Chikurin-ji is a Buddhist temple in Ikoma, Japan. The main object of worship is Monju Bosatsu; the temple is said to have been established by the monk Gyoki in the 8th century and is well known as the place where Gyoki is buried. A silver urn containing his burial record was found in 1255, it has since been designated a National Treasure of Japan. Chikurin-ji is close to Ichibu Station on the Kintetsu Ikoma Line. Chikurin-ji, Digital Museum of Ikoma City Nihon Kotsu Kosha, Nihon Kotsu Kosha, 1984, p. 138. Japanese version of Wikipedia 34°40′20″N 135°42′11″E
Myōan Eisai/Yōsai was a Japanese Buddhist priest, credited with bringing both the Rinzai school of Zen Buddhism and green tea from China to Japan. He is known as Eisai/Yōsai Zenji "Zen master Eisai". Born in Bitchū Province, Eisai was ordained as a monk in the Tendai sect. Dissatisfied with the state of Buddhism at the time, in 1168 he set off on his first trip to Mt. Tiantai in China, the origin of the sect, where he learned of the primacy of the Chan school in Chinese Buddhism of the time, he spent only six months in China on this first trip, but returned in 1187 for a longer stay as a disciple of Xuan Huaichang, a master in the Linji line, at Jingde Si monastery. After his certification as a Zen teacher, Eisai returned to Japan in 1191, bringing with him Zen scriptures and tea seeds, he founded the Hōon Temple in remote Kyūshū, Japan's first Zen temple. Eisai set about propagating the new faith, trying to gain the respect of both the Tendai school and the Imperial court through careful diplomacy.
Faced with the sometimes violent opposition of traditional schools of Buddhism such as Tendai and Pure Land, Eisai left Kyoto for the north-east to Kamakura in 1199, where the shōgun and the newly ascendant warrior class enthusiastically welcomed his teachings. Hōjō Masako, Yoritomo's widow, allowed him to build the first Zen temple in Kamakura. Eisai founded Kennin-ji in Kyoto in 1202 on land gifted to him by Yoritomo's son, the second Kamakura shōgun Minamoto no Yoriie. Eisai died in 1215 at the age of 74, is buried in Kennin-ji's temple grounds. One feature of Eisai's activity not noted is his continued eclecticism, he never renounced his status as a Tendai monk, until the end of his life continued to engage in Tendai esoteric practices. Though he is credited with transmission of the Rinzai line to Japan, it remained for teachers to establish a distinctly Japanese Zen free of admixture with the teachings of other schools. Among his notable disciples was Eihei Dōgen, who himself traveled to China and returned to found the Sōtō school of Zen in Japan.
Eisai is credited with the beginning of the tea tradition in Japan, by bringing green tea seeds from China, back from his second trip in 1191, writing the book 喫茶養生記, Kissa Yōjōki. Legend says that he planted the seeds "in the garden of the Ishigamibo at Seburiyama in Hizen". In addition to his book, Eisai garnered attention from another act involving his tea; this is a record of his treatment from the Azuma Kagami: "The shōgun was taken a bit ill, various attendants attempted to treat him. This was from overindulgence in wine the previous evening; the priest Yojo, who had come to perform incantations and learned the situation, brought a bowl of tea from his temple, saying it was good medicine. He asked the attendants to give the shōgun a scroll of writings about the virtues of tea, the shōgun was said to have been pleased. Priest Yojo indicated he had written it during his breaks from meditation."Eisai was more focused on the medicinal aspects than anything else, the main reason for this was the common conception of the time that the world was in mappō, the Latter age of the Dharma, considered by many to be a time of decline.
Eisai lived through an era of heavy fighting in Japan, so mappō played a big role in his promotion of tea, as he thought it was a cure for many ailments and hence would help people get through this perceived difficult time. In Kissa Yōjōki, the beginning bulk of text after the prefaces concern the alignment of the five elements of Chinese science with five major organs and the respective five flavors that each major organ preferred. Eisai claimed that the standard Japanese fare of the time contained abundant amounts of each, except for the bitter flavor, the cause of the many heart diseases the Japanese suffered from, he asserted that his green tea was essential for providing the bitter flavor, thereby keeping the heart healthy. During the Nara and Heian periods in Japan, Buddhism was used as a tool to unify the country. Eisai was a firm believer, he identified established schools of Buddhism as responsible for contributing to Japan’s struggles. During this time, three major scriptures were used to promote this idea of a unified Buddhist Japan: the Lotus Sutra, Golden Light Sutra, the Humane King Sutra.
Eisai’s famous written piece, the Kōzen gokokuron or The Promotion of Zen for the Protection of the Country, was influenced by the Ninno kyo which states “the preservation of Buddhism is inextricably bound to the preservation of their own country”. The Kōzen gokokuron was written with the intention to correct established schools of Buddhism by giving them examples of moral practice and to convince the Minamoto military rulers to support Zen Buddhism and a Zen government; the writing promotes the Zen ideals to bring Buddhism back to its practices. Eisai’s writing depends on the idea that Buddhism is critical for a functioning society; the Kōzen gokokuron is regarded as nationalistic propaganda, due to the compromises he made when working to install Zen Buddhism in Japan, people disregard the significance of the Kōzen gokokuron when reading it from a “Pure” Zen perspective. Buddhism in Japan List of Rinzai Buddhists Anderl, Christoph. Zen Buddhist Rhetoric in China, Ko
Hōnen was the religious reformer and founder of the first independent branch of Japanese Pure Land Buddhism called Jōdo-shū. He is considered the Seventh Jōdo Shinshū Patriarch. Hōnen became a Tendai initiate at an early age, but grew disaffected and sought an approach to Buddhism that anyone could follow during the perceived Age of Dharma Decline. After discovering the writings of the Chinese Buddhist Shandao, he undertook the teaching of rebirth in the pure land of Amitābha through nianfo or "recitation of the Buddha's name". Hōnen gathered a wide array of critics. Emperor Tsuchimikado exiled Hōnen and his followers in 1207 after an incident regarding two of his disciples in addition to persuasion by influential Buddhist communities. Hōnen was pardoned and allowed to return to Kyoto, where he stayed for a short time before his death. Hōnen was born to a prominent family in the city of Kume in Mimasaka Province, his father was a province official who headed up policing in the area. His mother was of the Hada clan.
Hōnen was named Seishimaru after the bodhisattva Seishi. In 1141 Hōnen's father was assassinated by Sada-akira, an official sent by Emperor Horikawa to govern the province, it is believed that Tokikuni's last words to his son were "Don't hate the enemy but become a monk and pray for me and for your deliverance."Fulfilling his father's wishes for him, Hōnen was initiated into his uncle's monastery at the age of nine. From on, Hōnen lived his life as a monk, studied at the primary Tendai temple at Mount Hiei near Kyoto. Clerics at Mt. Hiei took the bodhisattva vows and undertook 12 years of training at Mt. Hiei, a system developed by the Tendai founder, Saichō. While at Mt. Hiei, Hōnen studied under Genkō, Kōen and with Eikū. Under Kōen he was ordained as a Tendai priest, while under Eikū he received the name Hōnen-bō Genkū. In speaking of himself, Hōnen referred to himself as Genkū, as did his close disciples. While studying on Mt. Hiei, Hōnen devoted his time to finding a way to bring salvation to all beings through Buddhism, but was not satisfied with what he found at Mt. Hiei.
At the age of 24, Hōnen went to study at the city of Saga Nara, stayed at such temples at Kōfuku-ji and Tōdai-ji. Still not satisfied, he studied further. During this period, Hōnen read a Pure Land Buddhist text called the Commentaries on the Amitayurdhyana Sutra authored by the Chinese Pure Land master Shandao, notably the statement, "Only repeat the name of Amitabha with all your heart. Whether walking or standing, sitting or lying, never cease the practice of it for a moment; this is the work which unfailingly issues in salvation, for it is in accordance with the Original Vow of that Buddha." This commentary persuaded Hōnen to believe that nianfo, called nembutsu in Japanese, was all one needed to enter Amitābha's pure land. Nianfo was recited along with other practices, but Shandao was the first to propose that only nianfo was necessary; this new appreciation and understanding prompted Hōnen to leave Mt. Hiei and the Tendai tradition in 1175. Hōnen relocated to the district of Ōtani in Kyoto, where he started addressing crowds of men and women, establishing a considerable following.
Hōnen attracted fortune-tellers, ex-robbers and other elements of society excluded from Buddhist practice. Hōnen was a man of recognition in Kyoto, many priests and nobleman allied with him and visited him for spiritual advice. Among them was an imperial regent named Kujō Kanezane; the increasing popularity of his teachings drew criticism from noted contemporaries as Myōe and Jōkei among others, who argued against Hōnen's sole reliance on nembutsu as a means of rebirth in a pure land. Additionally, some disciples interpreted Hōnen's teachings in unexpected ways, leading to disreputable behavior, criticism of other sects, or other forms of antinomianism. In 1204, the monks at Mt. Hiei implored the head priest to ban the teachings of exclusive nembutsu and to banish any adherents from their principality. In 1205 the temple of Kōfuku-ji, located in Nara, implored Emperor Toba II to sanction Hōnen and his followers; the temple provided the emperor with nine charges alleging unappeasable differences with the so-called eight schools.
Hōnen's detractors cited examples of his followers, such as Gyoku and Kōsai, who committed vandalism against Buddhist temples, intentionally broke the Buddhist precepts, or caused others to intentionally turn away from established Buddhist teachings. Richard Bowring condenses these charges into two general forms. First is the nature of a single practice. Hōnen's emphasis on the single practice of nembutsu denied the usefulness of all other Buddhist practices; the sole emphasis on Amitābha was coupled with discouraging the traditional worship of the kami. The second charge was that Hōnen placed the most lowly layperson on equal footing with the wisest monk, rendering the entire monastic establishment as useless. In response, Hōnen censured Kōsai's single-nembutsu teaching and his followers agreed to sign the Shichikajō-kishōmon, which called for restraint in moral conduct and in interactions with other Buddhist sects; the clamour surrounding Hōnen's teachings dissipated for a time until 1207 when Toba II implemented a ban against exclusive nembutsu, stemming from an incident where two of Hōnen's most prominent followers were accused of using nembutsu practice as a coverup for sexual liaisons.
The Heart Sūtra is a popular sutra in Mahāyāna Buddhism. Its Sanskrit title, Prajñāpāramitāhṛdaya, can be translated as "The Heart of the Perfection of Wisdom"; the sutra famously states, "Form is empty". It is a condensed exposé on the Buddhist Mahayana teaching of the Two Truths doctrine, which says that all phenomena are sunyata, empty of an unchanging essence; this emptiness is a'characteristic' of all phenomena, not a transcendent reality, but "empty" of an essence of its own. It is a response to Sarvastivada teachings that "phenomena" or its constituents are real; the text has been translated into English dozens of times from Chinese and Tibetan as well as other source languages. In the sutra, Avalokiteśvara addresses Śariputra, explaining the fundamental emptiness of all phenomena, known through and as the five aggregates of human existence: form, volitions and consciousness. Avalokiteśvara famously states, "Form is empty. Emptiness is form", declares the other skandhas to be empty—that is, dependently originated.
Avalokiteśvara goes through some of the most fundamental Buddhist teachings such as the Four Noble Truths, explains that in emptiness none of these notions apply. This is interpreted according to the two truths doctrine as saying that teachings, while accurate descriptions of conventional truth, are mere statements about reality—they are not reality itself—and that they are therefore not applicable to the ultimate truth, by definition beyond mental understanding, thus the bodhisattva, as the archetypal Mahayana Buddhist, relies on the perfection of wisdom, defined in the Mahāprajñāpāramitā Sūtra to be the wisdom that perceives reality directly without conceptual attachment thereby achieving nirvana. The sutra concludes with the mantra gate gate pāragate pārasaṃgate bodhi svāhā, meaning "gone, everyone gone to the other shore, svaha." The Heart Sutra is "the single most recited and studied scripture in East Asian Buddhism." It is recited by adherents of Mahayana schools of Buddhism regardless of sectarian affiliation.
While the origin of the sutra is disputed by some modern scholars, it was known in Bengal and Bihar during the Pala Empire period in India, where it played a role in Vajrayana Buddhism. The stature of the Heart Sutra throughout early medieval India can be seen from its title ‘Holy Mother of all Buddhas Heart of the Perfection of Wisdom’ dating from at least the 8th century CE; the long version of the Heart Sutra is extensively studied by the various Tibetan Buddhist schools, where the Heart Sutra is chanted, but treated as a tantric text, with a tantric ceremony associated with it. It is viewed as one of the daughter sutras of the Prajnaparamita genre in the Vajrayana tradition as passed down from Tibet; the text has been translated into many languages, dozens of English translations and commentaries have been published, along with an unknown number of informal versions on the internet. There are two main versions of the Heart Sutra: a long version; the short version as translated by Xuanzang is the most popular version of adherents practicing East Asian schools of Buddhism.
Xuanzang's canonical text has a total of 260 Chinese characters. Some Japanese versions have an additional 2 characters; the short version has been translated into Tibetan but it is not part of the current Tibetan Buddhist Canon. The long version differs from the short version by including both an introductory and concluding section; the introduction introduces the sutra to the listener with the traditional Buddhist opening phrase "Thus have I heard". It describes the venue in which the Buddha promulgate the teaching and the audience to whom the teaching is given; the concluding section praises to the Buddha. Both versions are chanted on a daily basis by adherents of all schools of East Asian Buddhism and by some adherents of Tibetan and Newar Buddhism; the earliest extant dated text of the Heart Sutra is a stone stele dated to 661 CE located at Yunju Temple and is part of the Fangshan Stone Sutra. It is the earliest copy of Xuanzang's 649 CE translation of the Heart Sutra. A palm-leaf manuscript found at the Hōryū-ji Temple is the earliest undated extant Sanskrit manuscript of the Heart Sutra.
It is dated to c. 7th–8th century CE by the Tokyo National Museum where it is kept. Nattier theorizes based on her cross-philological study of Chinese and Sanskrit texts of the Heart Sutra that the Heart Sutra may have been composed in China. Fukui, Harada and Siu based on their cross-philological study of Chinese and Sanskrit texts of the Heart Sutra and other medieval period Sanskrit Mahayana sutras theorizes that the Heart Sutra could not have been composed in China but was composed in India. Kuiji and Woncheuk were the two main disciples of Xuanzang, their 7th century commentaries are the earliest extant commentaries on the Heart Sutra. The titles of the earliest extant manuscripts of the Heart Sutra all includes the words “hṛdaya” or “heart” and “prajñāpāramitā” or "perfection of wisdom". Beginning from the 8th century and continuing at least until the 13th century, the titles of the Indic manuscripts of the Heart Sutra contained the words “bhagavatī” or "mother of all buddhas" and “prajñāpāramitā”.
Glossary of Japanese Buddhism
This is the glossary of Japanese Buddhism, including major terms the casual reader might find useful in understanding articles on the subject. Words followed by an asterisk are illustrated by an image in one of the photo galleries. Within definitions, words set in boldface are defined elsewhere in the glossary. Agyō* – A type of statue with its mouth open to pronounce the sound "a", first letter of the Sanskrit alphabet and symbol of the beginning of all things. See ungyō. Amida Nyorai – Japanese name of Amitabha, deity worshiped by the Pure Land sect. arhat – see arakan. Arakan* – the highest level of Buddhist ascetic practice, or someone who has reached it; the term is shortened to just rakan. Bay – see ken. bettō – Previously the title of the head of powerful temples, e.g. Tōdai-ji, Kōfuku-ji, etc.. A monk, present at Shinto shrines to perform Buddhist rites until the Meiji period, when the government forbade with the shinbutsu bunri policy the mixing of Shinto and Buddhism. Bodai – from the Pāli and Sanskrit word for way or knowledge.satori, or Buddhist enlightenment.
Ceremonies and other efforts to ensure someone's happiness in the next world, after death. Bodaiji – lit. "bodhi temple". A temple which, generation after generation, takes care of a family's dead giving them burial and performing ceremonies in their favor. See for example the Tokugawa's Kan'ei-ji. Bon – See Bon Festival bosatsu A bodhisattva The historical Gautama Buddha, before enlightenment. In Mahayana Buddhism, someone who could enter paradise but chooses not to, to help others achieve enlightenment. Someone, in pursuit of satori. During the shinbutsu-shūgō period, an honorific used for Japanese kami, as for example in "Hachiman Bosatsu". Buddha – the term Buddha in the upper case can refer to: Shakyamuni Buddha, Indian spiritual and philosophical teacher and founder of Buddhism. One who has become enlightened Any of the other Buddhas named in Buddhist scriptures. A statue or image of any Buddha. Buddha – the term'buddha' in the lower case refers not to Gautama Buddha but to: a statue of Gautama Buddha any of the other buddhas named in Buddhist scriptures.
Buddha's footprints – see bussokuseki bussokuseki* – lit. Buddha's foot stone. A stone carved with footprints representing Buddha. Before the instruction of the human figure, Buddha was represented only indirectly through his footprints. Butsuden or Butsu-dō* – lit. "Hall of Buddha". A Zen temple's main hall. Seems to have two stories, but has in fact only one and measures either 3x3 or 5x5 bays. Any building enshrining the statue of Buddha or of a bodhisattva and dedicated to prayer. Butsudan* – a tabernacle used in homes to install Buddhist images and tablets recording the posthumous names of deceased family members. Buppō – see hō buttō – a stupa or one of its relatives. See tō, gorintō, hōkyōintō, sekitō and tahōtō. Chinju – the tutelary kami or tutelary shrine of a certain area or Buddhist temple. Chinjusha* – a small shrine built at a Buddhist temple and dedicated to its tutelary kami. chōzuya – see temizuya. Chūmon* – in a temple, the gate after the nandaimon connected to a kairō. See mon. Daihi Kannon -See Senju Kannon.
Dainichi Nyorai – Japanese name of Vairocana, of which the Japanese kami Amaterasu is considered an emanation. Danka – a family or individual affiliated to a particular temple is called one of its danka. See danka system danka system – a system in which a family contributes to the support of a particular Buddhist temple, which in return provides its services; this kind of temple affiliation became mandatory during the Edo period, when was used by the shogunate for political ends. -dō – Lit. hall. Suffix for the name of the buildings part of a temple; the prefix can be the name of a deity associated with it or express the building's function within the temple's compound. See Butsu-dō, hō-dō, hon-dō, jiki-dō, kaisan-dō, kō-dō, kon-dō, kyō-dō, mandara-dō, miei-dō, mi-dō, sō-dō, Yakushi-dō and zen-dō. Enma*, Emmaten or Emmaō – Japanese transliteration of Yama, the ruler of the underworld in Buddhist mythology. Enlightenment – see satori. Family temple – see bodaiji. Funeral temple – see bodaiji. Fuju-fuse-gi – the duty of a Nichiren sect member not to accept anything from, or give anything to a non-believer.
Five Mountain System – See Gozan Seido. Garan – see shichi-dō garan. Gejin – the portion of a hon-dō open to the public, as opposed to the naijin, reserved to the deity. Goma – a ritual involving making offerings into a consecrated fire. Initiated by the Shingon sect. Gozan Seido – A nationwide network of Zen temples, called Five Mountain system or Five Mountains in English, with at its top five temples in Kamakura and five in Kyoto, which during the Muromachi period was a de facto part of the government's infrastructure, helping rule the country. Gongen A Buddhist god that chooses to appear as a Japanese kami in order to take the Japanese to spiritual salvation. Name sometimes used for shrines before the shinbutsu bunri. Gorintō* – a type of stupa common in Buddhist temples and cemeteries consisting of five shapes one on top of the other representing the five elements of Buddhist cosmology. Haibutsu kishaku A current of thought, continuous in Japan's history, advocating the
Dōgen Zenji known as Dōgen Kigen, Eihei Dōgen, Kōso Jōyō Daishi, or Busshō Dentō Kokushi, was a Japanese Buddhist priest, poet and founder of the Sōtō school of Zen in Japan. Ordained as a monk in the Tendai School in Kyoto, he was dissatisfied with its teaching and traveled to China to seek out what he believed to be a more authentic Buddhism, he remained there for five years training under Tiantong Rujing, an eminent teacher of the Chinese Caodong lineage. Upon his return to Japan, he began promoting the practice of zazen through literary works such as Fukan zazengi and Bendōwa, he broke relations with the powerful Tendai School, after several years of friction between himself and the establishment, left Kyoto for the mountainous countryside where he founded the monastery Eihei-ji, which remains the head temple of the Sōtō school today. Dōgen is known for his extensive writing including his most famous work, the collection of 95 essays called the Shōbōgenzō, but Eihei Kōroku, a collection of his talks and commentaries, Eihei Shingi, the first Zen monastic code written in Japan, among others.
Dōgen was born into a noble family, though as an illegitimate child of Minamoto Michitomo, who served in the imperial court as a high-ranking ashō. His mother is said to have died when Dōgen was age 7. At some point, Dōgen became a low-ranking monk on Mount Hiei, the headquarters of the Tendai school of Buddhism. According to the Kenzeiki, he became possessed by a single question with regard to the Tendai doctrine: As I study both the exoteric and the esoteric schools of Buddhism, they maintain that human beings are endowed with Dharma-nature by birth. If this is the case, why did the Buddhas of all ages — undoubtedly in possession of enlightenment — find it necessary to seek enlightenment and engage in spiritual practice? This question was, in large part, prompted by the Tendai concept of original enlightenment, which states that all human beings are enlightened by nature and that any notion of achieving enlightenment through practice is fundamentally flawed; the Kenzeiki further states that he found no answer to his question at Mount Hiei, that he was disillusioned by the internal politics and need for social prominence for advancement.
Therefore, Dōgen left to seek an answer from other Buddhist masters. He went to visit the Tendai abbot of Onjō-ji Temple, asking him this same question. Kōin said. In 1217, two years after the death of contemporary Zen Buddhist Myōan Eisai, Dōgen went to study at Kennin-ji Temple, under Eisai's successor, Myōzen. In 1223, Dōgen and Myōzen undertook the dangerous passage across the East China Sea to China to study in Jing-de-si monastery as Eisai had once done. In China, Dōgen first went to the leading Chan monasteries in Zhèjiāng province. At the time, most Chan teachers based their training around the use of gōng-àns. Though Dōgen assiduously studied the kōans, he became disenchanted with the heavy emphasis laid upon them, wondered why the sutras were not studied more. At one point, owing to this disenchantment, Dōgen refused Dharma transmission from a teacher. In 1225, he decided to visit a master named Rújìng, the thirteenth patriarch of the Cáodòng lineage of Zen Buddhism, at Mount Tiāntóng in Níngbō.
Rujing was reputed to have a style of Chan, different from the other masters whom Dōgen had thus far encountered. In writings, Dōgen referred to Rujing as "the Old Buddha". Additionally he affectionately described both Myōzen as senshi. Under Rujing, Dōgen realized liberation of body and mind upon hearing the master say, "Cast off body and mind"; this phrase would continue to have great importance to Dōgen throughout his life, can be found scattered throughout his writings, as—for example—in a famous section of his "Genjōkōan": To study the Way is to study the Self. To study the Self is to forget the self. To forget the self is to be enlightened by all things of the universe. To be enlightened by all things of the universe is to cast off the body and mind of the self as well as those of others; the traces of enlightenment are wiped out, life with traceless enlightenment goes on forever and ever. Myōzen died shortly. In 1227, Dōgen received Dharma transmission and inka from Rujing, remarked on how he had settled his "life's quest of the great matter".
Dōgen returned to Japan in 1227 or 1228, going back to stay at Kennin-ji, where he had trained previously. Among his first actions upon returning was to write down the Fukan Zazengi, a short text emphasizing the importance of and giving instructions for zazen, or sitting meditation. However, tension soon arose as the Tendai community began taking steps to suppress both Zen and Jōdo Shinshū, the new forms of Buddhism in Japan. In the face of this tension, Dōgen left the Tendai dominion of Kyōto in 1230, settling instead in an abandoned temple in what is today the city of Uji, south of Kyōto. In 1233, Dōgen founded the Kannon-dōri-in in Fukakusa as a small center of practice, he expanded this temple into Kōshōhōrin-ji. In 1243, Hatano Yoshishige offered to relocate Dōgen's community to Echizen province, far to the north of Kyōto. Dōgen accepted because of the ongoing tension with the Tendai community, and
The Lotus Sūtra is one of the most popular and influential Mahayana sutras, the basis on which the Tiantai, Tendai and Nichiren schools of Buddhism were established. According to Paul Williams, "For many East Asian Buddhists since early times the Lotus Sutra contains the final teaching of the Buddha and sufficient for salvation." The earliest known Sanskrit title for the sūtra is the सद्धर्मपुण्डरीक सूत्र Saddharma Puṇḍarīka Sūtra, which translates to Scripture of the Lotus Blossom of the Fine Dharma. In English, the shortened form; the Lotus Sūtra has been regarded in a number of Asian countries where Mahāyāna Buddhism has been traditionally practiced. Translations of this title into the languages of some of these countries include: Chinese: 妙法蓮華經. In 1934, based on his text-critical analysis of Chinese and Sanskrit versions, Kogaku Fuse concluded that the Lotus Sūtra was composed in four main stages. According to Fuse, the verse sections of chapters 1-9 and 17 were created in the first century BCE, with the prose sections of these chapters added in the first century CE.
He estimates the date of the third stage, chapters 10, 11, 13-16, 18-20 and 27, around 100 CE. Chapters 21-26 belong to the last stage. According to Stephen F. Teiser and Jacqueline Stone, there is consensus about the stages of composition but not about the dating of these strata. Tamura argues that the first stage of composition, chapters 2-9, was completed around 50 CE and expanded by chapters 10-21 around 100 CE, he dates the third stage, chapters 22-27, around 150 CE. Karashima proposes another modified version of Fuse's hypothesis with the following sequence of composition: chapters 2-9 form the earliest stratum; the first layer of this stratum includes the tristubh verses of these chapters which may have been transmitted orally in a Prakrit dialect. The second layer consists of the sloka verses and the prose of chapters 2-9. Chapters 1, 10-20, 27, a part of chapter 5, missing in Kumarajiva's translation. Chapters 21-26 and the section on Devadatta in chapter 11 of the Sanskrit version. Three translations of the Lotus Sūtra into Chinese are extant: The Lotus Sūtra of the Correct Dharma, in ten volumes and twenty-seven chapters, translated by Dharmarakṣa in 286 CE.
The Lotus Sūtra of the Wonderful Dharma, in eight volumes and twenty-eight chapters, translated by Kumārajīva in 406 CE. The Supplemented Lotus Sūtra of the Wonderful Dharma, in seven volumes and twenty-seven chapters, a revised version of Kumarajiva's text, translated by Jnanagupta and Dharmagupta in 601 CE; the Lotus Sūtra was translated from Sanskrit into Chinese by Dharmarakṣa in 286 CE in Chang'an during the Western Jin Period. However, the view that there is a high degree of probability that the base text for that translation was written in a Prakrit language has gained widespread acceptance, it may have been composed in a Prakrit dialect and later translated into Sanskrit to lend it greater respectability. This early translation by Dharmarakṣa was superseded by a translation in seven fascicles by Kumārajīva´s team in 406 CE. According to Jean-Noël Robert, Kumārajīva relied on the earlier version; the Sanskrit editions are not used outside of academia. In some East Asian traditions, the Lotus Sūtra has been compiled together with two other sutras which serve as a prologue and epilogue the Innumerable Meanings Sutra and the Samantabhadra Meditation Sutra.
This composite sutra is called the Threefold Lotus Sūtra or Three-Part Dharma Flower Sutra. The first French translation of the Lotus Sūtra, based on a Nepalese Sanskrit manuscript, was published by Eugène Burnouf in 1852. Hendrik Kern completed his English translation of an ancient Nepalese Sanskrit manuscript in 1884. Translations into English, French and German are based on Kumarajiva's Chinese text; each of these translations incorporate different approaches and styles that range from complex to simplified. Ch. 1, Introduction – During a gathering at Vulture Peak, Shakyamuni Buddha goes into a state of deep meditative absorption, the earth shakes in six ways, he brings forth a ray of light which illuminates thousands of buddha-fields in the east. Bodhisattva Manjusri states that the Buddha is about to expound his ultimate teaching. Ch. 2, Ways and Means – Shakyamuni explains his use of skillful means to adapt his teachings according to the capacities of his audience. He reveals that the ultimate purpose of the Buddhas is to cause sentient beings "to obtain the insight of the Buddha" and "to enter the way into the insight of the Buddha".
Ch. 3, A Parable – The Buddha teaches a parable in which a father uses the promise of various toy carts to get his children out of a burning house. Once they are outside, he gives them all one large cart to travel in instead; this symbolizes how the Buddha uses the Three Vehicles: Arhatship, Pratyekabuddhahood and Samyaksambuddhahood, as skillful means to liberate all beings – though there is only one vehicle. The Buddha promises Sariputra that h