Where does the Lotus go from here? Does it take another route?
First, note that for the Buddhist, the Lotus is not a vehicle, as it were, for the Buddha, as it were, but a manifestation of the Buddha within and for humanity. And secondly, note that the Lotus is not for humans, who are essentially different from the Buddha, and therefore are not fully accessible to him.
What is the Lotus for us humans? It is the road which leads to the enlightened human nature. It is the path to a state characterized by love – and this love is an attribute of the entire race of humanity.
And the way to attain enlightenment is not to continue to follow the path of the Buddha. Not even if there is a route left, to continue the path. In fact, we are told that the path that leads to enlightenment is the path of the enlightened human being. Not the path of the Buddha. Not the path of the Buddhas. Not the path of the Buddhas and Saints, but the human path leading to enlightenment – the path of the human.
And so we see that this Lotus Road and path that leads to enlightenment are the human path leading to enlightenment. They are nothing more or less than the human paths leading to enlightenment. And the human path leading to enlightenment is characterized by the compassionate heart, the kindness, and the willingness to share. The compassion and the love in it are the characteristics of the human being. This is very important: the compassion and the love of the whole humanity, all those people who are not enlightened, are very important.
That’s why we see the Buddha’s teachings on lovingkindness and the compassion at the foundation of Buddhism, in its main tradition – the Mahayana. And yet our Buddha is not seen as the person who washes our hearts, who is a loving person; he is seen as the person – the embodiment of the compassion and love of the whole humanity. He is seen as the person who, if we give back to him the way we really are interested in doing, will transform us into that person – a very compassionate person.
So we see that the human being is the source of all the goodness in the universe; and the compassionate heart is the source of all the goodness in the universe. And the human being – the compassionate human being – is the source of all goodness in the world. And then as a consequence, the whole universe, all the goodness in the universe, is characterized by