dsaly1969 wrote:The Lotus Sutra uses parables and metaphors to positively express the “Truth of Impermanence” found in the Buddhist teachings.
papaya wrote:a human being, once fully awakened to this teaching, has no need for a formal religion.
It is my reading of the history and writings of Nichiren, that he was persecuted for the simple reason that he preached that according to the Lotus Sutra, no one needs a temple or a priesthood, or any outside guide in order to live a life of complete happiness—enlightenment.
The lotus flower itself does not appear as a teaching device in the Lotus Sutra. I believe its prominent appearance in the title is itself a device to indicate the fundamental teaching of the Lotus Sutra.
In his Introduction to his English translation of the Lotus Sutra, Burton Watson says that although the Lotus Sutra many times refers to the preaching of the Lotus Sutra, “the reader may be forgiven if he comes away from the work wondering just which of the chapters that make it up was meant to be the Lotus Sutra itself.” Then he quotes, approvingly, a scholar who described the text as “a discourse that is never delivered, ...a lengthy preface without a book.”
rory wrote:there are better translations than Burton Watson, who most certainly doesn't understand the Lotus Sutra, Zhiyi (Chih-I) is the great founder of the Tianai school that is based on the Lotus Sutra. So far I think the best translation is by Senchu Murano, published by the University of Hawai'i Press and Nichiren Shu.
dude wrote:Link doesn't work.
Thanks for nothing, rory.
papaya wrote:First of all, my profound thanks to you, Queequeg, for responding to my post.
I will point out, however, that when I wrote of not needing a formal religion, I was writing of an enlightened human being, a buddha. I was not referring to the Three Jewels, which I do not consider the establishment of a religion in the Western sense of the word. A teaching, a teacher, and a group do not a religion make. More like a school.
I believe that the rulers knew full well that if they established the Lotus Sutra as the supreme teaching, it would ultimately lead to the demise of the rulers' money tree. They no doubt knew that the central message of the Lotus Sutra is that all human beings are buddhas in the depth of their being. Now a buddha is beholding to no one. Like all politicians, they were not taking any chances with establishing a doctrine that would ruin the good thing they had going for them.
dude wrote:[/i]Disagree with Watson's whole approach and his suggestion. I would suggest he doesn't get it.
I dunno. I got the same feeling after reading the text of the Lotus Sutra for the first time some years ago; that it was leading up to something but not revealing it. For me, after a lot of study and pondering, it's still not satisfactorily resolved.
“Listen carefully to the Tathāgata’s secret and transcendent powers. The devas, humans, and asuras in all the worlds all think that the present Buddha, Śākyamuni, left the palace of the Śākyas, sat on the terrace of enlightenment not far from the city of Gayā, and attained highest, complete enlightenment. However, O sons of a virtuous family, immeasurable, limitless, hundreds of thousands of myriads of koṭis of nayutas of kalpas have passed since I actually attained buddhahood.
“Suppose there were a man who ground five hundreds of thousands myriads of koṭis of nayutas of incalculable great manifold cosmos into particles. While passing through five hundred thousands of myriads of koṭis of nayutas of incalculable lands to the east, he dropped just a single particle; and in this way he continued to drop the particles as he went toward the east, until they were all gone.
“O sons of a virtuous family! What do you think about this? Can all of these worlds be calculated or not? Can one imagine all of these worlds, calculate, and know their number or not?”
Bodhisattva Maitreya and the others together addressed the Buddha, saying: “O Bhagavat! These worlds are immeasurable, limitless, incalculable, and beyond our powers of conception. Even all the śrāvakas and pratyekabuddhas, with their knowledge free from corruption, are not able to comprehend them, or know their number. Although we abide in the stage of nonretrogression we cannot understand it. O Bhagavat! Such worlds as these are incalculable and limitless.”
Then the Buddha addressed the assembly of the great bodhisattvas, saying: “O sons of a virtuous family! I will now explain it clearly to you. Suppose all these worlds, whether or not a particle was left in them, were reduced to particles, and each particle represented a kalpa. The period of time since I became a buddha would exceed this by hundreds of thousands of myriads of koṭis of nayutas of incalculable kalpas. Since then I have constantly been residing in the sahā world, teaching the Dharma and inspiring sentient beings. I have also been leading and benefiting sentient beings in incalculable hundreds of thousands of myriads of koṭis of nayutas of other worlds.
“O Ajita! Those sentient beings who hear about the great length of the Buddha’s lifespan, and can awaken even a single thought of willing acceptance, will all obtain immeasurable merit. If there are sons and daughters of a good family who, for the sake of highest, complete enlightenment, practice the five perfections of giving (dāna), good conduct (śīla), perseverance (kṣānti), effort (vīrya), and meditation (dhyāna), with the exception of the perfection of wisdom (prajñā), for eighty myriads of koṭis of nayutas of kalpas, their merit is not even a hundredth, a thousandth, a hundred thousandth of a myriad of a koṭi of the former person’s merit. It is so small that it cannot be conceived of through calculation or illustration. If there are sons and daughters of a virtuous family who possess such merit as the former, they will never revert from highest, complete enlightenment...”
“Furthermore, O Ajita, those who hear of the great length of the Buddha’s lifespan and understand the intent of these words will obtain limitless merit that will give rise to the highest wisdom of the Tathāgata. How much more merit will they gain who extensively hear this sutra, move others to listen to it, preserve it, move others to preserve it, copy it, or move others to copy it; and pay homage to the sutra by offering flowers, incense, necklaces, flags, banners, canopies, lamps of scented oil, and ghee! The merit of these people will be immeasurable and limitless. They will be able to achieve omniscience.
"Religion" is one of those words that seem to have a set meaning until you start looking in more detail and it all looks like contradictions and nullities.
I think my biggest problem with what you've posted is this sense that your idea of awakening is like moksa. In the Lotus, awakening, far from being a release is a complete integration with reality. It means responsibility for the well being and happiness of all beings in all times in all places. Maybe I'm misunderstanding you.
I think you may be reading some Marxist analysis as a factor in 13c Japan. It also seems you may be attributing too much religious consciousness to the military junta. As far as I know, they were just trying to hold power in a country where they had only a tentative grasp while fending off military threat from outside. The last thing they needed was some street preacher causing unrest. They junta actually did try to buy Nichiren off by offering him a temple and patronage, but he turned it down because they were not going to take his advice and accept the Lotus Sutra, a step that would have caused everyone else to rise up against the junta. This suggests that they had little regard for his actual message, but thought that he could be bought. They just wanted him to stop causing trouble.
papaya wrote:Anyway, what you say supports my view that the whole affair was basically about politics. No politician, or junta, for that matter, wants anyone messing with what they see as their livelihood.
Queequeg wrote:papaya wrote:Anyway, what you say supports my view that the whole affair was basically about politics. No politician, or junta, for that matter, wants anyone messing with what they see as their livelihood.
I think you're trying to shift the ground on me. Your argument was that they were specifically afraid of the message of the Lotus Sutra and its implications, because people will wake up or something - I'm not quite sure what your argument was. I'm just saying they didn't care about his message, they just wanted him to shut up. If they understood his message, that would have meant that it was a very different time with very different people.
To employ an analogy, did Pilate know he was sentencing the Son of God to death? No. He was just putting down some guy who was making his administration of Jerusalem more complicated than he thought it needed to be. He didn't care about Jesus' message or what the Jews believed. He had orders from Rome to keep order and that's what he was doing.
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