Impressions of the Lotus Sutra: A youthful perspective

By Joreen and Pei Xuan

Youth, a time of vigour, freshness and future action, is seldom associated with religion, philosophy and history. What then, can we expect from youth volunteers who worked behind the scenes towards the culmination of the Lotus Sutra Exhibition? Today, we speak to two youth volunteers from the Lotus Sutra Exhibition, Han Cheng and Shermayne, for their insights in this large-scale undertaking.

“I am in so much awe with the profundity of the Lotus Sutra,” Han Cheng began with much gusto and enthusiasm. “I think it is amazing how teachings centuries ago continue to remain relevant in answering the important questions of life today and beyond.” We were taken aback by his response, and wondered how these ancient teachings could be relevant in today’s context.

“This exhibition goes beyond the history of Buddhism. It is not just a road trip to revisiting the past. On the contrary, it is about humanity’s future, about the revival of the treasures within all of us. I’m certain that there is definitely something for everyone to discover for themselves.”

Through delving into the depths of the 28 chapters of the Lotus Sutra in preparation for the exhibition, we learnt that Han Cheng found his favourite in the 20th chapter, where Bodhisattva Never Disparaging was featured.  Bodhisattva Never Disparaging was cited as one who would always join his palms and bow in reverence to every person he met, despite being verbally and physically attacked by others at times. This illustrated the Lotus Sutra’s philosophy of belief in the humanity and the dignity of life.

Han Cheng then shared his perspectives on how he could apply the spirit of Bodhisattva Never Disparaging in his life: “In our daily life, it is inevitable that we may at times encounter people whom we may not like or would not want to go close with. However, learning from Bodhisattva Never Disparaging’s spirit reminded me that…it is important to remember that everyone without exception has the innate Buddha nature…we should continue to respect them and to firmly believe that the person has the potential to change for the better one day.” His admiration for Bodhisattva Never Disparaging was clearly displayed, as was his determination to be a modern-day Bodhisattva Never Disparaging in his own life.

For Shermayne, she echoed the same sentiment about her great admiration for the Lotus Sutra. While there were many chapters and parables that she really liked, her greatest takeaway was the realisation that “the Lotus Sutra was transmitted across borders and centuries through the efforts of many individuals”. This gave her “a greater sense of appreciation for having encountered the Lotus Sutra in this lifetime,” and made her more determined to uphold the spirit of the Lotus Sutra.

Finally, we asked what everyone can expect from the Lotus Sutra Exhibition. Besides having more than 100 rare Buddhist artefacts, manuscripts and exquisite replicas of the paintings of the Mogao caves in Dunhuang, China, Shermayne remarked that there is more to it. “This exhibition goes beyond the history of Buddhism. It is not just a road trip to revisiting the past. On the contrary, it is about humanity’s future, about the revival of the treasures within all of us. I’m certain that there is definitely something for everyone to discover for themselves.”

A unique journey where the past, present and future of humanity converge, it is an exhibition not to be missed!

Look forward to the Lotus Sutra Exhibition: A Message of Peace and Harmonious Coexistence, at The Arts House on 1 – 25 October 2017.