A lot of people love to talk about compassion and peace regarding home, foreign and domestic affairs. But did not have the compassion and peace in mind, then how will the true compassion and peace be formed?


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"All that we are is the result of what we have thought." The Buddha. "..Religion without Science is Blind, Science without religion is crippled." Albert Einstein 1879-1955

Friday, 7 January 2011

Which Sutra was the first one preached by the Buddha? The Flower Garland Sutra....

Question: Is there proof that the Flower Garland Sutra (Avatamsaka Sutra) is the first one preached by the Buddha?

Answer: Yes, there certainly is. The "Seken Jogen" chapter of the 60 fascicle Flower Garland Sutra states, " This is what I heard. At the time the Buddha attained Perfect Enlightenment for the first time at the Hall of Enlightenment in the Magadha Kingdom. " This statement proves that this sutra was preached under the bodhi tree where Shakyamuni Buddha had attained Buddhahood.

Moreover, it is stated in the first "Introductory" chapter of the Lotus Sutra that when the Buddha showed a potent omen of emitting a ray of light from the white curls between His eyebrows, Bodhisattva Maitreya saw Buddhas of numerous worlds in the universe expound major sutras in five periods. He then asked Bodhisattva Manjusri what this all meant: " The Buddhas, Saintly Masters, the Lion-like Ones, expounded the most wonderful sutra. I also saw them teaching many billions of bodhisattvas with pure and gentle voices." This indicates that the first preaching of the Buddha was the Flower Garland Sutra for bodhisattvas. Also, in the "Expedients" chapter of the Lotus Sutra the Buddha refers to His experience upon attaining enlightenment stating, "Sitting under a bodhi tree for the first time, I meditated on the tree, strolled about..... then various heavenly beings such as the King of the Brahma Heaven, Indra, the Four Heavenly Kings who protect the world, and Great Freedom God and billions of their retainers respectfully held their hands in gassho, bowed and requested Me to preach." This passage from Lotus Sutra indicates when the Flower Garland Sutra was preached. Hence the first fascicle of the Flower Garland Sutra includes such names as Vaisravana, Moon God, Sun God, Indra, King of Brahma Heaven, and Great Freedom God, all of whom attended the assembly of the Flower Garland Sutra.

Regarding when the Flower Garland Sutra was preached, fascicle of the Nirvana Sutra states:

Upon attainment of Buddhahood by the Buddha, the King of the Brahma Heaven requested Him to preach saying, " The Buddha, please open wide for the people the gate to the dhrama, which is as tasteful as nectar...." The King of the Brahma Heaven pleaded with the Buddha again, "All the people can be divided into three groups - the wise, mediocre, and slow. Of the three, the wise will be able to understand Your teaching. Please preach the dhrama for them." The Buddha then declared, " Listen carefully, the King of Brahma Heaven! I now will open the gate to Buddhist dharma for all people."

Considering when the Flower Garland Sutra was preached, fascicle 33 of the Nirvana Sutra, also states, "It was the same as what I had already expounded in detail for the various bodhisattvas in the past regarding the meanings and reasons of all Mahayana sutras among the twelve kinds of scriptures." These statements proves that when Buddhas appeared in the world to preach all scriptures of Buddhism, they necessarily began with the Flower Garland Sutra.

Question: The Sutra of Infinite Meaning declares, " The Four Noble Truths in the Hinayana sutras were preached at the beginning...., which were followed by Hodo sutras, the Wisdom Sutra, and the ocean-imprint meditation of the Flower Garland Sutra." According to this, the Flower Garland Sutra was expounded after the Wisdom Sutra. How you respond to this discrepancy?

Answer: I believe the above list of teaching was preached not in chronological order but according to the order of profundity in the doctrine. On the other hand, if it was preached in chronological order, placing the Flower Garland Sutra after the Wisdom Sutra may be due to the latter part of the Flower Garland Sutra that was expounded after the first part of the sutra was preached by the Buddha during the first three weeks upon attaining Buddhahood. The "Expedients" chapter of the Lotus Sutra lists the lifetime teachings of the Buddha according to the profundity in doctrine, "There is no other teaching except the Lotus Sutra, neither the Flower Garland Sutra nor the Wisdom Sutra and the Hodo sutras."

By Nichiren Daishonin,
in his writing Shugo kokka-ron (Treatise on Protecting the Nation)

Namu Myo Ho Renge Kyo
Namo Buddhaya
Namo Dharmaya
Namo Sanghaya

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Due to this merits,
May I soon,
Attain the enlightened state of Guru Buddha,
That I may be able to librate all sentient beings from their suffering.

May the precious bodhi mind, Not yet been born in me, will arise and grow.
May the birth have no decline, and will increase forever more.

Namu Myo Ho Renge Kyo
Namo Buddhaya
Namo Dharmaya
Namo Sanghaya