An essential companion to a timeless spiritual classic
The Lotus Sūtra is among the most venerated scriptures of Buddhism. Composed in India some two millennia ago, it affirms the potential for all beings to attain supreme enlightenment. Donald Lopez and Jacqueline Stone provide an essential reading companion to this inspiring yet enigmatic masterpiece, explaining how it was understood by its compilers in India and, centuries later in medieval Japan, by one of its most influential proponents.
In this illuminating chapter-by-chapter guide, Lopez and Stone show how the sūtra's anonymous authors skillfully reframed the mainstream Buddhist tradition in light of a new vision of the path and the person of the Buddha himself, and examine how the sūtra's metaphors, parables, and other literary devices worked to legitimate that vision. They go on to explore how the Lotus was interpreted by the Japanese Buddhist master Nichiren (1222–1282), whose inspired reading of the book helped to redefine modern Buddhism. In doing so, Lopez and Stone demonstrate how readers of sacred works continually reinterpret them in light of their own unique circumstances.
An invaluable guide to an incomparable spiritual classic, this book unlocks the teachings of the Lotus for modern readers while providing insights into the central importance of commentary as the vehicle by which ancient writings are given contemporary meaning.
Scholars Lopez Jr. and Stone offer an in-depth introduction to the Lotus Sutra one of the most influential texts of East Asian Mahayana Buddhism in this comprehensive, highly technical work. Their opening exploration of the Lotus Sutra focuses on the work as a text of timeless revelation (which captures the Buddha's words and actions) against a backdrop of backlash from mainstream Buddhism. Although originally composed in India during the first century BCE, over centuries the text rose in stature and influence over Mahayana Buddhism. Nichiren, the 13th-century Japanese founder of the Nichiren Buddhist tradition, reinterpreted the Lotus Sutra for what he saw as an age of decline, emphasizing the salvation of even the most deluded as long as they accepted and embraced the sutra. By unpacking the Lotus Sutra chapter by chapter and explaining both the lesson presented by the Buddha and the influence on subsequent Buddhist lineages, Lopez Jr. and Stone's detailed analysis makes for a welcome, admirable addition to the large repertoire of more general Lotus Sutra studies. Their incorporation of Nichiren showcases the sutra as not merely a religious document, but a text of living faith concerned with the salvation of everyday people. Though readers with even a passing interest in the topic will find this hard-going, this intricate text will be welcomed by dedicated Buddhist readers interested in the history of the Lotus Sutra.