Thich Nhat Hanh is a Vietnamese monk, a renowned Zen master, a poet, and a peace activist. He was nominated for the Nobel Prize by Martin Luther King, Jr., in 1967, and is the author of many books, including the best-selling The Miracle of Mindfulness.
In this book, Nhat Hanh turns his eye towards the Lotus Sutra, one of the most important sutras for Mahayana Buddhists. Despite its importance, the Lotus Sutra is very difficult to read straight-out, although good translations exist (see Hurvitz and the recent edition "The Threefold Lotus Sutra" put out by Kosei). Just diving into a translation may leave you feeling a bit confused, and some early commentaries are just as inaccessible to beginners. Hence the value of this book. Placing the Lotus sutra in its historical context (around the time when Mahayana Buddhism was just emerging, and had to distinguish itself from non-Mahayana schools, which it terms "Hinayana" or "Lesser Vehicle"), Nhat Hanh illuminates why this sutra is so important and revelational. In short, this is the sutra in which it was firmly proclaimed that _everyone_ could become a fully enlightened buddha. Previously, the primary goal of early Buddhism had been to become a saint ("arhat"), liberated from samsara, with the joy of nirvana, but not an actual buddha oneself. Moreover, this path was restricted to renunciant monks, and not open to everyone. In this sutra, the Buddha proclaims that he taught this as a skillful means, because if he had said right away that people could attain buddhahood, no one would believe it. Now, however, the time being right, and people having understood the basics of the Four Noble Truths, etc., he could give this profound teaching. All the teachings and vehicles (Sravakayana, Pratyekabuddhayana, Bodhisattvayana, etc.) point to the one single vehicle: the buddhayana, the path to full buddhahood for all sentinent beings.Read more ›
In Opening The Heart Of The Cosmos: Insights On The Lotus Sutra, Vietnamese Buddhist monk, poet, teacher, writer, peace and human rights activist Thich Nhat Hanh draws upon his more than 30 years of study and experience to focus upon one of the most important of the sutras and reveal how it can be of invaluable service in transforming ourselves and the world around us. By way of illustration, Hanh provides commentary on a number of current issues and enduring world problems ranging from the Palestinian-Israeli impasse, to the threats posed by international terrorism, to the continuing degradation of our planetary environment. Opening The Heart Of The Cosmos is a superbly articulated and presented contribution to the growing body of Buddhist literature for western readers.
If you really want to read and understand the Lotus Sutra on a deeper level I highly recommend this commentary of Thay's(Thich Nhat Hanh). For the actual Sutra this is a good translation: The Lotus Sutra