Unformatted text preview: Asian 382
Buddhism in China
Spread of Buddhism under the Eastern Chin/Jin 晉 Dynasty Dynasty (317420 CE) I. A Survey of Historical, Social & Intellectual
Circumstances in This Period (1-2)
1. The Collapse of the Chin/Jin Government in northern China and the Disintegration of China
2. The Disillusionment of Chinese literati with Confucianism
§ Confucianism, venerated as the cornerstone of state
ideology for the Han, Latter Han and Jin dynasties, was easily turned into the scapegoat of the collapse of once extremely prosperous and seemingly unbeatable Han and Jin dynasties § Such a profound sense of frustration naturally led Chinese intellectuals to Taoism, which they experimented as alternative state ideology. I. A Survey of Historical, Social & Intellectual Circumstances in
This Period (3): The Rise of Hsuan-hsue
Hsuan-hsue 3.1. What is Hsuanhsue (P. xuanxue) 晉晉 ?: lit. “Dark Learning,” aka Neo
Taoism for its basis on the Classic & Philosophical Taoism
3.2. Peculiar Lifestyle of Hsuanhsue philosophers: Medieval Hippies? § Bizarre dressing: ample gown, loose girdle, tall hat & a special fan;
§ Exotic food: consuming a sort of drug (hanshisan 晉晉晉 ) to keep high & wear thin dresses even in winter;
§ Despising conventions and secular rules ( 晉晉晉晉 ? 晉晉晉晉晉晉晉晉晉晉晉晉晉晉晉晉晉晉晉晉晉晉晉晉 );
§ sharp wits & pungent satires: 晉晉晉晉晉晉晉晉晉晉晉晉晉晉晉晉晉晉晉晉晉晉 ? 3.3. Main Features § Intensive interest in purely metaphysic issues => casting serious doubts on the legitimacy provided by conventional (Confucian) teachings for the human value system => trying to ground these vales on a new, more rational base that stands the strenuous test of human reasons. 3.4. Key Concepts & Categories: § yu/you 晉 (being) vs wu 晉 (nonbeing);
(being) vs (nonbeing);
§ ti (substance) 晉 vs yung/yong 晉 (function);
§ fan 晉 (ordinary, mundane, secular, etc.) vs sh’eng/sheng 晉 (saintly, transcendental, (ordinary, mundane, secular, etc.) vs (saintly, transcendental, sacred, etc.) II. The Flourishing of Prajna Doctrines and
Its Blending with Neo-Taoism (1-2)
1. Definition of prajna 般般
§ wisdom as contrasted with knowledge; § § mainly composed of intuition that is mainly achieved through various Buddhist practices, especially meditation (visualization, contemplation) and which has nothing to do with any conceptualization employed in discursive thinking activity; § people’s understanding of the ultimate truths has nothing to do with specific knowledge.
2. The central theme of the prajna literature as epitomized in the Heart Sutra 般般 II. The Flourishing of Prajna Doctrines and
Its Blending with Neo-Taoism (3)
3. Blending of Prajna with NeoTaoism A. concerns shared by the prajna teachings and NeoTaoism: § interest in philosophical issues;
§ In pursuit of fundamental meanings and value of human life. B. Chihtun (P. Zhidun) 晉晉 (a.k.a. Chih Taolin [P. Zhi Daolin] 晉晉晉
晉晉 (a.k.a. Chih Taolin [P. Zhi Daolin] 晉晉晉
(314366): A Chinese Buddhist monk with thorough knowledge of (314366): A Chinese Buddhist monk with thorough knowledge of both Taoist (especially NeoTaoist) and Buddhist teachings, actively engaging in the philosophical saloons organized by leading xuanxue experts.
C. Buddhist Hermeneutics?: Koyi/geyi 晉晉 (matching or analogizing 晉晉 (matching or analogizing of [Buddhist and Taoist] concepts)
§ A method that was used in early period of Chinese Buddhismto translate and discuss Buddhist texts or teachings;
§ Examples: tao bodhi; zun 晉 (Taoist god) Buddha (Taoist god) III. The Introduction of Madhyamika School
(Promulgated by Nagarjuna) in China (1)
1). Arrival of Kumārajīva (344413) & his translation center in Chang’an
A. Crosscultural background: Indian father, Central Asian mother; B. Some Episodes about Him: An Eminent Monk Who Wasn’t?
§ Lotus in fire or in Mud?: Preceptbreaker or preceptrenovator? C. Roles and position as a Buddhist translator § The first introducer of Mahayana Buddhist into China (and the whole East Asia indeed)
§ One of the three Greatest Buddhist Translators in East Asia (both in number and quality)
§ numerous highquality disciples he trained became instrumental in spreading Mahayana Buddhism in both north and south China. III. The Introduction of Madhyamika Buddhism (School of
Middle-way promulgated by Nagarjuna in India) (2)
2. Madhyamika teachings introduced by Kumarajiva: Emptiness and Middle Way
A gatha (verse) epitomizing the essence of Madhyamika: All the Dharma are produced through causes and conditions 晉晉晉晉晉 ,
For this reason, I proclaim them to be empty 晉晉晉晉晉 .
And they are also provisional names 晉晉晉晉晉晉
These two aspects (emptiness and provisional names) constitute the teaching of Middle Way 晉晉晉晉晉 . (Nagarjuna, Madhyamikasastra) (to be discussed with the Heart Sutra) III. The Introduction of Madhyamika School
(Promulgated by Nagarjuna) into China (3)
3 Kumarajiva’s Genius Disciple Sengchao/Sengzhao 般般 (384
414) and His Epochmaking Role
A. Particular intellectual background: from a Taoist admirer to a Buddhist scholarmonk;
B). His capacity of expressing abstruse Buddhist teachings (especially Madhyamika) in elegant Chinese prose and in terms of Taoist (particularly hsuanhsue) ideas
C). The first Chinese who was able to understand the sophisticated Madhyamika teachings;
D). Three Main Theses by Sengchao a). The Immutability of Things 晉晉晉晉 : “The flying arrow does not move”; how does shadow move on the screen?
b). The Emptiness of the Unreal 晉晉晉晉 (illusion and reality): not real, therefore 晉晉晉晉 (illusion and reality): not real, therefore empty.
c). Prajna is not Knowledge 晉晉晉晉晉 : distinction btw knowledge and wisdom THE HEART SUTRA (1)
Om Homage to the Perfection of Wisdom the Lovely, the Holy !
Avalokita, the Holy Lord and Bodhisattva, was moving in the deep course of the Wisdom which has gone beyond.
He looked down from on high, He beheld but five heaps, and He saw that in their ownbeing they were empty.
Here, O Sariputra,
form is emptiness and the very emptiness is form ;
emptiness does not differ from form, form does not differ from emptiness, whatever is emptiness, that is form,
the same is true of feelings, perceptions, impulses, and consciousness.
Here, O Sariputra,
all dharmas are marked with emptiness ;
they are not produced or stopped, not defiled or immaculate, not deficient or complete. THE HEART SUTRA (2)
Therefore, O Sariputra,
in emptiness there is no form nor feeling, nor perception, nor impulse, nor consciousness ;
No eye, ear, nose, tongue, body, mind ; No forms, sounds, smells, tastes, touchables or objects of mind ; No sightorgan element, and so forth, until we come to :
No mindconsciousness element ; There is no ignorance, no extinction of ignorance, and so forth, until we come to : There is no decay and death, no extinction of decay and death. There is no suffering, no origination, no stopping, no path. THE HEART SUTRA (3)
There is no cognition, no attainment and no nonattainment.
Therefore, O Sariputra,
it is because of his nonattainmentness that a Bodhisattva, through having relied on the Perfection of Wisdom, dwells without thoughtcoverings. In the absence of thoughtcoverings he has not been made to tremble,
he has overcome what can upset, and in the end he attains to Nirvana.
All those who appear as Buddhas in the three periods of time fully awake to the utmost, right and perfect Enlightenment because they have relied on the Perfection of Wisdom. THE HEART SUTRA (4)
Therefore one should know the prajnaparamita as the great spell, the spell of great knowledge, the utmost spell, the unequalled spell, allayer of all suffering, in truth for what could go wrong ? By the prajnaparamita has this spell been delivered. It runs like this :
gate gate paragate parasamgate bodhi svaha.
( Gone, gone, gone beyond, gone altogether beyond, O what an awakening, allhail ! ) This completes the Heart of perfect Wisdom.
(Translated by E. Conze) ...
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- Spring '12
- Mahayana, Nagarjuna, Heart Sutra, Chinese Buddhist monk, Madhyamika school