Renowned for its powerful parables, the Lotus Sutra is perhaps the most famous of all Buddhist scriptures. This talk will take us in search of the Lotus Sutra, from its origins in ancient India to its great artistic influence in China and Japan, to America—where it was read by Emerson and Thoreau—and to the present day, when its title is chanted around the world.
This talk is followed by a curator-led tour of the exhibition The Power of Words in an Age of Crisis: Buddhist Art in Japan in Freer gallery 6, which presents recently acquired examples of the Lotus Sutra.
Donald Lopez is Arthur E. Link Distinguished University Professor of Buddhist and Tibetan Studies and chair of the Department of Asian Languages and Culture at the University of Michigan. He has published widely on a range of topics concerning Buddhism, writing for both a specialist audience and the wider public. His most recent publication is Hyecho’s Journey: The World of Buddhism, a collaborative project with University of Michigan colleagues. Their work on Hyecho forms part of the Freer|Sackler’s exhibition Encountering the Buddha: Art and Practice across Asia. Professor Lopez also narrates the podcast “Buddhism and the Beat,” part of the museums’ Freer Thinking series.