The Lotus Sutra - Important Sutra of Mahayana Buddhism
The Lotus Sutra is one of the most important and influential sutras of Mahayana Sutras and contain the words and teachings of historical Buddha.
The Lotus Sutra is one of the most important and most influential Buddhist sutras in Mahayana Sutras. The Lotus Sutra is highly valued in many Asian countries where Mahayana Buddhism is widely practiced and worshiped. Originally, the lotus sutra was known as “Saddharma Pundarika Sutra” and it can be translated as “Scripture of the Lotus Blossom of the Fine Dharma”. Some of the few Buddhist schools in China, Japan, and Korea widely follow the teachings of the Lotus Sutra since these schools were originally established on the basis of the Lotus Sutra .
According to Mahayana Sutras , the lotus sutra contains the words and teachings preached by Shakyamuni Buddha himself. The Lotus Sutra is one of the unique sutras that contained the teachings of Buddha since it states that there is a possibility for all people regardless of their differences, to attain Enlightenment . Even though the Lotus Sutra contains the word of the historical Buddha , it is believed that the sutra was written in around 1st or 2nd century CE. Even though the earliest sutra text is believed to be lost, the Chinese translation of the Lotus Sutra is now believed to be the earliest document existed. The Chinese translation of the Lotus Sutra translated by Buddhist monk Kamarajiva is believed to be same as the original text and it was written around 406 CE.
Teachings of the Lotus Sutra
The Lotus Sutra of Buddhism is considered as the first sutras to use the term Mahayana in its text which means “Great Vehicle ”. According to Lotus Sutra, Buddha is considered as an eternal being who attained Nirvana yet he chose the cycle of Samsara so that he could be reborn to teach the Wheel of Dharma again and again. The schools based on Lotus Sutra always use extensive practice on the usage as well as the concept of skillful means of Seven Paramita or Perfection of Bodhisattva . The Lotus Sutra has always taught about higher teachings, but the sutra itself hasn’t shown any particular practice other than reading, reciting and preaching of sutra.
The Lotus Sutra can be described on the basis of three important principles. They are
All Vehicles are One Vehicles
Lord Buddha had preached that there are three vehicles or “ Triyana ” to attain Nirvana. Lord Buddha described Triyana as the three different ways to attain Nirvana by people. The first vehicle or mean is by hearing the sermon’s preached by Lord Buddha himself. The second vehicle is to realize Nirvana through people’s own effort. The last vehicle is described the path of Bodhisattva.
All beings may eventually become Buddha
The Lotus sutra also states that all beings may attain Nirvana through “ three vehicles ”. In Lotus Sutra, Buddha is depicted as the term “Dharmakaya” which literally means all living beings have the possibility to attain Nirvana and awaken their true nature.
Importance of Faith
The Lotus Sutras strongly focuses on the faith and devotion for attaining Nirvana, even though Mahayana doesn’t focus on absolute teachings and favors to attain Nirvana by understanding the teachings of Lord Buddha.
"Use of Parables"
The ultimate teaching of Lotus Sutra is implied through the use of Seven Parables. The Parables can be considered as the story that contains many layers of metaphor to teach about the ultimate teaching of Lotus Sutra. The ultimate teaching of Lotus Sutra is based on the “ Full Buddhahood ”. The seven Parables of the Lotus Sutra are:
- The Burning House – It contain the story of a man who lures out his children from the burning house.
- The Prodigal Son – It contain the story how a poor man came to know that he is wealthy beyond his expectation.
- The Medicinal Herbs – Plants grow in different ways even though they share same growing environment, the same rain.
- The Phantom City – It contain the story of a man who walks on a difficult journey falls in the illusion of a difficult city so that he could continue on the difficult journey.
- The Gem in the Jacket – It contain the story of a man who wanders in poverty, even though his friend sews a gem into man's pocket.
- The Gem in the King’s Top Knot – It contain the story of a king who preserves his most priceless gift to give to the person of outstanding merit.
- The Excellent Physician – It contain the story of Physician children who are dying of poison, but they lack the sense that they could take medicine to heal.