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Scripture of the Lotus Blossom of the Fine Dharma: The Lotus Sutra (Records of Civilization: Sources and Studies)

4.8 out of 5 stars 4 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0231039208
ISBN-10: 0231039204
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Editorial Reviews

Language Notes

Text: English, Chinese (translation)

About the Author

Leon Hurvitz is a professor in the Department of Asian Studies, University of British Columbia. He spent time during the occupation of Japan as a translator and interpreter and later studied in Japan, specializing in early Chinese Buddhism.

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Product Details

  • Series: Records of Civilization: Sources and Studies (Book 94)
  • Paperback: 416 pages
  • Publisher: Columbia University Press (October 15, 1976)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0231039204
  • ISBN-13: 978-0231039208
  • Product Dimensions: 9 x 6 x 1.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,208,028 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Format: Paperback
Many English versions of the Lotus Sutra are translated from a Chinese translation of the original Sanskrit version. Regardless of how well they were translated into English, the quality of these versions depends heavily on the quality of the Chinese translation. As many such translations were either done by merchants who didn't know that much about religion or by monks who didn't know much about the other language, there are quite a few bad versions of the Lotus Sutra.
This is not one of them. Not only was it translated from the best known of the Chinese versions (that of Kumarajiva), but Hurvitz also consulted the original Sanskrit to see where the versions differed. While the main text comes entirely from the Chinese, there are nearly 70 pages of endnotes on the Sanskrit, in which Hurvitz either comments on differences between that and the Chinese, or gives a translation of Sanskrit passages that don't appear in Kumarajiva's translation.
What this means for the text is that it is one of the most readable versions of the Lotus Sutra and, at the same time, one of the most informative.
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Format: Paperback
The Lotus Sutra, or Scripture of the Lotus Blossom of the Fine Dharma (J., Myohorengekyo, Hokkekyo), the preeminent scripture in the Mahayana Buddhism of East Asia -- China, Tibet, Mongolia, Korea, Japan, and Vietnam -- is known primarily through the translation into Chinese of the Sanskrit Saddharma-pundarika-sutra by Kumarajiva in CE 406. (This 28-chapter version differs in organization and presentation from the 27-chapter Sanskrit text translated into English by H. Kern in 1884, and still available for sale; the two versions should not be confused.)

Although Kumarajiva's Lotus Sutra has influenced all of Japanese Buddhism in one way or another, it is the basic scripture for the great medieval Tendai (C., T'ien T'ai) sect, as well as the later Nichiren sect and its offshoots, especially Soka Gakkai and Rissho Koseikai, all three of which emphasize recitation of the "Nam' myohorengekyo" formula." The Lotus is NOT included in the scriptural canon of Southern Buddhism (Theravada) in Sri Lanka, Burma, Thailand, and other areas of SE Asia.

The Lotus Sutra is basically a statement of philosophical principles and should not be approached as literary entertainment. Its message has serious implications - today probably more so than any time in past history. But the reading takes patience and serious, quiet rumination. Its message is that all sentient beings have the potential for attaining Buddhahood, but conceptual illusion prevents them from realizing that this is their essential nature. Out of compassion, the Buddha(s) employs many devices (Skillful Means/Expedients; hoben) accommodated to their specific needs, to assist them in seeing through this illusion. (The notion is expressed through most of the sutra's Seven Parables.
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Format: Paperback
While the Burton Watson translation of the Lotus Sutra is "elegant" as one reviewer commented, to be sure, it was also totally commissioned by the Soka Gakkai International to be written. Don't get me wrong, it is a great translation in it's own right as Burton Watson has done some excellent translations in the past, it's just that that one had an agenda from the beginning.

Now this older Leon Hurvitz translation, on the other hand, had no political influence. It just remained pure to the Sanskrit and Chinese translation from the Kumarajiva. This remains the most accurate and readable translation to date - period and exclamation point!

Buy both copies and read them side by side. Do all the research online into the original Sanskrit of the Bodhisattvas and then make your own judgement. Better yet buy as many translations of The Lotus Sutra as you can and refer to all of them from time to time - it will broaden your understanding deeply.

Namaste, Donna
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
A look outside Zen.
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