Commonly referred to as the Lotus Sūtra, this text is extremely popular in East Asia, where it is considered to be the "final" teaching of the Buddha. Especially in Japan, reverence for this text has put it at the center of numerous Buddhist movements, including many modern, so-called new religions. The esteemed status of this scripture is epitomized in the Nichiren school's sole practice of merely paying homage to its title with the prayer "Namu myōhō renge kyō".
Relevance to Buddha-nature
Though not necessarily classified as a tathāgatagarbha sūtra, several themes related to buddha-nature are addressed in this text, such as the single vehicle, the potential for all beings to achieve enlightnement, and the permanence of buddhahood.
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Recensions of This Text
- There are several Sanskrit editions (the most recent one by Toda in 2002) and many fragments of this sūtra as well as a Tibetan (D113; 180 folios) and several Chinese translations (Taishō 262–65). There is an old English translation from the Sanskrit by H. Kern (Oxford 1884) and several from the different Chinese versions (for details, see Potter 1995 under Saddharmapuṇḍarīkasūtra).
|Other Titles||~ saddharmapuṇḍarīka-nāma-mahāyāna-sūtra|
|Text exists in||~ Sanskrit|
|Canonical Genre||~ Kangyur · Sūtra · mdo sde · Sūtranta|
|Literary Genre||~ Sūtras - mdo|
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About the text
The White Lotus of the Good Dharma, popularly known as the Lotus Sūtra, is taught by Buddha Śākyamuni on Vulture Peak to an audience that includes bodhisattvas from countless realms, as well as bodhisattvas who emerge out from the ground from the space below this world. Buddha Prabhūtaratna, who has long since passed into nirvāṇa, appears within a floating stūpa to hear the sūtra, and Śākyamuni enters the stūpa and sits beside him. The Lotus Sūtra is celebrated, particularly in East Asia, for its presentation of crucial elements of the Mahāyāna tradition, such as the doctrine that there is only one yāna, or “vehicle”; the distinction between expedient and definite teachings; and the notion that the Buddha’s life, enlightenment, and parinirvāṇa were simply manifestations of his transcendent buddhahood, while he continues to teach eternally. A recurring theme in the sūtra is its own significance in teaching these points during past and future eons, with many passages in which the Buddha and bodhisattvas such as Samantabhadra describe the great benefits that come from devotion to it, the history of its past devotees, and how it is the Buddha’s ultimate teaching, supreme over all other sūtras. (Source: 84000)