Is there any reason to believe that the Lotus Sutra is not the words of the Buddha?

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bcol01
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Is there any reason to believe that the Lotus Sutra is not the words of the Buddha?

Post by bcol01 » Wed Dec 21, 2016 9:18 pm

I have been doing quite a deal of research on the Lotus Sutra as i've been practicing Nichiren's form of Buddhism for a while and just would like some insight here. So many claim that chanting Namu Myoho Renge Kyo (and I can't deny that there is something to the efficacy of this practice) has helped to change their lives, therefore, seeming to prove Nichiren's case, that merely by chanting the title of the Lotus Sutra (as the Sutra itself claims) can a person merit the benefits of Buddhahood/Enlightenment.

I'd appreciate some insights. Thanks guys! :) :namaste:

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Re: Is there any reason to believe that the Lotus Sutra is not the words of the Buddha?

Post by Sentient Light » Wed Dec 21, 2016 10:34 pm

Well, this depends on what your criteria for acceptance of buddhavacana is. If we take an extreme skeptical approach, looking only at historical scholarship, translation efforts, and what lingusitic analysis into Chinese translations can give us, the only thing we have that is super-reliable are the Nikayas/Agamas and random texts that are not included in either accepted collection of Nikayas or Agamas, but appear in other early school's Agama collections (i.e. the texts exist within the broader canon, but are included in non-Nikaya or non-Agama collections within living canons).

But that's far too extreme.

Generally, I think it's best to look at what texts we have that we can reliably date to the earliest point of Buddhist scriptures appearing in written form at all. On the Theravadin side, this opens up to most of the remainder of their canon (but not all of it). On the Mahayana side, we see a number of texts appearing around the same time as the Nikayas / Agamas (1st century BCE), in one form or another: this includes the Prajnaparamita Sutras, a bunch of Samadhi sutras, possibly the Infinite Life Sutra, the first few chapters of the Lotus Sutra, and a bunch of other texts.

It has long been suspected that the remainder of the Lotus Sutra was added later, in China. However, as of two years ago (maybe three?), we found a complete manuscript of the Lotus Sutra in Chinese translation several centuries before the remaining chapters of the Sutra were thought to have been composed at all, which lends a great amount of credibility to the traditional account of its dating.

tldr; there is some reason to believe the Lotus Sutra was not authentic, but the archaeological support for it is pretty flimsy and requires casting doubt on a LOT of other texts that we generally don't doubt quite as harshly. I think there is sufficient evidence to show that the Lotus Sutra, in some form, was in active circulation around the same time period as the earliest Buddhist scriptures were first being put into writing. Given that alone, I don't see any reason to doubt the Lotus any more than texts like The Diamond Sutra, or certain texts from the Theravadin canon like the Buddhavamsa or Cariyapitaka (actually, these last two things, we might have more reason to doubt).
:buddha1: Nam mô A di đà Phật :buddha1:
:bow: Nam mô Quan Thế Âm Bồ tát :bow:
:bow: Nam mô Đại Thế Chi Bồ Tát :bow:

:buddha1: Nam mô Bổn sư Thích ca mâu ni Phật :buddha1:
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:bow: Nam mô Địa tạng vương Bồ tát :bow:

bcol01
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Re: Is there any reason to believe that the Lotus Sutra is not the words of the Buddha?

Post by bcol01 » Thu Dec 22, 2016 2:14 am

Sentient Light wrote:Well, this depends on what your criteria for acceptance of buddhavacana is. If we take an extreme skeptical approach, looking only at historical scholarship, translation efforts, and what lingusitic analysis into Chinese translations can give us, the only thing we have that is super-reliable are the Nikayas/Agamas and random texts that are not included in either accepted collection of Nikayas or Agamas, but appear in other early school's Agama collections (i.e. the texts exist within the broader canon, but are included in non-Nikaya or non-Agama collections within living canons).

But that's far too extreme.

Generally, I think it's best to look at what texts we have that we can reliably date to the earliest point of Buddhist scriptures appearing in written form at all. On the Theravadin side, this opens up to most of the remainder of their canon (but not all of it). On the Mahayana side, we see a number of texts appearing around the same time as the Nikayas / Agamas (1st century BCE), in one form or another: this includes the Prajnaparamita Sutras, a bunch of Samadhi sutras, possibly the Infinite Life Sutra, the first few chapters of the Lotus Sutra, and a bunch of other texts.

It has long been suspected that the remainder of the Lotus Sutra was added later, in China. However, as of two years ago (maybe three?), we found a complete manuscript of the Lotus Sutra in Chinese translation several centuries before the remaining chapters of the Sutra were thought to have been composed at all, which lends a great amount of credibility to the traditional account of its dating.

tldr; there is some reason to believe the Lotus Sutra was not authentic, but the archaeological support for it is pretty flimsy and requires casting doubt on a LOT of other texts that we generally don't doubt quite as harshly. I think there is sufficient evidence to show that the Lotus Sutra, in some form, was in active circulation around the same time period as the earliest Buddhist scriptures were first being put into writing. Given that alone, I don't see any reason to doubt the Lotus any more than texts like The Diamond Sutra, or certain texts from the Theravadin canon like the Buddhavamsa or Cariyapitaka (actually, these last two things, we might have more reason to doubt).
I appreciate the reply!
That is a lot to consider. Thank you for such a thorough commentary. :)

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Re: Is there any reason to believe that the Lotus Sutra is not the words of the Buddha?

Post by Coëmgenu » Thu Dec 22, 2016 12:32 pm

Theravāda and Mahāyāna Buddhisms have different requirements for calling something Buddhavacana because Theravāda and Mahāyāna Buddhism have extremely different ideas about who, and what, a Buddha is.

It is my own personal belief that the story of the Puṇḍarīkasūtra being preach at Gṛdhrakūṭa toward the end of the ascetic Gautama's life is a mighty upāya. Obviously no one has to be forced to agree with me, but I feel that this is the only way the story makes sense. After all, that's why the beginning of the Puṇḍarīkasūtra is called the "Provisional Lotus Sūtra" right? If we read the Lotus Sūtra and witness the self-narrative it sets forth about itself, the Lotus Sūtra is, in fact, not preached at Gṛdhrakūṭa toward the end of the ascetic Gautama's life, the sūtra is preached at all times in the tranquil Pure Land of the Buddha, to all peoples, who purify their hearts and wish to see the assembly at the Gṛdhrakūṭa.

If you are more interested in textual criticism, the wikipedia page has a few good summaries, and you can check their works cited page for some much better reading material than the page itself, as usual. The Kogaku Fuse paper cited in Michael Pye's Skilful Means - A concept in Mahayana Buddhism (the title of which escapes me now, but I do remember perusing it at one point) argues that the verse-sections of the text are clearly much older than the prose-body of work, because these verse sections date from when the sūtra was in oral-form, and not yet written down. On terms of the material record of history, we get Chapters 1-9 and 17 showing up first in approx 100BC, followed by 10, 11, 13-16, 18-20 and 27 in approx 100AD, and 21-26 in 150AD. Thats all from Michael Pye's book.

But the thing with textual criticism is that it is a scholarly field, and every scholar has a different opinion. Also, dating these texts to when the first material version of them appears in a literary manifestation is a bit misleading, because these sūtrāṇi often spend a great deal of time as oral literature, passed from master to student and memorized in monastic colleges.

For instance, chapter 17 shows up in the material record around 100BC, 200 years before chapter 16. But chapter 17 references the lifespan of the Tathāgata enumerated in chapter 16, which means that chapter 16 must have existed in the earliest layers of the sūtra, but an ancient copy hasn't survived to the present day. It seems a little contrived to thing that a reference to chapter 16 could appear before chapter 16 itself, but I suppose its possible. This is one of the oldest sections of the sūtra:
The Buddha preaches a rarely encountered Law,
one never heard from times past.
The world-honored one possesses great powers
and his life span cannot be measured.
(Saddharmapuṇḍarīkasūtra 17)

So clearly the teaching in chapter 16 predates its material written appearance. Thats my logic though, and I am not a critical textual scholar.
並畢竟空。並如來藏。並實相。非三 而三三而不三。非合非散而合而散。非非合非非散。不可一異而一異。
All three truths are ultimately empty, all are tathāgatagarbha, all are true aspect. Not three, they are three; three, they are not three. Neither combined nor separated, neither uncombined nor unseparated. Neither same nor different, yet in a sense same, and in a sense different.

夫三諦者。 天然之性徳也。 中諦者。 統一切法。 眞諦者。 泯一切法。 俗諦者。 立一切法。
The three truths. Heaven-sent natural characteristics. The middle truth unifies all dharmas. The ultimate truth demolishes all dharmas. The conventional truth establishes all dharmas.

摩訶止観始終心要Móhēzhǐguān, Shǐzhōngxīnyào.

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Re: Is there any reason to believe that the Lotus Sutra is not the words of the Buddha?

Post by Fortyeightvows » Thu Dec 22, 2016 6:58 pm

Coëmgenu wrote:Theravāda and Mahāyāna Buddhisms have different requirements for calling something Buddhavacana because Theravāda and Mahāyāna Buddhism have extremely different ideas about who, and what, a Buddha is.
Thats very well put!

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Re: Is there any reason to believe that the Lotus Sutra is not the words of the Buddha?

Post by Kim O'Hara » Thu Dec 22, 2016 10:39 pm

Fortyeightvows wrote:
Coëmgenu wrote:Theravāda and Mahāyāna Buddhisms have different requirements for calling something Buddhavacana because Theravāda and Mahāyāna Buddhism have extremely different ideas about who, and what, a Buddha is.
Thats very well put!
+ 1

:namaste:

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Re: Is there any reason to believe that the Lotus Sutra is not the words of the Buddha?

Post by Minobu » Fri Dec 23, 2016 8:20 am

I've come to view The lotus Sutra as the Buddha.
It has a life of it's own and has entered a lot of people's lives and influenced many sects and teachings.

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Re: Is there any reason to believe that the Lotus Sutra is not the words of the Buddha?

Post by Minobu » Fri Dec 23, 2016 7:25 pm

bcol01 wrote:research on the Lotus Sutra
I'd appreciate some insights. Thanks guys! :) :namaste:
very Noble Thing to do.

Some say the Lotus Sutra is The Primordial Buddha and this Sutra is an appearance there of.

The Lotus is a flower which developes quite beautifully in muddy ponds.
The karma that makes us what we are in samsara, is the muddy pond, and The Primordial Buddha is the Medicine King ,Which is The Lotus Sutra.

When you Chant Nam Myo Ho Ren Ge Kyo You are taking refuge in the Lotus Sutra.

As per the title of this thread i wish to take a little poetic license to it.
As a reference to your question , you take these one liners where ever you wish to, keeping in mind my intent to push the thoughts towrds The Lotus Sutra.

Peter Gabriel once sang, "I talk in pictures not in words" .

from the Emerald Tablet "As above so below"

The Buddha "Follow the Law and not the person."

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Re: Is there any reason to believe that the Lotus Sutra is not the words of the Buddha?

Post by bcol01 » Fri Dec 23, 2016 11:19 pm

What does this even mean?
Minobu wrote:I've come to view The lotus Sutra as the Buddha.
It has a life of it's own and has entered a lot of people's lives and influenced many sects and teachings.

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Re: Is there any reason to believe that the Lotus Sutra is not the words of the Buddha?

Post by Minobu » Sat Dec 24, 2016 5:26 am

bcol01 wrote:What does this even mean?
Minobu wrote:I've come to view The lotus Sutra as the Buddha.
It has a life of it's own and has entered a lot of people's lives and influenced many sects and teachings.
Exactly what i said word for word.

I've been practicing Buddhism and Nichiren Shonin's Dharma since i was 20. Before that other Dharmas.
I'm 61.
And it is only recently that I understood this from discussions with Queequeg in the Nichiren section.

Are you in the Gakki?

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Re: Is there any reason to believe that the Lotus Sutra is not the words of the Buddha?

Post by bcol01 » Sat Dec 24, 2016 5:59 am

Perhaps I wasn't clear enough in my last question regarding your quote. When you said that you've come to view the Lotus Sutra as the Buddha, what do you mean? Can you perhaps elaborate further so that I may better understand? I am not a member of SGI or any other Nichiren sect.
Minobu wrote:
bcol01 wrote:What does this even mean?
Minobu wrote:I've come to view The lotus Sutra as the Buddha.
It has a life of it's own and has entered a lot of people's lives and influenced many sects and teachings.
Exactly what i said word for word.

I've been practicing Buddhism and Nichiren Shonin's Dharma since i was 20. Before that other Dharmas.
I'm 61.
And it is only recently that I understood this from discussions with Queequeg in the Nichiren section.

Are you in the Gakki?

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Minobu
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Re: Is there any reason to believe that the Lotus Sutra is not the words of the Buddha?

Post by Minobu » Sat Dec 24, 2016 7:19 am

bcol01 wrote:Perhaps I wasn't clear enough in my last question regarding your quote. When you said that you've come to view the Lotus Sutra as the Buddha, what do you mean? Can you perhaps elaborate further so that I may better understand? I am not a member of SGI or any other Nichiren sect.
and yet you say
bcol01 wrote:I have been doing quite a deal of research on the Lotus Sutra as i've been practicing Nichiren's form of Buddhism for a while and just would like some insight here.
So i thought you were practicing Nichiren's Dharma and would get it.
May i be privy to what capacity , are you practicing Nichiren Shonin's teachings.
bcol01 wrote:I have been doing quite a deal of research on the Lotus Sutra as i've been practicing Nichiren's form of Buddhism for a while.

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Re: Is there any reason to believe that the Lotus Sutra is not the words of the Buddha?

Post by Minobu » Sat Dec 24, 2016 4:53 pm

bcol01 wrote:Perhaps I wasn't clear enough
did you bailout ?

I am not trying to dodge you , I really would love to share with you this epiphany of sorts in my practice.

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Re: Is there any reason to believe that the Lotus Sutra is not the words of the Buddha?

Post by bcol01 » Sat Dec 24, 2016 7:09 pm

Jut because I am practicing Nichiren Buddhism does not mean I am a scholar or an expert. I would never claim to be such. I also am not of the belief that you have to belong to any particular sect in order TO practice either.

You asked "to what capacity" am I practicing. Well, I have pulled from various sources. Back to your comment though, because a clearer elaboration on what you meant by the viewing the Lotus Sutra as the Buddha will, I think, truly help me to have a deeper faith in the Lotus Sutra. I have also heard, and your comment does seem to echo it as well, that it isn't so much whether or not the Lotus Sutra is the actual words of Buddha but rather, the meaning of the words that is important regarding it. I appreciate your input and I thank you for your patience. I'm not exactly an Alan Watts here but i'm definitely trying to learn. Cheers! :thumbsup:
Minobu wrote:
bcol01 wrote:Perhaps I wasn't clear enough in my last question regarding your quote. When you said that you've come to view the Lotus Sutra as the Buddha, what do you mean? Can you perhaps elaborate further so that I may better understand? I am not a member of SGI or any other Nichiren sect.
and yet you say
bcol01 wrote:I have been doing quite a deal of research on the Lotus Sutra as i've been practicing Nichiren's form of Buddhism for a while and just would like some insight here.
So i thought you were practicing Nichiren's Dharma and would get it.
May i be privy to what capacity , are you practicing Nichiren Shonin's teachings.
bcol01 wrote:I have been doing quite a deal of research on the Lotus Sutra as i've been practicing Nichiren's form of Buddhism for a while.

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Re: Is there any reason to believe that the Lotus Sutra is not the words of the Buddha?

Post by Minobu » Sat Dec 24, 2016 11:04 pm

bcol01 wrote:Jut because I am practicing Nichiren Buddhism does not mean I am a scholar or an expert.
that makes two of us.
bcol01 wrote: I also am not of the belief that you have to belong to any particular sect in order TO practice either.

You asked "to what capacity" am I practicing. Well, I have pulled from various sources.
Yeah i hear ya on that. I was in the Gakki and i did learn a lot ...but then again a lot of it was Nichiren shoShu , which i also was a member of after SGI went it's own way.

Nichiren shoShu is a sect on it's own in the sense stuff was introduced and melded from some 16th century High Priest.

a lot of it debunked and some of it actually harmful. They would not allow meditation, and they steered clear of Lord Sakyamuni Buddha .
It wasn't just forbidding a statue of the Buddha , but tried to ignore practically everything Lord Sakyamuni.
Which is totally weird..beyond the beyond...
I asked because when you say no sect at all it confused me.

after all this is online , and the medium gets muddled at times.

So you have studied. I recommend this site and queequeg, for he taught me so much and he is a scholar when it comes to all things tien Tai , Nichiren Shonin and Lotus Sutra.

the Lotus Sutra can be interpreted on so many levels. As for whether the Buddha actually said the words historically , this will always be debatable.

None of the Buddha's teachings were written down at the time.
Some say The Lotus was never spoken. Others say it was taught over a period of eight years at Eagle/Vulture peak mountain.
some would argue that if you walked by at that time you would not see it happening for it was being told only to certain people, with the aid of the Buddha's powers.

Others claim it was produced by some Persian dude who was great at making up stuff. Others say the Persian dude was a great interpreter .

Then the Classic, Lord Buddha Nagarjuna retrieved it from safe keeping from the Nagas at the bottom of the ocean.

all this and i think there are other takes on the subject. i gave you all the far out takes that probably could only produce doubt as it did to me after twenty five years into the practice, and reading about it being totally bogus online.

So some do say it was spoken and handed down orally , other say it was impossible due to the whole Sanskrit /Pali thing and time frames.


i'll never know.....


But through practice and my leaving and studying Tibetan Buddhism I came to be more open about Mahayana Teachings.
I can see their introduction into human history isn't exactly Arnold Toynbee esque .

Sooooooo...For me it can only be The Buddha.

Somewhere The Buddha said He could be a ship to cross the sea or a bridge to cross a river. I take that literally and voila , He is a Sutra.

The Sutra taken this way and chanted with this in mind had an effect on my total being, over the past few months.

I realize i am Buddha , and adding the Gohonzon I get to work with beings who were there at Eagle Peak when it was being preached for The lotus Sutra taken as an event is an Eternal One. It is always happening and can be accessed by chanting and following the lineage teachings of Nichiren Shonin, Tien ?Tai The Great, and Lord Buddha Nagarjuna who retrieved the Sutra from the Naga Realm.

I say again i came to this extremely inarticulate understanding through a lot of arguing with Queequeg ...

d


I know i know it is not clear...

sorry....but i'm happy to be able to have a practice i firmly believe to be The Buddha and am sure is a great thing for others in this day and age.

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Re: Is there any reason to believe that the Lotus Sutra is not the words of the Buddha?

Post by Minobu » Sun Dec 25, 2016 3:58 pm

I guess it's like the ultimate Vajrayanna exercise of faith.

bcol01 wrote: I also am not of the belief that you have to belong to any particular sect in order TO practice either.
so true

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Re: Is there any reason to believe that the Lotus Sutra is not the words of the Buddha?

Post by Coëmgenu » Sun Dec 25, 2016 6:07 pm

bcol01 wrote:Jut because I am practicing Nichiren Buddhism does not mean I am a scholar or an expert. I would never claim to be such. I also am not of the belief that you have to belong to any particular sect in order TO practice either.

You asked "to what capacity" am I practicing. Well, I have pulled from various sources. Back to your comment though, because a clearer elaboration on what you meant by the viewing the Lotus Sutra as the Buddha will, I think, truly help me to have a deeper faith in the Lotus Sutra. I have also heard, and your comment does seem to echo it as well, that it isn't so much whether or not the Lotus Sutra is the actual words of Buddha but rather, the meaning of the words that is important regarding it. I appreciate your input and I thank you for your patience. I'm not exactly an Alan Watts here but i'm definitely trying to learn. Cheers! :thumbsup:
Minobu wrote:
bcol01 wrote:Perhaps I wasn't clear enough in my last question regarding your quote. When you said that you've come to view the Lotus Sutra as the Buddha, what do you mean? Can you perhaps elaborate further so that I may better understand? I am not a member of SGI or any other Nichiren sect.
and yet you say
bcol01 wrote:I have been doing quite a deal of research on the Lotus Sutra as i've been practicing Nichiren's form of Buddhism for a while and just would like some insight here.
So i thought you were practicing Nichiren's Dharma and would get it.
May i be privy to what capacity , are you practicing Nichiren Shonin's teachings.
bcol01 wrote:I have been doing quite a deal of research on the Lotus Sutra as i've been practicing Nichiren's form of Buddhism for a while.
This post, as well as this study session, hosted by Queequeg, will put into some more context the notion that "The Lotus Sutra is a/the Buddha".
並畢竟空。並如來藏。並實相。非三 而三三而不三。非合非散而合而散。非非合非非散。不可一異而一異。
All three truths are ultimately empty, all are tathāgatagarbha, all are true aspect. Not three, they are three; three, they are not three. Neither combined nor separated, neither uncombined nor unseparated. Neither same nor different, yet in a sense same, and in a sense different.

夫三諦者。 天然之性徳也。 中諦者。 統一切法。 眞諦者。 泯一切法。 俗諦者。 立一切法。
The three truths. Heaven-sent natural characteristics. The middle truth unifies all dharmas. The ultimate truth demolishes all dharmas. The conventional truth establishes all dharmas.

摩訶止観始終心要Móhēzhǐguān, Shǐzhōngxīnyào.

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Re: Is there any reason to believe that the Lotus Sutra is not the words of the Buddha?

Post by bcol01 » Sun Dec 25, 2016 7:25 pm

Thank you so much!!! Wow, this Queequeg guy is a genius! Ty so much for pointing me to this.

:namaste:
Coëmgenu wrote:
bcol01 wrote:Jut because I am practicing Nichiren Buddhism does not mean I am a scholar or an expert. I would never claim to be such. I also am not of the belief that you have to belong to any particular sect in order TO practice either.

You asked "to what capacity" am I practicing. Well, I have pulled from various sources. Back to your comment though, because a clearer elaboration on what you meant by the viewing the Lotus Sutra as the Buddha will, I think, truly help me to have a deeper faith in the Lotus Sutra. I have also heard, and your comment does seem to echo it as well, that it isn't so much whether or not the Lotus Sutra is the actual words of Buddha but rather, the meaning of the words that is important regarding it. I appreciate your input and I thank you for your patience. I'm not exactly an Alan Watts here but i'm definitely trying to learn. Cheers! :thumbsup:
Minobu wrote: and yet you say


So i thought you were practicing Nichiren's Dharma and would get it.
May i be privy to what capacity , are you practicing Nichiren Shonin's teachings.
This post, as well as this study session, hosted by Queequeg, will put into some more context the notion that "The Lotus Sutra is a/the Buddha".

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Re: Is there any reason to believe that the Lotus Sutra is not the words of the Buddha?

Post by javier.espinoza.t » Tue Jan 10, 2017 4:50 pm

bcol01 wrote:I have been doing quite a deal of research on the Lotus Sutra as i've been practicing Nichiren's form of Buddhism for a while and just would like some insight here. So many claim that chanting Namu Myoho Renge Kyo (and I can't deny that there is something to the efficacy of this practice) has helped to change their lives, therefore, seeming to prove Nichiren's case, that merely by chanting the title of the Lotus Sutra (as the Sutra itself claims) can a person merit the benefits of Buddhahood/Enlightenment.

I'd appreciate some insights. Thanks guys! :) :namaste:
I don't know my friend, i'm no scholar, but in my very, very, time of need this sutra came to my hands. Since then i practice bodhiccita, the relative and the absolute, and would never ever turn back.

by that time my formless mind -whitout discriminated structure- came to ease through pronunciation, visualization of the events, thinking on the meaning of what is said, on how many time is said, in the concerns of the assembly, and so.

Remembering the name "Lotus Sutra" inmediately brings me to all this experience and visions of the Blessed-Ones, the jewelled stupa, boddhisatvas, and so.

I've found in this the very source of courage.

To me is clear like water, or a refletion in a mirror if you like, this sutra, the very essence of all sutras, is certified. It is like the Blessed-One works on this land, and so the Blessed-On itself. This is no object, nor subject, nor concept, nor scripture, no dyhana, and so.

Perhaps it was not public for long time because it contains the herence of the Buddha, and any malevolent reluctance to it could bring serious misfortune to the reluctant ones. This is explained in the message, so mind must be open while taking it, whith no limitation and prior obstruction, leave the concepts as a base for understanding and remain relaxed, then take it; it would make you wonder for the rest of your life, like an elephant in the forest, at will and always attentive while doing good. It's like a vase whith endless pure water inside. It vanquishes hate.

Well, i would never end describing what is perceibed, received, and realized through. It's like a enormous land, where any buddhadharma wil grow.

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