The Lotus Sūtra is one of the most important of all the Mahāyāna sūtras. The work has both literary and philosophical merit, combining verse and parables with clarity of insight, earning it a permanent spot in the history of Buddhism. In particular the concept of “One Vehicle,” which permeates the work, has had great influence on multiple schools of Japanese Buddhism.
Its notable contents (in 28 chapters) include
- Chapter 16, The Life Span of the Tathāgatā (Skt.: Tathāgatāyuṣpramāṇa-parivarta XV), especially important for its eulogy of Śākyamuni as the embodiment of the eternal life and as having attained enlightenment in the inconceivably remote past.
- Chapter 25, The Universal Gate of the Bodhisattva Avalokiteśvara (Skt.: Samantamukha-parivarta XXIV), describing the blessings of the bodhisattva Avalokiteśvara, was circulated in China and Japan as an independent sūtra and is still recited today.
- Numerous popular parables including those of the three carts and the burning house, the wealthy man and his poor son, the three kinds of medicinal herbs and two kinds of trees, and the phantom city and the treasure land.
Skt. Saddharmapuṇḍarīka-sūtra, translated by Kumārajīva into the Chinese as Miaofa lianhua jing (妙法蓮華經). 8 fascicles.