Sutra Translation — Hoben-pon Dai ni in Chinese
"As I said
before, though no chapter of the Lotus Sutra is negligible, among the entire
twenty-eight chapters, the Hoben chapter and the Juryo chapter are particularly
outstanding. The remaining chapters are all in a sense the branches and
leaves of these two chapters. Therefore, for your regular recitation, I
recommend that you practice reading the prose sections of the Hoben and
Daishonin in the "Recitation of the Hoben and Juryo Chapters," Major
Writings, Vol. 6
character Ho is
a contracted composite of two characters, the primitive for leader —
one who stands up — (on the left) and the primitive for open
space (on the right). In the phrase Hoben-pon, it is one who leads others
to open space (freedom or liberation). Because this image represents the
Buddha(s) leading the four regions of the earth to freedom and is not freedom
itself, the Ho of the Hoben-pon is translated as a "means" or "prescription."
Hoben-pon Dai ni)
in its most ancient form resembles a swastika. It is four boats tied together.
It divides the earth's surface into four regions. The same four regions
are represented by the Four Heavenly Kings in the corners of the Gohonzon.
This ancient image was: a place, a region, a square. It also meant regular,
apt, easy, a rule, a prescription, a means, and/or a comparison.
means "Expedient Means"
is composed of the primitive image
of one who stands up (on the left) and a contracted composite (on the right)
of a fire rising above the roof of a house, underneath this image is an
armed (and therefore capable) hand. The burning house represents suffering
or difficulties. The whole character means a person stands up and removes
those from a burning house (suffering) quickly. Because the house is ablaze
and the armed (capable) person uses the quickest means possible, this character
is commonly translated as "expedient".
it all together: Hoben-pon
= means (Ho),
= Section (Dai)
is three squares stacked in a triangle. This is a multitude. It means a
decree or a profound, important, universal teaching.
is not the same "dai" that means "great"
(as in Dai Gohonzon). This Dai is
the ancient symbol for spindle with the radical for bamboo above. The bamboo
radical looks like two ks on top. The rest of the structure of the spindle
with a piece of thread dangling on the bottom left. In this context it
means section or chapter. The bamboo denotes sections (as in bamboo sections).
Bamboo also represents Buddhism, because the first Chinese Buddhist teachings
were written on slats of bamboo, held together by thread. The combination
of spindle and bamboo means section, or chapters (usually of Buddhist or
other important teachings).
is two horizontal lines. It is the
number two. The number two, in Chinese thinking, is the principle of Yin
and Yang and the number of the earth. In Confucian thought, the number
two refers to the second virtue, which is to love each other.
Watson translates Hoben-pon as
Kern (from the Sanskrit) as "Skillful means."
Three Fold Lotus Sutra as "Tactfulness." (The 3FLS is an extremely
Hurvitz translates this as "Expedient Devices."
"Hoben Pon. Dai ni."
reminds us to emerge from our selfish desires and use the Buddha's teaching
to free ourselves and others from suffering as quickly as possible. The
all times I think to myself:
the Bodhisattvas of the Earth do is to cause all living being to quickly
attain Buddhahood. But as the Lotus Sutra also teaches:
can I cause living beings
gain entry into the unsurpassed way
quickly acquire the body of a Buddha?"
16, p. 232
evil monks of that muddied age,
the Bodhisattvas do when they are "Banished to a place far removed from
towers and temples?"
to understand the Buddha's expedient means [Hoben],
he preaches the Law in accordance with what is appropriate,
confront us with foul language and angry frowns;
and again we will be banished
a place far removed from towers and temples."
13, p. 195
Lotus Sutra teaches:
these various evils,
"Hoben" can be found throughout the Lotus Sutra. It is mentioned 7 times
in Gongyo. The Lotus Sutra states that it is because the monks do not understand
the Buddha's expedient means (hoben)
that they slander the Bodhisattvas and "Banish [them] from the towers and
we keep in mind the Buddha's orders,
in the settlements and towns
are those who seek the Law,
will go to wherever they are
preach the Law entrusted to us by the Buddha."
13 ("Encouraging Devotion"), p. 195
Imagery of Nichiren's Lotus Sutra website