The Vimalakirti Sutra by Burton Watson

The Vimalakirti Sutra

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The Vimalakirti Sutra
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About the Book

The Vimalakirti Ham one of the most influential works of the Mahayana Buddhist canon, is of particular importance in the Ch'an or Zen sect. Originally written in Sanskrit, probaiply in the first century C.E., it claims to record events of more than four hundred years earlier. Noted for its eloquent, orderly exposition of the basic tenets of Mahayana, the text is also remarkable for the liveliness of its episodes and frequent touches of humor, rarities in a religious work of this type.

The Vimalakirti Sutra is unusual in that its central figure is not a Buddha or Buddhas, but a wealthy townsman, Vimalakirti, who epitomizes the ideal lay believer. For this reason, and because of the Sutra's enduring literary appeal, it has been particularly popular among lay Buddhists in China, Japan, and the other Asian countries where Mahayana doctrines prevail, and has exercised a marked influence on literature and art.

Beautifully translated by Burton Watson from the Chinese version of Kumarajiva, The Vimalakirti Sutra is the first-ever translation into English from the popular Chinese version. Including notes to the translation and a glossary, as well as a brief history of early. Buddhism and an introduction to the doctrine of nondualism-a key tenet in Mahayana thought-this translation will delight not only those familiar with the text but also a new generation of readers.

 

About the Author

BURTON WATSON, one of the world's celebrated translators of Chinese and Japanese, is Adjunct Professor in East Asian Languages and Cultures at Columbia University. His most recent translations include The Lotus Sutra, The Old Man Who Does as He Pleases, and Hsun Tzu, all published by Columbia.


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