Deciphering the Lotus Sutra:
Commentary by Thich Nhat Hanh (Chapter 1)
Open Two Doors: Historical Dimension and Ultimate Dimension
The introductory chapter opens two doors. The first door is that of history, the events we experience and what we can see and know in our own lifetimes. The second door is that of ultimate reality, which goes beyond time and space. Everything in the phenomena participates in these two dimensions.
In the past, in another cosmic realm, the Buddha Sun and Moon Glow had also given the teaching of the Lotus Sutra. So the miraculous events that are happening today are only a repetition of something that has already occurred in another dimension of reality, the ultimate dimension that is unbounded by our ordinary perceptions of time and space.
As far as the historical dimension is concerned, Shakyamuni is the Buddha who is giving the Dharma talk today in this Saha world… But in terms of the ultimate dimension, Buddha Shakyamuni and Buddha Sun and Moon Glow are one and the same.
In the ultimate dimension, never for a moment has the Buddha ceased to deliver the Lotus Sutra.
If you know your true nature of no coming, no going; no being, no nonbeing; no birth, no death, then you will have no fear and can dwell in the ultimate dimension, nirvana, right here and now.
You don’t have to die in order to reach nirvana. When you dwell in your true nature, you are already dwelling in nirvana. We have our historical dimension but we also have our ultimate dimension, just as the Buddha does.
The Buddha Shakyamuni is none other than the Buddha Sun and Moon Glow – and all the other cosmic Buddhas that have appeared in various forms to teach the Dharma from beginningless time.