Astus wrote:I've been reading the Nirvana Sutra this week and now I finished about 20% of it. So far one of the things I've been wondering about is that how could this text could gain such a fame. It keeps repeating its only message that the Tathagata is eternal but otherwise nothing of importance. I'd like to ask those who have found this sutra deep and interesting what exactly it is that caught their attention. Because so far it is pretty boring in my view.
It gets more practical after the first third. Basically, the Mahaparinirvana Sutra has three sections, that I can discern. The first section, which is the original smaller Sutra with some expansions, is largely like many Mahayana texts with numerous parables and lists and such hammering away at the reader about Mahayana topics, although it is a propronent of the four signs (permanence, self, etc). I believe the first part covers chapters 1-17 in the Southern version. Then, there is a large section that starts a general outline of bodhisattva practices. This section elaborates on agama sutras and adds commentary to parables found in the first section in the process. There is, for example, a large section on the four noble truths. Also, the Seven Dharmas Sutra and the Water Parable Sutra from the Madhyama Agama, written with Mahayana motiffs and commentary. That second section is chapters 18-20. Then there is the third section, chapters 21-25, which has a great deal of philosophical discussions on Buddha nature and further elaborations on previous material. To be honest, it is almost like a commentary attached to a Sutra, and then a subcommentary attached to that. It is layered, and I personally think it has more than one author who didn't agree on some things with one another.