The Lotus Sutra was taught by Shakyamuni Buddha about 2500 years ago at the end of his teaching life. The Sutra’s were verbal teachings which were written down later. There are twenty-eight books in the Lotus Sutra. Shakyamuni felt the Lotus Sutra to be his highest teaching.
In it Shakayamuni taught that all people have the Buddha nature, an enlightened level of life within, encompassing a state of freedom, unshakable happiness, tremendous life force and a deep wisdom. He stated that all of his teachings prior to the Lotus Sutra should be regarded as provisional, leading up to the Lotus Sutra.
In the Lotus Sutra the Buddha teaches for the first time that there is only one path, one vehicle, to Buddhahood. Earlier he had taught there were three paths. These were provisional teachings to lead his disciples gradually along the road to greater understanding. The Lotus Sutra reveals that every living being has the potential to achieve Buddhahood where the earlier teachings had excluded some beings.
In chapter 16, Shakaymuni reveals that Buddha is an eternal being, ever present in the world, whether visible or in nirvana, always concerned with leading living beings to Buddhahood. Rather than being a historical personality, the Buddha is a being who embodies the ever-abiding principle of truth and compassion that exists everywhere and within all beings through-out eternity.
The teachings of the Lotus Sutra are mean’t to be lived with one’s life. Believers are encouraged to not only live it themselves but teach it to others, so they too can become Buddhas.
Mahayana Buddhism Mahayana Buddhism, one of the two major branches of Buddhism is based on The Lotus Sutra. Nichiren Buddhism belongs to the Mahayana branch of Buddhism. This branch espouses bodhisattva practice as the means of enlightenment of both self and others.
After Shakamuni’s death the Lotus Sutra traveled through Tibet, China, Korea and then to Japan. In 13th century Japan, Nichiren Daishonin, the founder of this practice, upheld the Lotus Sutra and identified its essence as Nam-myoho-renge-kyo. This is the chant he gave practitioners to use on a daily practice.
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