisdom. Taho Buddha signifies the object and Shakyamuni the subject."Next to Shakyamuni are Anryugyo (Joy), Jyogyo (Purity), and next to Taho is Jogyo (True Self), and Muhengyo (Eternity). Each is a treasure gate entrance to the Ceremony in the Air.
Nichiren wrote: "You must never seek any of Shakyamuni's teachings or the Buddhas and bodhisattvas of the universe outside yourself." —Major Writings, Vol. 1, p. 4, "On Attaining Buddhahood"
He also wrote: