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The Doctrinal Evolution of Formless Precepts in the Early Chan Tradition : The Theory of Mind Purification in the Laṅkāvatāra Sūtra and the Brahmā’s Net Sūtra
Author Lin, Pei-ying (著)
Source Rules of Engagement: Medieval Traditions of Buddhist Monastic Regulation
Pages191 - 216
Publisherprojekt verlag
Publisher Url
LocationFreiburg im Breisgau, Germany [弗萊堡, 德國]
SeriesHamburg: Hamburg Buddhist Studies
Content type專題研究論文=Research Paper
NoteAuthor Affiliations: Department of Religious Studies, Fu Jen Catholic University, New Taipei City 24205, Taiwan
KeywordTheory of Mind; Chan/Zen Buddhism; Laṅkāvatārasūtra
AbstractThis essay focuses on the relatively understudied aspect of the doctrinal connections between the Fanwang jing (hereafter Brahmā’s Net Sūtra) and the Lengqie jing (hereafter Laṅkāvatāra Sūtra). In so doing, it aims to illuminate the doctrinal foundation of the concept of “formless precepts” (wuxiangjie 無相戒) before it achieved its canonical form in the Platform Sūtra. Building on scholarship by Ibuki, Groner, Muller, and Schlütter, among others, this essay investigates intellectual history and explores materials from out- side the Chan school that provided a doctrinal foundation for formless precepts in the emerging Chan tradition.
The process through which early Chan Buddhism came into being was in great part adaptation; it entailed elements from multiple origins coming together to form a still-diverse whole. The research presented here deals with this dynamic as it played out in both doctrinal and historical contexts. Ishii Kōsei 石井公成, who conducted some of the earliest research on the origin of the formless precepts, argued that the origin of this concept was connected with the Avataṃsaka tradition. The notion of formless precepts, his work suggests, may not be exclusive to Chan Buddhism. Ishii’s study is significant not only because it calls attention to this relationship, but also because it suggests the importance of consulting sources outside the Chan school to understand the early stages of Chan history. Taking my cue from his work, I will show that studying the Japanese bibliographies composed by monks of the early ninth century and, in particular, patterns of classification reveals doctrinal affinities between Chan and bodhisattva precepts, in other words, the relationship between the Brahmā’s Net Sūtra and the Laṅkāvatāra Sūtra in early Chan Buddhism.
My discussion of the Brahmā’s Net Sūtra will begin by placing the Brahmā’s Net Sūtra in the social and political context of the fifth and sixth centuries, a period when the bodhisattva ideal was being conceptualized and formulated in China. Second, I will address the text’s relationship to larger developments in Chinese history, especially the Chinese adaptation of bodhisattva precepts. Next I will examine of the evolution of the concept of mind precepts within Buddhist logic. The Brahmā’s Net Sūtra functions as the doctrinal basis for simplified precepts. This characteristic of simplification is eventually linked to the formless precepts in the Platform Sūtra.
Table of contentsPrecept Texts as a Literary Genre 192
The Social and Political Context of 5th and 6th Century China 193
Chan Buddhism and Bodhisattva Precepts: Textual Affinities 195
The Doctrinal Context: Purification of the Mind 198
Purification of the Mind for Precept Conferral 198
Purification of the Mind in the Three Clusters of Pure Precepts 200
Evolution of Purification of the Mind 205
From Mind Precepts to the Formless Precepts in the Platform Sūtra 205
Concluding Remarks 211
Created date2020.08.27
Modified date2022.03.25

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