'sutra' vs 'sutras' in Samantabhadra Meditation Sutra

Discuss and learn about the traditional Mahayana scriptures, without assuming that any one school ‘owns’ the only correct interpretation.
Post Reply
User avatar
Caoimhghín
Posts: 2704
Joined: Thu Jun 02, 2016 11:35 pm
Location: Whitby, Ontario

'sutra' vs 'sutras' in Samantabhadra Meditation Sutra

Post by Caoimhghín » Mon Jun 29, 2020 7:31 am

But if one recites the great vehicle sutra
and meditates on the truth of phenomena,
one will be released from all evil karma forever
and in future existences will produce it no more.
This is from the Burton Watson translation of the Samantabhadra Meditation Sutra.

Something that occurred to me: I wonder if having the single "sutra" instead of plural "sutras" in the first line of that quatrain is a sectarian translation choice. The translator likely wants to make it seem like the text is referencing the Lotus Sutra, since this is a part of the Threefold Lotus, but I wonder if there is any reason why it wouldn't be "if one recites the great vehicles sutras?" That would be the normal way you read the Chinese here arguably, since "the great vehicle sutra" isn't a normal title at all for the Lotus Sutra. Thinking out loud.
若誦大乘經、  觀法如實際,
If you recite the great vehicle sutras and contemplate phenomena as thus, as reality,
 永離諸惡業,  後世不復生。
you will be perpetually removed from all wicked deeds and [in] subsequent births will not again produce them.
(T277.393a14 Samantabhadra Meditation Sutra, see also Kubo on p. 71-2)
savi saghara aṇica di, savi saghara dukha di, savi dhama aṇatva di:
yada paśadi cakhkṣuma tada nivinadi dukha eṣo mago viśodhia.

"All formations are inconstant," he said.
"All formations are stressful," he said.
"All phenomena are selfless," he said.
When one sees this, one becomes adverse to stress, and this is the path of purity.

(Gāndhārī Dharmapada fragments)

Fortyeightvows
Posts: 2699
Joined: Mon Oct 06, 2014 2:37 am

Re: 'sutra' vs 'sutras' in Samantabhadra Meditation Sutra

Post by Fortyeightvows » Tue Jun 30, 2020 6:59 am

I think it means sutras for the reason you said

Fortyeightvows
Posts: 2699
Joined: Mon Oct 06, 2014 2:37 am

Re: 'sutra' vs 'sutras' in Samantabhadra Meditation Sutra

Post by Fortyeightvows » Tue Jun 30, 2020 7:00 am

Please change that post to

I think is means sutras for the reason you said

User avatar
Queequeg
Global Moderator
Posts: 10373
Joined: Tue Jul 03, 2012 3:24 pm

Re: 'sutra' vs 'sutras' in Samantabhadra Meditation Sutra

Post by Queequeg » Tue Jun 30, 2020 6:40 pm

At least since Zhiyi, the Samantabhadra sutra is understood to reference the Lotus. Same with the Immeasurable Meanings Sutra. Both are more or less referenced in the Lotus - See Chapter 1 for the Immeasurable Meanings, and the Samantabhadra Sutra in the 28th Chapter.

I believe the reading as "sutra" as opposed to "sutras" is contextual.
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, Expedient Means Chapter

There are beings with little dust in their eyes who are falling away because they do not hear the Dhamma. There will be those who will understand the Dhamma.
-Ayacana Sutta

User avatar
Caoimhghín
Posts: 2704
Joined: Thu Jun 02, 2016 11:35 pm
Location: Whitby, Ontario

Re: 'sutra' vs 'sutras' in Samantabhadra Meditation Sutra

Post by Caoimhghín » Tue Jun 30, 2020 7:10 pm

Queequeg wrote:
Tue Jun 30, 2020 6:40 pm
At least since Zhiyi, the Samantabhadra sutra is understood to reference the Lotus. Same with the Immeasurable Meanings Sutra. Both are more or less referenced in the Lotus - See Chapter 1 for the Immeasurable Meanings, and the Samantabhadra Sutra in the 28th Chapter.

I believe the reading as "sutra" as opposed to "sutras" is contextual.
It's also very unlikely and likely "sleight of words" to make a scripture say something that it doesn't. Watson also similarly changes every instance of "great vehicle sutras" to "great vehicle sutra" in his translation of the Lotus Sutra itself. No other translation, even those from non-Nichiren "Lotus Buddhism" souces, does this that I know of. People were always shady about the Burton Watson translations and now I see one facet why.

I'm not disagreeing that it has become a school's orthodoxy, but I'm wondering if you've read something out of "Profound Meaning" or "Words and Phrases" that makes you say what you say about Ven Zhiyi. I don't really trust Ven Nichiren quoting Ven Zhiyi, but if that's where it's from then that's a start.
savi saghara aṇica di, savi saghara dukha di, savi dhama aṇatva di:
yada paśadi cakhkṣuma tada nivinadi dukha eṣo mago viśodhia.

"All formations are inconstant," he said.
"All formations are stressful," he said.
"All phenomena are selfless," he said.
When one sees this, one becomes adverse to stress, and this is the path of purity.

(Gāndhārī Dharmapada fragments)

User avatar
Queequeg
Global Moderator
Posts: 10373
Joined: Tue Jul 03, 2012 3:24 pm

Re: 'sutra' vs 'sutras' in Samantabhadra Meditation Sutra

Post by Queequeg » Tue Jun 30, 2020 7:30 pm

I'm now looking at the BDK translation and there it makes reference to "Great Vehicle Sutras".

Just some thoughts -

It seems to me that even among Lotus Buddhism traditions, the Lotus is understood in two ways:

a. The specific text, Myohorengekyo; and
b. The final teaching of the Great Vehicle where all of the Great Vehicle texts are a single continuous teaching.

This would suggest that either reading, sutra or sutras, is acceptable.

In the former sense, the Samantabhadra Sutra is the epilogue of the Lotus Sutra. If you look at the 28th Chapter of the Lotus, it makes reference to the practice of Samantabhadra. It follows that, just as the Samantabhadra sutra makes reference to the Lotus, it is an elaboration of the practice of Samantabhadra referred to in the Lotus.

In the latter sense, the reading is according expansive.

Zhiyi seems to explain these two ways of viewing the Sutra in Profound Meaning of the Lotus Sutra where he describes relative and absolute Subtle teachings. So, according to this explanation, Buddhist teachings are subtle compared to non-Buddhist teachings which are relatively coarse. Mahayana are subtle compared to Hinayana which are coarse. True Mahayana is subtle compared to Provisional Mahayana which is coarse. The Lotus is subtle compared to other True Mahayana teachings which are coarse. Second half subtle... first half coarse... One Chapter and Two Halves... subtle... rest of the second half... coarse. This would explain how all teachings, Buddhist and Secular are integrated into a single teaching, but that some teachings are higher than others.

And then there is the absolute Subtle which is the True Aspect (実相), or reality, itself. Not that any of that is particularly relevant to translating the text except that it bears on how the text is read and understood in the East Asian context.

Anyway, BDK strives for academic standards in their translations, whereas Watson was translating for Soka Gakkai which has their sectarian interests.
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, Expedient Means Chapter

There are beings with little dust in their eyes who are falling away because they do not hear the Dhamma. There will be those who will understand the Dhamma.
-Ayacana Sutta

User avatar
Queequeg
Global Moderator
Posts: 10373
Joined: Tue Jul 03, 2012 3:24 pm

Re: 'sutra' vs 'sutras' in Samantabhadra Meditation Sutra

Post by Queequeg » Tue Jun 30, 2020 7:50 pm

Caoimhghín wrote:
Tue Jun 30, 2020 7:10 pm
Queequeg wrote:
Tue Jun 30, 2020 6:40 pm
At least since Zhiyi, the Samantabhadra sutra is understood to reference the Lotus. Same with the Immeasurable Meanings Sutra. Both are more or less referenced in the Lotus - See Chapter 1 for the Immeasurable Meanings, and the Samantabhadra Sutra in the 28th Chapter.

I believe the reading as "sutra" as opposed to "sutras" is contextual.
It's also very unlikely and likely "sleight of words" to make a scripture say something that it doesn't. Watson also similarly changes every instance of "great vehicle sutras" to "great vehicle sutra" in his translation of the Lotus Sutra itself. No other translation, even those from non-Nichiren "Lotus Buddhism" souces, does this that I know of. People were always shady about the Burton Watson translations and now I see one facet why.

I'm not disagreeing that it has become a school's orthodoxy, but I'm wondering if you've read something out of "Profound Meaning" or "Words and Phrases" that makes you say what you say about Ven Zhiyi. I don't really trust Ven Nichiren quoting Ven Zhiyi, but if that's where it's from then that's a start.
As far as I have found, Nichiren does not make any egregious errors in quoting Zhiyi, Zhanran, Saicho, etc. Translations of Nichiren's writings are often the only translations of the Tiantai/Tendai sources available in English. As far as Tiantai, I think he's orthodox. I actually think it might be more fair to consider Nichiren in the lineage of Tiantai rather than Tendai as he basically rejects everyone after Gishin [the first Zasu of Tendai after Saicho]. (But... that rejection of everything Tendai after Gishin is apparently incomplete)

Take a look at the Translator's notes in the BDK edition:

"Great attention was given to this sutra by Tiantai Zhiyi, who claimed that its teaching, in its detail of practical applications, is the consummation of the teachings of the Lotus Sutra..."

One of the practices of the Half Sitting - Half Walking practice described in Makashikan, referred to as the Lotus Samadhi, is based on the Lotus' Peaceful Practices chapter and the Samantabhadra Sutra. Zhiyi remarks, "These two [the Lotus and Samantabhadra] sutras originally arose together."

The text of the Samantabhadra Sutra makes explicit reference to the Lotus as well as making some assumptions that the reader is familiar with the contents of the Lotus.
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, Expedient Means Chapter

There are beings with little dust in their eyes who are falling away because they do not hear the Dhamma. There will be those who will understand the Dhamma.
-Ayacana Sutta

User avatar
Queequeg
Global Moderator
Posts: 10373
Joined: Tue Jul 03, 2012 3:24 pm

Re: 'sutra' vs 'sutras' in Samantabhadra Meditation Sutra

Post by Queequeg » Tue Jun 30, 2020 7:57 pm

Caoimhghín wrote:
Tue Jun 30, 2020 7:10 pm
Queequeg wrote:
Tue Jun 30, 2020 6:40 pm
At least since Zhiyi, the Samantabhadra sutra is understood to reference the Lotus. Same with the Immeasurable Meanings Sutra. Both are more or less referenced in the Lotus - See Chapter 1 for the Immeasurable Meanings, and the Samantabhadra Sutra in the 28th Chapter.

I believe the reading as "sutra" as opposed to "sutras" is contextual.
It's also very unlikely and likely "sleight of words" to make a scripture say something that it doesn't. Watson also similarly changes every instance of "great vehicle sutras" to "great vehicle sutra" in his translation of the Lotus Sutra itself. No other translation, even those from non-Nichiren "Lotus Buddhism" souces, does this that I know of. People were always shady about the Burton Watson translations and now I see one facet why.

I'm not disagreeing that it has become a school's orthodoxy, but I'm wondering if you've read something out of "Profound Meaning" or "Words and Phrases" that makes you say what you say about Ven Zhiyi. I don't really trust Ven Nichiren quoting Ven Zhiyi, but if that's where it's from then that's a start.
Context is all we have because in the Chinese, there is no singular or plural.
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, Expedient Means Chapter

There are beings with little dust in their eyes who are falling away because they do not hear the Dhamma. There will be those who will understand the Dhamma.
-Ayacana Sutta

User avatar
Queequeg
Global Moderator
Posts: 10373
Joined: Tue Jul 03, 2012 3:24 pm

Re: 'sutra' vs 'sutras' in Samantabhadra Meditation Sutra

Post by Queequeg » Tue Jun 30, 2020 8:16 pm

Re: context

The Chinese is 大乗経

There is no way to determine singular or plural from that, and so I think that ambiguity I described above, of being both singular and plural is often what is understood.

The main point, at least from the Lotus perspective, and I think this is more generally understood in E. Asia due to the ambiguity inherent in Chinese as well as the more general Mahayana understanding as well, notwithstanding the Single Practice spins that have defined East Asian Buddhism in the West for a significant part, is the Mahayana Teaching is singular (ekayana, single-vehicle). However, that Single Vehicle is expounded in numerous sermons captured in Sutra, in various ways, through the device of upaya. The Mahayana is a single teaching, explained at length in different ways. Whether its translated as Sutra or Sutras, the full sense of that term in Chinese is not adequately conveyed.

Does that make sense?
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, Expedient Means Chapter

There are beings with little dust in their eyes who are falling away because they do not hear the Dhamma. There will be those who will understand the Dhamma.
-Ayacana Sutta

User avatar
Caoimhghín
Posts: 2704
Joined: Thu Jun 02, 2016 11:35 pm
Location: Whitby, Ontario

Re: 'sutra' vs 'sutras' in Samantabhadra Meditation Sutra

Post by Caoimhghín » Wed Jul 01, 2020 1:21 am

I'll only be able to get to a computer in a several hours, potentially only tomorrow, but yes, I agree with you. Because of the character of the Chinese language, it is technically impossible to know if this was intended to be read plural or not. However, we have Sanskrit and Prākrit versions of the Lotus Sūtra that I want to dig into when I can. I've read the sections on my phone, but cutting and pasting on it is a drag.

The Samantabhadrasamādhisūtra has no Sanskrit, and potentially there never was one, so that adds a lot of ambiguity to how this is to be read. I will say though, without the ability to add hyperlinks and citations, that when the Lotus Sūtra refers to itself, it actually does so by name and refers very literally to itself. It's unlikely the Lotus Sūtra would be referring to itself as "the great vehicle sūtra," and potentially as unlikely that the Samantabhadrasamādhisūtra would call the Lotus Sūtra that.

Regarding Ven Nichiren and his quotations/claims concernimg Tendai and Tiāntāi, I want to explore his claims regarding Gautama Buddha's relation to the Vairocana Buddhas of the Womb and Diamond Realms in WND I:88, which I suspect may be a significant departure from the Tendai mainstream, and his claims that the Mahāvairocanābhisaṁbodhisūtra and the Lotus were originally coupled together, much like the Endless Exegesis and Samantabhadra's Meditation were supposedly coupled with the Lotus as three originally. This however, could be Ven Ennin or Ven Annen's mistake that he is believing, not his own mistake.
savi saghara aṇica di, savi saghara dukha di, savi dhama aṇatva di:
yada paśadi cakhkṣuma tada nivinadi dukha eṣo mago viśodhia.

"All formations are inconstant," he said.
"All formations are stressful," he said.
"All phenomena are selfless," he said.
When one sees this, one becomes adverse to stress, and this is the path of purity.

(Gāndhārī Dharmapada fragments)

User avatar
Zhen Li
Posts: 1528
Joined: Sun Apr 07, 2013 8:15 am
Location: Kamakura

Re: 'sutra' vs 'sutras' in Samantabhadra Meditation Sutra

Post by Zhen Li » Wed Jul 01, 2020 2:36 am

It seems more likely, as is typical with self-referential passages in Mahāyāna sūtras, that this is the text referring to itself. It means the Samantabhadra Meditation Sūtra and not another sūtra and not all Mahāyāna sūtras (a category which generally doesn't appear—sūtras tend to prefer to emphasise themselves).

As for Sanskrit, usually they say "idaṃ sūtraṃ" or the name of the text (e.g. "idaṃ prajñāpāramitāṃ") or "idaṃ dharmaparyāyaṃ." While some texts, such as the Lotus Sūtra, refer to other sūtras individually, the only case where a sūtra explicitly refers to a collection of sūtras that I can recall is in the Laṅkāvatāra Sūtra. I know there must be other cases, but it's not that common—so, it's more likely the text is self-referential in this case.

User avatar
Caoimhghín
Posts: 2704
Joined: Thu Jun 02, 2016 11:35 pm
Location: Whitby, Ontario

Re: 'sutra' vs 'sutras' in Samantabhadra Meditation Sutra

Post by Caoimhghín » Wed Jul 01, 2020 3:11 am

Zhen Li wrote:
Wed Jul 01, 2020 2:36 am
It seems more likely, as is typical with self-referential passages in Mahāyāna sūtras, that this is the text referring to itself. It means the Samantabhadra Meditation Sūtra and not another sūtra and not all Mahāyāna sūtras (a category which generally doesn't appear—sūtras tend to prefer to emphasise themselves).

As for Sanskrit, usually they say "idaṃ sūtraṃ" or the name of the text (e.g. "idaṃ prajñāpāramitāṃ") or "idaṃ dharmaparyāyaṃ." While some texts, such as the Lotus Sūtra, refer to other sūtras individually, the only case where a sūtra explicitly refers to a collection of sūtras that I can recall is in the Laṅkāvatāra Sūtra. I know there must be other cases, but it's not that common—so, it's more likely the text is self-referential in this case.
So you're suggesting this *mahāyānasūtraṁ could well be like the -nāmamahāyānasūtraṁ that adorns the titles of many other great vehicle sūtras, and is the Samantabhadrasamādhisūtra self-referentially referring to itself?

The scripture we're talking about is considered by many apocryphal and possibly written in Chinese instead of Sanskrit, so that further muddies the waters.
savi saghara aṇica di, savi saghara dukha di, savi dhama aṇatva di:
yada paśadi cakhkṣuma tada nivinadi dukha eṣo mago viśodhia.

"All formations are inconstant," he said.
"All formations are stressful," he said.
"All phenomena are selfless," he said.
When one sees this, one becomes adverse to stress, and this is the path of purity.

(Gāndhārī Dharmapada fragments)

User avatar
Queequeg
Global Moderator
Posts: 10373
Joined: Tue Jul 03, 2012 3:24 pm

Re: 'sutra' vs 'sutras' in Samantabhadra Meditation Sutra

Post by Queequeg » Wed Jul 01, 2020 4:47 am

The text suggests answers itself. Might be worth looking at it.
Thus have I heard:

On one occasion the Buddha was at the double-storied assembly hall of the Great Forest Monastery in the land of Vaiśālī. He announced to all the monks:

My state shall be that of parinirvāṇa after the passage of three months’ time.

Thereupon the esteemed Ānanda rose from where he sat, straightened his clothing, and folded his hands. Then, in homage, he placed his hands together palm-to-palm and walked around the Buddha three times. He then knelt formally on one knee, placed his palms together, and fixed his eyes intently and steadfastly upon the Tathāgata. The venerable Mahākāśyapa and the great-being (mahāsattva) bodhisattva Maitreya also rose from where they sat, brought the palms of their hands together in homage, and gazed up at the honored face. These three men of great distinction then addressed the Buddha in one voice, saying:

World-honored One! After you have passed away, O Tathāgata, how do living beings produce the bodhisattva mind, practice in accordance with the comprehensive [vaipulya] sutras of the Great Vehicle (Mahayana), and, with right mindfulness, bring their thoughts into the realm of one reality? How do they avoid losing sight of the aspiration for ultimate enlightenment (bodhicitta)? Moreover, without cutting off worldly passions and without abandoning the five desires, how do they achieve purity of the sense faculties and eliminate accumulated impurities? Without giving up the five desires, how can they still become capable of seeing events and things free from encumbrance with the pure natural eyes received from their parents at birth?

The Buddha addressed Ānanda:

Hear me clearly! Hear me clearly, and consider this well! In the past, on Mount Vulture Peak and at other places, the Tathāgata has already expounded the one genuine path from many perspectives. And now, at this place, for the benefit of all living beings in the future who wish to follow the Supreme Way that is the Great Vehicle—and who wish to learn and follow the practice of All-embracing Goodness, I will now expound the method for that, which I have kept in mind. Impurities, in any number, should be eliminated whether one perceives All-embracing Goodness or not. This I will now explain to you, accordingly, in great detail.

O Ānanda! All-embracing Goodness Bodhisattva was born in the Pure Wondrous Land in the east. Aspects of that land have already been thoroughly detailed in the Dharma Flower Sutra (Lotus Sutra), and these I will now outline and explain.

Ānanda! When monks, nuns, laymen, laywomen, heavenly beings (devas), nāgas, others of the eight classes of ever-present guardian spirits, or any living beings are internalizing the Great Vehicle sutras, practicing in accordance with the Great Vehicle, aspiring to a Great Vehicle consciousness, and would be pleased to see an embodiment of the bodhisattva All-embracing Goodness, take joy in seeing the stupa of Abundant Treasures Buddha, be happy to see Śākyamuni Buddha as well as buddhas that emanate from him, and be glad to achieve purification of the six sense faculties, they should learn this way of contemplation. Beneficial effects of this contemplation are the elimination of encumbrances and the perception of extraordinary and wondrous things.

As a result of resolutely internalizing and keeping faith with it, and wholeheartedly pursuing mastery of it, a practitioner will become continuously conscious of the Great Vehicle without immersion into a specialized focus of mind, and he or she will gain perception of All embracing Goodness within the course of one to three-times-seven days. A practitioner who has great encumbrances will gain perception of him after seven-times-seven days have passed. A practitioner with greater encumbrances will gain perception after one more rebirth, and a practitioner with yet more serious encumbrances will gain perception after two more rebirths. Further, a practitioner with even graver encumbrances will gain perception after three more rebirths. Karmic consequences differ like this—that is why there are variations in my ways of explanation.
Tiantai Lotus Texts

In this passage there is the Great Vehicle (Mahayana) and Great Vehicle Sutras. Relating the former and the latter, the Buddha remarks, "In the past, on Mount Vulture Peak and at other places, the Tathāgata has already expounded the one genuine path from many perspectives." He is clearly referring to the numerous teachings of the Mahayana that, as explained in the Lotus, are upaya in the ekayana - single vehicle.

This passage, though, the reference to sutras, plural, may be mistaken:
When monks, nuns, laymen, laywomen, heavenly beings (devas), nāgas, others of the eight classes of ever-present guardian spirits, or any living beings are internalizing the Great Vehicle sutras, practicing in accordance with the Great Vehicle, aspiring to a Great Vehicle consciousness, and would be pleased to see an embodiment of the bodhisattva All-embracing Goodness, take joy in seeing the stupa of Abundant Treasures Buddha, be happy to see Śākyamuni Buddha as well as buddhas that emanate from him, and be glad to achieve purification of the six sense faculties, they should learn this way of contemplation. Beneficial effects of this contemplation are the elimination of encumbrances and the perception of extraordinary and wondrous things.
From the point the Buddha makes reference to wanting to see Samantabhadra, the text makes specific references to the events in the Lotus Sutra:

"pleased to see an embodiment of the bodhisattva All-embracing Goodness"

This is Samantabhadra's vow in the Lotus Sutra:
O Bhagavat! If there are those who preserve this sutra in the troubled world of five hundred years after, I will protect them and rid them of their heavy cares, cause them to attain happiness, and allow no one to strike at them through their weaknesses. I will not give Māra any chance to afflict them, nor the sons of Māra, daughters of Māra, minions of Māra, those possessed by Māra, yakṣas, rākṣasas, kumbhāṇḍas, piśācas, kṛtyas, pūtanas, or vetālas. If they recite this sutra, whether walking or standing, I will then come before them on a white elephant king with six tusks, together with the assembly of great bodhisattvas, manifest myself, pay homage and protect them, and console their minds for the sake of revering the Lotus Sutra. If they sit contemplating upon this sutra, I will then manifest myself before them on a white elephant king. If they forget a single line or a verse in the Lotus Sutra, I will teach and recite it with them and cause them to become proficient in it. At that time those who accept and recite the Lotus Sutra will be able to see me and, greatly rejoicing, will thus make further efforts. As a result of seeing me they will attain the samādhi and dhāraṇīs named āvartā dhāraṇī, koṭīśatasahasrāvartā dhāraṇī, and sarva ruta kauśalyāvartā dhāraṇī. They will attain dhāraṇīs like these. O Bhagavat! In the troubled world of five hundred years after those monks, nuns, laymen, and laywomen who seek, preserve, recite, copy, and wish to practice this Lotus Sutra should persevere singlemindedly for twenty-one days. After a full twenty-one days I will appear on a white elephant with six tusks, accompanied by innumerable bodhisattvas who themselves will also be surrounded by their retinues, and manifest myself before sentient beings in whatever form they wish to see. Then I will expound and teach the Dharma to them and gladden them.
"take joy in seeing the stupa of Abundant Treasures Buddha, be happy to see Śākyamuni Buddha as well as buddhas that emanate from him"

See Chapter 11 of the Lotus in particular.

"and be glad to achieve purification of the six sense faculties"

See chapter 19 of the Lotus.

The Samantabhadra Sutra goes on to make reference to the Lotus a few more times:
While engaged in this specialized focus of mind, the practitioner will fully and clearly behold, in the eastern direction, the buddha Akṣobhya and the Land of Wonderful Joy. In this same manner he or she will clearly and completely behold buddhas and magnificent wonderful lands in each of the ten directions. After having seen buddhas in all of the ten directions, the practitioner will envision a person with a diamond cudgel on top of an elephant’s head who, with the cudgel, signifies each of the six sense faculties. After the six sense faculties have been so indicated, for the practitioner’s benefit All embracing Goodness Bodhisattva will expound the method of self-amendment to purify them. Over the course of one to seven days, the practitioner will do self-amendment as he or she is taught. Through the power of the engaged specialized focus of mind in which buddhas reveal themselves, and through All-embracing Goodness Bodhisattva’s well-composed explanation of the method, the practitioner’s ears will gradually hearsounds without encumbrance, the practitioner’s eyes will gradually see things without encumbrance, and the practitioner’s nose will gradually smell scents without encumbrance, as is extensively expounded in the Dharma Flower Sutra.
Through the power of the Great Vehicle, words of praise will resound in the air:

Well done, you of good intent! Well done! You practice in accordance with the Great Vehicle! Your capacity to perceive buddhas is a beneficial effect of that cause! But even though you have now gained perception of buddhas, the World-honored Ones, you are not yet capable of perceiving Śākyamuni Buddha, the buddhas that emanate from him, or the stupa of the buddha Abundant Treasures.

After hearing the voice in the air, the practitioner will again devotedly internalize and master the Great Vehicle sutras. As a result of internalizing the comprehensive Great Vehicle sutras, the practitioner soon envisions Śākyamuni Buddha in great assemblies at Mount Vulture Peak teaching the
Dharma Flower Sutra and discoursing on the meanings of the one reality. After being taught, the practitioner will do self-amendment; then, reverentially wishing to see him, the practitioner will face toward Mount Vulture Peak, formally kneel, place his or her palms together, and say:

O Tathāgatha, Hero of the Universe, you are always present in the world: Out of compassion for me, reveal yourself to me for my sake!

After saying these words, the practitioner will perceive Mount Vulture Peak composed of the seven precious metals and gems, monks and śrāvakas with countless others together in a great assembly, rows of jewel trees lining level jewel ground on which a magnificent jeweled lion seat has been arranged, and Śākyamuni Buddha, who emits from between his eyebrows a beam of light that passes through the innumerable worlds of the ten directions and illuminates worlds everywhere in the universe. From everywhere this light reaches in the ten directions, the buddhas that emanated from Śākyamuni gather together at one time into a great assembly, as is extensively expounded in the Dharma Flower Sutra. Each emanated buddha has a body that is purple-gold in color and boundlessin size, each sits on a lion seat, and each has a retinue of countless thousands of millions of great bodhisattvas. Each bodhisattva follows the same practice as All-embracing Goodness; it is like this as well in the bodhisattva retinues of all of the innumerable buddhas in the ten directions.
My view is that this was composed, probably in China, as a meditation manual for carrying out visualization practice of the Lotus Sutra. I didn't hear that from anyone. Just my impression from studying and practicing these texts.
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, Expedient Means Chapter

There are beings with little dust in their eyes who are falling away because they do not hear the Dhamma. There will be those who will understand the Dhamma.
-Ayacana Sutta

User avatar
Caoimhghín
Posts: 2704
Joined: Thu Jun 02, 2016 11:35 pm
Location: Whitby, Ontario

Re: 'sutra' vs 'sutras' in Samantabhadra Meditation Sutra

Post by Caoimhghín » Wed Jul 01, 2020 8:17 am

Queequeg wrote:
Wed Jul 01, 2020 4:47 am
My view is that this was composed, probably in China, as a meditation manual for carrying out visualization practice of the Lotus Sutra. I didn't hear that from anyone. Just my impression from studying and practicing these texts.
How's this as an idea that saves me writing a lot and incorporates the ideas that @Zhen Li suggested.
Zhen Li wrote:
Wed Jul 01, 2020 2:36 am
As for Sanskrit, usually they say "idaṃ sūtraṃ" or the name of the text (e.g. "idaṃ prajñāpāramitāṃ") or "idaṃ dharmaparyāyaṃ." While some texts, such as the Lotus Sūtra, refer to other sūtras individually, the only case where a sūtra explicitly refers to a collection of sūtras that I can recall is in the Laṅkāvatāra Sūtra. I know there must be other cases, but it's not that common—so, it's more likely the text is self-referential in this case.
(related, see this definition of "idaṁ")

1) If the sutra is Indic in origin and didn't evolve originally alongside the Lotus it would be more likely 大乗経 is rendered "the great vehicle sutras" or "this great vehicle sutra" referring to the Samantabhadra Meditation Sutra itself.
2) If the sutra is Indic in origin and did evolve originally alongside the Lotus it would be more likely 大乗経 is rendered "this great vehicle sutra" referring to either the Lotus Sutra or the Samantabhadra Meditation Sutra itself.
3) If the sutra is Sinitic in origin and didn't evolve originally alongside the Lotus any answer could be likely.
4) If the sutra is Sinitic in origin and did evolve originally alongside the Lotus and was, as you suggested, "composed, probably in China, as a meditation manual for carrying out visualization practice of the Lotus Sutra," it would be more likely 大乗経 is rendered "this great vehicle sutra" referring to the Lotus Sutra, albeit irregularly, given that the Lotus Sutra generally refers to itself by name as has no qualms doing so.

Any others we can add?

I should note also that I don't think the Threefold Lotus is necessarily "the original" Lotus, but I'm not an "original Buddhism" fetishist. I also don't think the Vairocana Sutra was ever appended to the end or the beginning of the Lotus, either singly or in its threefold form (though I don't necessarily blame Ven Nichiren for this misunderstanding, because it could have developed in a Taimitsu lineage, whichever he was part of, before him and he merely inherits it). This was also the quotation by Ven Nichiren I was thinking of:
In India, when Śākyamuni Buddha, the lord of teachings, was preaching the Lotus Sūtra as described in the “Ratnastūpa” chapter, he summoned all the various Buddhas and had them take their seats upon the ground. Only the Tathāgata Mahāvairocana was seated within the ratnastūpa, on the lower seat to the south, while Śākyamuni Buddha was seated on the upper seat to the north.

This Tathāgata Mahāvairocana is the master of the Mahāvairocana of the Womb Realm described in the Mahāvairocana Sūtra and of the Mahāvairocana of the Diamond Realm described in the Diamond Crown Sūtra. This Mahāvairocana, or Prabhūtaratna Buddha, who has as his vassals the Tathāgatā [Tathagatas] Mahāvairocana [meaning each Vairocana is distinct, one for the vajradhātu and one for the garbhakośadhātu] of the two realms just mentioned, is in turn surpassed by Śākyamuni Buddha, the lord of teachings, who sits in the seat above him.
(Ven Nichiren, WND I:88, translated by Burton Watson, edited, changing Sinitic and English vocab to Sanskrit for clarity.)

I think this might actually step outside the Taimitsu mainstream, but I wouldn't argue it necessarily did until I knew. It's really just a suspicion. In short, this is not the two sharing "one seat," this is "one seat higher than the other seat that they do not (necessarily) share."
savi saghara aṇica di, savi saghara dukha di, savi dhama aṇatva di:
yada paśadi cakhkṣuma tada nivinadi dukha eṣo mago viśodhia.

"All formations are inconstant," he said.
"All formations are stressful," he said.
"All phenomena are selfless," he said.
When one sees this, one becomes adverse to stress, and this is the path of purity.

(Gāndhārī Dharmapada fragments)

Post Reply

Return to “Sūtra Studies”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: Manjushri and 15 guests