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The Buddha Nature: A Study of Tathagathagarbha and Alayavijnana

The Buddha Nature: A Study of Tathagathagarbha and Alayavijnana
$38.50
Item Code: IDC115
Author: Brian E. Brown
Publisher: Motilal Banarsidass Publishers Pvt. Ltd.
Edition: 2010
ISBN: 9788120806313
Pages: 354
Cover: Hardcover
Other Details: 8.5 inch X 5.5 inch
From the Jacket

One of the fundamental tenets of Mahayana Buddhism animating and grounding the doctrine and discipline of its spiritual path, is the inherent potentiality of all animate beings to attain the supreme and perfect enlightenment of Buddha- hood. This book examines the ontological presuppositions and the corresponding soteriological- epistemological principles that sustain and define such a theory. Within the field of Buddhist studies, such a work provides a comprehensive context in which to interpret the influence and major insights of the various Buddhist schools. Thus, the dynamics of the Buddha Nature, though non-thematic and implicit, is at the heart of Zen praxis, while it is a significant articulation in Kegon, Tendai, and Shingon thought. More specifically, the book seeks to establish a coherent metaphysics of absolute suchness (Tathata), Synthesizing the variant traditions of the Tathagata-embryo (Tathagatagarbha) and the Store- house Consciousness (Alayavijnana).

The book’s contribution to the broader field of the History of Religions rests in its presentation and analyisis of the Buddhist Enlightenment as the salvific-transformational moment in which Tathata ‘awakens’ to itself, comes to perfect self- realization as the Absolute Suchness of reality, in and through phenomenal human consciousness. The book is an interpretation of the Buddhist Path as the spontaneous self- emergence of ‘embryonic’ absolute knowledge as it comes to free itself from the concealments of adventitious defilements, and possess itself in fully A self-explicitated self-consciousness the Highest Truth’ and unconditional nature of all existence; it does so only in the form of omniscient wisdom.

BRIAN EDWARD BROWN has earned doctoral degrees in both theology and law. In 1981 he received his Ph.D. in the History of Religions from Fordham University. In 1986 he was awarded his Juris Doctor from New York University School of Law. Both degrees reflect his continuing interest in the various religious traditions and their influence upon the development of legal philosophies and practice. Dr. Brown has taught and A lectured on the history of religions and comparative philosophy at several colleges and has practised law as an associate attorney in an international law firm in New York. Currently he is a Professor of religion at lona College, New York, USA.

Foreword

BRIAN BROWN’s treatise is a thematic-interpretative study of the textual sources of the alayavijnana and tathagatagarbha doctrines of Mahayana Buddhism. He applies accute reasoning in ontological and experiential terms to certain prominent works in these special Buddhist topics. Among such works as have appeared in western translation and research are mainly the Sri-Maladevisimhanada-sutra, Ratnagotravibhaga and Lankavatara-sutra. It is at credit to these particular Buddhist works that such a philosophical and semantic analysis is feasible. The author is correct in claiming that his work is the first to attempt this ambitious intellectual task. Brown appears to avoid the arbitrary use of western terminology. He proceeds with utmost carefulness and sensitivity with a remarkable consistency of approach.

Introduction

ONE OF THE fundamental tenets of Mahayana Buddhism, animating and grounding the doctrine and discipline of its spiritual path, is the inherent potentiality of all animate beings to attain the supreme and perfect enlightenment of Buddhahood. This book examines the ontological presuppositions and the corresponding soteriological—epistemological principles that sustain and define such a theory. Within the field of Buddhist studies such a work provides a comprehensive context in which to interpret the influence and major insights of the various Buddhist schools. Thus, the dynamics of the Buddha Nature, though non- thematic and implicit, is at the heart of Zen praxis, while it is a significant articulation in Kegon, Tendai, and Shingon thought. More specifically, the study seeks to establish a coherent metaphysic of Absolute Suchness (Tathata), synthesizing the variant traditions of the Tathagata-embryo (Tathagatagarbha) and the Storehouse Consciousness (Alayavijnana).

The study’s contribution to the broader field of the History of Religions rests in its presentation and analysis of the Buddhist enlightenment as the salvific-transformational moment in which Tathata "awakens" to itself, comes to perfect self—realization as the Absolute Suchness of reality, in and through phenomenal human consciousness. It is an interpretation of the Buddhist Path as the spontaneous self-emergence of "embryonic" absolute knowledge as it comes to free itself from the concealments of adventitious defilements, and possess itself in fully self-explicated self- consciousness as the "Highest Truth" and unconditional nature of all existence; it does so only in the form of omniscient wisdom. Aside from Ruegg’s La Theorie du Tathagatagarbha et du Gotra, and Verdue’s study of the Alayavijnana in Dialectical Aspects in Buddhist Thought, Western scholarship treating of the subject is negligible. And while both sources are excellent technical treatises, they fail to integrate in any detailed analysis the dual concepts as complementary modes of each other. Thus, the present work, while adopting the methodology of textual analysis, has as its emphasis a thematic—interpretative study of its sources.

Structurally, the work is divided into three major parts. The first part focuses on the Tathagatagarbha, the second on the Alayavijnana, the third on their relation and deeper significance in the human thought tradition. The first two parts are sub-divided into seven and four chapters respectively. The former seven chapters establish the ontological identity of the Tathagata-embryo (Tathagatagarbha) through a critical examination of the major sutral authority for the concept, i.e., the Sri-Mala-Sutra, and the primary sastral elaboration inspired by it, viz., the Ratnagotra- vibhaga.

Following the same pattern, the four chapters of part two note the role of the Lankavatara Sutra as a principal scriptural advocate for the theory of the Storehouse Consciousness (Alayavijnana), while detailing the scholastic amplification of it in Hsuan Tsang’s Ch ’eng Wei-Shih Lun. Part three concludes the study by recapitulating the principal developments in the emergent complementarity of the two concepts, arguing that any adequate discussion of the Buddha Nature must be informed on the one hand by the theory of the Tathagatagarbha which grounds and authenticates its ontological status, and on the other by the Alayavijnana, its noetic- cognitive determination. While the former tends to elucidate the process towards, and experience of enlightenment as a function of Absolute Suchness (Tathata), the latter adopts the reciprocal perspective and examines the subject in the light and function of phenomenal consciousness. By way of comparison with Western thought, the chapter demonstrates the analogous dynamics in the bilateral theory of the Tathagatagarbha-Alayavijnana and the Hegelian Absolute Spirit in-and-for-itself. Focusing upon The Phenomenology of Spirit, the chapter notes that the self-becoming process in and through which consciousness realizes its own plenitude, is strikingly homologous to the theory of Buddhist enlightenment presented through the concept of the Tathagatagarbha-Alayavijnana. It suggests that these two representative thought systems mutually illumine each other, and together illustrate a correspondent framework within which the relationship of the Absolute and relative may gain a more universal conception and, therefore, a more comprehensive resolution. A more specific précis of each chapter is now made.

Foreword By Alex Wayman v
Introduction
Part One xv
Part Two xxviii
Part Three xxxvi
PART ONE
THE TATHAGATAGARBHA IN THE SRI-MALA
SUTRA AND THE RATNAGOTRAVIBHAGA
Chapter
1 Analysis of The Sri-Mala Sutra 3-41
Tathagatagarbha as Ontic Subjectivity 4
Tathagatagarbha and Soteriology 8
The Status of the Buddha 15
Tathagatagarbha and Epistemology 17
The Nescience Entrenchment 20
A The Buddha Natures 22
The Four Noble Truths 25
Tathagatagarbha as Both Sunya and Asunya 31
Tathagatagarbha as Self-explicitating Knowledge 35
Evaluation 38
II THE RATNAGOTRAVIBHAGA 43-67
The Jewels of the Dharma and the Samgha 47
Samala and Nirmala Tathata53
Threefold Meaning of the Tathagatagarbha 55
The Meanings of Gotra 59
III CHARACTERISTICS OF THE EMBRYO REALITY: ITS SELF-NATURE 69-100
The Cause of the Embryo’s Purification 70
The Four Supreme Virtues: Antidotal Methodology 72
Atma-Paramita: Supreme Unity 81
Nitya-Paramita: Supreme Eternity 90
Supreme Bliss and Supreme Purity 95
The Result of the Embryo’s Self-purification 98
The Union with the purifying Factors 99
IV FURTHER CHARACTERISTICS OF THE EMBRYO 101-123
The Function of the Embryo Towards Self-purification 101
The Embryo’s Manifestation 104
Cittaprakrti: the Innate Mind 108
Buddhahood and Nirvana 118
V NINE ILLUSTRATIONS OF THE GARBHA 125-134
Threefold Nature of the Tathagatagarbha 130
VI THE TATHAGATAGARBHA AND SUNYATA 135-159
Tathagatagarbha as Sunya and asunya, 141
The Ratnagotra and the Prajnaparamita Tradition 150
VIITHE PROPERTIES OF THE BUDDHA 161-176
Nirmala Tathata 163
Evaluation 171
PART TWO
THE ALAYAVIJNANA IN THE LANKAVATARA
SUTRA AND THE CH’ENG WEI-SHIH LUN
VIII THE LANKAVATARA SUTRA 179-194
The Union of the Tathagatagarbha and the Alayavijnana 179
The Confusion of Epistemology and Ontology in the Lankavatara 185
IX THE CH’ENG WEI-SHIH LUN 195-211
The Metaphysics of Mere-Consciousness 195
The Alayavijnana and the Bijas 202
X THE ALAYAVIJNANA AND IGNORANCE 213-226
Atmagraha and Dharmagraha 213
The Manas and Manovijnana 214
The Ultimate Origin of Ignorance 223
XI THE HOLY PATH OF ATTAINMENT 227-244
The Stage of Moral Provisioning 227
The Stage of Intensified Effort 228
The Stage of Unimpeded Penetrating Understanding 230
The Stage of Exercising Cultivation 232
The Stage of Ultimate Realization 241
PART THREE
THE TATHAGATAGARBHA-ALAYAVIJNANA:
SUMMARY AND COMPARION
XII CONCLUSION 247-292
The Tathagatagarbha in the Sri-Mala Sutra 247
The Tathagatagarbha in the Ratnagotravibhaga 251
The Lankavatara Sutra 260
The Ch’eng Wei-Shih Lun 263
The Ultimate Status of Ignorance in the Theory of the Tathagatagarbha-Alayavijnana 266
The Tathagatagarbha-Alayavijnana and the Hegelian Absolute Spirit 273
APPENDIX 1: Numerical Listings from the Sri-Mala Sutra and the Ratnagotravibhaga 293
APPENDIX 2: Numerical Listings from the Ch’eng Wei-Shih Lun 299
SELECTED BIBLIOGRAPHY 303
INDEX 311

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