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DDM Chan Meditation Center hosts lecture series on Lotus Sutra

On Sunday, October 19, 2008, Venerable Guo Chuan continued her talk on the Lotus Sutra as part of the 8-week lecture series. She provided a brief overview of the various Buddhist schools of thought and the meaning of the sutra's title.

While the Lotus Sutra is the most commonly known title for Westerners today, due to Burton Watson's popular translation of the text, the original title of the sutra has a very deep and subtle meaning. Its various titles include "The Sublime Dharma of the Lotus Sutra", "The Sublime Dharma of the Flower Garland Sutra", "The Scripture of the Lotus Blossom of the Fine Dharma" and "The Sublime Dharma of the White Lotus Flower Sutra".

In the title of the Sutra, the word "lotus" is used as a metaphor to describe Buddhist practice in the world of samsara. Like the lotus plant that grows out of the mud, the bodhisattva lives in and interacts with the world of samsara. Just as the lotus receives its nutriments from the muck, the bodhisattva cultivates wisdom from the world. Venerable advised that as bodhisattvas, when we have difficulty delivering sentient beings, we should try to avoid frustration and vexation.

The term "sutra" can be translated as a "garland" or "the tying together of different kinds of flowers". They are considered the very words of the Buddha, unchanging and of very high value. The purpose of the sutra is to tie together different teachings to keep us from falling away, getting lost, or running away and to prevent us from falling into bad realms, evil places and to keep us on the path.

The Lotus Sutra states that the paths of the arhat, the pratyekabuddha, and the bodhisattva all lead to Buddhahood. This idea was revolutionary in that it countered previously held beliefs which discriminated against the practices and interpretations of the various paths.

After having experienced the truth of the Lotus Sutra, Venerable invited us to experience the flavor of the lotus with some lotus tea in the reception area.

(Report by Lydia)

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