Filed in Nichiren

The Lotus of the Wonderful Law

It is perhaps the most significant text in East Asian Buddhism, but the Lotus Sutra's seminal role in shaping Western Buddhist practice is scarcely acknowledged.  What is the hidden influence of this enigmatic text?

Andrew Cooper

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IN THE MID-1970s and ’80s, when I was a resident at the Zen Center of Los Angeles, we would, during periods of formal practice, recite a chant with our meals, the core of which was an invocation of Mahayana Buddhism’s pantheon of Buddhas and bodhisattvas. As with so many things about Zen ritual, no one ever explained the content of the chant; you just did it. But there was something odd and intriguing about this particular chant. There, where the recitation moves from the names of buddhas to the names of bodhisattvas—right at that juncture where the type of personification shifts—appears the name of a scripture: The Sutra of the Lotus of the Wonderful Law, or for short, the Lotus Sutra.

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