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A Tale of Two Times: Preaching in the Latter Age of the Dharma

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Sharing a cyclical cosmogony with other Indian worldviews, Buddhism is ordinarily thought to be unconcerned with specific historical events, looking instead towards the individual transcendence of temporal becoming as the goal of religious practice. One counterpoint to this prevailing attitude is the tradition of the decline of the dharma, premised upon the historical uniqueness or specificity of Śākyamuni's teachings and an attendant eschatological consciousness of temporal distance from the time of the teacher and his teachings. Interestingly, the Lotus Sutra presents both a transcendent and historically unique interpretation of Śākyamuni's lifetime. Nichiren, among others, attached importance to the historical specificity of Śākyamuni and his teachings, and hence understood the Lotus Sutra to demand attention to the preaching or evangelical spread of the true teachings.


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