Threefold Lotus (法華三部経 pinyin: fǎ huá sān bù jīng) – a very famous Mahayana sutra

Threefold Lotus Sutra

ThreefoldLotus Sutra

The Threefold Lotus Sutra (法華三部経 pinyin: fǎ huá sān bù jīng) is the composition of three complementary sutras that together form the “three-part Dharma flower sutra”:

1. The Innumerable Meanings Sutra (無量義經 Ch: Wú Liáng Yì Jīng), prologue to the Lotus Sutra.

2. The Lotus Sutra (妙法蓮華經 Ch: Miào Fǎ Lián Huá Jīng) itself.

3. The Sutra of Meditation on the Bodhisattva Universal Virtue/Samantabhadra Meditation Sutra (普賢經 Ch: Pǔ Xián Jīng), epilogue to the Lotus Sutra.

They have been known collectively as the Threefold Lotus Sutra in China and Japan since ancient times.

1.0 Innumerable Meanings Sutra The Innumerable Meanings Sutra[1][2] also known as the Infinite Meanings Sutra (Sanskrit: अनन्त निर्देश सूत्र, Ananta Nirdeśa Sūtra; traditional Chinese: 無量義經; ; pinyin: wúliáng yì jīng; Japanese: Muryōgi Kyō; Korean: Muryangeui Gyeong) is a Mahayana buddhist text.

According to tradition, it was translated from Sanskrit into Chinese by Dharmajātayaśas, an Indian monk, in 481,[3][4] however Buswell, Dolce and Muller describe it as an apocryphal Chinese text.[5][6][7]

It is part of the Threefold Lotus Sutra, along with the Lotus Sutra and the Samantabhadra Meditation Sutra. As such, many Mahayana Buddhists consider it the prologue to the Lotus Sutra, and Chapter one of the Lotus Sutra states that the Buddha taught the Infinite Meanings just before expounding the Lotus Sutra

Contents ·

1 Title ·

2 Outline of the Sutra

o 2.1 Virtues

o 2.2 Preaching

o 2.3 Ten Merits 1. Title [edit]

For Buddhists, the term ‘Innumerable Meanings’ or `Infinite Meanings’ is used in two senses. The first, used in the singular, refers to the true aspect of all things, the true nature of all forms in the universe. The second sense, used in the plural, refers to the countless appearances or phenomena of the physical, visible world. All of these countless appearances are brought forth by the one true, pure world – the true aspect of all things (the one true Dharma of non-form).

2.1 Virtue

This is the first chapter of the Innumerable Meanings Sūtra. It begins with the Buddha who is staying at the City of Royal Palaces on Vulture Peak, with a great assemblage of twelve thousand bhikṣus (monks), eighty thousand bodhisattva-mahāsattvas, as well as gods, dragons, yakṣas, spirits, and animals. Along with all these beings were bhikṣuṇīs (nuns), upāsakas (male laymen), upāsikās (female laymen), kings, princes, ministers, rich people, ordinary people, men and women alike. The Bodhisattvas are thus called mahāsattvas in the Threefold Lotus Sutra, because they have a great goal of obtaining supreme enlightenment (bodhi) and finally attaining Buddhahood by enlightening all beings. This chapter is called “Virtues” simply because all the beings in the assembly, no matter what “state” they were in, desired to praise the Buddha for his virtues (the precepts, meditation, wisdom, emancipation, and knowledge of emancipation) and excellence.[11] In doing so, they could sow their knowledge of the Buddha deep into their minds.

2.2 Preaching [edit]

In this chapter, the Buddha addresses the Great Adornment Bodhisattva and the other eighty thousand bodhisattvas in the assembly and explains to them that this sutra makes unawakened bodhisattvas accomplish perfect enlightenment “quickly”. If a bodhisattva wants to learn and master this doctrine of Innumerable Meanings, he “should observe that all [phenomena] were originally, will be, and are in themselves void in nature and form; they are neither great nor small, neither appearing nor disappearing, neither fixed nor movable, and neither advancing nor retreating; and they are non-dualistic, just emptiness.”[12]

In order to realize naturally what may emerge from all laws in the future, one must first penetrate and understand them deeply. By realizing this, one can realize that all laws remain settled for a vast number of eons, but even after a vast amount of time, they change.[13]

2.3 Ten Merits [edit]

The essence of this chapter is the urgent advice to master and practice the teaching of the sutra for the spiritual merit to be gained from it, the good life it leads to, and the usefulness to mankind and the world that it makes possible.[14] Mentioned earlier in this sutra, the teachings of the Buddha are the truth of the universe. It is no wonder and certainly no miracle, that if one lives according to the truth, his life works out well.[15]

Once again, Great Adornment Bodhisattva is present in the assembly and questions the Buddha about where the teaching comes from, its dwelling place, and what purpose it serves. The Buddha answered and said that the teaching originates in the innermost mind of all the buddhas; its purpose is to propel the minds of all man-kind to seek the wisdom of the buddhas; its dwelling place is in the performance of the Bodhisattva Path by all who seek perfect enlightenment.[16]

2.0 Lotus Sutra

The Lotus Sūtra (Sanskrit: सद्धर्मपुण्डरीक सूत्र Saddharma Puṇḍarīka Sūtra, literally “Sūtra on the White Lotus of the Sublime Dharma”[1]) is one of the most popular and influential Mahayana sutras, and the basis on which the Tiantai, Tendai, Cheontae, and Nichiren schools of Buddhism were established. According to Paul Williams, “For many East Asian Buddhists since early times the Lotus Sutra contains the final teaching of the Buddha, complete and sufficient for salvation.”[2]

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