The Lotus Sutra is the coup de maître of the Buddha’s enlightenment and achievement. Hailed as the King of all Sutras, the Lotus Sutra is the symbolism of Supreme Perfect Enlightenment for it focuses on the essence of the Buddha’s teachings: complete liberation of suffering through attaining Buddhahood quickly. Hence, the Lotus Sutra is the veritable beacon of hope for people who wish to live with peace, happiness, and dignity.
Mindfulness of Buddhahood in Life: Revolutionary Insights of the Lotus Sutra is a refreshingly original and innovative book of commentary of the Lotus Sutra. Written by a lay female Buddhist practitioner, this book is packed with unorthodox perspectives of the Lotus Sutra. Vastly different from the worldviews and interpretations of Master Chih-I and Nichiren, the book aims to help readers debunk the preconceived notions of the Lotus Sutra by unravelling the secrets of the Buddha’s teachings through scriptural understanding of the metaphors, parables, and images as found in the Lotus Sutra.
This is a must-read book for scholars as well as intermediate to advanced practitioners of Nichiren and Mahayana Buddhists alike who are keen to understand the Lotus Sutra from a theoretical and scriptural point of view. The refreshing insights—especially with respect to the compassion aspect of the Lotus Sutra— will certainly help you understand the pivotal roles played by Buddhas and bodhisattvas in supporting their disciples to attain Buddhahood quickly.
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Table of Contents
The Lotus Sutra is the Signature Text of Buddhism
Is the Lotus Sutra the Word of the Buddha?
The Wisdom of the Lotus Sutra is Buddhahood
Section 1: The Three Gifts
Insights of Past Buddhist Masters: Dao Sheng, Zhiyi and Nichiren
Overview of My Insights
Structure of the Lotus Sutra
The Three Gifts and the Triple Refuge
Section 2: Buddha in the Sky
Doctrines of Past Buddhist Masters
The Doctrines of Nagarjuna
Zhiyi’s Threefold Truths
Buddha in the Sky as the Three Ultimate Truths
- Truth #1: The Law of Emptiness
- Truth #2: The Law of the Middle Way
- Truth #3: The Law of Buddhahood
Section 3: The Practice of the Lotus Sutra
Different Styles of Practice
The Three One-Heart Methods
- Practice the Lotus Sutra
- Propagate the Lotus Sutra
- Be Mindful of Bodhisattva Avalokitesvara
Section 4: Vision of the Lotus Sangha
Buddhism in the Millennium
The Three E’s of Enlightenment
Section 5: Mandala of the Lotus Sutra
Object of Devotion
About Nichiren Gohonzon
Mandala of the Lotus Sutra
Three Major Differentiations
10 Inspirations behind the Design of the Mandala
Number Reference to the Mandala of the Lotus Sutra
Summary and Final Thoughts
About the Author
Available for purchase at the Amazon.
I am eternally fortunate and grateful to have been born into a Buddhist family, which enabled me to encounter the Lotus Sutra so early in my life. Back in the 1990s in Malaysia, when I was about ten years old, I chanced upon the title of the Lotus Sutra in three Chinese characters, “Fa Hua Ying” (法华经), in one of the Chinese Dharma books. I remember vividly that particular moment when I stared in awe at the three Chinese characters and literally felt the kingly aura exuding from the title, seeping through the entire fibre of my being.
My parents practiced a syncretic mix of Taoism and Chinese Buddhism. We had a beautiful white statue of Guan Yin at home, and my mother would lead the recitation of the Great Compassion Sutra once in a very blue moon. Nevertheless, the experience of chanting the Guan Yin’s mantra, “Devotion to Bodhisattva Avalokitesvara,” left an indelible mark upon my consciousness. Only years later did I come to realize that Guan Yin, my beloved bodhisattva, actually appears in Chapter 25 of the Lotus Sutra.
When I was about twelve years old, I encountered the Lotus Sutra again from my maternal grandmother who taught me the daimoku: “Nam Myoho Renge Kyo.” I joyously learned the mantra from her and started chanting right away. This was how I ended up practicing the Lotus Sutra through Nichiren Buddhism.
After graduating with a business degree from the National University of Singapore (NUS), and after working in the corporate world for seven years, I decided to take a leap of faith to fulfill my aspiration of becoming an author. In 2014, I successfully self-published my first book: The Lotus Sutra and Its Opening and Closing Sutras: A Beautiful Translation with Deep Love from a Lay Buddhist Practitioner.
One of my spiritual friends told me that I was receiving “messages” about the Buddha’s teachings through “divine channelling.” Call it divine channelling or psychic intuition—whatever name it is given, I believe that my intuitive understanding of the Lotus Sutra may have its origin not only through my personal efforts, but also through the karmic experiences of past lives. Age matters. Many people follow their life paths and end up discovering what they are ‘meant to do’ sometime between the ages of 30 and 36. For example, Shakyamuni Buddha achieved enlightenment at age 35, Lee Kuan Yew became Prime Minister of Singapore at age 35, and Daisaku Ikeda became president of Soka Gakkai at age 32. As for me, I completed my translation of the Lotus Sutra at age 31 and published my commentary on the Lotus Sutra at age 35. I believe writing about the Lotus Sutra is my personal mission, and it is predestined for the benefit of humanity.
The special affinity I share with the Lotus Sutra is inexplicable and yet deeply personal. A melting pot of predilection, purpose, and passion in my heart drives me to be an independent seeker of truth in the Buddha’s teachings. While I am not a Buddhist nun or an academic scholar, that does not deter me from through my written works.
Every day, I am literally living and breathing the Lotus Sutra. Whenever I am walking, chanting, reading, or resting, my mind is totally absorbed in the Lotus Sutra. That enables my entire mind and my entire consciousness to be wholly in tune with the ultimate Dharma. When I read the works of the noble masters, I first absorb everything they teach in my mind. Then I allow these ideas to digest, assimilate, and sink into my sub-consciousness so that I can feel the teachings, not just think about the teachings.
I always ask myself, “How do I feel about the ideas? Do they resonate with me?” My total spiritual immersion in the Lotus Sutra gives me numerous sudden awakenings, intuitions, and insights with respect to understanding the meaning of the Lotus Sutra. In short, do not underestimate the power of single-mindedness, because it helps one to connect with the Heart of the Buddha.
Writing about the Lotus Sutra as a lay female Buddhist comes with some unexpected advantages. First, I have the complete freedom to be original in my work, free from the shackles arising from the established monastic or scholastic institution. Second, by tapping into my female intuition, I have the freedom to view things from a perspective that is different from my male Buddhist counterparts. I don’t just perceive the Dharma analytically, using my head, but experience the essence and energy of the teachings in my heart. Studying the scriptures and commentaries using my heart enables me to grasp the wisdom in the Lotus Sutra in a refreshing way, and this is exactly what makes this book so special.
While I studied the works of Zhiyi and Nichiren, I experienced an inexplicable spiritual dissonance. This was exacerbated by the exclusive and elitist teachings, or rather “organizational indoctrinations,” by some of the Nichiren sects. It is this spiritual disenchantment that propels me to revolutionize the philosophy of the Lotus Sutra by sharing my alternative interpretations as written in this book. When I was a beginner in Buddhism, I accepted everything the Buddhist masters said. As I grew older, and as my experiences and horizons expanded, it dawned on me that what is deemed “true” is only a subjective opinion conditioned by many external factors.
Everything I share in this book is the crystallization of five years (2014 – 2018) of intensive study and contemplation of the Lotus Sutra. In this book you will find many refreshingly original ideas and innovative perspectives that are vastly different from the interpretations of Buddhist masters such as Zhiyi and Nichiren. There may be some unorthodox insights that you may not agree with, but I encourage you to learn about the ideas with an open mind and a joyously magnanimous heart. You are free to choose what you believe is true and ditch that which you do not find relevant. I also encourage you to be a spiritual trailblazer by discovering your own insights rather than just following everything I say (or following what you have been taught by past Buddhist masters).
Through feeling the Buddha’s teachings in my heart and trusting my intuition and my inner voice, I gained many creative insights in the way I approach the understanding of the Dharma. Rather than creating an entirely new doctrine—such as how Zhiyi derived his new theory of Ichinen Sanzen and Threefold Truths—I choose to understand the metaphors, images, and parables found in the Lotus Sutra just as they are. Once I have that understanding, only then do I try to find links and connections between these images and the fundamental Buddhist teachings such as the Triple Gems, the Trikaya , the Four Virtues, and so on.
All past Buddhist masters and scholars perceive the Buddha’s teachings in terms of the wisdom aspect of the Buddha, namely the teaching of Buddhahood. In this book, I will show you one aspect of the Buddha that is sorely missing in the commentaries written by Zhiyi and Nichiren: the profound compassion of the Buddha. While the predominant focus of Buddhism in general and the Lotus Sutra in particular is about wisdom, compassion is the linchpin that defines the Buddha and his Dharma. Using scriptural evidence and personal interpretation, I will explain both ‘why’ and ‘how’ the Buddha expresses his profound compassion in the Lotus Sutra. This shows that the ultimate Dharma is not just about the mind (wisdom and meditation) but also the heart (compassion and joy).
This book is certainly not for beginners in Buddhism. Having some intermediate to advanced background in Buddhism and the Lotus Sutra will be tremendously helpful for you to appreciate the content in a more rewarding way. As you read the book, you will encounter a notation system that I established in my translation of the Lotus Sutra. As an example, the notation of “LS 21: 1.8” means “Lotus Sutra, Chapter 21, Section 1, Paragraph 8.”
Happiness is the key to practicing Buddhism. I hope to share a morsel of my bliss and the wisdom of the Lotus Sutra with you so as to inspire you to embark in your personal odyssey toward the Eagle Peak of Buddhahood with peace, joy, and freedom!