Tag Archives: Vasubandhu

Ālaya, a Seedbed?

In Schmithausen’s minds-eye the precise definition of the term ālayavijñāna indicates “a sticking consciousness,” “a hidden consciousness,” or simply, “the consciousness that is clung to.” The refined notion of a seedbed arrived later, in the minds-eye of the Asanga and Vasubandhus’ of our world. For now, let us bracket them for a little while and witness Schmithausen’s notion. read more

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The emphasis on karma (kamma) in Early Buddhism was upon a series of factors that comprise the very angst of life: individualistic, sociological, and psychological components all constitute early doctrinal factors resulting in karmic-effect. Essentially, Kamma referred to what an individual inherits from oneself in some previous form of existence—not what one inherits from their ancestors. Hence, the Buddha and his sages declared that it was not so much [the action] itself, but rather the exclusive-intentional willing of the individual that is of decisive significance in determining karmic consequences. This Buddhaic-teaching had a two pronged effect upon disciples: one became remorseful over their karmic-[intent] because the wrong they committed could never be [undone]: read more

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When one considers Asanga and Vasubandhu and their connection with the Yogācāra, it needs to be stated that they stressed their basic position as Vijñaptimātratā, wherein the emphasis was placed on a form of an epistemic-proposition that elaborates on perceptual-errors that blocks the path to higher self-realization. In this sense its primary focus is more of a soteriological-formulation than an exclusively “mind-only” proposition. Thus, Vijñaptimātratā became known as the fundamental philosophical principle of a “Classical- Yogācāra” as articulated by Asanga and Vasubandhu. In particular, Vasubandhu, in his Madhyāntavibhāgabhāṣya, or commentary on the Madhyāntavibhāga, put the Vijñaptimātratā-construct to work wholeheartedly. Likewise, the Madhyānta-vibhāgaṭīkā, or subcommentary on both the Madhyāntavibhāga+bhāṣya composed by Sthiramati, also puts emphasis on that Vijñaptimātratā formulation. While Stcherbatsky includes both the MAVBH and MAVT in his translation, someone else writing simultaneously at the same time (unbeknownst to both men), the Dutch scholar David Lasar Friedmann, placed a greater emphasis on the Sthiramati Madhyāntavibhāgaṭīkā. It’s interesting to note that when Friedmann heard that the famous Russian Buddhologist was translating the same work, he was about to abandon his efforts when he was persuaded by Stcherbatsky to continue his noble effort. We will also be utilizing Friedmann’s excellent work as it nicely and refreshingly compliments Stcherbatsky’s translation. read more

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Vasubandhu and the Absolute

Vasubandhu (born 316 AD) and his half-brother, Asanga, were the early formulators of the Yogācāra, a profound and intricate school of Mahāyāna philosophy. The most concise definition of Yogācāra is the practice (ācāra) of spiritual discipline (yoga). Vasubandhu’s range of scholarly acumen is quite prolific: read more

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