Practice of the Lotus Sutra?

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Practice of the Lotus Sutra?

Postby dyanaprajna2011 » Tue Aug 06, 2013 7:29 pm

The Lotus Sutra is said to the be the king of sutras. It's teachings are quite lofty, and I certainly hold it in high regard.

The sutra itself speaks quite a bit on the practice of the sutra, however, it never really goes into detail about what that practice is.

So, can anyone help me? What exactly is the practice of the Lotus Sutra? How does one practice it?
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Re: Practice of the Lotus Sutra?

Postby dude » Wed Aug 07, 2013 12:57 am

Read it, recite it, meditate on it, teach it to others, and uphold it (put the instructions therein into practice).
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Re: Practice of the Lotus Sutra?

Postby dyanaprajna2011 » Wed Aug 07, 2013 1:57 am

Can that be all there is to it? I guess with a sutra as profound as the Lotus sutra, I was expecting the practices set forth in it to be just as profound.
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Re: Practice of the Lotus Sutra?

Postby rory » Wed Aug 07, 2013 5:40 am

The Lotus Sutra spells it out very clearly that you must have faith in this sutra. Sounds simple but hard for many people to do, they want something more complex that is actually easier. Give it a try, chant this sutra, meditate on its profound passages with deep faith.
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Re: Practice of the Lotus Sutra?

Postby Astus » Wed Aug 07, 2013 9:27 am

The Lotus Sutra emphasises a few Mahayana ideas (skilful means, one vehicle, eternal buddha, sudden transformation, bodhisattva compassion) that became important. In East Asia the sutra's position was elevated because of Zhiyi, actual founder of the Tiantai school, who used it as frame for his synthesising ideas. It is because the sutra says very little about actual methods that one can just interpret it in dozens of ways. As for its repeated statement about its own superiority, the same you find in many other Mahayana sutras, and the same goes for the injunction to read, recite, etc.
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Re: Practice of the Lotus Sutra?

Postby Jikan » Wed Aug 07, 2013 2:02 pm

dyanaprajna2011 wrote:Can that be all there is to it? I guess with a sutra as profound as the Lotus sutra, I was expecting the practices set forth in it to be just as profound.


Let's take another look at what "dude" had to say here (emphasis added):

dude wrote:Read it, recite it, meditate on it, teach it to others, and uphold it (put the instructions therein into practice).


I guess I'd ask what more one might need. The Lotus Sutra opens onto many fundamental and profound teachings. Meditating on it carefully has been, in my limited experience, transformative of my relationships to others and myself.

Rory's comment on faith is important. It's fundamental to approach the Dharma generally and this text in particular with an open heart, an attitude of devotion, care, and trust that we call "faith."

Astus' comment is also important. There are historical reasons why the Lotus Sutra is venerated by so many. I think Zhiyi had a pedagogical purpose in holding this one up among others: it is a relatively accessible and teachable sutra, after all. It is, in itself, an expedient means of drawing a wide net of listeners into the heart of the Dharma.

I rejoice in your practice.
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Re: Practice of the Lotus Sutra?

Postby Seishin » Wed Aug 07, 2013 4:00 pm

Some excellent replies so far. :twothumbsup:

The Lotus Sutra isn't a practice manual with steps A-Z spelled out. What I've found is it's rather a journey of discovery and illumination. :smile:

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Re: Practice of the Lotus Sutra?

Postby dyanaprajna2011 » Thu Aug 08, 2013 1:22 pm

Jikan wrote:
dyanaprajna2011 wrote:Can that be all there is to it? I guess with a sutra as profound as the Lotus sutra, I was expecting the practices set forth in it to be just as profound.


Let's take another look at what "dude" had to say here (emphasis added):

dude wrote:Read it, recite it, meditate on it, teach it to others, and uphold it (put the instructions therein into practice).


I guess I'd ask what more one might need. The Lotus Sutra opens onto many fundamental and profound teachings. Meditating on it carefully has been, in my limited experience, transformative of my relationships to others and myself.

Rory's comment on faith is important. It's fundamental to approach the Dharma generally and this text in particular with an open heart, an attitude of devotion, care, and trust that we call "faith."

Astus' comment is also important. There are historical reasons why the Lotus Sutra is venerated by so many. I think Zhiyi had a pedagogical purpose in holding this one up among others: it is a relatively accessible and teachable sutra, after all. It is, in itself, an expedient means of drawing a wide net of listeners into the heart of the Dharma.

I rejoice in your practice.


Do you have any suggestions on how best to go about meditating on it?
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Re: Practice of the Lotus Sutra?

Postby Yuren » Fri Aug 09, 2013 6:47 pm

Perhaps genuinely and intensively asking: "What is the practice of the Lotus Sutra?" is already "meditating on the Lotus Sutra".

The Lotus Sutra is like a very powerful object that has a soul of its own. I don't mean this in a magical way. But sutras are not merely books. Have you ever experienced how, while reading a sutra, you feel certain special things that are not merely thoughts, but vistas, visions, sometimes feelings of bliss, sometimes even a trance?

I have first experienced this most curious event while studying the Lankavatara Sutra, and then again during my second reading of the Diamond Sutra, and then again when studying the Lotus Sutra. But a Dharma friend told me each person is attracted to different sutras. Are you a person that is attracted to the Lotus Sutra?

According to Zhiyi (who is, I think, the greatest Buddhist philosopher since Nagarjuna) the Lotus Sutra is the king sutra ,the highest teaching. If you one day have faith in this, that this is true, and tell this to others, and keep studying the sutra - this itself is "practicing the Lotus Sutra" I believe.

I also believe the Sutra tells us these practices are ultimately higher than any meditation as commonly understood (such as breathing meditation). Of course a practice such as a breathing meditation is something beneficial that is not negated by the Sutra. But it's not the Great Practice pointed to by the sutra.

The main meditation of the Lotus Sutra is the samadhi pointed to by the Lotus Sutra called "ichinen sanzen" or 3000 world in one thought-moment. But until one is able to practice this samadhi, why not practice some kind of daily meditation like breathing meditation, or whatever you learned from a meditation teacher, and couple it with reading the Sutra, a portion in the morning, a portion in the evening?

In time, the sutra ITSELF will reveal to you what it means by the "ichinen sanzen" samadhi or the 3000 worlds in one thought moment, and the everlasting Buddha which is dormant as a potentiality in all beings.

Let the Sutra guide you, that's the true practice of the Lotus Sutra. The Sutra comes before everything else. Let the Sutra itself become the primary object of your study, practice and worship.

I hope that makes sense?

My 2 cents,
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Re: Practice of the Lotus Sutra?

Postby Jikan » Fri Aug 09, 2013 6:52 pm

Sure, there are many different approaches to meditating on the teachings of the Lotus Sutra (very good question, by the way). Some have already been suggested, such as chanting, copying, and contemplating the text. This is rewarding in itself, particularly in a group setting.

I like to do the practice of the Bodhisattva Never Despising: I refuse to hate anyone I meet, but instead endeavor to recognize the capacity for Buddhahood in any and all. This is a simple reflection but if persisted in can bring great joy and other beneficent states.
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Re: Practice of the Lotus Sutra?

Postby dyanaprajna2011 » Fri Aug 09, 2013 9:51 pm

Yuren wrote:Perhaps genuinely and intensively asking: "What is the practice of the Lotus Sutra?" is already "meditating on the Lotus Sutra".

The Lotus Sutra is like a very powerful object that has a soul of its own. I don't mean this in a magical way. But sutras are not merely books. Have you ever experienced how, while reading a sutra, you feel certain special things that are not merely thoughts, but vistas, visions, sometimes feelings of bliss, sometimes even a trance?

I have first experienced this most curious event while studying the Lankavatara Sutra, and then again during my second reading of the Diamond Sutra, and then again when studying the Lotus Sutra. But a Dharma friend told me each person is attracted to different sutras. Are you a person that is attracted to the Lotus Sutra?

According to Zhiyi (who is, I think, the greatest Buddhist philosopher since Nagarjuna) the Lotus Sutra is the king sutra ,the highest teaching. If you one day have faith in this, that this is true, and tell this to others, and keep studying the sutra - this itself is "practicing the Lotus Sutra" I believe.

I also believe the Sutra tells us these practices are ultimately higher than any meditation as commonly understood (such as breathing meditation). Of course a practice such as a breathing meditation is something beneficial that is not negated by the Sutra. But it's not the Great Practice pointed to by the sutra.

The main meditation of the Lotus Sutra is the samadhi pointed to by the Lotus Sutra called "ichinen sanzen" or 3000 world in one thought-moment. But until one is able to practice this samadhi, why not practice some kind of daily meditation like breathing meditation, or whatever you learned from a meditation teacher, and couple it with reading the Sutra, a portion in the morning, a portion in the evening?

In time, the sutra ITSELF will reveal to you what it means by the "ichinen sanzen" samadhi or the 3000 worlds in one thought moment, and the everlasting Buddha which is dormant as a potentiality in all beings.

Let the Sutra guide you, that's the true practice of the Lotus Sutra. The Sutra comes before everything else. Let the Sutra itself become the primary object of your study, practice and worship.

I hope that makes sense?

My 2 cents,
Yuren


Yes, you made sense. And yes, I do feel a great pull toward the Lotus Sutra. Sometimes I feel odd about it, being a Zen Buddhist, and the Lotus is so unlike the Lankavatara and Prajnaparamita sutras, but I still feel this great pull nonetheless. So, I've been trying to incorporate it's practice into my repertoire. Zazen then Lotus Sutra recitation. :) I've been attempting to find ways to incorporate both Zen and Tientai/Nichiren practice together, which is why I was initially curious about the practice of the Lotus Sutra.

I have a question though: what exactly is ichinen sanzen? I've seen it mentioned a few times, but don't really know what it is.
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Re: Practice of the Lotus Sutra?

Postby dyanaprajna2011 » Fri Aug 09, 2013 9:55 pm

Jikan wrote:Sure, there are many different approaches to meditating on the teachings of the Lotus Sutra (very good question, by the way). Some have already been suggested, such as chanting, copying, and contemplating the text. This is rewarding in itself, particularly in a group setting.

I like to do the practice of the Bodhisattva Never Despising: I refuse to hate anyone I meet, but instead endeavor to recognize the capacity for Buddhahood in any and all. This is a simple reflection but if persisted in can bring great joy and other beneficent states.


You said something that is quite interesting to me. I had never really considered taking the practices of the bodhisattvas in the sutra and making them my own. But it makes perfect sense to do so. I've read a lot in the sutra about the various Samadhi states the bodhisattvas attained, and always wondered what their significance was. I think this ties into each other. Thanks for the information. :)
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Re: Practice of the Lotus Sutra?

Postby kirtu » Sat Aug 10, 2013 4:32 am

dyanaprajna2011 wrote: And yes, I do feel a great pull toward the Lotus Sutra. Sometimes I feel odd about it, being a Zen Buddhist, and the Lotus is so unlike the Lankavatara and Prajnaparamita sutras, but I still feel this great pull nonetheless.


There's a long history of Zen and the Lotus Sutra. I don't remember totally but perhaps Xu Yun's biography has pointers about this. Dogen also quoted heavily from the Lotus Sutra.

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Re: Practice of the Lotus Sutra?

Postby dyanaprajna2011 » Sat Aug 10, 2013 4:08 pm

I have another question about practice: the sutra says several times "the practice of the bodhisattvas". Does this mean those who are already bodhisattvas, or does it include those of us who are on the bodhisattva path, who practice the Mahayana, as well?
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Re: Practice of the Lotus Sutra?

Postby Yuren » Sat Aug 10, 2013 6:30 pm

dyanaprajna2011 wrote:I have another question about practice: the sutra says several times "the practice of the bodhisattvas". Does this mean those who are already bodhisattvas, or does it include those of us who are on the bodhisattva path, who practice the Mahayana, as well?


In Mahāyāna Buddhism, the Prajñapāramitā Sūtras, the Lotus Sutra (Skt., Saddharma Puṇḍarīka Sūtra), and a large number of other texts, list the six perfections as (original terms in Sanskrit):

Dāna pāramitā: generosity, giving of oneself (in Chinese, Korean, and Japanese, 布施波羅蜜; in Wylie Tibetan, sbyin-pa)
Śīla pāramitā : virtue, morality, discipline, proper conduct (持戒波羅蜜; tshul-khrims)
Kṣānti (kshanti) pāramitā : patience, tolerance, forbearance, acceptance, endurance (忍辱波羅蜜, bzod-pa)
Vīrya pāramitā : energy, diligence, vigor, effort (精進波羅蜜, brtson-’grus)
Dhyāna pāramitā : one-pointed concentration, contemplation (禪定波羅蜜, bsam-gtan)
Prajñā pāramitā : wisdom, insight (智慧波羅蜜, shes-rab)


As for bodhisattvas, I think the follower of the Lotus Sutra must follow the bodhisattva path because the Lotus Sutra tells you: I tell you now to aim directly for Buddhahood and discard what was only provisional.
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Re: Practice of the Lotus Sutra?

Postby dude » Sat Aug 10, 2013 11:59 pm

Ichinen Sanzen :
Tendai's categorization of the various conditions and aspects of existence (all phenomena, sanzen) contained in a single moment of life ( ichinen).
Ichinen : single moment of consciousness. Sanzen : three thousand [realms].
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