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Two Buddhas Seated Side by Side: A Guide to the Lotus Sutra

Princeton Univ. Oct. 2019. 312p. notes. index. ISBN 9780691174204. $29.95; ebk. ISBN 9780691189802. REL
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Lopez (Buddhist & Tibetan studies, Univ. of Michigan; Seeing the Sacred in Samsara) and Stone (religion, Princeton Univ.) present an in-depth exploration of the Lotus Sutra, an influential text in Mahayana Buddhist traditions. The aim is to create a “chapter-by-chapter roadmap” of the sutra in order to make it more accessible to modern audiences. The authors propose readers look at the work from two approaches: by understanding its historical context and studying the analyses that aided in the dissemination of Mahayana Buddhism across Asia. The commentary of 13th-century Buddhist monk Nichiren is used to exemplify the sutra’s influence in East Asian Buddhist traditions and notes his significant role in the development of Buddhism in Japan. Throughout, each chapter of the sutra is clearly explained, historical references are provided for parables and allusions, and the authors expand on the meaning and significance of Nichiren’s interpretations.
VERDICT While scholarly in nature, this work’s engaging, thoughtful manner serves its subject well. Essential for readers with academic-level interest in Buddhist studies.

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