Yogācāra Buddhism in China and Korea
 [ Dedicated Forum ]

The importance of Yogācara Buddhism in sixth and seventh century China goes without saying. Paramârtha stands out as the most influential figure in the entire history of Sinitic Buddhism during this period. Two members of this project are devoted to the study of Paramârtha. Michael Radich’s project “Sources of Paramartha's concept of *amalavijnana” proposes to consider each instance of the term * amalavijnana in relation to its conceptual context, and also in relation to parallel passages in other extant texts in Sanskrit, Tibetan and Chinese, where they exist. As a result of this study, Radich argues that a surprising view of Paramārtha's conception of *amalavijñāna emerges, which runs counter to the stereotypical characterisation of * amalavijñāna in the modern secondary literature. In the second part of the paper, he will survey all mentions of *amalavijñāna in the Chinese tradition down to approximately the year 800. Radich argues that there is relatively little overlap between characterisations of * amalavijñāna in later doxographic statements, and the concept as it features in Paramārtha's actual works, and that later understandings of the concept instead have a traceable history whereby they develop away from Paramārtha. On this basis, he suggests that modern scholarly understandings of *amalavijñāna owe more to later doxographers than they owe to Paramārtha himself.

Similar to Radich, Ching Keng also proposes to study how Paramârtha was received and interpreted by the Chinese Buddhist scholars, as is indicated in the topic of his proposal, “The Early Reception of Paramârtha’s Works and Thought.” Keng will focus on an understudied fragmentary text entitled Zhaolun shu (A Commentary on the Treatises by Zhao), probably written during the Chen dynasty (557-589). He will focus on the major scholars in Chang’an who reported on or even manipulated Paramârtha’s teachings, including Tanyan, Huiyuan, Jizang, and Huijun. In addition, he will also study the confluence between Paramârtha’s teachings and the Awakening of Faith, by examining the long-lost commentaries on Paramârtha’s works found in Dunhuang, namely Taishō 2806, 2807, 2808, 2809. Keng will principally focus on three major issues: (1) the ninth consciousness, (2) the notion of Buddha-gotra (foxing) and (3) the stage theory of Buddhist practice.

Turning to the so-called New Yogācāra School in the seventh century, Dan Lusthaus will trace what Xuanzang studied in Loyang and Chang'an, and then what he encountered outside China's borders, as well as what he brought back and provided to his Chinese audience, with special attention to those subjects – such as hetu-vidyā – that were virtually unknown in China previously. In conjunction with related materials (such as Yijing's writings), Lusthaus will sketch out the Buddhist world between India and China, with attention to those elements and issues that particularly exercised the Chinese Buddhists of the day. Within the same context, Choong Yoke Meei will examine Kuiji’exegesis and criticisms of Kumārajīva’s translation of Vajracchedikā Prajñāpāramitā to see how close Kuiji’s understanding might be to that of Indian commentaries. Choong will also compare Kuiji’s exegesis with the other Tibetan and Chinese translations. Taking Kuiji as the main figure in the same period, Shoryu Katsura will dedicate himself to the study of Kuiji’s knowledge of Buddhist Abhidharma philosophy as well as non-Buddhist philosophical systems, such as Sāṁkhya and Vaiśeṣika, by tracing his knowledge to its original Indian sources.

Instead of focusing on the central stage in Chang'an, the capital of the Tang Empire, Charles Muller rather directs our attention to Wǒnhyo (617-686), a Korean monk, as the one who profoundly synthesized the apparent conflicts between Yogâcāra and Tathāgatagarbha thought. As Muller convinces us, a thorough examination of the character and trajectory of the Yogâcāra-Tathāgatagarbha relationship in East Asia would be incomplete without taking into the account of events in Korea, and in particular, the approach taken by Wǒnhyo .

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