Finished the Lotus Sutra

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Finished the Lotus Sutra

Postby Hickersonia » Sat Mar 10, 2012 5:30 pm

I finished the Lotus Sutra (this version, translated by Burton Watson) today and have lots of things I am going to have to go deeper into in order to understand the text fully, but I was going over some of the unfamliar terms and phrases in the glossary and came across these:

Correct Law:

According to Buddhist belief, after the death of a Buddha, his teachings pass through
three periods of phases of development. In the first, known as the period of the
Correct Law, Buddhism is a living religion and those who practice it attain
enlightenment through its teachings. The period of the Correct Law following the
death of Shakyamuni Buddha is usually said to be a thousand years in length, though
some sources describe it as five hundred years long.

Counterfeit Law:

Second period following the death of a Buddha. During this perid, Buddhism becomes
increasingly formalized, people's connection with it weakens, and progressively fewer
of them are able to gain enlightenment through its teachings. Some sources describe
the period of the Counterfeit Law following Shakyamuni's death as a thousand years in
length, others as five hundred years.

Latter Day of the Law:

Third of the three periods which the teachings of a Buddha pass through after his
death. In this third and last period, the teachings of the buddha lose their power
to lead people to enlightenment. It is said to last for ten thousand years or more.


Reading these got me thinking... if we're in the Latter Day of the Law, what is our real objective as Buddhists? Something tells me that Burton Watson may have been taking some liberties with these explanations in the glossary, or that maybe there is not a clear consensus on these concepts and their effective time frames... in any event, I thought this would be the right place to ask for thoughts on the matter. So... does anyone have any ideas that might clarify this?

Thanks in advance. :)
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Re: Finished the Lotus Sutra

Postby Noah » Sat Mar 10, 2012 8:13 pm

I think you are right, the definitions in the glossary are very simplified and the true meanings of these terms can only be understood in the light of the Dharma. It's meaning within the content of the teaching. These terms are used in the Sutra to show the natural cycle of the Wheel of the Law. After all, it could not be a wheel unless it came back around to where it started from- ignorance. There certainly has been times before when the teaching has been "more potent" in the world- leading others to the Enlightenment experience but, it is a fallacy to take these terms to an individual perspective. We know from the Correct Law, Counterfeit Law and Latter Day Law only the cycle of the teachings, not individual perspectives to it.

The Dharma is solely an individual affair. I believe that certain individuals have great capacity for liberation, attainment, "Enlightenment" experience or higher mental states, there are just so many more people now, the world so complex that it is even harder to recognize. As long as the teachings are in the world, the individual has the ability to follow the path to Enlightenment.

As for objective as a Buddhist, I can give only what I understand as my own at this point. To understand my true nature deeper in the context of the Sutras, be more mindful in life, be a person of virtue and integrity, spread kindness, understanding in my community. It is truly joyous practice. I enjoy trying to "relax" and see the world in the light of the Dharma. I enjoy reading the Sutras. I enjoy intellectually applying teachings.

There are a great number of practicing Buddhists on the saha world. We are very lucky to live now rather than after the Law has vanished. We must know about the Cycle of the Law because it is the truth, there is nothing in it that should cause apathy toward practice but, confirmation of known laws. Even when all the teachings have vanished there will be individuals who dwell in meditation, seeking the Dharma. :D

Hope I helped?? Here is an interesting fact- there are as many people connected today by the social media site Facebook, that there was on the entire Earth at the time of Sakyamuni Buddha.
It is all happening right now :)
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Re: Finished the Lotus Sutra

Postby Hickersonia » Sat Mar 10, 2012 8:47 pm

Thank you very much, this is precisely the kind of thoughtful response for which I was hoping. Further, it sounds like the conclusions I am reaching on my own are are not terribly dissimilar to that which others may be inclined to find as they practice. Sometimes I just feel like I need a little confirmation to make sure I'm not being totally stupid about something. :twothumbsup:
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Re: Finished the Lotus Sutra

Postby Jikan » Sat Mar 10, 2012 9:23 pm

Hickersonia wrote:Something tells me that Burton Watson may have been taking some liberties with these explanations in the glossary


Yes, I'm inclined to agree with the something that tells you this.

An important concept in Japanese Buddhism is that of mappo: a late stage of decline in Buddhism that coincides with the present. The more fundamental question to ask is this: what kind of practice is most appropriate to the time and place, to the present? (think of upaya, skillful means) Mr Watson has a very specific answer in mind. Other schools have different ideas. For instance, the Japanese Pure Land schools argue that the only suitable practice in mappo is nembutsu, or reciting the name of Amida Buddha. Some put more emphasis on mappo, some put less emphasis on it. I think Watson overemphasizes it.

I'm really glad to hear of your enthusiasm for the Lotus Sutra. I encourage you to check out another translation. The Threefold Lotus Sutra is a good place to start. The BDK translation is very good, but expensive. I like the Senchu Murano translation as well. Basically... anything but Watson.

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Re: Finished the Lotus Sutra

Postby Jikan » Sat Mar 10, 2012 9:25 pm

Noah wrote:The Dharma is solely an individual affair.


I disagree here. When you take refuge as a Buddhist, you take refuge in the Three Jewels: you accept the guidance of the Buddha and the fellowship of the Sangha. You never walk alone.

Further, practicing with others and with a competent teacher is fundamental to the path.

More on this topic in a Lotus Sutra -oriented context here:

http://dctendai.blogspot.com/2010/07/it ... thers.html
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Re: Finished the Lotus Sutra

Postby Noah » Sat Mar 10, 2012 10:42 pm

When I say that the Dharma is an individual affair I mean that- one must come to an understanding of the Dharma for oneself. Not that the practice should be solitary. In fact, in the context of the Lotus Sutra, it is impossible! Since there is no separate self, all Dharma practice, even that of "those who dwell and delight in seclusion" is for and only useful it its application in the world.
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Re: Finished the Lotus Sutra

Postby Hickersonia » Sat Mar 10, 2012 10:48 pm

Jikan wrote:I encourage you to check out another translation. The Threefold Lotus Sutra is a good place to start.

Is this the book to which you are referring?
http://www.amazon.com/The-Threefold-Lot ... 096&sr=8-1
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Re: Finished the Lotus Sutra

Postby dsaly1969 » Sun Mar 11, 2012 12:02 am

Yes, and Rissho Kosei-kai (who publishes the Kato translation) has it available online for use for free along with the study books that go along with it.

Here is a link to the online and pdf version of the Kato translation of the Lotus Sutra:
http://www.rk-world.org/publications/lo ... a_toc.html

Here is a link to the online and pdf version of "A Guide to the THreefold Lotus Sutra" by Nikkyo Niwano:
http://www.rk-world.org/publications/guidels_toc.aspx

Here is a link to the online and pdf version of "Buddhism for Today" by Nikkyo Niwano which gives a modern interpretation and implications for Buddhist practice:
http://www.rk-world.org/publications/bu ... y_toc.aspx
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Re: Finished the Lotus Sutra

Postby ram peswani » Sun Mar 11, 2012 6:33 am

[quote="Hickersonia"]I finished the Lotus Sutra (this version, translated by Burton Watson) today and have lots of things I am going to have to go deeper into in order to understand the text fully, 1




From what i know of is that Burton Watson translation of Lotus sutra was was taken up by an american university. There was committee of experts of 9 members selected by the university. Each and every word translation was discussed and maximum care was taken to come out with an exact version
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Re: Finished the Lotus Sutra

Postby dsaly1969 » Sun Mar 11, 2012 4:01 pm

I don't think the concern is the translation in the Watson edition. It is the underlying sectarian assumptions which influence commentary and definitions within the text. Since this is an issue with any version of the Lotus Sutra, it is good to read more than one translation from more than one source so that you can develop a fuller understanding. The Kato translation of the Threefold Lotus Sutra is put out by Rissho Kosei-kai so the definitions and assumptions are from their perspective which are different from those of the Watson SGI influenced version.
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Re: Finished the Lotus Sutra

Postby Jikan » Sun Mar 11, 2012 4:08 pm

Noah wrote:When I say that the Dharma is an individual affair I mean that- one must come to an understanding of the Dharma for oneself. Not that the practice should be solitary. In fact, in the context of the Lotus Sutra, it is impossible! Since there is no separate self, all Dharma practice, even that of "those who dwell and delight in seclusion" is for and only useful it its application in the world.


Ah, I see. We're in agreement then.
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Re: Finished the Lotus Sutra

Postby rory » Mon Mar 12, 2012 4:05 am

Exactly about the Lotus Sutra translations. My personal edition is the translation by Senchu Murano of Nichiren Shu. The scholarship is excellent and for religious use it is beautiful; the back papers informative.
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