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The existence of factors in the three time periods

Sarvāstivāda and Madhyamaka buddhist interpretations of difference in mode, difference in characteristic marks, difference in state, and mutual difference

Acta Orientalia Academiae Scientiarum Hungaricae
Author: Bart Dessein

This article focusses on discussing the reason of existence of factors ( dharma ) in the three time periods ( trikāla ) as it is recorded in the Vaibhāṣika * Abhidharmamahāvibhāṣāśāstra and in the Sarvāstivāda works that postdate this text. The origin of this discussion is traced back in the earliest Sarvāstivāda Abhidharma works. Also the Chinese Sanlun philosopher Jizang (549–623), in his “ Shi’er men lun shu ”, a commentary on Nāgārjuna’s * DvādaśadvārakaShi’er men lun ”, raises this discussion. Here, references are made to the vibhāṣā literature. The treatment of the subject in the “ Shi’er men lun shu ” reveals (1) that the Chinese Sanlun (and Madhyamaka) philosophers were familiar with this discussion in Sarvāstivāda philosophy; (2) that they criticised the Sarvāstivāda viewpoint; and (3) gives evidence for a rise of Indian Madhyamaka philosophy and a place of origin of Nāgārjuna in the North of the Indian subcontinent.

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The present article is an investigation into the textual format and the content of the “Puxian Pusa Xing Yuan Zan” (T.297), attributed to Amoghavajra. As the major part of this text is also part of the Avatamsakasutra, this investigation includes a comparison of this part of the “Puxian Pusa Xing Yuan Zan” in the different Chinese versions of the Avatamsakasutra. The textual format and content of the present “Puxian Pusa Xing Yuan Zan” are explained in the religious and political background of the Tang Dynasty.

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Ever since the Han dynasty, the Chapter “Sheng zhi” of the Xiaojing has been the fundament to justify the way the ritual for the emperor’s ancestors was performed in the Hall of Enlightened Rule. As a consequence, every change in this ritual necessitated a reinterpretation of this chapter. Such a reinterpretation was even unavoidable when it happened to be so that a new emperor was not the natural son of the previous emperor — as was the case for the Ming dynasty Jiajing Emperor. In all cases a reinterpretation of the chapter “Sheng zhi” was thought necessary, and (at times heated) debates ensued among Confucian scholars. This article focuses on the specific case of the Jiajing Emperor’s reinterpretation of the chapter “Sheng zhi” and on the concomitant debate in the Ming dynasty.

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