The Lotus Sutra

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The Lotus Sutra

The Lotus Sutra is a text that originated roughly in 1st Century C.E and belongs to the Buddhism school of Zen. 

AIM OF THE TEXT: To establish the authority of Mahayana Buddhism and to reveal the Buddha's teachings a long time after his death

How does the text actually establish Mahayana superiority?

The Mahayana Buddhists believe that the Buddha's teachings were KEPT HIDDEN from us by Nagaserpants - (mythical tale), until we were ready for them to be revealed! In this case, they believe that the Mahayana Buddhists were ready for this, but the Theravadin Buddhists were NOT...

  • Parable of the Wise Phycisian demonstrates this - a group of children, which represent sentient beings, take some poison, which represents the 3 poisons in the wheel of samsara. After they take the poison, they become mad and desensitised... The wise phycisian (the Buddha) has a medicine to cure them, and offers it to them - some of the children take the medicine and are cured. This represents the MAHAYANA Buddhists and how they listened to the Buddha's teachings, allowing them to become enlightened. For the children who didn't take the medicine, the physcian sends a messenger to tell them he's died. This causes the children to realise the medicine is infact their only hope of finding a cure, so take the medicine...

The fact the Phycisian sends the messenger to the children to tell them he's apparently died, demonstrates UPAYA - the Physician used 'skillful means' to eventually get the children to take the medicine - just like the Buddha used skillful means to reveal his teachings to the Theravadins only when they were READY for them... 

It's argued that because the Mahayins understood thus implemented the Buddha's teachings into their lives before the Theravadins did, they have a degree of superiority in comparison to them! 

EKAYANA is also demonstrated in this parable as the children soon realise there is ONLY ONE CURE that is available - just like the Theravadins realise the Buddha's teachings are the only path to enlightenment.

  • Parable of the Burning House - A wealthy old man, one day realises that his house is on fire, but his children are inside of the house, completely unaware and oblivious

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