Author Affiliations: Adjunct Lecturer, Toyo University, Japan Visiting Researcher, Institute of Oriental Studies, Toyo University
Huayan jing=華嚴經; Zhancha jing=占察經; karmic retribution=業報論; Three Groups of Pure Morality=三聚淨戒; 一實境界=One True Realm
The Huayan jing in 80 fascicles and the Zhancha jing were both objects of reverence during Empress Wu Zetian’s reign in Zhou China. Although they both include teachings on karmic retribution, the two sūtras offer contrasting approaches to the topic. This paper examines the different views on karmic retribution set forth in the two sūtras and aims to gain insight into the significance their ideas may have for us today. The doctrine of karmic retribution elaborated in the teachings of the second stage (the Stainless Stage) in the Chapter on the Ten Stages in the Huayan jing focuses onrefraining from bad deeds and practicing the good, at the same time encouraging altruistic practices to save all sentient beings. It presents a positive, ethical theory of practice for advanced practitioners. In contrast, the Zhancha jing addresses the anxietiesof the sinful and weak-at-heart. The bodhisattva Dizang preaches a method of divination to discern one’s negative karma and to perform repentance rituals, enabling the practice of deep meditation to take effect. Here, the focus is on the defilements deeply rootedwithin the human mind. Despite such differences, the two sūtras share the same idea that in Truth, all that exist are ultimately “like an illusion,” that their nature is nirvāṇa. The two sūtras teach practitioners to observe one’s deep-rooted tendencies and true nature. In a modern perspective, they encourage us to scrutinize the latent powers within our mind, enabling us to cope with the negative and to build upon the positive in our quests to improve ourselves and others.
1. Ten Wholesome and Unwholesome Courses of Action and Karmic Retribution in the Stainless Stage of the Huayan jing 173 1-1. Overview of the Stainless Stage 173 1-1-1. Ten Wholesome Courses of Action and their Fruits 174 1-1-2. Ten Unwholesome Courses of Action and their Retribution 175 1-1-3. The Ten Minds and Sentient Beings 176 1-1-4. The State of Mind in the Stainless Stage 176 1-2. Notable Aspects of the Doctrine on Karmic Retribution in the Teachings of the Stainless Stage 176 1-2-1. The Three Groups of Pure Morality 177 1-2-2. Emphasis on the Human Realm 180 1-2-3. Practice in the Morality of Embracing Sentient Beings 182
2. Ten Wholesome and Unwholesome Courses of Action and Karmic Retribution in the Zhancha jing 183 2-1. Overview of the Zhancha jing 183 2-2. Sentient Beings and Karmic Retribution in the Zhancha jing 185 2-2-1. Sentient Beings in the Latter Age of the Dharma and Divination by the ‘Wooden Wheels’ 185 2-2-2. Fruits of Wholesome and Unwholesome Deeds 187 2-2-3. Penance Rites in the Zhancha jing 189 2-3. The Final Goal of the Doctrine on Karmic Retribution 190
Conclusion: Significance of the Doctrine on Karmic Retribution 192