This beautifully written work sheds new light on the origins and nature of Mahayana Buddhism with close readings of four well-known texts--the Lotus Sutra, Diamond Sutra, Tathagatagarbha Sutra, and Vimalakirtinirdesa. Treating these sutras as literary works rather than as straightforward philosophic or doctrinal treatises, Alan Cole argues that these writings were carefully sculpted to undermine traditional monastic Buddhism and to gain legitimacy and authority for Mahayana Buddhism as it was veering away from Buddhism's older oral and institutional forms. His sophisticated and sustained analysis of the narrative structures and seductive literary strategies used in these sutras suggests that they were specifically written to encourage devotion to the written word instead of other forms of authority, be they human, institutional, or iconic.
Alan Cole, Associate Professor of Religious Studies at Lewis & Clark College, is author of Mothers and Sons in Chinese Buddhism (1998).
Acknowledgments Introduction 1. Text as Father 2. Who's Your Daddy Now? Reissued Paternity in the Lotus Sutra 3. The Domino Effect: Everyone and His Brother Convert to the Lotus Sutra 000 4. "Be All You Can't Be" and Other Gainful Losses in the Diamond Sutra 5. Sameness with a Difference in the Tathagatagarbha Sutra 6. Vimalakirti, or Why Bad Boys Finish First Conclusion: A Cavalier Attitude toward Truth-Fathers Bibliography Index