The name Lotus comes originally from a Japanese form of 雷 (liu). 雷 is used in Japanese to mean a small vessel. This refers directly to the small containers used by the Buddha’s followers. The word Lotus is also the main name used in Buddhist philosophy. In the Buddhist canon the Lotus Sutra is the key text, but it is also sometimes used in Buddhist prose by writers. There are many different versions of what the original meaning was. The original meaning is not in the sutras, and is often stated by scholars to be “the supreme good, the pure life that is eternal in existence.” The original meaning of the word Lotus is also found in the Japanese word 六 (su), which means the supreme good or the life that is good.
The term Lotus also comes from a Middle Buddhist text, Tathagata’s exposition of sutra. This exposition, known as ida-shikan-tathagata, or the commentary on ida-shikan-te, is the most influential text in Japanese Buddhism.
Do I need to know about the Buddha to read the Lotus Sutra?
Although people may think that the Lotus is written in Sanskrit, it is in fact in Japanese. Only in the last 5 years or so has the text been translated into English. However, one of the earliest English books on the Lotus Sutra was written in the late 1920s, by an English professor of Japanese studies at University of London, William A. R. Heaviside. Heaviside is one of the first to write about the text in English. He was able to translate a number of important sections by Japanese scholars, and then translated the complete sutras in the first two volumes of the English translation. Heaviside’s book was the first English translation of the Lotus Sutra in English.
Since Heaviside’s first English translation of the sutra, a series of English translations has followed. They have made the sutras available in numerous languages, including Hebrew, Latin, French, German, Portuguese, Italian, Persian, and Thai. One of the more successful efforts is the Japanese translation of the Lotus Sutra published in 1989 by Daisetsu Publications in Japan, which was a Japanese translation of the Japanese edition to be published in the United States, The Mahayana, in 1991. The book contains a detailed description of the sutras on the main Buddha-nature of the Lotus Sutra, its various
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