Lotus Sutra Media

Discuss and learn about the traditional Mahayana scriptures, without assuming that any one school ‘owns’ the only correct interpretation.
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Lotus Sutra Media

Post by Queequeg »

Jazz musicians often draw on a sort of canon of songs referred to as Standards. Though the songs are the same, each musician plays them their own way, adding their signature, opening aspects of the song that lay dormant or reinterpreting melodies to bring new feelings and emotions. Similarly, Buddhists have a repertoire of standards that are told and retold, opening meanings that were hidden, or drawing out lessons that ring out in perfect complement to the conditions of the telling. Scholars see the various versions of a text and puzzle over their minutiae, extracting history. What often seems to get lost in the dry analysis is that these variations are indicative of the teaching's vitality as generation after generation hands these "standards" down, drawing out lessons pertinent to them and in turn adding to the complexity of the teaching. Each teller brings their own experience to the text and thereby regenerates it. Like a sheet of music in the hands of John Coltrane or Wynton Marsalis, a skilled teacher brings the words off the page and spins them into life anew.

And this seems to be intended - many Mahayana sutras include exhortations to pass the texts on, explain them, teach them. This is certainly the case of the Lotus Sutra which includes exhortations to pass on even a single verse, and includes explanations of the benefit accruing to even the person who responds with joy on hearing of the Sutra through fifty degrees of separation from the Buddha.

I like to hear people's interpretations of the Buddhist standards, to hear how they interpret it, what they linger on or emphasize, or even what they add to it. The first "Standard" I became interested in was the story of the Buddha's birth through awakening, how different traditions and teachers explored the aspects of the story, making it human and relatable in their way.

With the internet, we have access to all kinds of resources, and the motion picture which I recently heard described as the greatest art form of the 20th century, is at our fingertips. Some of this stuff below is art. Its all motion picture. I thought I would put together a Lotus Sutra playlist to see some of the ways this standard is shared contemporarily. Please discuss or add videos as the case may be.

Those who, even with distracted minds,
Entered a stupa compound
And chanted but once, “Namo Buddhaya!”
Have certainly attained the path of the buddhas.

-Lotus Sutra, Upaya Chapter

There is only reality; there is nothing separate from reality. The naturally tranquil nature of dharmas is shamatha. The abiding luminosity of tranquility is vipashyana.

-From Guanding's Introduction to Zhiyi's Great Shamatha and Vipashyana
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Re: Lotus Sutra Media

Post by Wayfarer »

Great thread, Q. I too am a jazz muso, amateur, self-taught, but not bad, I would like to think. I have a treasured collection of standards which I am pleased to be able to sit down and play at my recently-acquired piano. And also I am trying to create a collection of just such talks, chants, liturgical items, and the like, which you have started on here. In fact, by way of contribution, herewith a splendid rendition of the Aspiration Prayer of Mahamudra, which I often incorporate into my morning sit.

'Only practice with no gaining idea' ~ Suzuki Roshi
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Re: Lotus Sutra Media

Post by FromTheEarth »

Thank you for sharing!
Knowing Tibetan masters, e.g. Tsongkhapa, Mipham etc., quoted the Lotus Sutra in their works, I have rarely seen Tibetan teachers explain or teach the sutra by itself (probably due to their focus on abhidharma and treatises). A refreshing experience!
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