The Prose & Verse of The Lotus Sutra
Chapter 2 - Ways & Mean
From the beginning of this chapter to the end of nineteen stanzas of verse in the seventeenth chapter on Distinguishing the Merits & Virtues1 there is the The Main Teaching of this Sutra. Some include the part after the verse which presents the disciples' four aspects of faith2.
When the Sutra is viewed as having two main teachings3, the main teaching of the Door to the Manifestation4 is from the beginning of this chapter to the end of the ninth chapter on Bestowing the Prophecy on the Trainees & Adepts.
If one did not employ words one would be unable to understand it. Although the Sutra again speaks words of praise for the dual wisdom, the words are ultimately unable to fathom the dual wisdom of the Buddhas, as explained before.
The Sutra praises both because the path of all the Buddhas is the same. Before, in The Introduction, the ray of light illuminated all the other lands and Maitreya posed a question about it. Manjusri cited the similarity of this with events of long ago and the great multitude listened for the answer. In properly expressing this, the Buddha had raised all the signs and now arose from Samadhi, showing that the path of all the Buddhas is the same.
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Outline of Title Outline of Prose
1. This refers to the first section of verse in Chapter Seventeen, in seventy-six lines (nineteen stanzas of four lines each) which concludes the Main Teaching of the Sutra, according to Chih-I. Following the Main Teaching, the rest of the Sutra is about its propagation.
2. The disciples' four aspects of faith:
After the nineteen stanzas in the first section of verse in Chapter Seventeen,
the Buddha explains the Four Aspects of Faith which were used in the propagation
of the Sutra's teaching during the Buddha's lifetime. Some commentaries consider
this portion of the text to be part of the Main Teaching. The Four Aspects of
a. Be able to believe in & understand the Buddha's eternal life (as described in Chapter Sixteen) for a single moment
b. Understand the import of this
c. Teach of it to others
d. Observe it in one's life with deep faith
3. As described before, the Sutra
may be seen as having two main parts:
a. The door to the manifestation of enlightenment (C. Chi-Men, J. Shakumon) - on the historical Buddh
b. The door to the source of enlightenment (C. Pen-Men, J. Honmon) - on the eternal Buddha
4. The Door to the Manifestation (C. Chi-Men, J. Shakumon): This Chapter on Ways & Means is the beginning of the main teaching on the provision and reality of the historical Buddha Sakyamuni and the manifestation of enlightenment in this world.
5. Opening up the Three and Revealing the One: Three is a metaphor for that which is provisional whereas one is a metaphor for that which is real. Hence there are the three provisional doctrines, the three truths, etc. The main teaching of the first half of the Sutra (the door to the manifestation) includes the opening up of the provisional wisdom to reveal the real wisdom. See the symbolism of the Lotus Blossom (C. Lien Hua, J. Renge).
6. Addressing Sariputra, 'you have already earnestly requested...': Later, in the second chapter, after Sariputra has earnestly requested clarification of this teaching three times, the Buddha elaborated on its meaning.
7. At this time the World Honored One...: The beginning of the chapter
8. At this time the great multitude...: After the Buddha initially explains this teaching (after the first verse of the second chapter) the assembly expresses its doubts and questions
9. First the Sutra brings up the issue: The Buddha arises from Samadhi and begins teaching without being asked.
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