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Robert Thurman examines one of the most sacred texts of Mahayana Buddhism, The Vimalakirti-nirdesha Sutra. To any Buddhist practitioner, particularly those of Vajrayana Buddhism and Zen, this sutra is of the utmost importance. Unlike most sutras, its central figure is not a Buddha, but an ordinary man, who, in his mastery of the doctrine and religious practice, personifies the ideal lay believer, assuring commoners that they can reach levels of spiritual attainment comparable to those accessible to monks. The sutra teaches, among other subjects, the meaning of non-duality Thurman discusses the background of the sutra, its place in the development of Buddhist thought, and the profundities of its principal doctrine: emptiness.