The Lotus Sutra

Topics: Mahayana, Buddhism, Buddhahood / Pages: 5 (895 words) / Published: May 23rd, 2015
The Lotus Sutra
An important Mahayana text The Mahayana Scriptures

• Mahayana scriptures have their own sacred texts called sutras (pali: suttas).
• Earliest Mahayana scriptures were written down in the ancient Indian language of sanskrit between the first century B.C.E. and 150 C.E. (Some scholars say they were not complete until the 5th century C.E.). There is NO belief in an oral tradition like that of Theravada Buddhists.
• These were also translated into other languages such as
Tibetan, Chinese and Japanese.
• Recent discoveries of Mahayana scriptures in Afghanistan suggest that the earliest scriptures we have might be as ancient as the earliest Theravada scriptures.

The Mahayana Scriptures

• The origin of Mahayana scriptures is much debated
• Some claim that as they have emerged so many centuries after the Buddha himself, they can only be interpretations of the Buddha’s teachings (Theravada view!).
• Some claim there must have been a parallel Buddhist council held at the same time as the 1 st council at which the
Mahayana teachings were recited.
• Others claim that Mahayana teachings were too advanced for the people to fully understand so teachings like the
Prajnaparamita sutra were magically hidden by the nagas
(sea serpents/ sea dragons) for safe guarding until human beings were ready for them!
• Several centuries later, Buddhists like Nagarjuna (1 st century
C.E. ) magically rediscovered them and wrote them down when he was spiritually inspired.

The Mahayana Scriptures

A number of Mahayana scriptures (three in particular) became especially popular and important in Asia:-


The Prajnaparamita sutras which are primarily on the
‘Perfection of Wisdom’ recall Mahayana’s views on
Sunyata (shunyata) or emptiness – this is the view that nothing in the universe exists independently, permanently and inherently. The most famous of the prajnaparamitas is THE HEART SUTRA (often recited in
Tibetan and Japanese monasteries today). The
Madhayamaka School of

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