The Splendid Vision: Reading a Buddhist Sutra by Richard Cohen

The Splendid Vision: Reading a Buddhist Sutra

byRichard Cohen

Kobo ebook | May 1, 2012

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Featuring the first-ever English translation of the "Splendid Vision Sutra," a sixth-century Indian Mahayana Buddhist scripture known for its rich ritual magic and worship of bodhisattva-goddesses, this volume explicates the text's cultural significance as a source of extraordinary value, cosmic truth, and existential meaning.

The ancient author of the "Splendid Vision Sutra" promises every imaginable reward to those who heed its words and rites, whether one's desire is to become king, enjoy heavenly pleasures for thousands of millennia, or attain the spiritual summit of advanced bodhisattvahood. Richard S. Cohen carefully analyzes this religious rhetoric, developing a heuristic model of "scripture" that extends beyond Buddhist literature. In his framework, a text becomes sacred scripture when a community accepts it as a receptacle of extraordinary value, an authoritative source of cosmic truth, and a guide for meaningful action. While clarifying these points, Cohen untangles the discursive skein through which the "Splendid Vision Sutra" expresses its authority, inspires readers to accept that authority, and promises superior power and accomplishments to those who implement its teachings. Exploring ways of living and reading a text, Cohen draws on Marcel Duchamp's theory of found art, Jerzy Grotowski's idealization of the holy actor, and other formulations, identifying contingencies, uncertainties, and incompleteness in the lived present and its determination of our reception of the past. More than a mere introduction to an important work, The Splendid Vision opens a window into religious experience and practice in contemporary environments as well as in the world of the sutra.

Richard S. Cohen is associate professor of South Asian religious literatures and director of the Program for the Study of Religion at the University of California, San Diego. He earned his Ph.D. in Buddhist studies from the University of Michigan and is the author of Beyond Enlightenment: Buddhism, Religion, Modernity.
Title:The Splendid Vision: Reading a Buddhist SutraFormat:Kobo ebookPublished:May 1, 2012Publisher:Columbia University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0231527527

ISBN - 13:9780231527521

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Table of Contents

Introduction to the Translation


Interpretive Essay

Works Cited

Editorial Reviews

Cohen has combined a fascinating Buddhist text--a veritable manifesto on the ritual powers of mantra, inscribed word, and sculpted image--with an incisive and lucid essay on the meaning of 'scripture' in religion. In its focus on gestures, practices, and their glorious exemplars in heaven, The Splendid Vision certainly rounds out the popular image of Buddhist texts and will make essential reading for courses on Buddhism, Asian religions, and scripture in world religions.