Notes on the Lotus (Lotus Sutra, Burton Watson's translation 1993)妙法蓮華經 (Lotus Sutra, Kumārajīva's Chinese translation 406 A.D.)

Lotus Sutra "Life Span" Ch.16 (1) Romaji (Korean)
Lotus Sutra "Dharani" Ch.26 (1) (2) Romaji (Korean)

PDF Page 1: Key Terms
PDF Page 2: Chart of Key Characters

Key Un-translated or Assumed Terms in Burton Watson's translation (
With suggestions for {replacing} or adding words, for clarity.

  • ARHAT monk – adherent; refers to the Voice-Hearers (law-hearing monks)
  • ASAMKHYA {innumerable} – 10^60
  • 4 BRAHMA Virtues or meditative Practices – active loving-kindness, compassion (pity), empathetic joy, and equanimity.
  • BUDDHA – Awakened one (also "Perfectly & peerlessly awakened one": annutara-samyak-sambuddha)
  • BODHI awakening – Enlightenment; solving the mind to match true reality, the Logos, first by devices, and finally by direct apprehension ("Perfect, peerless enlightenment": annutara-samyak-sambodhi)
  • BODHI-SATTVA saint – Bodhi-being (or Bodhi-seeker); one who seeks awakening for all living beings.
  • CHAKRA wheel – a spoked wheel, used to illustrate and teach a cyclical or chain-like process; hence "turn the wheel of the Law"
  • DHARANI spell – "magic" (mnemonic) spells, protective prayers.
  • DHARMA {Cause-and-Effect} – phenomena as it arises and dissolves, i.e. Truth, cause-effect, As-Is, emergent and living natural law, True Law.
  • DHUTA Practices – "shaking off the dust" of desire for food, clothing, shelter.
  • FOUR KINDS OF BELIEVERS – laymen, laywomen, monks, nuns; or, those who are at the stage of only hearing, then listening, then praising, then asking. (Ch 17)
  • FOUR RIGHT EFFORTS or RULES – putting an end to existing evil or distortion (leave entanglements behind), preventing evil from arising (no false views), bringing good into existence (via practices), and encouraging existing good (not preaching recklessly). (Ch 14)
  • GANGES sands – the grains of sand of the Ganges river (which is 2,700 miles long)
  • YOJANA {tens of miles} - about 8 miles.
  • KALPA aeons – (or eon), one billion years.
  • LAPIS Lazuli – deep celestial-blue stone; calls to mind the starry night sky.
  • LOKAYATAS, which say there is no rebirth – analogue to the Sadducees; a sect claiming there is no resurrection after death.
  • MAHA {Great} – e.g. maha-sattva "great being", "great seeker"
  • NAYUTA billions
  • NIRVANA liberation – extinction of worldly desires, of all attachment to forms or thought forms; Nichiren teaches: the burning-up of desires is enlightenment (shedding light), and suffering-through is nirvana.
  • 4 NOBLE (Holy) TRUTHS – in sum, worldly desires beget all suffering.
  • OUTFLOWS of attention – distractions, illusions, or worldly desires; deranging one's attention away from Awakening.
  • PRATEKYA-BUDDHA {cause-awakened prophet} – self-awakened or cause-awakened (by apprehending the very nature of things on one's own)
  • 5 PARAMITA perfective practices – giving (alms), keeping the 10 precepts without outflow, forbearance (patient and gentle in the face of contempt or evil), assiduousness (firm intent, diligent, never lax), meditation (single-minded, self-regulating, mind never deranging); and the 6th paramita is meta-practice: wisdom (insight)
  • 10 PRECEPTS {Commandments} – prohibitions; the first five are basic (killing, stealing, sexual misconduct, lying, and intoxication or irresponsible speech), and the next five vary by system (in the Good Precepts: "adorning the body, owning gold and silver, eating after midday, sleeping on high beds, worldly amusements"; while in the Major Precepts: "duplicity i.e. praising self but disparaging others, defamation or speaking ill, giving way to anger, withholding gifts or sparing one's efforts, foolishness or holding wrong views of the 3 Treasures")
  • REBIRTH – life in this moment "hereafter," as total awakening diminishes or is gained; the continuation of all life after some action (such as death)
  • SAMADHI meditation – greatly concentrated meditation. "Going far beyond"
  • SHRAMANA practitioner– one who renounces secular life; an ascetic, practitioner.
  • SHRAMANERA novice – those who vow to uphold the 10 Precepts (before taking the complete vows of a monk)
  • SUTRA discourse – discourse (organized by verbal repetition, or arising in nature)
  • TATHAGATA {The Lord Is Come} – the Thus Come One, the self-same Life of the Universe arising within itself, and of itself, as a being. (The complement process to this is 'glory' or 'glorifying': where a being "shows God through")
  • 3 TREASURES – 1. the Lord (who instructs and benefits all living beings), 2. the Law (the teachings and standards of behavior), 3. the Order of believers (striving to perform good deeds)
  • 3 UNDERSTANDINGS – in opposition to the 3 Poisons/Evils/Defilements (anger which kills, craving which abuses, and ignorance which deprives)
  • VEHICLE {Way} – track, path.
  • VAJRA cutter – "diamond-cutter", a scepter-like instrument, using sound vibration to cut through hard or difficult material.
  • WONDERFUL – mystic, rare, difficult to encounter and know.

Chart of Appearances of Key Characters (Chapters 1-28)

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 [22] 27 24 25 26 23 28
Shakya-muni (1 of 16 sons) ([20]) X X X
12,000 Arhats, nuns: X
Subhuti (Lord is Rare Form) X X X X X
Maha-Katyayana (Lord is Jambunada Gold Light) X X X
Maha-Kashyapa (Lord is Light Bright), master of 12 Dhutas X X X X X
 (Lord is Tamalapatra Sandalwood Fragrant)
Ananda (Lord is Mtn Sea Wisdom Unrestricted Power King) X X
…. and more
Rahula (son) (Lord is Stepping on Seven Treasure Flowers) X X
Maha-prajapati (Guatami) (Lord is Gladly Seen by all living things) X X
Mother Yashodhara
 (Lord is Endowed With Ten Million Glowing Marks)
2,000 others. (ALL Lord is Jewel Sign) X
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 [22] 27 24 25 26 23 28
80,000 Saints: X
Medicine King X X X X X X
Manjushri (St. Wonderful Bright), prince of the Dharma X X X X X
Maitreya (Fame Seeker) X X X X X X
Constant Exertion [19] X X
Gainer of Great Authority [20] X X
Bhadrapala & 500 [20] X X
(Lion Moon & 500 monks/nuns) [20] (x) X
(Superior Practices Intent) (x) (x) X
St. Flower Virtue [24] (x) X X
St. Light Shining Adornment Marks [27] (x) X
Myozon Wonderful-Sound [24] ? X
(Medicine Superior) (x) X
(St. Gaining Diligent Exertion Power) [24] (x) X
(Constellation King Flower) (x) X X
(Adorned King) (x) X
Brave Donor X X X
(Inexhaustible Intent) (x) X
(Earth Holder speaks) (x) X
Kanzeon Perceiver of Worlds Sounds X X
Universally Worthy (land of King Above Jewel Dignity & Virtue) (x) X
…and… Never Resting, Jeweled Palm, Jeweled Moon, Moonlight, X
 Full Moon, Great Strength, Immeasurable Strength, X
 Transcending the 3-World, Jewel Accumulation, Guiding Leader X
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 [22] 27 24 25 26 23 28
8 Dragon Kings: X
Sagara (and daughter) X X
Nanda, Upananda, others… X
4 Heavenly Kings: X
King Vaishravana (king of yakshas) (x) X
King Upholder of the Nation (king of gandharvas) (x) X
Lords are Sun-Moon-Torch Bright (20,000) X
Lord is Sun-Moon-Torch Bright, 8 sons named Intention. X X
 St. Virtue Store will become Lord is Pure in Body X
St. Wonderful Bright taught Sun-Moon-Torch Bright's 8 sons
(last becomes Lord is Burning Torch)
Lord is Flower Glow X
St. Firm Intent > Lord is Flower Feet Safely Walking X
Lord is Great Wisdom Excellence X
16 sons Wisdom Accumulated X
4 Kings, of all directions. X
Save All, Great Compassion, Wonderful Law, ?? X
16 ascetic princes X
Purna-Maitrayaniputra (Lord is Law Bright) X
disciple Ajnata Kaundinya (Lord is Universal Knowledge) X
500 others (incl. Uruvilvakashyapa, Gayakashyapa,
 Nadikashyapa, Kalodayin, Udayin, Anirudda, Revata,
 Kapphina, Bakkula, Chunda, Svagata)
Lord is Universal Brightness X
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 [22] 27 24 25 26 23 28
Lord Many Treasures X
St. Great Joy Of Preaching asks X X
The Emanations (Angels?) of the savior X X
Seer Asita {John} taught me when I was king X
(that was Devadatta)> X
 Lord is Heavenly King X
St Wisdom Accumulated, disciple of Many Treasures
 (?Lord is Great Wisdom Excellence??)
The Emergers (Saints) X X
4 Leaders named Practices (Superior, Boundless, Pure, Firmly Est.) X X
…heard from: Lord is Awesome Sound King X
(27) King Wondrous Splendour X
Lord is Cloud Thunder Sound Constellation King Flower Wisdom X
King Wonderful Adornment (St. Flower Virtue) X
 Pure Virtue (St.) X
 Pure Storehouse & Pure Eye (Med. Kings) X
Lord is Pure Flower Constellation King Wisdom (Myozon's home) X
Lord is Thunder Sound King (Myozon's prev. home) X
10 Rakshasa daughters (incl. Kunti) X
 Lamba, Vilamba, Crooked, Flowery, Black Hair, Much Hair, X
 Insatiable, Necklace Bearer, Stealer of Vitality. X
 Mother Kishimo X
Lord is Sun Moon Pure Bright Virtue X
 for St. Gladly Seen By All Living Beings (Medicine King) X
 King Pure Virtue (father of Medicine King) X
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 [22] 27 24 25 26 23 28

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