What is the Lotus Sutra?

The meaning of Nam Myoho Renge Kyo is Devotion to the Mystic Law of the Lotus Sutra or Glory to the Dharma of the Lotus Sutra. What is the Lotus Sutra?

The Lotus Sutra is a Mahayana sutra and reveals the true aspect of all phenomena and Shakyamuni’s true identity as the Buddha who attained enlightenment in an unimaginably distant past. In this sutra, Shakyamuni explains that all people can attain Buddhahood.

There are several Chinese translations of the Sanskrit text of this well-known Buddhist scripture. The widely revered translation of Kumarajiva is entitled  The Lotus Sutra of the Beautiful Law’. In China and Japan, “Lotus Sutra” usually refers to this translation of Kumarajiva. Myoho-renge-kyo is the title of the Lotus Sutra. Nichiren Daishonin often uses the name ‘Lotus Sutra’ in his writings to refer to Nam-myoho-renge-kyo, or the Law which he called the essence of the Lotus Sutra.

The Buddha state is inherently present in all living things

The Lotus Sutra is considered one of the most important and influential sutras, or sacred scriptures, of Buddhism. It is of great value in Mahayana Buddhism, which has spread all over East Asia.

The core message is that Buddhahood – an inner state of life of absolute happiness, freedom from fear and from all illusions – is inherently present in all living things. By further developing this inner state of life, all people are able to overcome their problems and lead a fulfilled and active life and be at the heart of society.

Rather than pointing to impermanence and the consequent need to banish earthly desires and attachments, the Lotus Sutra emphasizes the lofty reality of the Buddha state inherent in all life. It is therefore a doctrine that deeply affirms the reality of everyday life and that encourages a deep commitment to others and human society as a whole.

The Lotus Sutra is also unique among Shakyamuni’s teachings in that it opens the way for everyone to attain enlightenment, regardless of gender, race, social status or educational level. Therefore, the Lotus Sutra is seen as the profound expression of Shakyamuni’s compassion to open the way to enlightenment for all people.

There are several Chinese translations of the Lotus Sutra (Skt Saddharma-pundarika-sutra ; Chin Miao-fa-lien-hua-ching ; Jpn Myoho-renge-kyo ), including the 5th century translation of Kumarajiva (344-413) ‘ Lotus Sutra of the Beautiful Law, ”which was the most highly regarded and forms the basis of the teachings that have spread in China and Japan.

Lotus Sutra of the Beautiful Law

The Chinese Buddhist teacher T’ient’ai (538-97) divided the “Lotus Sutra of the Beautiful Law” into two parts: the first fourteen chapters he called the theoretical doctrine and the last fourteen chapters he called the essential doctrine. The theoretical teaching represents the preaching of the historical Shakyamuni who is depicted as attaining enlightenment during his lifetime in India.

In essential teaching, he casts off his provisional status as the historical Shakyamuni and reveals his true identity as the eternally enlightened Buddha. The most important part of the essential teaching, according to T’ient’ai, is the revelation of this original and eternally enlightened nature of the life of Buddha Shakyamuni.

Nearly 2,000 years after Shakyamuni’s death, Nichiren Daishonin, a 13th-century Japanese monk, restored the profound philosophy of the Lotus Sutra to its essence and transformed it into a practice that enables each individual to enter the Buddha state in their daily worries that is, the highest state of life.

The 16th chapter of the Lotus Sutra, which we recite daily as members of the SGI, concludes with the Buddha’s deep desire: “I constantly consult myself: how can I encourage all living beings to tread the unsurpassed way? , and let them acquire the body of the Buddha as soon as possible? ”

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