Transmission

History of The Lotus Sutra transmitted by many foregoer overcome many difficulties and preserve

Person

The transmission of Buddhism was not something that happened as a matter of course. The Buddhist teachings were protected and spread by numerous practitioners who overcame various hardships, sometimes even at the cost of their lives. This section features events and persons relating to the transmission of Buddhism and the Lotus Sutra, from Shakyamuni Buddha to Nichiren.

Shakyamuni Buddha

The Birth of Buddhism

Buddhagaya, where the Buddha attained enlightenment
Buddhagaya (Bodh Gaya) is the place where Shakyamuni attained enlightenment under the bodhi tree. In the center stands the Mahabodhi Temple, built in the 7th century CE.
Renouncing secular life to find solutions to the four sufferings of birth, aging, sickness and death
According to several accounts, Shakyamuni (Sage of the Shakyas) lived in a period dating around 500 BCE. He was born in Lumbini (in present-day Nepal) as the eldest son of King Shuddhodana of the Shakya clan. The clan’s kingdom had its capital in Kapilavastu in the foothills of the Himalayas.

Four encounters at the capital’s gates, which are symbolically related as traditions in several sutras, awakened him to the impermanence and sufferings of life. He renounced the princely life at the age of 29 to pursue the ultimate truth of life. Six years of extreme austerities failed to enable him to attain enlightenment. He abandoned such ascetic practices and entered into meditation. Awakened to the ultimate Law underlying life and the universe, he attained enlightenment and came to be called Buddha (Awakened One) when he was 35. (According to Buddhist tradition in China and Japan, he renounced secular life at the age of 19 and attained enlightenment at 30.)
Leading people as a teacher in life and a skillful mentor for human beings
Shakyamuni preached the Law to which he was awakened for people who were suffering according to their situation, capacity and character. On Brahmanic traditions, he stated, “Not by birth does one become a lowly person, not by birth does one become a brahman. By one’s action one becomes a lowly person, by one’s action one becomes a brahman” (Sutta-nipāta 136). He taught the way by which genuine happiness could be attained by everyone.
80-year-old Shakyamuni’s final journey: Traveling 350 kilometers for his noble mission
When he reached 80 years of age, Shakyamuni realized he did not have long to live. Leaving Eagle Peak near Rajagriha where he had been preaching, he set out on his last journey toward Kapilavastu, where he had been raised. Visiting various cities and villages on the way, he impartially preached the Law to enlighten whomever he met. It is thought that the distance of this journey was about 350 kilometers.

The last words of Shakyamuni were: “Now, I tell you, monks: All composite things pass away. Strive for your own liberation with diligence.” (Mahāparinibbāna suttanta, 6.23.7)
Oral Transmission of Shakyamuni’s Teachings
In the India of Shakyamuni’s time, recording sacred teachings in written form was not a common practice. Important teachings were memorized and transmitted orally. Likewise, the Buddha’s teachings were transmitted through recitation and memorization by monks.

According to academic research in such fields as philology, it is thought that, in the process of transmission, textual expressions were altered, the contents of texts were arranged in order, and various interpretations were added. The teachings of the Buddha were compiled as “sutras” and the rules of the monastic order as “vinayas.”