Infinite Meanings Sutra
Sutra is an ancient Sanscrit word meaning to sew. Medically it is the basis of a word still in use today, suture. It literally means a rope or thread, and more metaphorically refers to an aphorism (or line, rule, formula), or a collection of such aphorisms in the form of a manual. Sutra’s are found in the Hindu Vedic studies, and refer to stories about bliss, karma, reincarnation and desires. From the Buddhist perspective, “sutra” generally refers to the doctrinal records of the oral teachings of the Buddha of the Former Day of the Law, Gautama Shakyamuni. There are both Theravada Sutra’s such as the Tripitaka and Pali Canon. While the Mahayana Sutra’s include such doctrine as the Heart, Daimond, Lotus and Nirvana Sutra’s. Some of the teachings have a before and after the section like an introductory and conclusion type of reference.
The Sutra of Innumerable Meanings, or “opening sutra”and the Sutra of Meditation on Bodhisattva Universal Virtue are two such important doctrinal opening and closings, teachings. We are told: “ The wonderful profound, and supreme Great Vehicle, is reasonable in its logic, unsurpassed in its worth, protected by all the Buddha’s of the three worlds.”
The Sutra of Innumerable Meanings is an oral sharing of the Dharma delivered just before the Lotus Sutra and is considered the “door opening” to the Lotus Sutra. In this sutra the Buddha tells the Bodhisvattvas and people listening that as the Law is in constant change, that we should understand that One’s natural desires are constantly changing and are “innumerable” but all come from the One Great Vehicle the mystic, universal Law of eternity.
In the Ten Merits portion the Buddha explains, “You ask where this sutra comes from…” This sutra originally comes from the abode of all the buddhas, teaches for the aspiration of all the living to buddhahood, and stays at the place where all the bodhisattvas practice. Therefore this sutra, having such infinite merits and inconceivable powers, makes people quickly accomplish buddhahood.”
Now for most of us it is not quite that easy! But here we are given a guide line, it is said that having delivered this, opening door teaching of the innumerable way, the Buddha entered deep meditation.
The Buddha lived a long life and preached the universal Law in varying degrees of maturity so that those ready to hear the Buddha-way could accept and understand their opportunity, responsibility and karma. Shakyamuni clearly expounded the causes and practices of past lifetimes and revealed how enlightenment and virtue can be made manifest through the teachings and practice which leads to the higher worlds of Realization, Bodhisattva and Buddhahood, in the here and now. The Buddha teachings share precisely the true entity of all phenomena of the universe; sharing a deep insight into the life of mother earth and all the surrounding universe.
Like all leaders he spoke a lot in story telling or parables, for example; “The Law is like water that washes off dirt. A pond, a stream, a river, and a great ocean are all water, but are different from one another. The nature of the Law is like this. There is equality in the Oneness, [water is water ] but the results are not one and the same. A well is not a pond, a pond is not a stream or a river, nor is a valley stream an ocean. Though preaching at the beginning, the middle and at the end all alike effectively wash off the delusions of living beings, the beginning is not the middle, and the middle is not the end. Learning at the beginning, in the middle, and at the end are the same in desire but different from one another in meaning and result.” In other words, what One knows before re-connecting with their Buddha nature, differs proundly from what one knows after chanting for one year, or having studied and realized the profound universal Law after several years of realization and practice.
This parable goes on to explain the various meanings of perception and result. The story helps to explain that all comes from the inter-dependent origination, the Oneness of all existence. That faith stems from the One Great Vehicle of the mystic Law; regardless of the teacher or spiritual leader. Furthermore, we are advised not to follow any just any person, to be careful who we accept as our Guide Teachers and look to follow the universal, mystic Law not the person. We remember that faith as a personal journey!
The difficulty of the early Therevada teachings is the lack of understanding of basic humanistic physics and as science has defined, society is ever progressing onto new levels of complexity; this is where the Mahayana succeeds in bringing the Buddha’s teachings in compassion for the times, even as he shared, “I am always here, I have never ceased to exist and am always here teaching the universal Law.” The Buddha Dharma, or wisdom teachings, then is an active way to realize our spiritual nature.
The Lotus Sutra, is a compilation of Ananda, Vasbandu and Naragjuna’s, the Buddha’s Oral teachings from the last eight years of his life. It is such a beautiful series of life’s important principles and accepted in the academic world, “ as a Buddhist Canon none qualifies like the Lotus Sutra.” Scripture of the Lotus Blossom of the Fine Dharma”
Having discovered One’s Buddha nature the object then is to allow One to gain aspiration and desire to study the teachings and obtain happiness here in this life. The reading and study of all the innumerable Buddha wisdom teachings is exciting, as these teachings lead us through the principles of life that lead to wisdom and enlightenment. In January and February we will once again hold our Winter Studies, to continue our personal spiritual growth and wisdom.
Thus It Has Been Shared, Respectfully, #TMHenry
Reference: Threefold Lotus Sutra, Kosei Publishing Co.
Scripture of the Lotus Blossom of the Fine Dharma, Columbia University,
Kumarajiva, by Leon Hurvitz
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