Here is a famous section from the “Lotus Sutra.” I am presenting for reading and discussion. Hopefully there will be some readers who take an interest.
It is central to Mahayana Buddhism especially in Japan and contains a jaw dropping meaning for those who study it deeply.
Gautama Buddha, appeared in India in the 6th century BC. Some say 5th Century BC. China and Japan however trafitionally dated the Buddha 1029-949 BC. Scholarly dating the Buddha, was actually based on the confusing dating of Alexander the Great and the Indian King Chandragupta Maurya. There were two Chandraguptas and scholars are still unsure which one is referred two in the few Greek writings related to Alexander, which had been used as the sheet anchor.
Background: the Lotus Sutra is the Saddharma Pundarika Sutra in classical Buddhist Hybrid Sanskrit. In Japan, it is called the Myo Ho Ren Ge Kyo.
Translating the title:
Sad=Wonderful, True, Perfect, Mystic, Cosmic, Profound, Secret
Dharma= Law, Way, Path
Pundarika=Great White Blossoming Lotus Flower, Symbol of linear and simultaneous Cause and Effect
Sutra= Teaching, Sound, Thread
In Japan the Sutra also has a shortened title, called the Hokkekyo, i.e., The Lotus Sutra.
The Sutra was traditionally memorized then compiled and written down in Sanskrit most likely in the Kashmir area of Northern India, in the 1st-2nd century during or just after the 4th Buddhist Council, but separate from the compiling of the traditional pre-Mahayana canon, The Kushan Kings, particularly King Kanishka sponsored the compilations of the Buddhist Canon. The chief authors or compilers of this Sutra are left unannounced, however there were four or five very famous great teachers who were associated with the Court of the Kushan Kings. This Sutra was widely spread in Bactria and across the Silk Road.
This 27 or 28 Chapter Sutra (depending on Translation,) also contains other famous parables, including two Prodigal son parables, and the Parable of the Burning House. The excerpt below, is the Parable of tne Excellent Physician. It is the most widely recited Sutra in Japan today.
Here is the most central parable in the Duration of Life Chapter (Chapter 15 or 16 depending on which Chinese translation from Sanskrit is used)
This Chapter, is widely considered the core of the Lotus Sutra wherein the Supreme Law is revealed for all mankind.
Excerpt Saddharma Pundarika -Duration of Life Chapter
Parable of the Physician
"Let us suppose an analogous case, young men of good family. There is some physician, learned, intelligent, prudent, clever in allaying all sorts of diseases. That man has many sons, ten, twenty, thirty, forty, fifty, or a hundred. The physician once being abroad, all his children incur a disease from poison or venom. Overcome with the grievous pains caused by that poison or venom which burns them they lie rolling on the ground.
Their father, the physician, comes home from his journey at the time when his sons are suffering from that poison or venom. Some of them have perverted notions, others have right notions, but all suffer the same pain. On seeing their father they cheerfully greet him and say: Hail, dear father, that thou art come back in safety and welfare! Now deliver us from our evil, be it poison or venom; let us live, dear father. And the physician, seeing his sons befallen with disease, overcome with pain and rolling on the ground, prepares a great remedy, having the required colour, smell, and taste, pounds it on a stone and gives it as a potion to his sons, with these words:
Take this great remedy, my sons, which has the required colour, smell, and taste. For by taking this great remedy, my sons, you shall soon be rid of this poison or venom; you shall recover and be healthy.
Those amongst the children of the physician that have right notions, after seeing the colour of the remedy, after smelling the smell and tasting the flavour, quickly take it, and in consequence of it are soon totally delivered from their disease. But the sons who have perverted notions cheerfully greet their father and say: Hail, dear father, that thou art come back in safety and welfare; do heal us. So they speak, but they do not take the remedy offered, and that because, owing to the perverseness of their notions, that remedy does not please them, in colour, smell, nor taste.
Then the physician reflects thus: These sons of mine must have become perverted in their notions owing to this poison or venom, as they do not take the remedy nor hail me. Therefore will I by some able device induce these sons to take this remedy. Prompted by this desire he speaks to those sons as follows: I am old, young men of good family, decrepit, advanced in years, and my term of life is near at hand; but be not sorry, young men of good family, do not feel dejected; here have I prepared a great remedy for you; if you want it, you may take it. Having thus admonished them, he skilfully betakes himself to another part of the country and lets his sick sons know that he has departed life.
They are extremely sorry and bewail him extremely: So then he is dead, our father and protector; he who begat us; he, so full of bounty! now are we left without a protector. Fully aware of their being orphans and of having no refuge, they are continually plunged in sorrow, by which their perverted notions make room for right notions. They acknowledge that remedy possessed of the required colour, smell, and taste to have the required colour, smell, and taste, so that they instantly take it, and by taking it are delivered from their evil. Then, on knowing that these sons are delivered from evil, the physician shows himself again. Now, young men of good family, what is your opinion? Would any one charge that physician with falsehood on account of his using that device?
No, certainly not, Lord; certainly not, Sugata.
He proceeded: In the same manner, young men of good family, I have arrived at supreme, perfect enlightenment since an immense, incalculable number of hundred thousands of myriads of kotis of Æons, but from time to time I display such able devices to the creatures, with the view of educating them, without there being in that respect any falsehood on my part."