The Lotus Sutra

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Re: The Lotus Sutra

Postby rory » Fri Feb 24, 2012 5:45 am

Thanks Tatsuo for those figures. It's very interesting. All the big movements that emerged in Japan came from Tendai: Zen, Nichiren, Pure Land. Hosso, Kegon even Shingon what did they yield.?
I also wanted to point out that the Lotus Sutra posited revolutionary ideas that are so common today in Mahayana that we just take them for granted.
If we look at the parable of the Burning House, the revelation that sravakas and pratyekabuddhas have the same buddhanature as bodhisattvas is of enormous import. This is the great theme of equality that Nagarjuna praise the Lotus Sutra for, saying it is superior to The Great Perfection of Wisdom Sutra and that the Indian commentators revered. In those days everyone wasn't becoming a buddha, much less a bodhisattva, it was for the elites....
gassho
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Dharani of Amoghapasa Avalokitesvara:

Om amogha-padma-pasa-krodhakarsaya praveshaya maha-pashupati-yama-varuna-kuvera
brahma-vesa-dhara padma-kula-samayan hum hum

heart mantra: Om amogha vijaya hum phat
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Re: The Lotus Sutra

Postby Noah » Sat Feb 25, 2012 6:27 pm

Hey! I love it, I was at a used bookstore downtown and found the "Selected writings of Nichiren." It is very large and insightful to the history of the Lotus Sutra's propagation and truly a deep understanding of the Sutra. I was also reading through Chapter 4 of the text "Faith Discernment" just now in prep for a post later on the 2nd parable, which is my favorite of the whole text. It is just as you say Ram- "this mystic Law of all the Buddhas can only to bodhisattvas be expounded in full Reality" by this the text means that only bodhisattvas will be able to understand the deepest level of the teaching. I myself understand it more fully each day and am a long way from true, full comprehension. Yes, I may be poor, pathetic bodhisattva but, a low-level bodhi-being nonetheless :)

I want to make a second post for the next parable in the Sutra- The Son's Return in chapter 4 possibly tonight or tomorrow morning. It is masterly infused with meaning and very relevant because the disciple Subuti expresses his understanding of the One Vehicle Law. In all my growing in Buddhism reading the pali suttas, I always considered myself a kind of spiritual disciple of the Buddha, in reading the Lotus Sutra I felt my understanding of the Dharma deepen. This parable calls us to embrace looking at the process of Enlightenment from a broader perspective.

Noah
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Chapter 4 Faith Discernment- The Sons Return

Postby Noah » Sun Feb 26, 2012 6:51 am

so awesome and deep, I hope that others will be inspired to share their understanding as well :)

This parable is the first in the text to be told by a member (or members) of the assembly. Subhuti, that great and kind disciple, addresses the Buddha and speaks a parable to illustrate the sravakas understanding of the Teaching of the One Vehicle. I think it is well to point out he stresses a contentment with the spiritual attainment he has achieved before the teaching (content with non-function, formlessness and the void) and had no desire for the attainments of another path (the deeds and practices of the bodhisattva) or Buddhahood or Perfect Enlightenment. It is not that this goal is not worthy of pursuing, the Hinayana vehicle is a very individualized way of practice and Individual Enlightenment is ample goal. Separate paths are seen as just that, separate, before the teaching was given.

It must be said from the start that this parable is outside time, it begins by stating- "it is like a man who, in his youth, leaves his father and runs away." The first cause (separation) happens before the story itself and time runs rampant toward eternity at the end.
In the parable, the son leaves home for a long time and becomes needy and concerned with obtaining necessities then unexpectedly approaches his native country. The father at first searches for his son but, to no avail and, building his wealth great, settles in a new place where the son would never find him. The father is our true nature personified, The Buddha-nature, which we have been separated from since beginning-less time. The son is us, the separated identity. The father has desire to transmit his wealth to his son. When the son does happen to the fathers residence, he sees its greatness and becomes afraid and confused. The father recognizes his son and sends men to bring him over and the son replies with fear and faints away. Our true nature (Buddhahood) always knows us. It is we who have become alienated and see it as great, worthy, either attainable or unattainable, desired/undesired, etc. The fathers tactful means (in the Sutra device) for attracting his son is to hire him. His work of clearing dust is a loaded symbol given later as "all inferior laws and things" and he is happy with the comparatively meager conditions. As the father is our Buddha-nature personified (the Buddha), he approaches the son by appearing more humble and low. He puts complete confidence in him and offers unlimited support. Compared to the actions taking place, time flies by. The father then by tact, makes the son acquainted to his wealth. The abundant treasure (our true nature) is gradually more accepted and the son (our identity) is more comfortable with greatness and power. Then the day comes when the father proclaims to all at once the story, true identity and true wealth of the son. He completely relinquishes all abundance to the son. The son (disciples as separate identities) sees now and forever, eternity, filled with comfort and power.

Subhuti explains that the teaching has come of its own accord, our true nature as Buddha-nature is ours already and must only be revealed. The only way, the only path where the goal is full and complete Enlightenment or, Buddhahood, is the Bodhisattva path. It is/was the Buddha Sakyamuni's path and, indeed the only "True" path, the One Vehicle. It is understood from this view that Nirvana is a lesser degree of attainment. One thing that is supremely beautiful to me is how Subhuti points out that the Buddha does not begrudge anyone upon any stage of the path, all laws are given as needed to anyone who is receptive. This Wonderful Law is given so that all may understand their true nature and practice for the sake of all. In the understanding of True Reality, there is no distinction between self and other and that was well understood but, this Sutra stresses the fact that there is no individual attainment.

There is much more that can be said about this parable, hopefully some will be inspired to share their own understanding for the sake of the better understanding of others, as I have tried to here.
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Chapter 5 Parable of the Herbs

Postby Noah » Wed Feb 29, 2012 2:12 am

Thanks ram! I think you have your own understanding of this chapter and it is wonderful of you to share it. I will go through it from my understanding and you will see how (perhaps) we differ on some points.
The Buddha says to Maha-Kasyapa that it is truth how he has explained the teaching and its meaning. Here the Buddha tells another parable, one to deepen the understanding of the disciples. The Buddha likens himself to a raincloud and the beings of the world to the various trees, plants and herbs. It is important to know here that the rain is poured down EQUALLY upon all at the same time. There is no discrimination in the teaching. This is apparent in the world today, when virtually anyone who wants has access to any teaching he/she desires, no matter how esoteric the teaching. The fact is, many will not understand the meaning of specific teachings but, that cannot be helped. The rain pours on all equally. The difference is in the types of plants and the amount of rain they need to develop. They all get their fill and develop fully in the rain of the Dharma. In practice, the Buddha uses tactful methods to preach the law to all beings according to their capacity. At the end of the explanation of the Parable of the Herbs, the Buddha makes known that the true nature of all (Buddha-nature) cannot be known by anyone except Buddhas. The fact is ALL practitioners are on the Bodhisattva path because that is the only true path.
This parable is deep and fundamental to the text. After the first 2 parables told, the Buddha likens the spiritual path not only as leaving suffering and dangerous conditions (burning house) or, as gaining something precious and wonderful (Son's Return) but, as a process of personal growth. The only positive effect we can gain from the nourishment of the Dharma is to grow as our individual capacity permits. The path is not a "leaving," it is not a "journey" or "return," either. In fact, in this parable, it is characterized as an internal process of growth that everyone, regardless of label, takes part in. Truly, growing as individuals is the nature of all human beings, Buddhahood the highest goal.

We can see so far that these parables are not static stories, and they do far more than state the same thing over again. I know there is much more that can be said about this parable as well, I state only my own understanding, hoping to benefit others in their individual understanding, Thanks :)

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Re: The Lotus Sutra

Postby rory » Fri Mar 02, 2012 6:04 am

The point of the Lotus Sutra is :
the eternity of Shakyamuni Buddha & that all beings possess buddhanature. We all can become buddhas, but we need to make the effort and not produce bad karma or cling to bad behaviors. The final chapter of the LS (ch 22, the later chapters are later additions) entrusts the bodhisattvas of the earth with the task of propagating. The earlier chapters are abrogated with the final wishes of Shakyamuni:

The Sutra in ch. 22 the transmission chapter clearly states that
AT THAT TIME Shakyamuni Buddha rose from his Dharma seat and manifested great spiritual power. With his right hand he patted the crowns of limitless Bodhisattvas Mahasattvas and said, "Throughout limitless hundreds of thousands of myriads of kotis of asamkhyeyas of eons, I have cultivated and practiced the rare Dharmas of anuttarasamyaksambodhi I now entrust them to all of you. You should, with a single mind, propagate this Dharma, causing it to spread and grow extensively."

"For what reason? The Thus Come One is greatly kind and compassionate, without stinginess and without fear. He is able to give living beings the wisdom of the Buddha, the wisdom of the Thus Come One, and spontaneous wisdom. The Thus Come One is a great giving host to all living beings. You should all accordingly study the Dharmas of the Thus Come One and never be stingy.
http://www.buddhistdoor.com/oldweb/reso ... otus22.htm
gassho
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Dharani of Amoghapasa Avalokitesvara:

Om amogha-padma-pasa-krodhakarsaya praveshaya maha-pashupati-yama-varuna-kuvera
brahma-vesa-dhara padma-kula-samayan hum hum

heart mantra: Om amogha vijaya hum phat
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Re: The Lotus Sutra

Postby Jikan » Mon Mar 05, 2012 2:43 pm

Noah:

Have you tried reciting or copying the Sutra? It's a good way to go deeper with it, really a form of meditation. If you're interested, here are some guidelines for that style of practice.

http://dctendai.blogspot.com/2010/08/id ... utras.html

ps. just as a heads-up, rory's not a bro
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Re: The Lotus Sutra

Postby Noah » Mon Mar 05, 2012 6:39 pm

Jikan- thanks! I have read and mindfully read the Sutra many times now. I also allow myself to contemplate the meanings of specific passages in my meditation sessions, sometimes. Speaking the Sutra out loud and copying the text in the way shown on the link you posted seems like a great idea. Do you do this? I would like to memorize part (perhaps ch2- Tactfulness) so I could recite it at will.

Rory- sorry Sis! :D I had a friend back in school named Rory and I assumed you were a male because of that. You seem to have a true affinity for the Lotus Sutra. *bows*
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Re: The Lotus Sutra

Postby Jikan » Mon Mar 05, 2012 9:24 pm

Noah wrote:Jikan- thanks! I have read and mindfully read the Sutra many times now. I also allow myself to contemplate the meanings of specific passages in my meditation sessions, sometimes. Speaking the Sutra out loud and copying the text in the way shown on the link you posted seems like a great idea. Do you do this? I would like to memorize part (perhaps ch2- Tactfulness) so I could recite it at will.


Yes, that's how we do it. I've seen it transform people. to give some idea of how it fits in...

http://monshin.us/97/gyo-2011
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Re: The Lotus Sutra

Postby Noah » Mon Mar 05, 2012 11:15 pm

That is totally amazing, reading that has me interested in thinking about what kind of training is out there, even for a lay follower who is devoted. I feel that, no matter what, I will spend the rest of my life oriented toward the Dharma, loving it and practicing. Very inspirational :)
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Re: The Lotus Sutra

Postby Jikan » Mon Mar 05, 2012 11:30 pm

Noah wrote:That is totally amazing, reading that has me interested in thinking about what kind of training is out there, even for a lay follower who is devoted. I feel that, no matter what, I will spend the rest of my life oriented toward the Dharma, loving it and practicing. Very inspirational :)


Excellent! I rejoice in your aspiration.

If you're interested in practicing intensively in any of the Lotus schools, you can ask around Dharmawheel (try the Nichiren and Tendai sub-forums). For Tendai-shu, unless you're Japanese, here are your options:

The Tendai Buddhist Institute in upstate New York:
http://www.tendai.org/index.php?id=46

A residential monastic-style approach in northern California:
http://caltendai.org

PM me if you have questions on these. Meanwhile, I'll get :focus:
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Chapter 6 Prediction

Postby Noah » Tue Mar 06, 2012 12:12 am

I believe it is profitable to take this chapter in stride. It is truly the beginning of the entire assembly being given prediction to Perfect Enlightenment as future Buddhas. Thus, the entire assembly eventually takes up the Bodhisattva path (the One Vehicle). The Buddha has revealed the highest Ideal for spiritual practice, a perfect synthesis of perfect wisdom (prajna) and boundless compassion. Knowing that there is no fundamental separation between self and other, the Bodhisattva practices the Dharma for the sake of others, as long as there are other sentient beings in need of it.
There are two major themes that I see throughout all of the predictions in the Lotus Sutra. First, there is the abundance and glory in spiritual practice. the Sutra uses precious stones, flat landscape strewn with golden chords, perfume, beauty and luxury with many adoring disciples to illustrate the point. The disciples have practiced many years, dwelling in positive mental states or void and attainment of the only goal (Nirvana) that they were to have. Through the Sutra so far, they now understand that they too can take up the Bodhisattva path and one day be born as Perfect Buddhas. This brings me to the second point I see- the Bodhisattva path is very long, even from the viewpoint of one who has gained Nirvana. A Bodhisattva will practice under many Buddhas and travel through many world systems perfecting different qualities always for the sake of others. The Buddhas all know this because the only path to Buddhahood is the Bodhisattva vehicle.

Another major theme of the Lotus Sutra becoming apparent by this stage of the "flowering" is: ANY practice, ANY stage of spiritual development, is part of the One Vehicle. Any true spiritual practice, act of good-will, humanitarian effort, kindness or generosity, is the Bodhisattva path! Indeed, the disciples have been treading the Bodhisattva path all along and the Buddha shows this, next chapter, in another brilliant parable.

This in my take on basically the whole theme of the passages of prediction in the White Lotus Sutra. When I contemplate these passages, a feeling of patience with the path and satisfaction with any "level" of practice opens up.
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What difference does a difference make?

Postby Leo Rivers » Tue Mar 06, 2012 4:01 am

From what I can discern, Chih-i (538-597), who initiated the T'ien T'ai "Lotus Sutra School" in China constructed the conceptual scaffolding for all subsequent Lotus Sutra interpretation in China and thence Japan.

In turn, in Japan, Nichiren Daishonia, (1212-1282), constructed the integration of that scaffolding for subsequent Lotus Sutra readings in Japan, and the Nichiren Religious School.

This in turn gave birth to the schism layman's organization Soki Gakki (1930) which "co-ordinated" the Burton Watson translation.

Likewise, the Rekiyuka Religious Sect, (1920), broke from Nichiren

and gave birth to the layman's organization Rissho-kosei-kai which "co-ordinated" the Gene Reeves translation.

The Rekiyuka Religious Sect seems to also lay in the background of the BDK Kubo-Yuyama translation.

I in no way wish to reflect judgment on the
[nam] Myoho-Renge-Kyo
stream of Buddhism except to say I am not attracted to devoltionalism or faith based spirituality, so a Nichiren approach to Buddhism isn't going to be attractive to me.

And my understanding is that all of these texts are scholarly respect worthy translations. But my resent discovery that a few words, consistently misconstrued actually do matter enough to bother me - BECAUSE I don't have the equipment to read what lays behind what I am reading, I would like to ask is there is any discernible differences in translation that seem to doctrinally matter in the Lotus Sutra translations available. :thanks:

PS: (I have done a Google search on the keywords "Lotus Sutra/ translation/ review/compared" and found a lot of intense religious sect animosity I never suspected existed. And I don't care at all. Don't explain that stuff to me. I come from a Tibetan Lineage and I have already seen how High Philosophy can run off the rails into that ditch that runs along the tracks.)
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Re: The Lotus Sutra

Postby Noah » Tue Mar 06, 2012 4:38 am

Hey Leo! I have a translation from the Rissho-kosei-kai titled the Threefold Lotus Sutra. The Sutra of Innumerable Meanings and the Sutra of Meditation on the Bodhisattva Universal Virtue are included in the collection. It is great and also the only translation I can speak for. :)

I believe that, with the Lotus Sutra, it is most important to capture the feel and flow of the unfolding. It is truly a drama of epic scale, every conversation captured in prose, then in verse, pushing the imagination and spiritual vision of the one who experiences it to the limit. It is pervaded by the miraculous and mysterious throughout. I think that these qualities being conveyed adequately may be the tallest order for the translator. The descriptions of the scene and action are extensive but, one must simply immerse the reader in the greatest abundance and spiritual power imaginable.

This translation does it, well and very accessible. No commentary :D
http://www.amazon.com/Threefold-Lotus-S ... 042&sr=1-1
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Re: The Lotus Sutra

Postby rory » Tue Mar 06, 2012 5:31 am

Gassho Noah;
hey no problem, we all have buddha-nature and that's what counts :namaste:

I'm getting back into shikan meditation, a bit of shamatha then contemplation of a passage of the Lotus Sutra, I enjoyed that very much & as Jikan says, copying the sutra is a great meditative act & of course so meritorious. Also if you chant Daimoku, in my school we visualize the Assembly at Mt. Ryojusen whilst chanting. I really love that.

Leo, I use the Senchu Murano translation of the Lotus Sutra, Nichiren Shu isn't perfect but so far they have the most scholarly works and their editions of Nichiren Daishonin's works are the best too, they're published under the University of Hawaii Press.
gassho
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Dharani of Amoghapasa Avalokitesvara:

Om amogha-padma-pasa-krodhakarsaya praveshaya maha-pashupati-yama-varuna-kuvera
brahma-vesa-dhara padma-kula-samayan hum hum

heart mantra: Om amogha vijaya hum phat
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Re: The Lotus Sutra

Postby Noah » Tue Mar 06, 2012 6:18 am

Very great, Rory. You seem like a true spiritual friend to all.
I love the Lotus Sutra but, I do not hold is above other Buddhist Sutras. I believe it is truth that there are Innumerable meanings of the Dharma and there are many Discourses from Sakyamuni Buddha that would qualify as "complete teachings" if completely understood and internalized. Each approach the Dharma from a different perspective and I LOVE the Lankavatara, Diamond and Pali Suttas just as deeply. The Lotus Sutra has the ability to open up the imagination and emotional conviction like none other I have come across. I recommend the Lotus Sutra to the advanced practitioner, someone who has a good intellectual understanding and full acceptance (taken refuge) of the Dharma, then: watch it like a movie....approach it with a very un-critical viewpoint, don't try to think of anything, the text says it all.
It is amazing and I am glad it is one of those texts that a tradition has been built around. If you are interested in the history and buddhist culture that the school was founded on, I found a great book cheap at a used bookstore here:
http://www.amazon.com/Selected-Writings ... 935&sr=1-1

Undeniably amazing
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Re: The Lotus Sūtra

Postby Leo Rivers » Tue Mar 06, 2012 7:38 am

In several places I have read the recommendation that the Lotus Sūtra ought to be read at a sitting. [not that each sentence shouldn't be a meditation to itself in time] So I've done a skim read.

Just as "a read" I found myself enjoying, (as in "having fun"), the Lotus Sūtra very much. It seems to want to liberate you by making your mind bust the girders of ordinary self-centered fantasy with boggling vistas of spiritual WTF. [I mean no disrespect with saying that] Yet it is not as exploded out into endless iterations of fractal loops of elaboration as the Avataṃsaka Sūtra at its summits. It actually reads as a thematic sequence of tableaus. (I've read chapters 2-11, and 13-21 as a sort of two movement story, suggested by Prof.Teiser's talk about it's structure). The Lotus Sūtra is the perfect positive pro-joy anti-particle :applause: to a negative hopeless Lovecraftian Cosmos that seems to suit our Times. :toilet:

There is also an hour's worth of discussion by of five YouTube videos by Reeves I've watched.
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Re: The Lotus Sutra

Postby Jikan » Tue Mar 06, 2012 5:57 pm

Hi Leo,

The Burton Watson translation of the Lotus Sutra seems to reflect the particular doctrines of Soka Gakkai International.

At the Tendai Buddhist Institute, we use the BDK/Numata translation because it seems to be the most even-handed and rigorous. The Threefold Lotus Sutra is also recommended.

The Kern translation is outdated. The Hurvitz translation is a bit eccentric. I like Murano Senchu's translation, but that's just a personal preference.
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Re: The Lotus Sūtra

Postby Jikan » Tue Mar 06, 2012 6:00 pm

Leo Rivers wrote:In several places I have read the recommendation that the Lotus Sūtra ought to be read at a sitting.


The point is to treat it as a meditation in itself. You wouldn't read the whole thing at one go, but would instead take a period of meditation to recite (chant) a portion of the text.

I agree with your idea that the text makes a certain kind of impact on the mind... I think the sutra's power is in that impact moreso than in the particular doctrinal claims it makes. It has a certain way of reaching people that is hard to measure.

Enjoy it!
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Re: The Lotus Sutra

Postby Noah » Wed Mar 07, 2012 3:57 am

This is totally amazing. I have never heard the Lotus Sutra put in this way, ram's insightful expressions and your "matter of fact" statements hold truth. The other Sutras indeed need to be understood fully to light the way for the Lotus Sutra. Emptiness and Non-duality pervade the Sutra, time is transcended to the standpoint of Infinity, the Dharma itself revealed as a process of Enlightenment pervading all worlds, all sentient beings.
Other Sutras are rightfully named "expedient means" from the standpoint of the Lotus because, any attainment short of Buddhahood is merely a "magic city" on the way of the path of the Bodhisattva.

Thanks rory!
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Chapter 7 Parable of the Magic City

Postby Noah » Sat Mar 10, 2012 3:35 am

This chapter starts off with an introduction. Buddha Universal Surpassing Wisdom! Buddha Sakyamuni describes the length of time since that Buddha's passing as an inconceivable number multiplied by an inconceivable number. Multiply it by yet ANOTHER inconceivably large number and the amount of ages past since this Buddha! Sakyamuni Buddha perceives this time just as any other. Time is transcended here and we stand outside/above/at metaphysical beginning (no beginning). In this chapter of the text, the perspective is brought fully to the level of the One Vehicle, Perfect Enlightenment, Buddhahood. A teaching is given here and the disciples are all brought to the full realization by a another parable.
There is something special about this Buddha, he sits gaining Enlightenment for many ages before gaining the full Wisdom of the Buddhas. His sixteen sons and the gods worship the Buddha until he gains Perfect Enlightenment. When he does, All of existence is shaken and lit up- gods, men, all sentient beings can see each other and they gather to hear the Dharma preached. One they are all gathered, Universal Surpassing Wisdom preaches the Law of the 4 Noble Truths and Dependent Co-arising. Innumerable beings are liberated by the three vehicles. His sixteen sons then ask him to preach the Sutra of the Perfect Knowledge of Buddhas and they will put it to practice. It is then (for the first time?) that THIS Sutra, The Lotus Flower of the Wonderful Law Sutra is expounded by name. The sixteen sons understand it, all other beings are confused even after many ages of preaching. The Sutra continues to be preached by the sons as Universal Surpassing Wisdom remains in seclusion for many more ages. These sixteen sons have all gained Perfect Enlightenment and continuously preach this Sutra. It is revealed that one of these sons was Sakyamuni Buddha! Having many of inconceivable ages ago trained under many Buddhas then leading others to Buddhahood! Now, Sakyamuni gained Perfect Enlightenment when?!?!?! The idea of "when" here has no meaning. this is the deepest perspective of only Buddhas, indescribable except in the language of prajna-parimita: it is ALL time and NO time. The Lotus Sutra is the Sutra in which Buddhahood transcends space and time. The disciples of the Buddha now are some of the same from that time long ago, all practice according to their capacity, all aspire for Buddhahood (or not), all are ceaselessly taught through countless lifetimes by the Buddhas out of compassion because even when Perfect Enlightenment is attained, the Bodhisattva Vow is not fully attained. Until ALL are liberated, the Buddhas will exist and teach.
The parable is amazing and I will say my understanding in my next post. This part of the Sutra I see as a foreshadowing to the main crux of the teaching.
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