- Series: Records of Civilization: Sources and Studies (Book 94)
- Paperback: 416 pages
- Publisher: Columbia University Press; Reprint edition (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: 4.3 out of 5 stars See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,469,129 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Scripture of the Lotus Blossom of the Fine Dharma: The Lotus Sutra (Records of Civilization: Sources and Studies) Reprint Edition
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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.
Top Customer Reviews
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.
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.) Although provisional teachings are not only possible but necessary, there is, in fact, only One Vehicle, one ultimate, ineffable spiritual goal; and for this reason the Lotus is sometimes called the Sutra of the One Vehicle. It is important to note, however, that the term does not describe an EXCLUSIVE DOGMATIC FORMULATION that is taken to be correct while others are false. The ultimate religious experience is beyond the reach of rational understanding, which is, at best, "a finger pointing at the moon".
Although the Lotus Sutra might be viewed as the BEST possible expression of the Buddha's teaching, it is NOT THE ONE AND ONLY way to spiritual realization: other scriptures (and other words, rituals, myths, metaphors, etc.) can be embraced as expressing a more or less adequate means for attaining spiritual understanding - the specific words or symbols do no matter. The One Vehicle refers to a single experiential GOAL to be reached through a variety of conceptual formulations and exercises, but ultimately transcending the word-games of rationality. Note, however, that although the Lotus Sutra freely admits many routes to enlightenment (because of the varying needs of individuals), it does NOT claim that "one view is just as good as any another," i.e., relativism.
Although today the most popular translation of the (Chinese) Lotus Sutra may be Burton Watson's elegant rendition (1993) into English, some serious scholars still prefer this older version by Leon Hurvitz (1976); and even, occasionally, the Bunno Kato collection of three sutras (1975). Depending on the size of your wallet, you might consider buying all 3.
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.