The Lotus Sutra

The Lotus Sutra

A Review

       The Lotus Sutra is perhaps one of the most respected, loved, cherished sutras throughout much of the world.  It has through its numerous translations been able to survive for an incredibly long period of time in a variety of formats.  The inclusion of two additional sutras in the The Threefold Lotus Sutra tends to be the majority way of presenting the text.  Three translators and three additional editors worked on this particular translation volume.

       The essential messages of the sutras are: compassion, steadfastness, meditation, awareness, liberation, and enlightenment.  The Sutra of Innumerable Meanings opens the volume and provides a brief outline of some of the philosophical ideas of Buddhism.  This is amid a great deal of philosophy a great deal of poetry and adeptly used poetic imagery. The glossary at the end of the volume is not very extensive amounting to only some twelve to fourteen pages, and without having additional volumes with glossaries or indexes, some of the essence in the material is difficult to grasp. 


      The overall message of The Sutra of The Lotus Flower of The Wonderful Law (it's full translated title), is the timeless message of wisdom, compassion, liberation and enlightenment.  The Mahayana scriptures tend to also lay great stress on "the Greater Vehicle" or the path of the Bodhisattva.  This particular text stands as one of the most sacred scriptures of Buddhist tradition that was copiously translated throughout China and Japan as major examples.  As is found very often in these sorts of texts there are numerous listings of all sorts of different people, animals, beings, and mythical beings.


      The volume concludes with the Sutra of Meditation on the Bodhisattva Universal Virtue. This final sutra of the trilogy lays further stress on the Mahayana school/tradition of Buddhism.  There are times in this as well as in the earlier texts when there are direct attacks on other schools.  These attacks or intellectual sparring seems contradictory to the spirit and message of Gautama Buddha as presented in the traditional Pali texts of the Nikayas.  However, it should be remembered that these texts as with many others were received as transmissions from the past and so are liable to error through multiple translations, or the overemphasis or misuse of words by the translator. The final result however is the traditional message and essence of Buddhism presented in a readable way with excellent poetic and prose use.