Then he expounded the teaching of the twelve causes, saying, ‘Ignorance causes predisposition. Predisposition causes consciousness. Consciousness causes name-and-form. Name-and-form causes the six sense-organs. The six sense-organs cause impression. Impression causes feeling. Feeling causes craving. Craving causes grasping. Grasping causes existence. Existence causes birth. Birth causes aging-and-death, grief, sorrow, suffering and lamentation. When ignorance is eliminated, predisposition is eliminated. When predisposition is eliminated, consciousness is eliminated. When consciousness is eliminated, name-and-form is eliminated. When name-and-form is eliminated, the six sense-organs are eliminated. When the six sense-organs are eliminated, impression is eliminated. When impression is eliminated, feeling is eliminated. When feeling is eliminated, craving is eliminated. When craving is eliminated, grasping is eliminated. When grasping is eliminated, existence is eliminated. When existence is eliminated, birth is eliminated. When birth is eliminated, aging-and-death, grief, sorrow, suffering and lamentation are eliminated.’ (The Lotus Sūtra p.140)

The last chapter mentioned dependent origination in relation to the meaning of Myōhō or Wonderful Dharma in the Odaimoku. This chapter explains dependent origination in more detail and how it can give us a better understanding of our lives. Fortunately, the wheel of becoming will once again help us to understand this teaching. Its outermost ring is composed of the twelve-fold chain of dependent origination as it applies to the cycle of birth and death. The links are depicted in a series of vivid images designed to help us remember each of them and their significance. Dependent origination, however, does not just apply to the vicious circle of suffering depicted in the wheel of becoming. It applies to all phenomena, including the process of liberation. The twelve stages of transcendent dependent origination form a spiral path of liberation leading to a liberation from the cycle of birth and death. These twelve stages are explained after the description of the twelve-fold chain of dependent origination. Finally, this chapter deals with how the practice of chanting Namu Myōhō Renge Kyō enables us to break free of the twelve-fold chain and to instead embark upon the spiritual path of the twelve stages of transcendence.

The doctrine of dependent origination is the key insight upon which the entire teaching of the Buddha rests. In fact, dependent origination was the content of Siddhārtha’s awakening beneath the Bodhi Tree. The night the Buddha attained awakening, he reflected upon his own life and past lives; the lives, past lives, and future destinies of all other beings; and then causality itself. He observed, beginning with himself, how all beings forge their own destiny through their own actions. He also saw how all phenomena arise and cease as part of a network of mutually supportive causes and conditions. The Buddha then resolved to share his insight with others in the form of the twelve-fold chain of dependent origination.

Put simply, dependent origination means that everything is dependent on other things, or causes, for its origin. That is, all phenomena arise as the result of causes and conditions. Therefore no phenomena have any existence intrinsic to themselves — they depend on other phenomena. In order to have one thing, you need to have other things working together to bring about and to support its existence. Everything depends upon everything else in this way. This should sound familiar because dependent origination is also called the law of cause and effect, which was discussed in the first chapter.

All of the teachings of the Buddha have dependent origination as their basis. For instance, the four noble truths are composed of two pairs of cause and effect. The noble truth of life’s suffering and the noble truth of craving as the origin of suffering is one example of a negative effect and its cause. The noble truth of the cessation of suffering and the noble truth of the eightfold path to end suffering is an example of a positive effect and its cause. Dependent origination is also the deeper meaning of the Middle Way, taught by the Buddha as the path to nirvāna. It is the Middle Way between the extreme views of existence and non-existence which do not recognize life as a dynamic interdependent process.

The extreme view of existence is an attempt to characterize a dynamic process of causes and conditions as simply a static entity. For instance, a person with such an extremist view might look at a tree at a static moment in time and characterize it as only being a tree of such a height, age, and girth. The reality expressed by the Middle Way is that the tree is a dynamic process spanning many years, caused by a seed and conditioned by the soil, rain, sunlight, and an infinity of other factors. The extreme view of existence does not recognize such interdependence, flux, and relativity. In the end, it results in an absolutism that fixes things in rigid categories. From this rigidity springs all kinds of evil, such as classism, racism, nationalism and religious fundamentalism. Compassion is effectively banished through the projection of fixed boundaries of self and other upon the dynamic flow and interdependence of the life process.

The extreme view of non-existence is a refusal to accept any kind of meaning or value, since it recognizes no entities to have any regard for. Life is reduced to chaos, absurdity or illusion to those who cannot accept the life process on its own terms. Ultimately, it is the negation of life, which is very different from the Buddha’s liberation from the illusion of self. In Buddhism, selfish craving is the cause of suffering, not the supposed absurdity of life. The goal is to become liberated from the delusion of self through the cultivation of the eightfold path. Nihilism only leads to irresponsible despair and the denial of the truth and meaning of causality.

Dependent origination, then, is the teaching that things do have a provisional (though not intrinsic) existence based on causes and conditions. Therefore, one who is following the Middle Way will think in terms of causes and conditions instead of existence or non-existence. For the follower of the Middle Way, there are no longer any immutable categories or boundaries, nor is there any question of the identity of or difference between entities. Causality has its own logic and morality that does not depend on a rigid adherence to abstract concepts. Dependent origination is the awareness of cause and effect and the interdependence of all things. This awareness gives rise to an authentic sense of responsibility, genuine love, and compassion.

The Twelve-fold Chain of Dependent Origination

Dependent origination applies to all phenomena, but the Buddha was specifically concerned with applying it to the human predicament. He wished to show the specific causes and conditions that bind people to suffering, and how to change those causes through understanding them. In other words, we ourselves make the causes that will determine the kinds of lives that we will have to suffer or enjoy. What we are today is a result of what we have thought and done in the past; what we shall be in the future is a result of what we think and do in the present. So that all people could understand how this works, the Buddha expounded the “twelve-fold chain of dependent origination.” The links in this chain are:

(1) ignorance, that gives rise to

(2) volitional formations (habit patterns) that give rise to

(3) consciousness that gives rise to

(4) name and form (body and mind) that give rise to

(5) the six sense bases (the five senses plus the mind, that senses thoughts and emotions) that give rise to

(6) contact that gives rise to

(7) feeling that gives rise to

(8) craving that gives rise to

(9) clinging that gives rise to

(10) becoming that gives rise to

(11) birth that gives rise to

(12) all the sufferings of life, culminating in aging and death.

Admittedly, this formula may seem a little obscure. Nevertheless, it is the most important and well known application of dependent origination in the Buddha’s teachings and so deserves careful study.

In the traditional understanding, ignorance and volitional-formations refer to one’s past life or lives. In Buddhism, it is said that in order to have a successful conception, three things must be present: the father’s sperm, the mother’s egg, and the inherited karma (volitional-formations) of a previous life. This expresses the fact that each of us is a new and unique individual arising out of the combination of past causes and present circumstances. This also indicates that each new life inherits the general character and issues of a previous life that must be resolved if we are to free ourselves from compulsively traveling around and around on the wheel of becoming.

Let us now return to the symbols on the wheel of becoming.

Ignorance is represented on the wheel of becoming as a blind man. Like a blind man who cannot see the world around him, we are blind to the true nature of reality. This is the root cause of all our unhappiness. We do not see the futility of our search for permanent happiness and security for the self amidst the impermanent, unsatisfactory, and ultimately selfless nature of things. We do not recognize the nature of the wheel of becoming on which we are traveling, so we do not awaken to the Wonderful Dharma which is free of the wheel’s compulsive, painful and ultimately fruitless spinning.

Due to ignorance, we are disposed to perform acts of thought, word and deed based upon the most selfish and short-sighted of motives. These karmic actions are the volitional formations or habit patterns that form our character. They are represented by a potter shaping his pots. It is important to remember that the word “karma” refers not to destiny or fate, but to those actions motivated by ignorance, and to the consequences of those actions upon our future existences. Karma is the pattern of our actions, choices, and intentions that shape both ourselves and our environment, just as a potter shapes his pots based upon his own desires and skill.

The next five links of the chain spell out the consequences of past karma in terms of our present life. These five links represent those things in our life that seem beyond our control, but are actually the fruits of our own actions. These things include our genetic inheritance, the kind of family we are born into, and the environment that we grow up in, as well as all the various opportunities and misfortunes that befall us throughout life.

The first of these five links is consciousness This link is represented by a monkey in a tree leaping from branch to branch, just as our conscious mind leaps from thought to thought without rest. As mentioned above, the kind of person we are in this life is not simply the result of heredity and environment, but is the outcome of karma. In other words, the kind of person that we are now has been determined by our own choices and the habits or dispositions that we have built up over many previous lives. This consciousness is already in existence even before conception. At the moment of conception, consciousness finds itself drawn to the most appropriate womb so that its karmic inheritance can unfold.

At this point, a new body and mind begin to develop. These mental and physical faculties form the basis of our mistaken sense of a static and separate selfhood. They are represented on the wheel of becoming by four men in a boat. The boat stands for our body, because it is our vehicle that takes us down the stream of our lives. The four men represent sensation, perception, volition, and consciousness. These are the four parts of our inner life. In other words, we experience things through our senses, perceive what they are, make decisions about how to act or react in regard to them, and through these experiences we derive our conscious idea of ourselves in relation to the world around us.

Once possessed of a body and mind, we then begin to rely upon the six senses, consisting of sight, sound, touch, taste, smell, and cognition. They are represented by the house with a door and windows opening the house to its surroundings, just as the six senses open our minds to the world.

The man and woman kissing is an appropriate example of contact, the next link in the chain. Contact refers to the moment when we become aware of the outside world, especially after we leave the womb at birth.

The last of the five links describing our experiences in our present life is feeling, which is represented by the graphic image of a man with an arrow in his eye. If contact is the first moment of awareness of the outside world, then feeling is the way that awareness affects us. Thankfully, not all of the feelings we experience are as traumatic as this picture would suggest.

The next three links describe our present actions in relation to the circumstances that we experience. Our future circumstances are consequences of our actions in the present.

The first is the craving which arises because of feeling. This is represented by a woman offering tea to a man who is thirsty, which is a particular form of craving. We crave the experience of only pleasant feelings and wish to avoid the unpleasant at all costs.

Craving leads to clinging to particular things, people, ideas and circumstances. At this point, intention has progressed into action. This is represented by a woman picking fruit.

Clinging results in becoming, the constant struggle for identity and happiness that characterizes the day to day life of most people. The pregnant woman represents this link by reminding us that our lives are never stable but are always in the making and on the way to becoming something else.

The last two links describe the future results of our present actions.

Because of our unrequited desires and the further unfolding of our karma, there is a necessity for further lifetimes. The woman giving birth represents the future births we will experience based upon the unfolding of the process of becoming.

Finally, everything that is born must also die. This is represented by the men carrying a corpse to the cemetery. From ignorance the wheel of becoming brings us to the inevitable suffering of life which culminates in old age and death.

In the Buddhist view, our constant struggle for a happy existence can never be achieved because life is characterized by the three marks of impermanence, suffering, and selflessness. Our desperate strivings and unrequited desires can only lead to a future birth, that will then lead to another round of old age and death, grief, lamentation, suffering, dejection, and despair. In short, the twelve-fold chain of dependent origination shows that ordinary human life is a repeated journey around a vicious circle of desire, karma, and suffering. The only escape is to abolish ignorance and recognize the vicious circle for what it is. Once the chain is broken, the liberation of the individual is at hand.

There is, however, another way of understanding the twelve-fold chain of dependent origination that does not assume the literal existence of many lifetimes. In this view, we are renewing ourselves from moment to moment and enacting the cycle of birth and death, with all the suffering that it entails. From this point of view, ignorance and volitional formations refer to our inability to accept the life process on its own terms. We desperately search for some form of stability and lasting happiness. Likewise, we refuse to acknowledge the dynamic flow of dependent relationships that is the true reality of our lives.

Due to this misguided activity, we fall out of sync with the true rhythms of life and end up feeling self-conscious and threatened. We never see reality itself because it is clouded over with our expectations, regrets, frustration, and all other manners of projection. At this point, our self image, based upon physical and mental characteristics, is consolidated. It immediately begins interpreting the world encountered through the senses in terms of self and other. The moment-to-moment contact between this self and the world outside gives rise to the feelings that constitute our self-referential experience of the world.

At this point, we begin craving for what is pleasant and then cling to those things, people, or situations that are the objects of our craving. In this way, every moment becomes a new experience of transitory pleasure and pain.

Birth, then, refers not to an actual rebirth, but to the birth of a new self-concept or identity based on what we are experiencing in that single moment. Thus, from moment to moment, we have a new idea about who we are in relation to our environment. We see ourselves variously as competent, kind, gentle, harsh, admirable, pitiable, uncertain, loving, loved, hateful, hated, indifferent, fascinated, and so on as each moment arises. However, no matter how resigned to or comfortable with these feelings we are, they will all fade away as the next moment comes and the cycle renews itself. This is the momentary meaning of old age and death.

Looked at in this way, the abolishing of ignorance means that we cease living life in terms of self-reference. By not projecting our desires and expectations onto reality or splitting it into self and other, the actions and self consciousness that leads to so much suffering ceases. Free of the chain, life can take on entirely new qualities no longer characterized by ignorance, craving, clinging, or the myriad forms of suffering. The moment-to-moment unfolding of the life process continues, but now it is free of our erroneous and fearful interpretations, such as the idea of birth and death. Dependent origination, in teaching that all entities are processes of the continuous unfolding of causes and conditions, reveals that there are no clear-cut lines that can be drawn between self and other, birth and death. Without such self-oriented projections, dependent origination can be seen just as it is – a dynamically relational unfolding of reality wherein every part contains the whole and is embraced by the whole.

The Twelve Stages of Transcendent Dependent Origination

As stated at the beginning of the chapter, dependent origination does not just apply to the cycle of birth and death. In fact, the twelve-fold chain is just one of innumerable applications of dependent origination. There is also a little known teaching of the Buddha wherein the principle of dependent origination is applied to the gradual unfolding of the spiritual path leading to liberation. This is the “twelve stages of transcendent dependent origination,” in which Buddhist practice allows us to break the twelve-fold chain of dependent origination.

The twelve stages of transcendent dependent origination consist of:

(1) suffering that gives rise to

(2) faith that gives rise to

(3) joy that gives rise to

(4) rapture that gives rise to

(5) tranquility that gives rise to

(6) happiness that gives rise to

(7) concentration which gives rise to

(8) the knowledge and vision of things as they really are that gives rise to

(9) disenchantment that gives rise to

(10) dispassion that gives rise to

(11) emancipation that gives rise to

(12) the knowledge of the destruction of the defilements.

Transcendent dependent origination begins with suffering because that is the weak link in the twelve-fold chain of dependent origination. The link of feeling can be discerned for what it truly is, either as outright suffering or as another moment of subtle disquiet, agitation or outright distraction that keeps us from discerning the truth about life. When we see through the illusion of satisfaction from transient sensations and cease to seek outside ourselves for answers, we have entered the spiritual path in which we seek a more profound truth.

At this point, faith arises. Whereas the link of feeling in the twelve-fold chain led to the response of craving, this time the response to suffering is to take faith in the means to escape suffering. It is important to note that in Buddhism faith does not imply blind belief. Instead, it means confidence in the Wonderful Dharma. In other words, instead of ignoring suffering or giving up in despair or apathy, we trust that life is meaningful and that there is a Wonderful Dharma (Ultimate Truth). In this way, we liberate ourselves and others from the suffering to which we have awakened. By chanting Namu Myōhō Renge Kyō, we express and strengthen our commitment to that Ultimate Truth.

Through genuine faith, we are able to reorient our lives away from the anxiety, suffering, and despair that previously characterized our lives. Our faith in the practice of Odaimoku gives us a renewed sense of hope and revitalizes our energy and enthusiasm. This is the stage of joy, the initial response that we feel upon discovering the teaching and practice of Namu Myōhō Renge Kyō.

If we continue practicing, eventually our joy will become stronger and stronger as our energy is directed away from the negative aspects of our lives towards the Wonderful Dharma. There may even be moments when chanting the Odaimoku in which we actually enter a state of rapture so strong that it can be felt physically.

Rapture, however, will eventually become tranquility. The initial novelty of entering into the practice will eventually subside, to be replaced by a sense of peace and stability that was not there before.

Soon, we will discover that while we may not be as wildly enthusiastic as we were at the beginning of our practice, we will find that we are much happier and less anxious than we were before beginning the practice of Odaimoku. This happiness is not like the fleeting and unreliable feeling that came from outside conditions meeting our expectations and desires. Rather, it is the happiness that comes from establishing a strong and stable center within ourselves based upon our faith in the Wonderful Dharma as expressed in our chanting.

The transition from suffering to true inner happiness based upon our faith in the practice of Odaimoku is an important theme in Nichiren Buddhism. A sacred writing of the Nichiren tradition advises:

Realize suffering as suffering, accept the enjoyable as enjoyable; consider suffering and joy together [as inseparable parts of life] and chant Namu Myōhō Renge Kyō. How could this not be the self-enjoyment of the bliss of Dharma? More and more you should strengthen the power of your faith. (Shijō Kingo-dono gohenji, Shōwa Teihon p. 1181. Not listed in the indexes.)

Once we have established a life that is truly happy, we are able to cultivate the faculty of concentration. When we have cultivated concentration, our minds are no longer so agitated or liable to distraction. At this stage, the practice of chanting is able to bring us into a state of one-pointed awareness, wherein the mind is no longer like a monkey jumping from branch to branch. The mind of concentration is more like a laser focused upon the task of cultivating insight.

This brings us to the stage in which we gain the knowledge and vision of things as they really are. In Mahāyāna Buddhism, the true nature of all things is often referred to as “Suchness” or “As It Is-ness.” By this, we mean that the true nature of reality is not liable to objectification but is simply empty and marvelous. At this point, we are beginning to see life as the Buddha sees it.

Traditionally, the meditation practice of Buddhism is known as tranquility and insight meditation. Its aim is to bring the mind to a state of tranquility or one-pointed concentration and then to reflect upon the nature of reality until insight is achieved. The previous two stages refer to this. In Nichiren Buddhism, one concentrates the mind by “single mindedly yearning to see the Buddha” in order to gain the insight that the mind itself is the Buddha. This is the true purpose of chanting Namu Myōhō Renge Kyō.

Another sacred writing of the Nichiren tradition states:

I, Nichiren, say that “single” is myō, “mindedly” is , “wishing” is ren, “to see” is ge, “the Buddha” is kyō. We must spread these five characters widely “even at the cost of our lives.”

“Single mindedly wishing to see the Buddha” can also mean: make your mind single and then you can see the Buddha; or, if you see the one mind, that is Buddha. Attaining the uncreated three bodies of the fruition of buddhahood is probably beyond [the capabilities of] T’ien-t’ai and Dengyō and superior to [the attainments of] Nāgārjuna and Mahākāśyapa. Understand this thoroughly! According to the Buddha you should master your mind rather than let your mind master you. I strongly recommend that you forsake your body and sacrifice your life for the sake of the Lotus Sūtra. Namu Myōhō Renge Kyō, Namu Myōhō Renge Kyō. (Gijō-bō Gosho, Showa Teihon p. 731. Listed in the Rokuge.)

The next stage is disenchantment, which means that we are no longer entranced by the false promises of worldly happiness. Our inner happiness is now firmly established and anchored by our insight into the true nature of things. Therefore, we are no longer compulsively attracted or repelled by anything.

Dispassion is the continuation of disenchantment. Now that we are no longer fooled or bewitched by worldly phenomena, we are able to be much more objective and are no longer swayed by the emotional tumult that used to disturb our peace of mind. It would perhaps be more accurate to say that we are no longer affected by egocentric emotions, because the positive traits of loving-kindness, compassion, sympathetic joy, and equanimity are still present within us and are, in fact, clearer and stronger.

In regard to disenchantment and dispassion, Nichiren would often recommend that we should rule our minds and not let our minds rule us. He gave the following advise to a disciple:

The wise are those who are not defeated by the eight winds of profit, loss, slander, fame, praise, censure, pain, and pleasure. They do not rejoice over benefit, nor do they lament over misfortune. Those who are not defeated by these eight winds will definitely be protected by the heavenly gods. (Shijō Kingo-dono Go-henji, Shōwa Teihon p. 1302. Authentic copy extant. Also see p. 138, WNS: FI 6)

As our practice continues to mature and grow, the time will come when we achieve emancipation from the wheel of becoming with its three poisons, six paths and twelve-fold chain. At this point, we are no longer slaves to our compulsions and have become the masters of our own destiny.

The last stage is the stage of the knowledge of the destruction of the defilements. This is the stage wherein we realize we have arrived at the freedom and purity of the Wonderful Dharma through our practice of chanting Namu Myōhō Renge Kyō. At this stage, our faith will have proven itself by becoming the living experience of awakening. The practice of Namu Myōhō Renge Kyō does not end here, however. From this point on, the Odaimoku will have become the medium through which we can communicate and share our experience with others and thereby enable them to attain awakening for themselves.

In regard to these last two stages, a passage in “A Conversation Between a Sage and an Unenlightened Man” states:

Truly, if we fear birth and death and wish to take delight in nirvāna, when we carry forward our faith and long for the Way, transience and impermanence will be like yesterday’s dream, and the awakening of enlightenment will become today’s reality. If only we chant Namu Myōhō Renge Kyō, then how could even our ineradicable sins and lack of merit continue? This the genuine truth. It is very profound. We should faithfully accept this. (Shogu Mondo-shō, Shōwa Teihon p. 386. Listed in the Rokuge.)

The twelve stages of transcendent dependent origination can help us to understand the evolution of our practice over the course of a lifetime. It can also shed light on the dynamics involved in even a single session of chanting Odaimoku. When we begin to chant Namu Myōhō Renge Kyō, we are usually motivated by some problem in our life. Perhaps we simply chant because we wish to lift ourselves and others out of the usual round of frustration, anxiety and suffering and into the realm of buddhahood. This initial motivation equates to the stages of recognizing suffering for what it is and engendering faith in the Wonderful Dharma.

Hopefully, as we begin to chant, there will be an initial burst of excitement and enthusiasm which intensifies as we continue to give voice to our deepest aspirations through the Odaimoku. This excitement will gradually level out as we enter a stage of deep calm within the rhythm of Namu Myōhō Renge Kyō. This, in turn, will allow us to enjoy the happiness that comes from centering our lives upon the Wonderful Dharma. The stages of joy, rapture, tranquility, and happiness point out that the chanting of Odaimoku should never be a chore or a mechanical repetition, but the uplifting and rewarding expression of faith in the Lotus Sūtra.

Once our thoughts and emotions have become exalted and centered upon the Odaimoku, we will find that our minds are no longer as restless and out of control as they were before we began to chant. This is the stage of concentration that occurs when we are able to focus exclusively on the Odaimoku itself and drop all other worries, considerations, or distractions. This is a very difficult stage to reach. It is also very important. When we reach this stage, we can set aside our limited negative views of life and allow the Wonderful Dharma to provide us with the insights we need for our lives. These two stages correspond to the stage of concentration and the stage of the knowledge and vision of things as they are. These stages also correspond to the practice of śamatha vipaśyanā, or tranquility and insight meditation, that the Buddha referred to early in his teaching as the “One Way of practice” for awakening. The Lotus Sūtra, however, is the One Vehicle that leads to buddhahood. By chanting Namu Myōhō Renge Kyō, we are affirming both the One Buddha Vehicle and accomplishing the One Way of tranquility and insight meditation.

At this point in our practice, we will have distanced ourselves from the three poisons and other forms of negativity that disrupt our lives. Even when we finish our practice, the joy, energy, and insights cultivated during our practice will carry over into our daily lives. The inner peace that we will engender will radiate outward. It will enable us and those with whom we come into contact to experience the freedom and purity of the Wonderful Dharma. In this way, the stages of disenchantment, dispassion, emancipation, and the destruction of the defilements will unfold both during and after our practice of chanting Namu Myōhō Renge Kyō.

Unlike the twelve-fold chain of dependent origination, the twelve stages of transcendent dependent origination do not form a closed circle leading nowhere. Transcendent dependent origination is more like a spiral that moves onward and upward. Each time that we practice, our transformation of suffering and our faith in the Odaimoku is reinforced by our previous experiences and insights. In this way, the practice continually proves itself and strengthens our faith in it. In this way, the growth of our practice enables us to deepen our faith in the Lotus Sūtra more and more until buddhahood is attained.

The sacred writing of the Nichiren tradition entitled “Hell is the Land of Tranquil Light” teaches that the growing intensity of our practice brings us closer and closer to full buddhahood:

Although this teaching is dreadfully important I would like to humbly teach it for the [sake of the] nun. For example, it is like when Bodhisattva Mañjuśrī taught the secret teaching of “becoming a buddha in one’s present body” to the Dragon Girl. After I humbly tell you [of this], I hope that you will gradually increase your faith [in it]. By listening to the teaching of the Lotus Sūtra, you should encourage yourself more and more to have faith. The person who does this is called the genuine person who aspires to awakening. T’ien-t’ai said “Through the indigo [dye] it becomes blue.” T’ien-t’ai meant that what is dyed with indigo becomes bluer than the leaf itself. The Lotus Sūtra is just like the indigo. The depth of our practice is [like] the depth of blueness. (Ueno-dono Goke-ama Go-henji, Shōwa Teihon p. 330. Listed in the Rokuge. Also see p. 50, NG)