Sutra Study Guide
Today I would like to offer you a strategic way you might want to use when you are studying the Lotus Sutra. You may or may not find it a useful tool, that is alright. Perhaps it will help you develope a tool for yourself. However it may be nice place to begin.
Some people benefit from a structured or guided study approach so this my help them. Others do not want to be encumbered by such a structured approach, that too is fine.
I offer this because I think it is a helpful place to begin a strategic study of the Lotus Sutra.
First of course is to select the passage you wish to study. You may do this by going sytematically from the beginning of the sutra to the end working your way through a select number of pages each day or week. You might also just decide you want to focus on one parable at a time. However you choose to plan out your study, try to actually have a plan and stick with it. Remember a large accumulation of wisdom from the Sutra begins with a steady approach of small additions.
I. Read the selection.
First of course is to read the selection. Take your time reading. On this first read just enjoy the experience of reading the Buddha’s words and letting them be absorbed by your life; just open up to feelings and not understandings. You may feel noting but confusion, that is perfectly acceptable, as acceptable as being blown away.
II. Observation – What does the selection say?
Now you are going to take a much closer look at the details. You might consider answering some of these questions.
a. Who are the people involved?
b. What happened?
c. What ideas are being expressed?
d. What resulted?
e. Who is the speaker?
f. What is the purpose?
g. What is the stated reason?
h. How are things accomplished? How well? How quickly? By what method?
i. Are there key words in the passage?
j. What images are in the passage?
III. Interpretation – What does it mean?
Write down questions about what you don’t understand in the passage.
What do you think the passage meant to the original audience that received the teachings?
In light of its meaning to the original audience, what does it mean to you?
Are there words you need to look up and understand better?
Finally, what is a single primary meaning of this passage for you now (this may change over time).
IV. Illustration – How can I pass this on?
Draw a picture,or diagram, or write a word picture, or in some other way illustrate what you have discovered from this passage.
V. Application – What do I need to do?
The following questions may help you apply this passage to your life.
1. Is there something for me to avoid, i.e. doing, thinking
2. Is there a promise for me to claim?
3. Is there an example for me to follow? or not follow?
4. What knowledge have I gained? Is there other knowledge I should pursue?