- Purchase/rental options available:
This article looks at the methodologies of translating "sacred" or foundational texts into social action and application at the example of the Lotus Sūtra (Saddharmapuṇḍarīka Sūtra, SDP).
First, some fundamental principles of hermeneutics and, in particular, emiccritical or theological hermeneutics are considered and the term "theology" in Buddhist contexts is revisited. The article reflects on the process of Buddhist emic-critical interpretation for social action in dialogue with Christian Public Theology as Public Dharmology. Scriptural translation into social activism and advocacy is then exemplified at the case of the SDP.
The Lotus Sūtra is a pivotal Buddhist Mahāyāna scripture with far-reaching influence throughout the Buddhist world and, in particular, throughout East Asian Buddhist cultures. The article gauges potential hermeneutical strategies in Lotus Sūtra eis-/exegesis for social engagement—a process that, following Roger Corless, can be termed Public Lotus Sūtra Dharmology, analogously to Practical or Public Theology in Abrahamic religions. By focusing on embodied Othering, dis/ability, and social justice by means of both close and broader reading examples from the multitude of texts that comprise the SDP stream of tradition in its Sanskrit, Tibetan, Central Asian, and Chinese versions, the article discusses challenges and opportunities of Lotus Sūtra eis-/exegesis and SDP-based social justice advocacy.
Inspired by Latin-American Theology of Liberation and "Crip" Theology, venues are explored for translating apparently ableist, sexist, classist, anti-LGBTIQ+, and other passages in the SDP into socially just Buddhist action and advocacy for the marginalized. While the passages examined focus on dis/ability and body-normativity, the article shows general hermeneutical strategies to oppose proof-texting in aid of discriminatory practices.