Harley White


Topknot Pearl - Poem by Harley White

Here is a parable telling a story
concerning a king, renowned for his glory,
related to two fables from days of yore
in the Lotus Sutra, chapters eight and four.

This legend, recounted in chapter fourteen,
begins with that potentate's adamant mien
in wishing the lesser chiefs to obey him,
honor with reverence and homage pay him.

When they wouldn't do it, he opted for force,
raising all sorts of warriors as his recourse
in order to subjugate opposition
and make other monarchs bow in submission.

Of powerful armies he was at the helm,
and a pearl beyond price, supreme in the realm,
in his topknot this sovereign always wore
as the jewel he kept with him evermore.

When the king saw how bravely his soldiers fought,
he was filled with delight and felt that he ought
to reward his warriors with lands and treasure
according to each one's merits and measure.

Clothing, chariots, assets material
were conferred by this ruler imperial.
Yet the singular gem to which he hung on
was the peerless pearl hidden in his chignon.

What is the reason he would not bestow it?
The king knew if he were even to show it
his troops would be shocked and would not realize
that the pearl they were seeing before their eyes

was unique— the most brilliant jewel by far,
of which no other pearl could be on a par.
In the same way, the essential far-reaching
profoundest superlative Buddhist teaching

could not be divulged when the time wasn't right
or else all the followers would have made light
of the greatest gift they could ever receive—
the one total truth that would never deceive—

a practice that permeates cause and effect
of existence, complete in every respect,
containing all virtues and recompenses,
purifying both the mind and the senses—

the title and theme, Nam Myoho Renge Kyo,
that the true Buddha Nichiren long ago
revealed to the world as the Utterness pearl
Dharma Flower Sutra and so did unfurl

the path to enlightenment by reciting
that single phrase, in this manner igniting
the flame of enlightenment in each being,
thus all humankind from delusion freeing.

Topic(s) of this poem: human condition, legend, narrative, truth, wisdom, awakening

Form: Narrative


Poet's Notes about The Poem

[Inspiration for the poem is the parable of the pearl in the topknot of the powerful sovereign's hair, which can be found in the Chapter Fourteen of the Dharma Flower Sutra (aka, Lotus Sutra) .]

This parable is found in the "Fourteenth Chapter on Practising in Peace and with Joy" of the Dharma Flower Sutra. Below is a passage of the commentary by Nichiren, from The Dharma Flower Sutra (Lotus Sutra) Seen through the Oral Transmission of Nichiren Daishōnin - Translated by Martin Bradley.

The Oral Transmission on the Meaning of the Dharma Flower Sutra (Ongi Kuden) says that, during the final period of the Buddha teaching of Shākyamuni, the people who do the practices of the Dharma Flower Sutra (Lotus Sutra) will constantly be guarded and protected by all the deva for the sake of the Dharma. The Dharma is Nam Myōhō Renge Kyō which means to devote our lives to and found them on (Nam[u]) the Utterness of the Dharma (Myōhō) [entirety of existence, enlightenment and unenlightenment] permeated by the underlying white lotus flower-like mechanism of the interdependence of cause, concomitancy and effect (Renge) in its whereabouts of the ten [psychological] realms of dharmas (Kyō) .

[In traditional Buddhist teaching, a deva is a heavenly being, a protective divinity. However, the deva and benevolent spirits could be seen to be natural forces both outside and within us.]

Below are relevant passages of the commentary by Nichiren on the Second Chapter on Expedient Means of the Dharma Flower Sutra (Lotus Sutra) , in The Dharma Flower Sutra (Lotus Sutra) Seen through the Oral Transmission of Nichiren Daishōnin - Translated by Martin Bradley.

If we are to underline the priceless jewel that was sown into the lining of the clothes of the man who was drunk on slander that is in the parable in the Eighth Chapter on the Prediction of Enlightenment for Five Hundred Disciples of the Dharma Flower Sutra (Lotus Sutra) , then this one and only jewel [sown into the lining of the clothes — see parable poem HIDDEN JEWEL] is neither separate nor is it different from the one in the king's chignon in the Fourteenth Chapter on Practicing in Peace and with Joy. This would point to the man that was hired as a menial who was neither different nor separate from the son of the elder in the parable in the Fourth Chapter on Faith Leading to Understanding of the Dharma Flower Sutra (Lotus Sutra) [see parable poem VAGRANT CHILD]. These stories are referred to as being both esoteric and utterly all-embracing.

It says in The Oral Transmission on the Meaning of the Dharma Flower Sutra (Lotus Sutra) that, in these commentaries, the priceless jewel sewn into the lining of the clothes of the man who got drunk is the same as the jewel in the sovereign's chignon. The person who was hired as a menial is in no way different from the son of the elder. However, when we get to the bottom of things the people who vilify the Dharma and who have no faith in it are those who follow the provisional teachings that are outside the reality of what the Buddha teaching is about.

The passages can be seen at the link for... dharmagateway.org... then at the link for... Poetry with a Buddhist Theme ~ by Harley White... also at the link for... 'Dharma Flower Sutra'... then at the links for... '14th Chapter on Practising in Peace and with Joy' and '2nd Chapter on Expedient Means'...

Nam Myōhō Renge Kyō means to devote our lives to and found them on (Nam[u]) the Utterness of the Dharma (Myōhō) [entirety of existence, enlightenment and unenlightenment] permeated by the underlying white lotus flower-like mechanism of the interdependence of cause, concomitancy and effect (Renge) in its whereabouts of the ten [psychological] realms of dharmas [which is every possible psychological wavelength] (Kyō) .

Search for the site at dharmagateway.org

Click on the link for "The reason that we continually recite Nam Myōhō Renge Kyō"...

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Poem Submitted: Monday, November 30, 2015

Poem Edited: Thursday, November 30, 2017


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