The Kaiyuan Era Catalog of the Buddhist Canon (completed in 730 CE during China’s Tang period) lists 1,076 sutras in 5,048 volumes. The Lotus Sutra translated by Kumarajiva (Miaofa lianhua jing or Lotus Sutra of the Wonderful Law) is just one sutra in eight volumes.
But it has been called the king of sutras since ancient times. It is one of the sutras that have been widely embraced in many parts of East Asia and has had a significant social and cultural impact throughout history. Among several Chinese translations from Sanskrit originals, Kumarajiva’s Lotus Sutra of the Wonderful Law (406) has been regarded as the best. The sutra has greatly contributed to the development of Buddhism in East Asia and influenced the progress of societies in the region. The text references included in this exhibition have been prepared based on Kumarajiva’s Chinese translation.
The Lotus Sutra has an encouraging message for humanity: “All people are, without exception, essentially potential Buddhas who are limitlessly noble.” It gives hope and encouragement to those who are trapped by feelings of dejection and powerlessness. The Lotus Sutra encourages those who are unaware of their own inherent Buddhahood and are imprisoned by hate and violence to respect the dignity of human life and to build peace.
The Lotus Sutra is not merely a cultural relic from the past. It is a sutra that forever calls out for the revitalization of society and the establishment of a future of value creation. Through the various allegories in its seven parables, it teaches the path toward the attainment of Buddhahood or eternal happiness in a manner easily understood by people. This section features paintings depicting famous scenes from parables related in the Lotus Sutra at the Dunhuang Mogao Caves. Along with illustrations, these paintings portray the Lotus Sutra’s key messages for humanity