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The Lotus Sūtra (Sanskrit: Saddharma Puṇḍarīka Sūtra)

The earliest known Sanskrit title for the sūtra is the Saddharma Puṇḍarīka Sūtra, which translates to "Scripture of the Lotus Blossom of the Fine Dharma". In English, the shortened form Lotus Sūtra is common. The Lotus Sūtra has also been highly regarded in a number of Asian countries.

The Lotus Sutra was revealed in the mid 70s of the first century CE. It "came out of nowhere" and presented a challenge for authenticity to Buddhist Scholars. Parts of it, especilotus-01ally the dharanis were written in the Magadhi dialect, mother tongue of Mari of Magadha, beloved companion of the Lord. At about the time of the return of the Lord in His glorified Avalokitesvara form as Christ, Saviour of the World, an international council of Buddhist leaders was held in Kashmir. On the agenda for that council was the task to decide what to do with the Lotus Sutra, is it authentic and orthodox or not. The decision came out in favour of the Sutra and it found immediate wide acceptance. Today, it is the most revered and most read of Buddhist literature.

The Lotus Sutra forms the basis of, and embodies all of Wayism in the East. Western Wayists draw from some Christian and ancient Church of the East's Eastern Bible (St. Thomas in Kashmir) as well.

Parables and Sacred Teaching Skills

The Lotus Sutra teaches, as Iesous did, in parables and simile. It introduces the concept of Sacred Skills (upaya), of adapting one's message to one's audience. This upaya is called Skillful Means, in most schools of Buddhism. The epitome of this sacred skill is Avalikteshvara. He not only adapts His message to the hearer, but also His appearance and mode of transmission. He will teach you in the mode most suitable for you at the time--whether you think you received a message from your own contemplation, from Shiva or Vishnu, from watching a child do something, from a worm in the garden, or from an animal looking up at you... To this effect, Iesous teaching in the West even has the autor of the book of Hebrews say in 13:2, "Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for thereby some have entertained angels unawares".

This sacred skill changed religion as it was known at the time. The concept is introduced in the Lotus Sutra as a story about a man who lied to his children to save them from dying in a burning house, and from there it is expounded to end with the introduction of Avalokiteshvara. It is said in the Sutra that after Avalokiteshvara was introduced and His powers and virtues extolled, that all bodhisattvas and buddhas wanted to develop those skills.

 

Introducing Divine Paternalism

A first century phenomenon in Buddhism, a direct result of Iesous' teaching, is the depiction of filial relationships with heavenly beings, in particular a peternalistic relationship with God (Buddha) the Father.  This was first illustrated in the Lotus Sutra, the Scripture that announced the incoming of Lord Avalokiteshvara. This is a bigger deal than what many westerners may think. In fact, it is still a point of contention among some Buddhists. Along with the introduction of a Heavenly Father, the Lotus Sutra also makes use of parables, and has its own version of the Parable of the Lost Son. Lotus Sutra speaks of gods, Hindu gods in particular and tells that Avalokiteshvara will appear as any of the gods.  All of this was new to Buddhist thinking at the time. It was a major reformation, a very bold move for the elders to have accepted the Lotus Sutra as canonical.

Lotus Sutra ch 25

At that time Bodhisattva Inexhaustible Intent posed this question in verse form:
World-Honored One replete with wonderful features,
I now ask you once again
for what reason that Buddha's son
is named Bodhisattva Perceiver of the World’s Sounds (Avalokiteshvara)?

Lotus Sutra

And I see Buddha sons
abiding in the strength of fortitude,
taking the abuse and blows
of persons of overbearing arrogance,
willing to suffer all these,
and in that manner seeking the Buddha way.

 

Lotus Sutra

I see Buddha sons
proficient in both meditation and wisdom,
who use immeasurable numbers of similes
to expound the Law to the assembly,
delighting in preaching the Law,
converting the bodhisattvas,
defeating the legions of the devil
and beating the Dharma drum.

Lotus Sutra

He manifests himself as my eldest son,
showing himself to living beings.
With immeasurable millions, thousands, ten thousands
of blessings beyond count,
he dwells securely in the Buddha’s Law
and thereby seeks the unsurpassed way.

 

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