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offprint from: READINGS OF THE LOTUS SUTRA EDITED BY Stephen F. Teiser and Jacqueline I. Stone Ww Columbia University Press New York 2009 CONTENTS Foreword / Sheng Yen vii Preface / Stephen F Teiser and Jacqueline I. Stone ix 1. Interpreting the Lotus Stra / Stephen F. Teiser and Jacqueline I. Stone 1 2. Expedient Devices, the One Vehicle, and the Life Span of the Buddha / Carl Bielefeldt 62 3. Gender and Hierarchy in the Lotus Siitra / Jan Nattier 83 4, The Lotus Sittra and Self-Immolation / James A. Benn 107 5. Buddhist Practice and the Lotus Stra in China / Daniel B. Stevenson 132 6. Art of the Lotus Sittra / Willa Jane Tanabe 151 7. Bodily Reading of the Lotus Sittra | Ruben L.F. Habito 186 8. Realizing This World as the Buddha Land / Jacqueline I. Stone 209 Translations of the Lotus Satra into European Languages 237 Cross-References to Citations of the Lotus Sitra 242 Character Glossary 247 Bibliography 251 Contributors 271 Index 273 [3] GENDER AND HIERARCHY IN THE LOTUS SUTRA Jan Nattier uncertain origins. Produced by an unknown author—or rather au- (thors, for scholars today agree that the sittra is a pastiche containing layers produced by different hands—the time(s) and place(s) of its com- position are unknown. Thus its precise cultural background cannot be re- constructed with confidence. For establishing the date of the text our only firm evidence comes from China, where the earliest translation of the text was produced in the late third century c..; from this we can infer that ‘one or more versions of the sitra were circulating in India prior to this date. As to the place where the scripture was written, we have even less to go on: there is some evidence that the text was transmitted in one of the dialects of northwest India at some point in its history, but this does not constitute proof that the text was originally composed in this region. All that we can say for sure is that the Lotus appears to have been produced somewhere within what we might call “greater India’ a region that, in the early centuries of the Common Era, stretched from modern Afghanistan in the north to the island of Sri Lanka in the south. Given this dearth of concrete historical information, the best way to understand what is distinctive about the Lotus Sutra is to view it against the backdrop of its “ancestors,” that is, to read it in the light of what is found in Buddhist scriptures known to have been produced at an earlier date in greater India. Like any family tree, this group includes close relatives as well as distant relations, and we cannot assume that the authors of the Lotus were familiar with anything resembling any of the Buddhist canons that are in circulation today. Nonetheless, if we want to understand how issues of gender and hier- archy were understood by the Lotus’s authors, our best chance for success is through beginning with its family background—that is, by examining how these issues were treated in texts composed by Buddhists in earlier I IKE VIRTUALLY all Mahayana siitras, the Lotus Sutra is a work of