Thomas Hallock Ph.D Assistant Professor of English, College of Arts and Sciences
Constantina Bailly Ph.D Professor of religious, Studies, Eckerd College
Kathleen Robinson M.A. Adjunct Instructor of Writing, College of Arts and Sciences
University of South Florida St. Petersburg
My time researching and writing on the Lotus Sutra has been an enjoyable experience, granting me an extended opportunity to academically investigate one Buddhist sutra in a meaningful and thorough manner. As I wrote my thesis, many of my peers asked why I chose a Buddhist text to analyze, as it seemed so "unusual," or "weird" to them that I would select a work so "obscure" and "unknown". After hearing these curious comments, I explained several basic concepts of the Buddhist tradition to them, such as the word "sutra" means scripture or that "Buddha Sak.yamuni" is the historical founder of Buddhism. Even after discussing a few introductory topics many were unable to connect with my interest in Buddhist texts and culture. I found their responses to be intriguing as I do not consider the sutras "foreign" works, but texts which are central and influential to my personal experiences and life story. As a Nichiren Shu Buddhist, I feel that the Lotus Sutrc1 is an integral part of my life and is not distant or alien, but rather deeply comforting and familiar. Yet, through the comments of my peers and my research, I observed that the Western examination of Buddhist texts often approaches sutras from a radically uninformed perspective. Noting this tension, my thesis changed from a simple reader-response writing to a larger exploration of critical theory and textual framing regarding the treatment of Buddhist texts by Westerners.
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Lauer, Erin Lyn, "The Sutra of the Lotus Flower of the Wonderful Dharma Speaks: A Critical Examination of Mahayana Buddhist Literature via the Eastern Lens" (2007). USFSP Honors Program Theses (Undergraduate). 59.