The problem of the relationship between truth and method, as indicated by the title of Hans-Georg Gadamer’s magnum opus, has not only been explicitly treated in hermeneutics, but has also been taken as the most fundamental issue in the history of philosophy. What is truth? What is method? How is truth revealed through method? In this article, I will address these questions to the Samdhinirmocana Su¯tra (hereafter, SNS), an Indian Yoga¯ ca¯ra philosophical scripture that had been translated into Chinese four times since the fifth century. The text I use here is Xuan Zang’s (602–664) Chinese translation.
In the following, I will examine two usages of “truth” in the SNS,that is, “ontological truth” and “propositional truth,” arguing that ontological truth takes the particular (svalaksana) (zixiang ) as the object of knowledge, while propositional truth takes the universal(samanya laksana -¯ ¯ ) (gongxiang ) as the object of knowledge. The questions that follow up in this inquiry are: How are these two aspects of truth to be known? Are they to be known synchronically or diachronically in the course of cognition? According to the later theory proposed by Digna¯ga (ca. 480–540), the author of the Pramanasamuccaya¯ , the particular is known through perception( pratyaksa) (xianliang ), while the universal is known through inference (anuma¯ na) (biliang ).
However, in the SNS the answer seems not as clear and systematic as what Digna¯ga proposes. The whole issue is rather treated in the complicated context of hermeneutic meditation. It is in the progressive course of meditation that propositional truth is required as the prerequisite for the ?nal intuition of ontological truth. Precisely owning to the epistemic role of propositional truth played in the attainment of awakening, we are able to explain why Buddhist logic and epistemology were developed in the Yoga¯ ca¯ra School named after its emphasis on the practice of meditation. On the one hand, as indicated by the label yoga¯ ca¯ ra, “practice of yoga,” the main concern of the school is to achieve the awakened experience through transformation of consciousness. On the other hand, Buddhist logic and epistemology reached the mature stage of historical development solely within the Yoga¯ ca¯ra School. To explain the special feature of combining mysticism and logic in Yoga¯ ca¯ ra philosophy is part of my intention in this research.The same distinction between propositional truth and ontological truth is also found in the usage of satya (di ), another Buddhist term for the notion of truth. Derived from the root √as (be, exist, happen,take place), satya means “reality” ?rst. As far as the experience of reality is expressed in language, however, there is also the meaning of satya as the truth of statement.According to the Buddhist theory of two truths, the satya as reality is called the ultimate truth (parama¯ rthasatya) (shengyi di ), while the satya as discourse is called conventional truth (samvrti-satya) (shisu di ).
The ultimate truth can be known only through the conventional truth. This doctrine holds good for both Ma¯dhyamika and Yoga¯ ca¯ra. For Yoga¯ ca¯ra,however, they further argue that the ultimate truth should be revealed through propositional truth.
I. Is Yoga¯ca¯ra Philosophy Merely a Form of Factism? 261 II. Truth in the SAɺMDHINIRMOCANA SU¯TRA 263 III. Truth and Meditation 264 IV. “Wedge Evicted by Wedge”: A Yoga¯ca¯raDeconstruction of Propositional Truth 267 V. Logic,Epistemology, and Hermeneutics 269 VI. Concluding Remarks 271