The Lotus Sutra:

Humanity’s dream of Enlightenment

Among many teachings of Mahayana Buddhism, the Lotus Sutra is regarded as the highest and most revolutionary in its concepts of attaining Buddhahood.  For hundreds of years, however, the Sutra’s teachings remained merely theoretical - without practice - even within the circles of monks, and it was far from the reach of ordinary people in society.

Then, in13th century Japan, a Buddhist reformer, Nichiren, deeply impressed by the Sutra’s teachings, devoted his life to studying and teaching its doctrines.  Nichiren encapsulated the essence of the Lotus Sutra in a simple way of practice in daily life - making it accessible to ordinary people.  The practical way of accessing the spirit of the Sutra, and the benefits derived from applying its doctrines in daily life - contributed to its appeal and wide spread in society.

The essence of the Lotus Sutra is its revelation of the capacity of all people to equally enjoy a secure, dignified and meaningful life.  It is a teaching about revealing in this lifetime the original state of enlightenment - a potential existing in each individual, since birth.  While any individual can enjoy this highest state of existence equally as any other,  all categories of discrimination among people become irrelevant - and were all abolished in the text of the sutra..

Transforming sufferings, living in peace and security and treasuring humanism of all people - can be described as the dream and aspiration of what people really desire deep in their heart.   Those who participated in the gathering of the Lotus Sutra were called “truth-seekers”, and they manifest the deepest spiritual desire of humanity, aiming for living a meaningful enjoyable existence, in which evil tendencies are defeated, and in which peace, prosperity and good fortune prevails. 

According to Nichiren, when one identifies own desires and tendencies with this spirit of humanism , then the same benefits assured by the principles of the Sutra will be naturally shared.  


The Lotus sutra stand out as a unique document, which abolished all categories of discrimination among people: age, gender, sexuality, appearance, race, and social position - viewing any individual as respect-worthy.  In this, the Lotus sutra can be considere as the oldest document on the human right for living one’s life in harmony and peace.

The poetry style of the text of the Lotus Sutra

At its start, the introduction to the Lotus Sutra describes a gathering of the Buddha and his disciples, which took place about eight years before the Buddha’s passing - at a mountain in Rajagha - called Eagle Peak.  From this realistic scenery of the Buddha’s discourse, the text of the Sutra gradually shifts towards describing a fantastic field of magnificent images and occurrences - taking place beyond the constrains time and space, and expressing the Buddha’s mind of enlightenment. 

In a poetic style, the Sutra presents a dream-like journey into the mind of the Buddha, which transformed the place of the gathering into an environment filled with wonders, rich in colours and in treasures, a field with heavenly music resounding from ‘golden instruments’ played by ‘gods of beautiful voices’, while flowers of fragrance fall over the people, creating an atmosphere of pleasure, security, peace and inspiration of the world of enlightenment.

In this part of the Sutra, the Buddha projects to his listeners his teachings in form of parables and metaphors to convey messages of equality of all living beings, compassion, wisdom and potential of freedom and joy for all people.  

After that journey into enlightenment, the scenery of the Sutra returns back to the gathering where it started at Eagle Peak, with the desire of disciples for transmission of the teaching of enlightenment into the future.

It seems first puzzling why would the text of the sutra tend to deliberately create the atmosphere of fantasy, in which events are not constrained by the spatiotemporal reality.  The intention of the Sutra was to employ imagery and parables to encode and express the universal principles and teachings, conveyed by the metaphors. The meaning of the messages conveyed by the Sutra become valid at any time and any place in which human being experience the desire for transforming sufferings and attaining enlightenment.


Author: Safwan Darshams

The Revolutionary Teachings of the Lotus Sutra

  The Value of the Individual

   The inherent Nature of Human Rights                 

                                         Respecting Diversity of People’s Desires        

                                                    The Right to Happiness

  Comparison between the Lotus Sutra and other Spiritual Scriptures


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