Online Archive Course with Robert Thurman
The Vimalakīrti Sutra records happenings in Shakyamuni Buddha’ time (6th Century BCE) but was not published as a text until around 0CE, a watershed moment in Buddhist history that brought sacred teachings out of the monasteries and into the streets and around the world, and out of classical language and into the vernacular.
The Sutra examines foundational concepts of Buddhist wisdom and omnicompetent compassion; the transformation of the “ordinary mis-knowing body” into a “buddha body”; and reveals the purpose of life—to educate oneself in the delicious fun of freedom through the wisdom of Vimalakirti, a layman, considered a close colleague in teaching by the Buddha himself.
Presenting the major teachings of Mahāyāna Buddhism in a precise, dramatic, and even humorous form, this Sūtra, called the “jewel of the Mahāyāna Sūtras,” has enjoyed immense popularity among Mahāyāna Buddhists in India, central and southeast Asia, Japan, and especially China, where its incidents were the basis for a style in art and literature prevalent during several centuries. Recently, it has become extremely popular in America, Europe, and Australia, through its various versions and translations.