“The Lotus Sutra”, referred to as the “Lotus Sutra”, was translated by Kumarajiva in the late Qin Dynasty. It has seven volumes and 28 chapters, with more than 69,000 words. The Sanskrit word Saddharma means “wonderful method” in Chinese. Pundarika means “white lotus”, using the lotus (lotus) as a metaphor to describe the whiteness, purity and perfection of Buddhism. Sūtra means “sutra”, so the full name of this sutra is “Miaoho Lotus Sutra”.
“Miaoho Lotus Sutra” says that the one-vehicle perfect teaching represents pure meaning, ultimate perfection, and supreme subtlety. The “Lotus Sutra” is the teaching taught by the Buddha Sakyamuni in his later years. It is a harmonious and harmonious teaching that reveals the power and reality of the Buddha. It is no different in big and small. It is a harmonious blend of sutra and secret. It shows that everyone can become a Buddha. In the five-temporal teaching judgment, it belongs to the last phase of Lotus and Nirvana. Because the content preached in the sutra is supreme and clearly shows that everyone can become a Buddha regardless of wealth or poverty, the Lotus Sutra is also known as the “King of Sutras”.
The Lotus Sutra was spoken by Sakyamuni Buddha at Vulture Mountain in Rajagaha in his later years. It is one of the early classics of Mahayana Buddhism. The Lotus Sutra was founded around the same time, but no later than the 1st century AD, because Nagarjuna Bodhisattva (150-250 AD) has cited the meaning of this sutra in his works “The Middle Way” and “The Great Wisdom”. In addition, the names of the sutras such as the Mahanihuan Sutra, the Mahaparinirvana Sutra, the Upasaka Precepts Sutra, the Mahayana Mind and Earth Contemplation Sutra, and the Great Buddha’s Head Surangama Sutra all list the names of these sutras. Also quoting the meaning of the sutra, it can be seen that this sutra was established earlier than the above sutras.
This sutra was compiled in northwest India. The initial version of the sutra was not complete, but was collected and added to it in stages like the Avatamsaka Sutra. “Preface”, “convenience”, and “parody” were established one after another; secondly, “seeing pagodas” and “encouraging” were established, followed by “emerging from the earth”, “Tathagata longevity”, “Tathagata” “Supernatural product”. Later, “differentiating merits” and “always not underestimating Bodhisattvas” were added; among them, “seeing pagodas” is considered to reflect the belief of the Bodhisattva group centered on pagodas. The “longevity product” reflects the Bodhisattva’s view of the Buddha – they regard the Buddha as the person who embodies eternal life, has achieved long-lasting achievements, and has an unlimited lifespan.
“Devodatta” appeared last, adding to the emphasis on the merits of circulating this sutra. Even a person like Devadatta, who committed the Five Uninterrupted Sins, can be predicted to become a Buddha because of his merits in passing the Lotus Sutra to the Buddha who practiced in the land. It can be seen that the establishment of the classics was not only influenced by the ideological circles at that time, but also closely related to the region, culture, society, and customs of the time.
【Purpose of Lotus】
In the era of the rise of Mahayana Buddhism, there was a saying that “Sravakas” and “Pratyekabuddhas” were the two vehicles or Hinayana, and “Bodhisattva” was the Mahayana. The Lotus Sutra is a representative work compiled under this background. It puts forward the ideas of “opening the power to reveal reality”, “unifying the three into one”, and integrating the three vehicles into one vehicle (the Buddha’s vehicle). Taking the two vehicles of “Sravaka” and “Pratyekabuddha” as expedients (rights), the “two vehicles” will ultimately have the ultimate goal of becoming a Buddha (as said in “Huacheng Yupin”), opening up the “returning from the small to the great” “This is a brand-new theoretical thought and the main purpose of this sutra. It occupies a vital position in the history of Buddhist thought.
[Effectiveness of each product]
The first preface: This is the general preface of this sutra. After the Buddha preached the Infinite Meaning Sutra, he entered the Samadhi of Infinite Meaning. Various wonderful flowers descended from the sky, and the white hair between the Buddha’s eyebrows magnified the light. Maitreya Bodhisattva asked because of doubt, and Manjushri Bodhisattva replied: In the past, all the Buddhas appeared before preaching the Lotus Sutra. It implies that the Buddha said that the special features of this sutra are different from other sutras, and arouses the public’s attention.
The second convenience product: This product and the life-saving product are the two major centers of the Lotus Sutra and are the authentic divisions of this sutra. Starting from samadhi, the Buddha praised the wisdom of the Buddhas for being so profound and immeasurable that it is difficult to understand and enter. The Buddha said that all Buddhas ultimately understand the reality of all dharma – “Ten such things”. In order to enable people of the two vehicles, Sravakas and Pratyekabuddhas, to break away from the bondage of suffering and achieve nirvana, the Buddha used the power of expedient means to explain the teachings of the three vehicles. What he says today is the Buddha’s true teaching. The five thousand people who have increased their arrogance have withdrawn from the table. The Buddha has declared that the only major event is the cause and condition, which is the so-called enlightenment, revelation, enlightenment and entry into the knowledge and view of the Buddha. All sentient beings are regarded as Buddhas. There are actually no three vehicles.
The third category of metaphors: The seven categories from this category to the ninth category “Teaching without a Scholar” further explain the content of convenience products through metaphors and causes and conditions. This product shows that Shariputra was the first to understand the Buddha’s meaning, so he was predicted to be Huaguang Tathagata. The Buddha compared the three realms to a house on fire, the three vehicles to “three carts of sheep, deer, and oxen,” and the Buddha’s vehicle to a “big white ox cart,” using the famous metaphors of “a house on fire” and “three carts and one cart.” , showing the profound meaning of “In one Buddha’s vehicle, three are distinguished” and “There is only one vehicle, neither two nor three.”
The fourth level of faith and interpretation: Subhuti, Kaccanyana, Mahākassapa, and Moggallana understand the Buddha’s thoughts at the upper level. The Buddha even said the metaphor of “the elder and the poor son”. The Buddha described the elder as a great compassionate man, and the Three Vehicles as the metaphor of the poor son, which led to the conclusion that “on the path of one vehicle, it is appropriate to explain the three.”
The fifth metaphor of medicinal herbs: In response to the request of the four people, the Buddha compared the two vehicles of human and heaven with “three grasses and two trees” as big, medium and small herbs, and compared the upper root and lower root bodhisattvas as big trees and small trees. Compare the Buddha’s equal wisdom to a blind rain. All kinds of vegetation, large and small, in the three thousand great thousand worlds are moistened and grown by the rain of one mind, just as the Buddha uses the law of one form and one mind to benefit all sentient beings equally.
The sixth prophecy: It was given to Kassapa and four other people to become Buddhas in the future.
The metaphor of the Seventh Transformation City: First, it is said that when the Mahatong Wisdom Victory Buddha, the sixteen princes listened to the “Lotus Sutra” and became a Bodhisattva novice, and later became a Buddha. The next time we talk about the “Metaphor of Transforming a City”, the fruit of the Three Vehicles is nothing more than transforming a city, and the purpose is to enter the Buddha’s wisdom and eventually become a Buddha.
The eighty-five hundred disciples’ oracles: Fuluna is the leader, and all the five hundred disciples will receive the inscriptions. The next time he talked about the “Parable of Tie Beads”, although the five hundred disciples all had the seed of Buddha, they were not enlightened and were covered by their troubles, just like there were pearls hidden in their clothes, but they were in a state of poverty because they didn’t know it.
The ninth teaching is not recorded by scholars: Ananda and Rahula are the first.
Tenth Dharma Master Grade: Anyone who listens to the Lotus Sutra while the Buddha is alive or after his death will be awarded the distinction of becoming a Buddha. It also lists the “five kinds of methods” for practicing, upholding, reading, reciting, explaining, and writing this sutra, and the “ten types” of merits for making offerings to this sutra. He talks about the sins of those who slander the Dharma and talks about the metaphor of digging a well.
The eleventh pagoda product: the multi-treasure pagoda emerges from the ground, proving that what the Buddha said is true. Sakyamuni Tathagata used his divine power to transform the Pure Land three times, and all the Buddhas gathered together to open a multi-treasure stupa. The Tathagata Many Treasures sat in half a seat with the Buddha.
Twelfth Devadatta: It is said that the Tathagata sought the Dharma in the past, and learned the wonderful Dharma from the teacher Asa Dharma. He also gave Devadatta the record of becoming a Buddha. Manjusri entered the Dragon Palace to preach the Lotus Sutra. The eight-year-old dragon girl became a Buddha immediately upon hearing the sutra, proving that the Lotus Sutra has great merits.
Thirteenth piece of advice: Medicine King, Great Bliss Sutra, and twenty thousand Bodhisattvas each vow to carry forward the Lotus Sutra. The five hundred arhats who have been ordained, the eight thousand unlearned people, and the countless eighty trillion nayutas of bodhisattvas all vow to spread this sutra.
The Fourteenth Practice of Peace and Happiness: Manjusri asked about the method of upholding the sutras in the last days. The Buddha told the four peaceful practices of body, speech, mind, and vows. He also used the rare pearl in the bun of the wheel-turning king to teach people to illustrate that the Buddha did not easily preach the most important part of the sutra. Respect the most superior Lotus Sutra.
Chapter 15 Emerging from the Earth: Sixty thousand Bodhisattvas with sands of Ganges River and their retinues emerged from the earth. People were confused, who were the disciples of these Bodhisattvas with the number of sands of Ganges River? Where did it come from? This is the prelude to the Buddha’s revelation of the “long-lasting and realized” Buddhahood.
The Sixteenth Tathagata’s Lifespan: The Buddha explained, “Since I have truly become a Buddha, there have been countless countless countless millions of nayuta kalpas,” and in between and even in this life, all expedients have appeared. It is also said that “Buddha’s life span is long-lasting” and “Buddha’s body is everlasting”. Use the example of a good doctor to illustrate the conveniences shown to save sentient beings. The Buddha is actually “always at Lingjiu Mountain” and “always preaching this Dharma”. In order to prevent sentient beings from thinking about slacking off, he shows his salvation. This product is intended to illustrate the Buddha’s “infinite lifespan”, “infinite teachings”, “infinite compassion” and “infinite relief”.
The seventeenth classification of merits and virtues: explains how much benefits the participants have gained from listening to the Dharma, and the merits and virtues of fifth-grade disciples.
The Eighteenth Merit and Virtue of Rejoicing: This is the continuation of what was said in the previous chapter, explaining the vast merits of listening to and speaking of this sutra.
The 19th Master’s Merit and Virtue: Understand the merits of the five Masters and obtain six pure supernatural powers.
The 20th Grade of the Bodhisattva Always Not Despising: It explains that the Bodhisattva Always Not Despising, by performing the joyful deeds, has purified the six roots, and speaks the Lotus Sutra, thereby showing the merits of praising this Sutra.
Twenty-one Tathagata Divine Power Product: The Buddha appears with a broad and long tongue and emits light from his pores. With this divine power, I command you to pass on this sutra after death, and to expound the merits of this sutra succinctly. The place where this sutra is located is the dojo, where the Buddhas attained enlightenment, turned the wheel of Dharma, and attained nirvana.
Twenty-two instructions: This item is the “general instruction” to all the Bodhisattvas. Touch the tops of the heads of all the Bodhisattvas three times and instruct them to pay.
The Twenty-Third Medicine King Bodhisattva’s Essentials: Starting from this chapter to the Twenty-eighth Encouragement, the necessity of propagating this sutra after the death of the Buddha and the merits of propagating it are explained in detail. This article cites how Medicine King Bodhisattva burned his arms to make offerings to the Bodhisattva Joyful Seeing for all sentient beings in order to repay the kindness of hearing Sun Moon Pure Bright Virtue Buddha preach the Lotus Sutra.
The Twenty-Fourth Bodhisattva of Wonderful Sound: Narrates the Bodhisattva of Wonderful Sound who appeared in 34 incarnations and preached the Lotus Sutra. He came from the Oriental Kingdom of Pure Light to the Vulture Mountain and paid homage to the Buddha and the Many Treasures Pagoda to preach the Dharma. The importance of the Hua Jing.
Twenty-fifth Avalokitesvara Bodhisattva’s universal door product: Infinite Intent Bodhisattva asked about the causes and conditions of Avalokitesvara Bodhisattva’s magical powers. The Buddha said 14 kinds of fearlessness, 32 kinds of incarnations and other merits.
Twenty-sixth Dharani category: Bodhisattvas and gods, etc., each speak mantras, protect, and uphold the Lotus Sutra.
The twenty-seventh chapter of King Miao Zhuangyan’s work: Tells the past deeds of the two Bodhisattvas Medicine King and Medicine King. When they were the two princes Jingzang and Jingyan, they persuaded their parents to take refuge in their master Yun Leiyin King Buddha, and made them listen to the “Lotus” The great good causes and conditions of the Sutra show how rare it is to meet the Buddha and listen to the Lotus Sutra.
Chapter 28: Samantabhadra Bodhisattva’s Encouragement: The Buddha told Samantabhadra the four methods for obtaining the Lotus Sutra after the Buddha’s nirvana. Samantabhadra vows to support those who receive the Lotus Sutra.
In order to promote the true spirit of the Buddha, the Lotus Sutra uses verses, metaphors, etc. to praise the eternal Buddha (the Buddha who has achieved eternal enlightenment). It says that since Sakyamuni Buddha became a Buddha, he has an unlimited lifespan and appears in various incarnations. Use various conveniences to teach subtle Dharma. Due to its fluent writing and beautiful vocabulary, it has immortal value in the history of Buddhist thought and literature. It is the most widely circulated classic since ancient times.