Gene Reeves, a Buddhist scholar, teacher, and translator of the Lotus Sutra, died Wednesday, May 8, at his home in Chicago, Buddhist Door reports. He was 86.
Reeves grew up in New Hampshire, where in 1956 he graduated with his undergraduate degree in psychology at the University of New Hampshire. He went on to earn a Bachelor of Sacred Theology from Boston University in 1959, after which he ordained as a Unitarian minister. In 1963, he earned his doctorate in the Philosophy of Religion from Emory University.
Throughout his life, Reeves taught in Japan, China, and the United States, at the University of Tsukuba, Rikkyo University, the University of Peking, the University of Chicago Divinity School, Meadville Lombard Theological School, Wilberforce University, and Antioch College. While at Meadville Lombard, Reeves met the founder of Rissho Kosei-kai, a Japanese lay Buddhist movement based on the Lotus Sutra, which invited him to Japan in 1983, sparking his interest in the Lotus Sutra.
Reeves studied and taught Buddhism in Tokyo for over 20 years. He became well-respected for his work in translating the Lotus Sutra to English. Wisdom Publications published his translation The Lotus Sutra: A Contemporary Translation of a Buddhist Classic in 2008 and The Stories of the Lotus Sutra in 2010. His forthcoming book with artist Demi, The Illustrated Lotus Sutra, will be published by Wisdom in October 2019.
Reeves also helped found the Council for a Parliament of the World’s Religions, served as a consultant to the Niwano Peace Foundation, and supported civil rights causes throughout his life.