Tag Archives: Lambert Schmithausen

A Philologist Presents His Case

The renowned Philologist, Lambert Schmithausen, published his groundbreaking work Ālayavijñāna: On the Origin and the Early Development of a Central Concept of Yogacara Philosophy in 1987. His publication brought the Ālayavijñāna into the mainstream since it had hitherto been relegated to isolated articles in philosophical journals. For the Lankavatarians amongst us, Schmithausen’s text may appear odd since his approach is strictly hermeneutical in nature and does not promote the Ālayavijñāna in language we are accustomed to. For instance, the familiar notion as “seedbed” or “receptacle” is by and large downplayed thus making way for a nuanced position that has caused disputes in scholastic circles. We will get to his primary definition momentarily but presently let us now assert that the very soul of his dissertation is relayed in the first five chapters with the remaining ones focusing on certain disagreements with other scholars. For our purposes, we will be addressing those first five. read more

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Ālayavijñāna: The Hallmark of the Yogācāra

Our next chapter in question for this present sutra is Number Five in the Tibetan Translation and Number Three for the Chinese. We have been following John Keenan’s numbering sequence. Basically the difference between the translations is that the Tibetan breaks-down the chapters according to the individual Bodhisattvas, whereas the Chinese bundles them together. read more

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Reflections on the Saṃdhinirmocana Sūtra

This series will expound upon a seminal and early text of the Yogācāra school. The Saṃdhinirmocana Sūtra (Ārya-saṃdhi-nirmocana-sūtra) actually predates the proclaimed formulators of the Yogācāra school proper, Asanga and his half-brother Vasubandhu. The Sutra is comprised of different parts, the earliest being composed in India during the Second Century AD and its finalized form in the Third. One of the theories, to which I endorse, suggests that the text was written by monks or yogins who comprised exceptional Siddhis-powers and subsequently, (through visualization) inspirationally became the mouthpiece for the Buddha and the Maha-Bodhisattvas who questioned him in the text. According to one of its earliest commentators, Jñānagarbha, Saṃdhinirmocana “means ‘cutting the knots of the afflictive obstructions and the obstructions to omniscience’ through definitely freeing the profound thought [of Buddha]. It is a “sutra” because it is simply a complete statement of what is definite.” (John Powers Two commentaries on the Samdhinirmocana-Sutra /​ by Asanga and Jnanagarbha, pg.68) read more

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