An introductory workshop “Study and practise of the Lotus Sutra” with Aspi Mistry
“In order to bring peace and security to living beings
I have appeared in the world
and for the sake of this great assembly I
preach the sweet dew of the pure Dharma”
The Lotus Sutra is one of the most important and influential of all the sutras of Mahayana Buddhism, revered by almost all branches of the Mahayana teachings, and over many centuries the object of intense veneration among millions of Buddhist believers throughout China, Korea, Japan, and other regions of eastern Asia.
The practice in its present form was first initiated by the Japanese sage Nichiren in 13th century Japan, and Nichiren Buddhism is one of the major schools, along with Pure Land and Zen, known as the New Kamakura Buddhism of that period.
In the last few decades, the practice of the Lotus Sutra through the efforts of the Soka Gakkai International, from Japan, has spread widely across India, and there are now thousands of practitioners, across a number of cities and towns in India. In this 3-Day Workshop, we shall be studying the concepts elaborated in the Lotus Sutra placing them in the historical background and context of early Buddhist teachings. We shall study these concepts in some depth and detail, through the structure and parables in the sutra itself.
For those interested, there will also be a couple of practice sessions, to give us a flavour of the actual chanting and sutra recitation.
The message of the Lotus Sutra is to encourage people’s faith in their own Buddha nature, their own inherent capacity for wisdom, courage, and compassion. Its central theme is the concept of “skillful means”, and this has often led the sutra to be described as a meta-teaching, teaching about the teachings, that the Buddha had expounded over his nearly forty-year teaching career.
As the sutra pronounces, “In the past, the Buddha had taught three paths or vehicles… However, those paths were skillful means. In fact, there is only one path, one vehicle: the path to Buddhahood, the buddha vehicle”.
The Lotus Sutra, or the Dharma Flower as it is sometimes called, dazzles the imagination with its endless assemblies of Buddhas, Bodhisattvas, gods, demons, garudas, nagas, and other wonderful beings far removed from our everyday lives. It reminds us that the Pure Land of all the Buddhas can arise in our minds from the ashes of life’s most crushing defeats… the Buddha-land is not somewhere over there, beyond death. It is right here.
About the teacher:
Aspi Mistry was introduced to the practice of the Lotus Sutra through the Soka Gakkai in 1992. He has been a practitioner since then and has been associated with Deer Park since its inception in 2006. He is a student of Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche and a Board Member of the Siddhartha’s Intent Society.
In 2003, he founded the Dharma Rain Centre in Bombay, which regularly organises teachings for the Bombay Sangha, by teachers such as His Holiness the Dalai Lama, Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche, Jetsunma Tenzin Palmo, Geshe Lhakdor, and many others.
A socially engaged political activist since his student days, a lover of literature and films, Aspi likes to say with apologies to Shantideva, “May I be a thorn in the sides of those who desperately need a thorn in their sides…”