Deciphering the Lotus Sutra: Commentary by Thich Nhat Hanh (Chapter 3)
A wise teacher, when he or she looks at their disciples, is able to see which path each disciple will follow in the future and the realization they will attain. With this knowledge, the teaching can help their disciples have more confidence and follow the right path. Giving a prediction is a transmission of spiritual energy from teacher to disciple.
The sutra tells us that the Buddha says to himself, “I am the Father of the beings; I must rescue them from their woes and troubles and give them the joy of incalculable and limitless Buddha-wisdom.” The word “Father” here is a symbol of the Buddha’s love and concern for his children, all living beings.
A disciple of the Buddha is the spiritual child of the Buddha. Our parents bring us into the world, they give us our physical body. When we come to the practice we are reborn into our spiritual life, thanks to the Buddha. In this sutras it is said that the disciple is “born from the mouth of the Buddha.” This beautiful image of the Buddha as the spiritual father of all beings is a symbol of his great love.
True nirvana is possible in the here and now when we are able to get in touch with the ultimate dimension of reality. Just as a wave does not have to die in order to live in its ultimate dimension of water, we do not have to “extinguish” ourselves in order to reach nirvana… We know that “samsara” and “nirvana” are just distinctions in the realm of the historical dimension, and no such distinction exists in the ultimate dimension.
The Buddha, the Dharma King, grasps the true nature, the ultimate dimension, of all things and therefore has the ability to use various skillful means to teach beings in the phenomenal realm – this world of form and appearances called samsara…the teachings may appear in different forms, but ultimately they all lead to the One Vehicle, the Buddha vehicle, in which all beings realize their innate Buddha-nature.
Source: Opening the Heart of the Cosmos: Insights on the Lotus Sutra