Since its first appearance in China in the third century CE, the Lotus Sutra has been the object of intense veneration among generations of Buddhists in China, Korea, and Japan, as well as other parts of the world. It is often considered the fundamental Mahayana Buddhist sutra, has attracted more commentary than any other Buddhist scripture, and has had a profound impact on the great works of Japanese and Chinese literature. No one can understand East Asia without some knowledge of its teachings.This abridged edition of Burton Watson's acclaimed translation contains this sutra's essential chapters, derived from the most authoritative and felicitous version of the sutra, translated from Sanskrit into Chinese in 406 by the great Central Asian scholar-monk Kumarajiva. The Essential Lotus refines the focus from the sprawling magnitude of the original to the chapters that expound its core ideas and have been the most influential in the later development of Buddhist and East Asian thought. From the famous parable of the burning house to the firm assertion that women can attain the highest enlightenment, from a sermon preached in midair around a miraculously floating jewel-adorned tower to the principle that the Buddha is not to be delimited in time or space, The Essential Lotus presents the riches and profundities of one of the most beautiful treasures in any religious heritage.