Since its appearance in China in the third century, The Lotus Sutra has been regarded as one of the most illustrious scriptures in the Mahayana Buddhist canon. The object of intense veneration among generations of Buddhists in China, Korea, Japan, and other parts of the world, it has had a profound impact on the great works of Japanese and Chinese literature, attracting more commentary than any other Buddhist scripture.
As Watson notes in the introduction to his remarkable translation, " The Lotus Sutra is not so much an integral work as a collection of religious texts, an anthology of sermons, stories, and devotional manuals, some speaking with particular force to persons of one type or in one set of circumstances, some to those of another type or in other circumstances. This is no doubt why it has had such broad and lasting appeal over the ages and has permeated so deeply into the cultures that have been exposed to it."
About the Author
Burton Watson is one of the world's best-known translators from the Chinese and Japanese. His translations include The Vimalakirti Sutra, Chuang Tzu: Basic Writings, Ryokan: Zen Monk-Poet of Japan, Saigyo: Poems of a Mountain Home, and The Columbia Book of Chinese Poetry: From Early Times to the Thirteenth Century, all published by Columbia.
Table of Contents
2. Expedient Means
3. Simile and Parable
4. Belief and Understanding
5. The Parable of the Medicinal Herbs
6. Bestowal of Prophecy
7. The Parable of the Phantom City
8. Prophecy of Enlightenment for Five Hundred Disciples
9. Prophecies Conferred on Learners and Adepts
10. The Teacher of the Law
11. The Emergence of the Treasure Tower
13. Encouraging Devotion
14. Peaceful Practices
15. Emerging from the Earth
16. The Life Span of the Thus Come One
17. Distinctions in Benefits
18. The Benefits of Responding with Joy
19. Benefits of the Teacher of the Law
20. The Bodhisattva Never Disparaging
21. Supernatural Powers of the Thus Come One
23. Former Affairs of the Bodhisattva Medicine King
24. The Bodhisattva Wonderful Sound
25. The Universal Gateway of the Bodhisattva Perceiver of the World's Sounds
27. Former Affairs of King Wonderful Adornment
28. Encouragements of the Bodhisattva Universal Worthy
What People are Saying About This
Burton Watson's felicitous rendition of the Lotus Sutra captures superbly well the literary essence of the Chinese text. Consequently, Kumarajiva's understanding of the Sanskrit original is allowed to shine forth in English on its own terms. Considering the manifold complexities and beauties of the work, this is a stunning achievement.
Victor Mair, University of Pennsylvania
Burton Watson is indeed a master stylist. I know of no one who captures the spirit of a work more effectively. For a text that is as beautiful and loaded with rich imagery, parable, and drama as the the Lotus Sutra, the treatment of such a skilled hand is long overdue.
Daniel Stevenson, University of Kansas
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
This is a very good translation of one of Mahayana Buddhism's greatest sutras/canon. I find it to be well written, easy to follow and understand (although not so easy to comprehend--will explain later), and a pleasure to read. Each chapter entails some fascinating tales and fables (as in the chapters that discuss the lost son searching for his father, the expedient methods our beloved Buddha use to deliver and rescue us from our burning house (an analogy for this suffering world that we live in) along with the myriad of the virtues and conducts of some of the Great Bodhisattvas such as Guan Yin/Avalokiteshvara (aka Contemplator of the World's Sounds). Like all of Mahayana Buddhism's scriptures, you will find that the meanings and intents of the original author(s) conveyed in this sacred literature are much more profound than what seem to be provided at the surface. Therefore, if you are like most people, this is not a book that you would want to read just once. Repeated readings will help the readers understand all the different metaphors and analogies, and especially the intent, provided by the Buddha when he first preached the doctrines contained in this wonderful sutra. Kudos to Burton Watson for the excellent English translation.
This is perhaps the best translation/rendition of The Lotus Sutra that I have ever read!!!! Having studied Buddhism in many forms for the last 40 years, I have come across many eloquent translations of The Lotus Sutra; but this translation by Burton Watson is by far the best & most authoritative. I highly recommend it to anyone interested in seeking to learn the very essence of the Buddha's teachings.
Waston did an excellent job in the translation of this sutra. If you are looking to pick up a copy of the Lotus, I'd choose either this one or the version by Leon Hurvitz. I would recommend any translation by Mr. Watson.