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Switch to Forum Live View The Origins and Essential Principles of the Mahayana and the Advent of Nichiren
3 years ago  ::  Nov 11, 2014 - 8:52PM #1
etoro
Posts: 595

Here in this thread I would like to share the Lotus Sutra viewpoint of what are considered the essentials of the Mahayana Buddhist philosophy. The Mahayana Buddhist philosophy, as understood through the great vehicle philosophy of the Lotus Sutra, at its core essentials, is grounded in the view of reality as understood from the standpoint of Shakyamuni Buddha's wisdom and his beliefs itself. This view projects the Buddha's outlook as a person awakened to the eternal law or Sad Dharma within his own being. This stands in opposition to an interpretation of Buddhism as has been interpreted through the outlook of those teachers and scholars of Buddhism who consider themselves simply students of the Buddha; those who viewed themselves as interpretors of the Buddha's teachiings.  When analyzed for their source of data, knowledge and information, it is discovered that their source doctrines are not the complete and final principles or doctrines of the Buddha. This critical factor was piously observed and analyzed by Nichiren Daishonin as the source of disunity and confusion writ large over sixty or so generations since the Buddha's passing, the spread of the teachings over several Asian countries, languages and cultures and the underlying cause which divided the Buddhist community into the various schools that emerged over the course of time and place. Nichiren claims to have simply followed the four standards written in both the Nirvana and Vimalakirti Sutras which state that (1) to rely on the Law and not upon persons; (2) to rely on the meaning of the teaching and not upon the words; (3) rely on wisdom and not upon discriminative thinking; and (4) rely on sutras that are complete and final and not upon those that are not complete and final.



This point is very important because it is this very issue (the ultimate insight of the Buddha into absolute and unconditional truth) that stood at the core of the Buddha's concern from the very dawn of his self identification and self determination as the one who has truly awakened to the highest truth and the one truly qualified to awaken others to the "Buddha wisdom". At the heart of this dilemna is the notion that while the Buddha had awakened to a wisdom of an eternal truth or law or "Dharma" residing within the core of all life and phenomena, determining who among his disciples and the other people of his time could awaken to the Buddha wisdom at the beginning of his preaching career and by the time of the end of his natural life, and particularly for the periods after his passing, these were of critical concern to the Buddha. These core issues are addressed and resolved through the exhortations, discourses and great events recorded in the Lotus Sutra.


There are many reasons for this. For example

1)     The world has always been filled with human beings of many divergent distinctions, paths, agendas, views of life seeking to lead and influence others towards what they believed is the correct path and the way to lead their fellow man out of the sufferings of "this world".  There were many teachers, scholars and gurus before, during and after the Buddha's lifetime who were and would appear as proponents of their own spiritual paths.  The Buddha obviously did not agree with those other views, means and methods, rejected them outright and cultivated his own viewpoint, means and methods to attain a correct understanding of life and reality. This is known as the Buddha Dharma and to those who follow this path it is known as the Sad or correct or true Dharma. 

2) While during his lifetime the Buddha could set and assert standards of accomplishment for his disciples and could well discern and designate the quality of the development of his disciples, he knew that it would become particularly difficult in the period after his passing. 


The Buddha did not designate a successor per se but rather stated upon his last moments that his disciples have been provided everything they needed to make their own way to full awakening and completion and that they should use their own lives and internal experiences as the best way to determine the best results and the way forward for the community of believers.    


3) The Dharma to which the Buddha awakened is self realized, self contained, and an absolute and unconditional truth or law of wisdom that requires no actual external validation in and of itself. External validation from others is acquired by means of the manner, conduct, beliefs and practices of the individuals who self awaken and proof of correct practices and conduct become self evident through the wholesome unfolding of causes, effects and conditions that manifest in the next instance within interactive experiences among followers of the path as a result of correct insight and practice. Harmony, oneness, joy, and peace arise through mutual accord and are known as the fruit of practice.


All this presupposes the singularly important Buddhist principle of dependent origination (pratityasamudpada) as the basis of reality; the notion that all conditioned phenomena make appearance in a state of relativity as self and other, this and thatness. In this respect, as Nichiren makes clear, the operative principle which underlay the Buddha's enlightnement is his behavior as a human being.  It is through the Buddha's wisdom in itself which is demonstrated through his ability to win friends and influence all people towards positive and constructive behavior, wholesome and humanistic life functions.  



4)  The Buddha himself worshipped and expressed defference and obeisance to the Sad Dharma to which he was awakened and cherished it as the universal law of wisdom by which all beings attain Buddhahood.  It is the Sad Dharma or Wisdom Law itself that is the true BUddha. 

In the period after the Buddha's passing the community of believers and followers experienced many events and issues which divided them into separate communities in accordance with circumstances and conditions. There are various theories but I believe such distinctions in group formations among the Buddhist community were born from the very relative nature of time and space within which all human beings must adapt, address and deal with from the moment we are born into the world.  These communties all began to distingusih themselves with either a name for the group in accordance with either the principle of Buddha wisdom which they considered the most fundamental or the point of diffference by which they found themselves being divided whether it be in terms of the places where they gathered, the view, practice or belief they held with regard to either ideas or modes of conduct, behavior and interaction with the external communities such as Buddhist householders or other seekers and interested parties. These distinctions divided the community after the Buddha's death into what is known as the 18 or 21 schools dependending on how one interprets the distinctions which redounded.      

There are various explanations as to why the Mahayana school emergered as a distinct school from among the original 18 sub schools but given my understanding of the basis of Buddhist practice and the teaching of the Lotus Sutra it is clear that what was disputed and then made clear over time with the development of the Mahayana or great vehicle philosophy was the notion of bringing to consensus and conclusion within the collective or social realm the correct insight and concept or Dharma of the Buddha's wisdom.  Here we return to the principle of the Sad Dharma, the correct dharma, the true dharma, the wonderous dharma or mystic dharma of the Buddha.  The essence of the Mahayana philosophy is therefore the principle of the Sad Dharma of the Buddha.

-continued    

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3 years ago  ::  Dec 27, 2014 - 12:05PM #2
etoro
Posts: 595

Once the Buddha choice to commence a career as a teacher of enlightened wisdom he immediately confronted the dilemna of how difficult it will be to teach the people the wisdom to which the Buddha had awakened.  There are various accounts of this story but in the final analysis the issue revolved around the distinctions between the ultimate truth to which the Buddha had awakened (enlightened wisdom grounded in the absolute unconditional) and the ways and views of the conventional world, the unenlightened world of relativity, sorrow, lamentation, suffering and the unfullfillment experienced by most people in life.    

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3 years ago  ::  Jan 10, 2015 - 1:51PM #3
etoro
Posts: 595

The Mahayana arose as a result of natural conflicts and challenges to the traditionl interpretation of the Buddha's teachings,; conflicts which were always inherent in the discourses held among disciples and between the Buddha and his disciples. These conflicts of view became more accute after the Buddha's passing and since the Buddha did not appoint an actual successor he left it up to his discipes to "work out their own salvation with diligence" as it were. It is due to such a state within the Buddhist community after the Buddha's passing that the teachings and principles of the Buddha wisdom would undergo so much variation and formulations of views.  


The Mahayana or great vehicle wisdom it self not only distingusihes itself from the so called hinayana or lesser vehicle wisdom but there are also variations and distinctions in views and outlooks within the schools of Mahayana as it seeks to perfect an understanding of the Buddha as an object of wisdom or worship (depending upon one's level of understanding) in the periods after the actual person of the Buddha had pased away. Some mahayana sutras go the length of identifying the so called "true Buddha" as entity of life that is superior to the Shakyamuni Buddha who appeared in this world of the flesh and temporality. They depict and identify other forms of Buddhas such as Amida Buddha and Mahavairochana Buddha.  Among all the various Mahayana sutras it was established by the Chinese leaders that the Lotus Sutra held the most profound insight into the Buddha's mode of wisdom and true self identity as a being who had thoroughly worked out the dualism of time (past lives, the present life and future lives) and space (the ten directions) within his own being and had awakened the wisdom and state of eternal life, better understood as the eternal true aspect or law governing all phenomena, within himself.  The Mahayana sutras teach that the various modes of the Buddha such as has eternal aspect, his wisdom aspect and his temporal aspect, better known as the the Buddha's three bodies, where all united by a single law.


Some sutras taught only that the first of the three bodies are eternal or have no beginning and no end.  Others taught that only the first had no begining and no end and that the second or wisdom body had a beginning and no end and that the third or temporal body had both a beginning and an end.  Some taught that the first and second have no beginning and no end and that only the third had a beginning and an end.  The Lotus Sutra is the only sutra that teaches that all three of the Buddha's bodies have no beginning and no end.  This is known as the eternal three bodies of the Buddha nd is based upon the belief that all living beings possess the Buddha nature, that the Buddha nature is the wisdom of myoho renge kyo or Lotus Sutrta and that life functions in accordance with these three truths of temporary existence, nonsubstantiality and the middleway.


The principles which embody these insights reagarding the life and nature of the Buddha versus that of ordinary people consist of the principes of cause and effect and karma, the notion of transmigration across the various spectrums of beings such as the realm of hungry beings, trhe realm of human beings, heavenly beings, the realm of Bodhisattvas, the realm of the Buddha and so forth.  Such teachings were refined into such concepts as the six realms of transmigration which in tyrn were expanded into the concept of the ten realms of existence.  Among these concepts some among the non-buddhist sutras taught that these realms were all separate states and places.  The Buddha taught that all of the lower six states were all manifestations of desire and attachment to the "saha" world. In other words that they were all products of the mind itself.


In this regard the early teachings only recognize the lower six worlds as products of the mind and the state of nirvana as a disolution of these mental products or states.  However in the period after the Buddha's passing such a view became insufficient to explain the struggles engaged among the contemplatives and renunciants of the household life who became monks and nuns orf whether one could practice Buddhism as a hoouseholder itself and whether such a way of practuce was equal or lesser than the path of renunciants. There were teachings that were uttered by the Buddha that indicated that nirvana is not necessarily derived from a life that renounces the world, lives in the forest in a state of renunciation awaiting the disolution of this "last body and mind", known as Nirvana with Remainder under the view that there is a final Nirvana without Remainder that only occurrs with a final detachment from the body that is born and dies.  This idea for many was taken literally, a view of reality that derived from social conditioning in the Brahmin teachings.


_continued-


 


 



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3 years ago  ::  Apr 10, 2015 - 9:12AM #4
etoro
Posts: 595

Among the many principles of wisdom established by the Mahayana Buddhist philosophy is the concept known as the four reliances or four standards.  The four standards established a basis for the correct study and practice of true Buddhism. They clarify the approach and methodology one should take when endeavoring to study the sutras. 


These four reliances are found in both the Mahayana Nirvana Sutra and the Mahayana Vimalakirti Sutra. They are;


(1) to rely on the Law and not upon persons;


(2) to rely on the meaning of the teaching and not upon the words;


(3) to rely on wisdom and not upon discriminative thinking; and


(4) to rely on sutras that are complete and final and not upon those that are not complete and final.



This last standard "to rely on sutras that are complete and final and not upon those that are not complete and final" is the standard which distinguishes the Lotus Sutra from all other sutras both Mahayana and Hinayana.


-continued-













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3 years ago  ::  Apr 22, 2015 - 11:37AM #5
etoro
Posts: 595

This view point, the notion that only the teaching that is complete and final is the teaching that all people should rely upon to understand and awaken to the Buddha's complete mode of wisdom, is in itself incorporates a very complex view of life and reality.  The Lotus Sutra contains these insights and principles of reality that are in fact complete and final. This is what distinguishes the Lotus Sutra from all other sutras.  


I myself have invested a great deal of time in this life both seeking to master these insights as well as convey them to others in my community and here on the internet.  This activity is in fact the practice and teaching of the Lotus Sutra.  It is based upon the fact that the Lotus Sutra contains the very eternal inner life of the Buddha, his most prime purpose and intentions for all humanity.  The Lotus Sutra is the very embodiment of the Buddha's will and contains the principles of wisdom of how the Buddha wisdom or Sad Dharma functions throughout eternity, and how it makes appearance within the minds of living beings throughout the reality of thenpast, present and future and all throughout the universe.  These principles are actually taught within the Lotus Sutra itself.


Nam Myoho Renge Kyo.  


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2 years ago  ::  Jul 17, 2015 - 8:58AM #6
etoro
Posts: 595

The Lotus Sutra is the preparation, revelation and transmission to all followers of the Buddha of the enlightenment one gains from pondering and meditation on the true nature of the Buddha's enlightenment itslf. Upon entering and returning from the Samadhi of Immeasurable Meanings, the Buddha begins to prepare the disciples for the revelations to come. In the preparation and revelation the Buddha displays the universal Buddha nature present in all ten states of existence and the begins to make clear the Buddha's method for transmitting the correct teaching or Sad Dharma to all disciples.  

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