Saturday, September 8, 2012

The Sutra of Perfect Enlightenment

The second class I teach at the College of Zen Buddhist Studies/Buddhist Studies Institute - LA is "The Sutra of Perfect Enlightenment" as translated by A. Charles Muller. In this Buddhist teaching, the setting is a gathering of Boddhisattvas. With this backdrop, the sutra consists of a question and answer session between twelve of these Bodhisattvas and the Buddha.

These questions encompass many of the concepts in Buddhism including sudden and gradual enlightenment. One of the more interesting themes is to watch the development of the Buddhist teachings as they move from the sudden teachings to the gradual teachings.

Here is the way the class is described on the college website:

The Sutra of Perfect Enlightenment, used in monastic education for more than a millennium (probably composed in the eighth century), is a concise guide to the key paradigms of the practice systems of the East Asian meditation schools (Ch'an, Son, and Zen). It has been most popular in the Chinese and Korean schools.

As Zen students, there is value to studying this Mahayana teaching as it employs many different ways to try to get people of different aptitudes to wake up. We will also see how it also helps the reader to understand the process of Sutra development.

In this course we will study this great teaching. The class will consist of reading assignments, video lectures, forum activities, quizzes and of course, a professor will be available. The ultimate goals of this class are to study this book, to see what we can glean from it as far as how to practice and how to teach others to practice. We will also focus on the development of the Sutra as it works to to help different audiences.

The purpose of this post is to briefly introduce this book. From time to time, I will be posting readings from this sutra and commenting on them. There is some really useful stuff in this text and I am very fortunate to be able to share it with others. Hopefully, you will find it useful as well.