Buddha Nature

Buddha Nature

Buddha Nature

Buddha Nature

Synopsis

This volume presents the first book-length study in English of the concept of Buddha nature as discussed in the Buddha Nature Treatise (Fo Xing Lun), attributed to Vasubandhu and translated into Chinese by Paramartha in the sixth century. The author provides a detailed discussion of one of the most important concepts in East Asian Buddhism, a topic little addressed in Western studies of Buddhism until now, and places the Buddha nature concept in the context of Buddhist intellectual history. King then carefully explains the traditional Buddhist language in the text, and embeds Buddha nature in a family of concepts and values which as a group are foundational to the development of the major indigenous schools of Chinese Buddhism. In addition, she refutes the accusations that the idea of Buddha nature introduces a crypto-Atman into Buddhist thought, and that it represents a form of monism akin to the Brahmanism of the Upanisads. In doing this, King defends Buddha nature in terms of purely Buddhist philosophical principles. Finally, the author engages the Buddha nature concept in dialogue with Western philosophy by asking what it teaches us about what a human being, or person, is.

Excerpt

It is a pleasure to express my gratitude for the help of the many persons and institutions who supported my work. The National Endowment for the Humanities funded this project in 1985 with a Summer Stipend that supported the early stages of the book. Portions of this book appeared in journal articles as Sallie B. King, "Buddha Nature and the Concept of Person," Philosophy East and West 39, no. 2 (1989), published by the University of Hawaii Press; and Sallie Behn King , The Buddha Nature: True Self as Action, Religious Studies 20 (1984), published by Cambridge University Press. My appreciation goes to these journals and presses for their permission to publish this material.

I especially thank Professor Leon Hurvitz for checking many of my Chinese translations against the original. Thanks also to Professor Minoru Kiyota for introducing me to Buddha nature thought and raising the issue of monism for me, to Professor Thomas Dean for thinking through philosophical issues with me, and to Professor John Keenan for reading the manuscript and making helpful suggestions, especially on Yogācāra matters (this despite the fact that he disagrees with my major thesis). My thanks to the Series Editor, Kenneth Inada, for recommending additions to the book that have considerably strengthened it. Whatever shortcomings remain in this work are clearly my responsibility alone. Finally, thanks to my husband for his constant practical and moral support.

The romanization system used in this work is the Pinyin system. For the convenience of those more familiar with the Wade-Giles system, I have added Wade-Giles romanizations in parentheses after the Pinyin romanization the first time I introduce a familiar term or . . .

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