The Living Message of the Lotus Sutra

Recently, while walking to work, I was thinking about the Buddhist text, the Lotus Sutra or hokkekyō (法華経) in Japanese.1 I was thinking of what the entire sutra means, since it is so long, and how this applies to life now.

So, I got to thinking that the message of the Lotus Sutra, even though it is almost 2,000 years old, is still important today to Buddhists and non-Buddhists:

  • In spite of the various schools, practices and regional/cultural differences, there is only one Buddhism, and all of the above are included. (chapter 2)
  • No effort is wasted. If kids offer a pile of sand to the Buddha, or a person says “Hail Buddha” even once, they are on the Buddhist path and will someday reach Enlightenment. (chapter 2)
  • The Buddha is not just a physical/historical person, but represents the truth, and the desire to help all beings reach liberation. There is only one truth, but each person understands it as best they can. (chapter 5)
  • In true Buddhism, there is no discrimination between men and women, young and old. All can attain Buddhahood if they have the noble intention of doing so. (chapter 6, 8, 9, 10).
  • Intention and not form nor background is what matters. (chapter 12′s story of the Dragon Princess)
  • The Buddhist lifestyle is one of peace, good intentions and wholesome restraint. A person should refrain from criticizing other people’s beliefs, nor withhold teachings either when asked. (chapter 14)
  • Anyone who upholds these truths can be a Bodhisattva of the Earth (chapter 15).
  • The Buddha is more than just a physical/historical person. When one lives an upright, wholesome life and appreciates the Dharma, they can see the Buddha. In other words the Dharma embodies the Buddha, the Buddha embodies the Dharma. (chapter 16)
  • Delighting in the truth, in the Dharma, changes one for the better (ch. 18)
  • The epitome of Buddhist character is patience (ch. 20), dedication (ch. 23), humility (ch. 24) and compassion (ch. 25)
  • Friends and good companions are important on the Buddhist path. (ch. 27)
  • Never give up. (ch. 28)

Hope that helps. Enjoy!

Nam-myoho Renge Kyo

1 I know, I know. I am a huge nerd. Many guys would think about girls, last night’s game, or something, but sometimes I get very introspective, when something is on my mind.

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2 Comments on “The Living Message of the Lotus Sutra”

  1. Marcus says:


    Another great cut-out-and-keep post! What a lovely summary of the Sutra! Thank you so much!

    Namu Kwan Seum Bosal,


  2. Jaime McLeod says:

    Thanks, Doug. Great post! I’ve never seen such a concise, on-spot distillation of the Lotus Sutra before. When are you going to head to seminary to become a Jodo Shinshu preist? You’d be a good one.

    And if you’re a nerd then so am I. I think about sutras a lot, too.

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