whether they are disciples of the Buddha in his transient status or of the Buddhas of the other worlds, are like commoners kneeling on the ground in the presence of nobles and high- ranking court officials. The Buddhas who gathered from the other worlds in the ten directions all remain on the ground, showing that they are only temporary manifestations of the eternal Buddha and that their lands are transient, not eternal and unchanging.
During the entire fifty years of Shakyamunis teaching, only in the last eight years did he preach the twenty- eight chapters of the Lotus Sutra. Again, of all these chapters, only in the eight chapters did he reveal and transfer the object of devotion to the Bodhisattvas of the Earth.62 During the two millennia of the Former and Middle Days of the Law, statues were made showing Mahakashyapa and Ananda flanking the Shakyamuni Buddha of Hinayana, and Manjushri and Universal Worthy flanking the Shakyamuni Buddha of the provisional Mahayana, the Nirvana Sutra, and the theoretical teaching of the Lotus Sutra.
Even though statues and paintings were made of these Shakyamuni Buddhas during the two millennia, no image or statue was made of the Buddha of the Life Span chapter.63 Only in the Latter Day of the Law will the representation of that Buddha appear.
Question: During the two thousand years of the Former and Middle Days of the Law, the four ranks of bodhisattvas and the teachers constructed images of and built temples and pagodas for Buddhas of other worlds or for the Shakyamuni Buddha of Hinayana, of provisional Mahayana, of the pre-Lotus Sutra teachings, or of the theoretical teaching of the sutra. No one in India, China, or Japan, however, neither rulers nor subjects, revered the object of devotion of the Life Span chapter of the essential teaching and the four great
bodhisattvas. Though I think I generally understand what you are saying, I have never heard such a thing before, and therefore it startles my ears and perplexes my mind. Will you explain it to me again in greater detail?
Answer: All the teachings that Shakyamuni Buddha expounded during his lifetime all the eight volumes and twenty-eight chapters of the Lotus Sutra, the first four flavors of teachings that preceded the sutra, and the Nirvana Sutra that came after the Lotus make an unbroken series of teachings like one perfect sutra. [These teachings can be divided into three parts preparation, revelation, and transmission].64 Preparation indicates the part from the Flower Garland Sutra, his first preaching at the place of enlightenment, to the Wisdom sutras; revelation indicates the ten volumes of the Immeasurable Meanings Sutra, the Lotus Sutra, and the Universal Worthy Sutra; and transmission indicates the Nirvana Sutra. The ten volumes of the revelation section likewise can be divided into these three parts. The Immeasurable Meanings Sutra and the Introduction chapter of the Lotus Sutra are preparation. The fifteen and a half chapters from the Expedient Means chapter to the nineteen-line verse of the Distinctions in Benefits chapter are revelation. The remaining eleven and a half chapters and one volume, from the section in the Distinctions in Benefits chapter clarifying the four stages of faith for people in the Buddhas lifetime to the Universal Worthy Sutra, are transmission.
The ten volumes of the Immeasurable Meanings Sutra, the Lotus Sutra, and the Universal Worthy Sutra can also be divided into two parts: theoretical and essential.65 Each part has the three divisions. In the theoretical teaching, preparation comprises the Immeasurable Meanings Sutra and the Introduction chapter of the Lotus