10 Quotes about the One Buddha-Vehicle in the Lotus Sutra
The Buddha reiterates the keyword “One Buddha-Vehicle” in the Lotus Sutra. What is the One Buddha-Vehicle? It is the Law of White Lotus, the Law of Anuttara Samyak Sambodhi, the Law of Supreme Perfect Enlightenment, the Law of Buddhahood.
The Lotus Sutra is the ultimate Buddha’s teachings for it encapsulates the secret treasure of Tathagata: the Law to become a Buddha. Hence, the Buddha declares that the Lotus Sutra is the foremost of his entire lifetime teachings and the Lotus Sutra is the King of All Sutras.
Here are the 10 quotes about the One Buddha-Vehicle in the Lotus Sutra:
“The Buddha uses provisional names
in order to lead all living beings.
The sole reason for the advent of the Buddhas in the world
is to teach the Buddha-Wisdom.
The One Vehicle is the ultimate truth,
while the other two are not. (Lotus Sutra 2: 5.17)
The Buddha continued to speak to Shariputra: “O Shariputra! This is the one great reason for all Buddhas to appear in the world. Buddhas-Tathagatas only teach and transform bodhisattvas. All their actions are done for one purpose—that is to show and awaken all living beings to the Buddha’s insights. O Shariputra! Tathagata has only the One Buddha-Vehicle by which to teach all living beings; there is no other, neither the second nor the third Vehicle. O Shariputra! The teachings of Buddhas in the ten directions are identical. (Lotus Sutra 2: 4.7)
“O Shariputra! All present Buddhas-Bhagavats, dwelling in the ten directions in immeasurable hundreds of thousands of millions of billions of Buddha-lands, bring an abundance of benefits, blessings, peace, and joy to living beings. This is also due to the Buddhas applying immeasurable expedient methods—causes and conditions, metaphors, similes, analogies, parables, and various linguistic expressions using words, poetry, prose, and so forth—to teach, explain, and illustrate the various doctrines to living beings. Because all these doctrines are derived from the One Buddha-Vehicle, living beings, having listened to the doctrines of the Buddha, will eventually attain the perfect wisdom. (Lotus Sutra 2: 4.10)
“O Shariputra! The Buddhas only teach and transform bodhisattvas. They do so because they desire to show all living beings the Buddha-Wisdom, to awaken all living beings to the Buddha-Wisdom, and to lead all living beings in entering the Buddha-Wisdom. O Shariputra! I am the same as the rest of the other Buddhas. Knowing the various desires and attachments deep in the hearts of living beings, I adapt my teachings according to their natures and capacities using the power of expedient methods—causes and conditions, metaphors, similes, analogies, parables, and various linguistic expressions using words, poetry, prose, and so forth—to teach, explain, and illustrate the Law for them. O Shariputra! All these teachings are derived from the One Buddha-Vehicle—the source of the perfect wisdom. O Shariputra! In the ten directions of the Universe, there is no second Vehicle, let alone a third. (Lotus Sutra 2: 4.11)
“O Shariputra! The Buddhas appear in the evil worlds of five defilements, namely the defilement of kalpa, the defilement of suffering, the defilement of living beings, the defilement of views, and the defilement of lifespan. O Shariputra! In the age of chaotic kalpa, the impurities run deep. Living beings—being stingy, greedy, and envious—will not be planting virtuous roots. Therefore, all Buddhas, by applying the power of expedient methods, make differentiations to the One Buddha-Vehicle by teaching it as though there are three different Vehicles. (Lotus Sutra 2: 4.12)
“O Shariputra! You should have a focused mind to believe, understand, accept, and embrace the words of the Buddha because the words of the Buddha are the Ultimate Truth. There are no other Vehicles, only the One Buddha-Vehicle.” (Lotus Sutra 2: 4.15)
“I will be a Buddha in another land and be known by a different name. Although the idea of extinction will lead them into entering what they perceive to be nirvana, because these disciples will still seek the Buddha-Wisdom, they will eventually be able to hear the Lotus Sutra. It is only through the Buddha-Vehicle that one is able to attain true extinction. There is no Vehicle other than the One Buddha-Vehicle, unless Tathagata teaches the various doctrines as expedient methods. (Lotus Sutra 7: 4.16)
“The Buddha, knowing the weak and shallow minds of living beings, uses the power of expedient methods to teach two nirvanas so as to provide a resting place along the journey. If living beings continue to dwell in these two stages (i.e., shravakas and pratyekabuddhas), Tathagata will then give this guidance: ‘Your task has not been accomplished. The stage where you are dwelling is close to the Buddha-Wisdom. However, you must observe and perceive that the nirvana you have attained is not the real one. It is only through the expedient methods that Tathagata makes distinction by expounding the One Buddha-Vehicle into three.’ (Lotus Sutra 7: 5.7)
“All Buddhas use the power of expedient methods
to make distinctions by preaching
the Vehicle in three different ways.
Yet in truth, there is only One Buddha-Vehicle.
The two others are merely temporary resting places. (Lotus Sutra 7: 6.40)
“O Shariputra! For this reason, you should understand the intention of the Buddha in applying the power of expedient methods; he wishes to make distinctions in the One Buddha-Vehicle by preaching them in three different ways.” (Lotus Sutra 3: 4.29)