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."
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.
1. Introduction 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 12. Devadatta 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 22. Entrustment 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 26. Dharani 27. Former Affairs of King Wonderful Adornment 28. Encouragements of the Bodhisattva Universal Worthy