The Buddhism of the Lotus Sutra - The Great Mahayana Treatise
by Michael Ellis 2004

 
 

There appears to be on horizon of the 21st Century a major new paradigm which will touch every person on the planet. This paradigm seems to be a new religiousness or cosmology that is to change and transform thousand s of years of belief systems to bring us closer to the understanding of what we may call infinite intelligence, the life force, God, the Buddha State or enlightenment.

There is a global shift in terms of political, economic, social and national boundaries as we can non longer think of ourselves as separate and have to acknowledge that in a globalised society we are all connected and what happens to one person, one society, one culture or one regional environment affects us all spiritually, psychologically or ecologically.

Buddhism, as a life philosophy, is very different from other religions. This is because it seeks for the middle way through which the individual can reach the state of happiness and well-being. It does away with gods in the accepted sense and deals with the relationship of the person with the inner or greater self. By its very nature it is the unfolding of potential hidden deep within the layers of the individual psyche.

Western traditions of thought pertaining to spirituality and religion have tended to emphasise the supremacy of the individual way. Within the context of Eastern thought there has always been a level of wholism where everything maintains itself at the expense of everything else. There has thus been a philosophy of interconnectedness of all things.


There appears to be on horizon of the 21st Century a major new paradigm which will touch every person on the planet. This paradigm seems to be a new religiousness or cosmology that is to change and transform thousand s of years of belief systems to bring us closer to the understanding of what we may call infinite intelligence, the life force, God, the Buddha State or enlightenment.

There is a global shift in terms of political, economic, social and national boundaries as we can non longer think of ourselves as separate and have to acknowledge that in a globalised society we are all connected and what happens to one person, one society, one culture or one regional environment affects us all spiritually, psychologically or ecologically.

Buddhism, as a life philosophy, is very different from other religions. This is because it seeks for the middle way through which the individual can reach the state of happiness and well-being. It does away with gods in the accepted sense and deals with the relationship of the person with the inner or greater self. By its very nature it is the unfolding of potential hidden deep within the layers of the individual psyche.

Western traditions of thought pertaining to spirituality and religion have tended to emphasise the supremacy of the individual way. Within the context of Eastern thought there has always been a level of wholism where everything maintains itself at the expense of everything else. There has thus been a philosophy of interconnectedness of all things.

Shakyamuni Buddha taught for 48 years following the attainment of his enlightenment, and during this time he gradually paved the way towards a philosophy of life which was supreme and all inclusive. In his penultimate teaching, the Lotus Sutra, he expresses this philosophy in a profound and compassionate way and also prophesised the coming of a new Buddha who would crystallise this teaching into a reality.

As Shakyamuni Buddha taught his various teachings, these teachings were spread by disciples throughout South East Asia, China and Japan. The teachings which spread to South East Asia have been called Hinayana. They focus more on precepts and talk specifically about the individual way to enlightenment. In contrast the teachings which spread through China and Japan have been called Mahayana or The Greater Vehicle, and talk about the Buddha's compassionate need to enable all human beings to attain enlightenment. The teachings were spread in a lineage of master and disciple from Shakyamuni to the Hinayana and Mahayana Masters of Wisdom.

Buddhism is taught in order to enable a person to obtain mastery of their mind and to enable them to see within their own mind, the source of enlightenment within. The various teachings include right thought, right word, right action and right deed, where the essence is mindfulness. This is specifically part of the Eight-fold Noble Path. Buddhism also sees life as being dukka or suffering, but also sees the opportunity to attain enlightenment by breaking the Chain of Dependent Origination.


The Search for Meaning and Value

In this sense, it sees the individual as being at cause, and creating their own karma or destiny through the good or bad actions that they create within the mundane world. It is taught that by doing good deeds and by practising loving kindness and right thoughts, and behaving compassionately, that the truth will be more easily found within and without. It is often said that the aspiring initiate practising with devotion will meet his master at the right time.

There has been in the West in the past 100 years a tremendous rush to find the appropriate guru, and a lot of people have devoted their lives to such an extent that they have lost their possessions and given up everything in order to aspire to a spiritual world.

Some Buddhist teachings go so far as to say that enlightenment can only be found within a different world, called nirvana, which is somehow dissociated from the mundane world in which we live. Other teachings say that it is very difficult to attain enlightenment and that the aspirant will have to wait many, many lifetimes before he can attain even a glimpse. More modern day teachers now offer the hope of enlightenment to most aspiring initiates and give them comfort and understanding by expressing a moral and ethical code which will enable them to live more peacefully and harmoniously in this very changing globalised world. Religious institutions and ideals have tended to change with historical progress and also with politics.


The Perennial Philosophy

In Victorian England the shamanistic cults within Africa were looked upon as being the practises of heathens and with the institutionalisation of the church in Europe, thousands of so-called witches were burned at the stake for heresy. Fanaticism and exclusivity seem to be the basis of many religious institutions and sects to the extent that there seems to be no way in which a communality of eucenemism can be produced. This is also further compounded by the difference in attitude between the
Eastern and Western traditions of culture, philosophy and metaphysics.

However, when we look at the more esoteric traditions of the East and West, we find a surprising degree of connectedness. It was Madame Blavatsky in her work on the perennial philosophy and in her chapter Isis Re-explored, makes a distinction between the world of light, life and consciousness, illuminated by the monad or creative essence from which things spring, compared with the rational positivistic material doctrine that is inherent within Western society.


The Awakening

This concept was taken up again in the 1960s in the book by Marilyn Fergusson The Aquarian Conspiracy, where she makes a distinction between the old paradigm of reductiveness, materialism, conservatism and narrowness compared with the new paradigm of openness, creativity, interconnectedness and vitalism.

Of course the 1960s were a time of the awakening of the western society with Woodstock and the foundation of the Eselen in California, the centre that was to explore consciousness and was an important source of the consciousness movement. Indeed, since the 1960s the consciousness movements have grown to a surprising extent in Western society, bringing along the human potential movement and a more wholistic approach to medicine.

In the esoteric Sufi tradition explored by Indries Kahn ,Gurdjieff and Ouspenksy in the Kabbalistic philosophy explored by Anton Hudson Wilson and James Hurtak and in the esoteric Christian tradition explored by the Arcane society and Alice Bailey, by Tudor Pole and Peter Russell and the Course In Miracles, there is a common denominator which speaks of the untold, unfulfilled potential of the ordinary human being and total humanity which expresses new ways of being, thinking and connectedness that links the whole human race with illumination, creativity, compassion and truth. The emerging science and culture of an integral society has been further examined by Sigmund Freud, Carl Jung, Joseph Campbell, Teilhard De Chardin, Jean Houston, Ken Wilber, Abraham Maslow, Erich Fromm, Krishnamurti, Prigogine, Carl Pribram and Stanislav Grof.


A New Science of Life

These dimensions of consciousness and reality of course reside within the individual psyche of the human being, but in totality speak of a new science of life and consciousness which is far more embracing than the materialistic facility of science in that it brings into the equation consciousness and the nature of life itself. These esoteric traditions by their very nature attempt to tackle the mystery of life and death and show a common ground with the Eastern esoteric teachings of the great yogis, Brahmans and Buddhists. In particular, mention can be made of the yoga, of Savananda and Satchidananda, the transcendental meditation of Maharishi Yogi, the Hari Krishna movement, the meditative work of Sai Baba, Sri Aurobindo, and the mother at Auroville, the rebirthing work of Leonard Orr a disciple of Babaji, and the practice of physical immortality as expressed through Leonard Orr and Sondra Ray.

Despite the esoteric, exciting, powerful and visionary aspects of these movements, the question remains, do they actually fundamentally solve the problems of humanity in terms of well being, happiness, and the diminution of suffering. The other question is, is there a comprehensive science of consciousness, the mind and humanity that under-links and connects these different philosophies.


Bringing Together Science and Spirituality

For many years, it seemed almost an impossible task to bring together spirituality and science in an impartial way to link together these various strands to build a new cosmology of humanity. Now with the beginning of the 21st century, the strands seem to be coming together in a more understandable matrix. The new millennium has been called the millennium of the mind, and certainly only in the past thirty to forty years has there really been any understanding of the nature of the brain or the nature of the total body-mind that makes up the human being. We now have the sciences of brain longevity and psychoneuroimmunology and also psycho-social- neuro-immuno-endocrinology. These sciences are trying to link together the various aspects of the human being in order to understand the inextricable connection between the human being, their social environment and their living environment. This has been propelled forward by the theories of Rupert Sheldrake and his morphogenic fields and also by the Gaia hypothesis, formulated by James Lovelock, in which the planet is seen as a living, breathing entity with the bio-mass on its surface, or biosphere, being the dominant, living facility on which all things evolve and develop in an interconnected way. The problem is that consciousness is still left out of the equation. Even Einstein himself was loathe to bring consciousness in to the Einsteinian theory of quantum relativity. (Even though it was understood that the observer influences the outcome of the experiment.)


The Lotus Sutra - The Great Mahayana Buddhist Treatise

The Lotus Sutra is the pinnacle of Mahayana Buddhism, as taught by Shakyamuni Buddha and later crystallised by the Buddha Nichiren Daishonin in 13th Century Japan. It contains within its context all the teachings of Buddhism, but also represent the wisdom of the universe in that the heart and core of all teachings within the context of humanity and the cosmos are contained within the living components of this pragmatic Buddhism.


The Buddhism of the Mystic Law

The concept of this Buddhism rests on the paradigm shift that we are currently experiencing in the sense that mind or life or consciousness is the basis on which the universe rests and unfolds. In this situation humanity then becomes the seeing eyes of the creative force around us, and the eye of the Buddha is the eye of enlightenment, the gateway through which we enter in order to attain connection with all things.

Although couched within the context of the knowledge of the 13th Century, it expresses ideas and dimensions of reality of which we are only now beginning to understand and fathom. It understands and expresses the mutually inclusive relationship between body and mind, and body and mind of society and environment. It sees the human being as acting on the environment as well as being acted on by it. But--- it includes the human being from the aspect of an ultimate consciousness or reality from which things unfold. In this respect, it therefore has a place beyond the blue print of the bio-mind and yet is able to re-integrate the bio-mind and the environment in a way that enables the life force or the interconnectedness of all things to function in a more complete and harmonious way.


The Holographic Truth

It also expresses the holographic truth that everything contains within itself everything else. Thus the microcosm of the human being expresses the macrocosm of the universe. The Buddha says himself that within the human being there is every phenomenon of the Universe and that the vast spaces within the universe itself are like a vast storehouse or a giant temple that contains within it the infinite wisdom of the infinite Universe. In this sense the infinite Universe is seen as being truly infinite and not starting with a big bang.

This concept is stated very clearly in the Lotus Sutra where it expresses the beginning of consciousness from the point of view of the first living being or the true Buddha of time without beginning as being truly time without beginning. Yet despite this eternal Buddha nature being hidden within the depths of humanity we can partake within this process within the here and now. The Buddha Nichiren Dai Shonin states

`Infinitely profound ` indicates the reality attained by the Buddha, which is as vast as a wide and unfathomable riverbed. Because the riverbed is infinitely deep, the water of the Buddha wisdom is `immeasurable`.


The Field Effect

Thus the field effect of this teaching is enormous as it expresses the very vastness of the cosmos. The memory of this ultimate reality within the human psyche, remains despite the multitude of changes and diversity that we see within the natural process of evolution.

Rupert Sheldrake has mentioned in his book on Morphogenic Fields, that habits and memories form within the context of the evolution of living fauna and flora dependent on the memories that they imprint on the overall picture. Within the context of this Buddhism the memories imprinted come from beyond space and time and yet are imprinted in the very core and heart of humanity.

The teaching is a way to reach this level of process and therefore carries within it all other teachings that have ever been taught. The Buddha himself says, the teaching is such that it surpasses all other teachings and transcends human beings. In this respect it means that it is a complete science of reality and brings together both the phenomenal and the numinous, both the material and the spiritual in a way which can be called harmonious, integral and middle. In other words it is the Middle Way.


Nam Myoho Renge Kyo

The aim of the teaching is purely pragmatic. The aim is to create happiness for the individual and for society at large. Because of this, no money passes hand and it is there for the sake of humanity in an absolutely altruistic endeavour. It expresses the fact that the Buddha state is there for everybody to share, but that such a state needs to be worked upon and invoked in order that the person can dissipate the clouds of delusion in order to see the mystic jewel or truth within.

There is a significant discipline associated with this teaching in order for people to realise this truth and also in order for them to change their phenomenal reality to a reality which more suits their well-being and happiness.


Faith

In this respect, faith is a very significant part of this Buddhist practice. Faith has always been a part of the spiritual or perennial tradition. Herbert Benson, the famous physician at Harvard University, in his book The Biology of Belief, states that the human being is hard-wired for faith. Faith is also evidenced in the placebo effect and in hypnotism. People have been found to get responses in their bodies if they believe that a placebo is actually an effective drug, (for example. an injection of water, if believed to be morphine, will produce endorphins in the person's brain).

Each person's brain and body mind has within it the potential for producing every single efficacious response for healing without a drug even being there. We just need to find the right switch within ourselves to turn on that reaction, and faith is certainly a process by which we can create within ourselves so called miracle cures, particularly if we are following the right teaching.

The teaching of the Mystic Law, which is the other name of this Buddhism, is based on chanting with faith to the Mystic Great Mandala or Dai Gohonzon, which has Nam Myoho Renge Kyo inscribed in golden Kanji characters down the centre. This Great Mandala, inscribed by the Buddha in the 13th Century, is a gateway to Buddhahood or the state of enlightenment within the universe.

Because this state of enlightenment is omnipresent in the universe, the teaching reaches a level of process and enlightenment, which in its fundamental base is common to all spiritual traditions.


Entraining the brain and energising the immune system

The chanting meditation not only entrains the brain into relaxing alpha rhythms but also energises the body's immune systems to produce corrective and integrating hormones and peptides that rejuvenate the person. The reason is because it takes its momentum and dynamic from the very essence or core from which all things come.

This core is called the Myoho (literally Myo means mind or mystic or perfect endowment and Ho means phenomena and also physical laws) or the true entity of all phenomena. When we reach the true entity of ourselves, we are thereby unsullied and untainted by our past causes. This is why the teaching is also called the Law of the Simultaneous Nature of Cause and Effect, where the Buddha found the true cause within his own enlightened being and was able to propagate this cause to all sentient beings. He did this so that humanity will be able to rejuvenate not only itself, but also its environment.

Often people who practice this teaching find that their environment rejuvenates and that birds and animals are drawn to them and that trees and plants bud faster and live longer. This living teaching represents the nexus of life itself. It has within it the expression of the total interconnectedness of all things in the universe. In particular, it represents the harmonising influences of the universe, which like pure compassionate threads or interlocking tendrils come together to create an essence or matrix of harmony or wellbeing, not only within the person, but within the external phenomenal reality.

The body's bio-matrix of hormones, interacting nerves, neuropeptides, and immune systems are opened up to integration, and within the same process external events are unfolded in a way which is more harmonising. The Buddha state, although not fully understood or even seen in the aspiring initiate, is like a gentle glow before dawn and because it is felt within the body and within the environment, like a new form of electricity or a new form of power which has never been known before, the body and the environment seem to harmonise in a subtle way which brings peace and happiness to the person gradually and irrevocably.

This means that the life-giving attributes essential and innate in the universe become more predominant and the biological programming of the body to stress, and the flight and fight response becomes modulated as faith begins to develop within the person, creating a sense of purpose, commitment, self and strength.

The Meaning of Nam Myoho Renge Kyo
Buddhists chant Nam Myoho Renge Kyo to the Gohonzon

NAM is Sanskrit and MYOHO RENGE KYO is ancient Japanese. NAM means Devotion or Dedication and is the perfect representation of one's own life with the eternal truth - MYOHO RENGE KYO. NAM means to become one with the eternal truth of life, draw infinite energy from this source and take positive action towards relieving the suffering of others.
MYOHO is the Mystic Law. MYO is unmanifest and HO is manifest.

MYO is the substance of eternal truth from which all phenomena (HO) arise. MYO also means revelation, endowment and perfection. HO also means Law as a substantive phenomenon.

RENGE, the Lotus, is the profound Law of causality (cause and effect) and enables us to change unhappiness into happiness.

KYO means Sutras (teaching) and also vibration and eternity. It expresses the continuity of life throughout the past, the present and the future. In a broader sense, it means the activities of all living beings and of all phenomena in the universe.

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Dr Michael Ellis

Dr Michael Ellis Editor of New Paradigm JHournal
Peace Worker, Futurist and Medical Practitioner, Founder of Centre for Change,
Melbourne Australia, May 2003

Dr Michael Ellis is a medical doctor, futurist, and peace worker, living in Melbourne.

Dr Ellis is Founder of The Medical Renaissance Group. The aim of The Medical Renaissance Group is to create a new kind of medicine which integrates mind, body and spirit, society and the environment.

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