The "Lotus Sūtra"

A Biography

Reddit icon
e-mail icon
Twitter icon
Facebook icon
Google icon
LinkedIn icon
Donald S. Lopez
Lives of Great Religious Books
  • Princeton, NJ: 
    Princeton University Press
    , September
     2016.
     272 pages.
     $29.95.
     Hardcover.
    ISBN
    9780691152202.
     For other formats: Link to Publisher's Website.
Review coming soon!

Review by James A. Benn forthcoming.

Description

The Lotus Sūtra is arguably the most famous of all Buddhist scriptures. Composed in India in the first centuries of the Common Era, it is renowned for its inspiring message that all beings are destined for supreme enlightenment. Here, Donald Lopez provides an engaging and accessible biography of this enduring classic.

Lopez traces the many roles the Lotus Sutra has played in its travels through Asia, Europe, and across the seas to America. The story begins in India, where it was one of the early Mahayana sutras, which sought to redefine the Buddhist path. In the centuries that followed, the text would have a profound influence in China and Japan, and would go on to play a central role in the European discovery of Buddhism. It was the first Buddhist sutra to be translated from Sanskrit into a Western language—into French in 1844 by the eminent scholar Eugène Burnouf. That same year, portions of the Lotus Sūtra appeared in English in The Dial, the journal of New England's Transcendentalists. Lopez provides a balanced account of the many controversies surrounding the text and its teachings, and describes how the book has helped to shape the popular image of the Buddha today. He explores how it was read by major literary figures such as Henry David Thoreau and Gustave Flaubert, and how it was used to justify self-immolation in China and political extremism in Japan.

Concise and authoritative, this is the essential introduction to the life and afterlife of a timeless masterpiece.

About the Author(s)/Editor(s)/Translator(s): 

Donald S. Lopez, Jr. is the Arthur E. Link Distinguished University Professor of Buddhist and Tibetan Studies at the University of Michigan. His many books include The Princeton Dictionary of Buddhism(with Robert E. Buswell, Jr.) and The Tibetan Book of the Dead: A Biography (Princeton). He lives in Ann Arbor, Michigan.

Add New Comment

Reading Religion welcomes comments from AAR members, and you may leave a comment below by logging in with your AAR Member ID and password. Please read our policy on commenting.

Log in to post comments