The Lotus Sutra and the Four Noble Truth


In a revolutionary declaration, chapter 3 of the Lotus Sutra explains that the ultimate teaching of Buddhism is: “the Law of the Lotus”, which is “unsurpassed, wonderful and superior” to the teaching of the Four Noble Truths:


“In the past at Varanasi

you turned the wheel of the Law of the Four Noble Truths,

making distinctions, preaching that all things

are born and become extinct,


Now you turn the wheel of the most wonderful,

the unsurpassed great Law.


This Law is very profound and abstruse;

Since times past often we have heard

the World-Honored One's preaching,

but we have never heard

this kind of profound, wonderful and superior Law.

Since the World-Honored One preaches this Law,

we all welcome it with joy”.


The above passage indicates a profound shift in Shakyamuni’s teachings from the focus on “sufferings” of the Four Noble Truths. It repeatedly brings the element of “Joy” and “wonderful feeling” in the teaching of the “Law of the Lotus”, for which “the mind is filled with joy”:


"World-Honored One,

now I have heard from the Buddha

what I had never heard before,

a Law never known in the past,

and it has ended all my doubts and regrets.

My body and mind are at ease

and I have gained a wonderful feeling

of peace and security.

When I heard the sound of this Law,

I gained what I had never had before.

My mind was filled with great joy.


The Buddha’s final teaching about the “causes for sufferings”


While the Four Noble Truths focus on ‘attachment to desires’ as the cause of sufferings, Nichiren Buddhism provides a broader explanation to this subject.  Based on Miao Lo’s explanation of the Lotus Sutra, Nichiren mentions in his letter The Fourteen Slanders, other causes of sufferings.


In addition to the cause of Attachment to Earthly Desires , being the core focus of the teaching of the Four Noble Truths, Nichiren cites: Arrogance, Negligence, Refusing to believe, Hatred, Vilification, Holding Grudges...  In terms of referring to the cause of sufferings, the Four Noble Truths mentions just one cause, and does not give a complete explanation.  The reason for this is the Buddha’s way of gradually teaching various principles and sutras - preparing his followers for the final teaching of the Lotus Sutra.

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