The Essential Lotus: Selections from the Lotus Sutra

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Overview

Since its first appearance in China in the third century CE, the Lotus Sutra has been the object of intense veneration among generations of Buddhists in China, Korea, and Japan, as well as other parts of the world. It is often considered the fundamental Mahayana Buddhist sutra, has attracted more commentary than any other Buddhist scripture, and has had a profound impact on the great works of Japanese and Chinese literature. No one can understand East Asia without some knowledge of its teachings.

This abridged edition of Burton Watson's acclaimed translation contains this sutra's essential chapters, derived from the most authoritative and felicitous version of the sutra, translated from Sanskrit into Chinese in 406 by the great Central Asian scholar-monk Kumarajiva. The Essential Lotus refines the focus from the sprawling magnitude of the original to the chapters that expound its core ideas and have been the most influential in the later development of Buddhist and East Asian thought. From the famous parable of the burning house to the firm assertion that women can attain the highest enlightenment, from a sermon preached in midair around a miraculously floating jewel-adorned tower to the principle that the Buddha is not to be delimited in time or space, The Essential Lotus presents the riches and profundities of one of the most beautiful treasures in any religious heritage.

Columbia University Press

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Editorial Reviews

Journal of Asian Studies

A new translation of any of the classics... from the hand of Burton Watson is an event to be welcomed with gratitude.

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Product Details

Meet the Author

Burton Watson is one of the world's best-known translators from the Chinese and Japanese and has taught at Columbia, Stanford, and Kyoto universities. In 1981 he received the PEN Translation Prize. His translations include The Vimalakirti Sutra, Chuang Tzu: Basic Writings, Records of the Grand Historian, Ryôkan: Zen Monk-Poet of Japan, Saigyô: Poems of a Mountain Home, and The Columbia Book of Chinese Poetry: From Early Times to the Thirteenth Century, all published by Columbia.

Columbia University Press

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Table of Contents

Preface to the Abridged EditionTranslator's IntroductionTranslator's Note2. Expedient Means3. Simile and Parable10. The Teacher of the Law11. The Emergence of the Treasure Tower12. Devadatta15. Emerging from the Earth16. The Life Span of the Thus Come One20. The Bodhisattva Never Disparaging22. Entrustment25. The Universal Gateway of the Bodhisattva Perceiver of the World's SoundsGlossaryIndex

Columbia University Press

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