Articles by alphabetic order
 Ā Ī Ñ Ś Ū Ö Ō
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 0

Xuanzang's Inference of Yogacara and Its Interpretation by Shilla Buddhists

From Tibetan Buddhist Encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search
5844 rt.jpg

1. Introduction

Xuanzang’s ; (602-664) biographies indicate that he wrote several texts in India such as Huizong-lun^^^ {Treatise for Reconciling Various Doctrines), Zhiejlan-lun'fi .{L¡& {Treatise for Controlling the Wrong View), and Sanshen-ltmiLCfi {Treatise on the Three Bodies of the Buddha)* Since none of these texts have been preserved, we cannot read them; however, a part of their contents could be gathered from several sources. According to Yinmin-ruzhengli-lun-shu {Commentary on Nyaya-pravesa), authored by Jiü (632- 682), Xuanzang made an inference (anumana) to prove the truth of Yogacara:

After traveling around India and completing his study, our master, Xuanzang, wanted to return to China. At that time, STladitta, who was the king of India, held a large and uninterrupted Buddhist service that lasted for eighteen days and asked our master to spread his interpretation of Yogacara all over India. The king chose those who have wisdom and goodness, called them to the service. He sent non-Buddhists and Hinayana Buddhists to dispute with Xuanzang. Our master had made the following inference and no one could make an argument against it:

In the ultimate reality, generally accepted forms are not apart from visual consciousness [proposition],

This is because based on the theory which we (Yogacarin) accept they are categorized in the first three of eighteen elements of human existence (the eye, from the six organs; sight, from the six objects; and visual consciousness, from the six consciousnesses); however, they are not included in the general eyes (which include the eye of Buddha etc.) [[[reason]]].

Like as the visual consciousness [simile].

According to Xuanzang’s biography in Xugaosengzhuan - (the Further Biographies of Eminent Monks'), the concepts contained in Zhiejian-lun were preached during the service held by Siladitta. Therefore, Xuanzang’s inference may be regarded as a part of Zhiejian- lun.1 Based on Xuanzang’s biographies, no one present at the Buddhist service could make an argument against his inference. However, numerous problems regarding the inference arose immediately after the service, and there were prolonged discussions on how it would be interpreted in East Asia. In general, two issues are relevant for the criticism or the interpretation of the inference.

The first issue is the similarity between the style of Xuanzang’s inference and Bhavaviveka’s (c. 490-570) logical method. One of the features of Bhavaviveka’s logic is the restriction “in the ultimate reality” in order to make an argument for sunyata. In Xuanzang’s inference quoted above, the same restriction is used to prove the truth of Yogacara. Yasunori Ejima claims that Xuanzang’s inference was based on Bhavaviveka’s method. On the other hand,

Bhavaviveka has been criticized by the Faxiang school (the East Asian branch of Yogacara) since he was regarded as a master of the Madhyamika school. The second issue is whether or not fallacies exist in Xuanzang’s inference. Hajime Nakamura claims that the Yogacara inference has errors; he has a high opinion of the Shilla monks, such as SunkybngllRtt and Wonhyoxft, because they did not blindly follow authority but criticized it. Nakamura also regards the Shilla Buddhists’ interpretations of Xuanzang’s inference as characteristic of the Korean way of thinking. By citing the development of Han’gul as an example, he states that the Shilla Buddhists’ interpretations of Xuanzang’s inference demonstrate the rationalism of the Korean people.

In this study, I have collected and examined the Shilla Buddhists’ interpretations of Xuanzang’s Yogacara inference in order to clarify the intellectual situation of Yogacara Buddhism in Shilla, and criticize Nakamura’s understanding, and thus, this paper contributes to the studies on the characteristics of Korean Buddhism.

2. Bhavaviveka’s Reputation in Shilla

Before we examine the interpretations of Xuanzang’s inference in Shilla, it is important to understand the transition that Bhavaviveka’s reputation underwent in Shilla. Bhavaviveka’s reputation was divided in East Asia; while some people believed him to be good others had a less charitable opinion of him. Based on Xuanzang’s inference and his descriptions of Bhavaviveka, it appears reasonable to suppose that Xuanzang thought highly of Bhavaviveka. According to a narrative on Bhavaviveka in Drz/ang , Xuanzang praises Bhavaviveka and refers to him as “broad-minded and virtuous.” In addition, he describes Bhavaviveka’s faith in Maitreya in a positive manner. Hence, we may assume that some of Xuanzang’s followers also thought highly of Bhavaviveka.

On the other hand, Bhavaviveka’s inference in Dasheng-zhangzhen-lun had been criticized in East Asia. The opening verse of Dasheng-zhangzhen-lun is as follows:

In the ultimate reality, a conditioned existence is empty, like an illusion, since it is produced by causal conditions.

An unconditioned existence also does not have any entities since like illusory flowers in the sky, it can never be generated.

Shun’ei Hirai states that the scholar monks of the Faxiang school might have studied Dasheng-zhangzhen-lun because it was translated by Xuanzang. Based on Shoshin Fukihara’s list of the commentaries of Dasheng-zhangzhen-lun, we can find the names of Wenbei AVB, Jingmai SIS, ShentaiiiO, Wonhyo, and T’aehydna the authors of these commentaries; however, the original commentaries of these authors have been lost. It may be difficult to accept Hirai, since Wenbei was regarded as a “schoolmate of Xuanzang”, Wonhyo had never met Xuanzang, and T’aehydn was much younger than Xuanzang.

In this connection, we would like to focus on Zenju’sWft (724-797) Yuishiki-bunryo-ketsu^^^-A^, which discusses the differences in the inferences in Dasheng-zhangzhen-lun and Dasheng-guangbailun-shilun'X

BiwWiro (Dharmapala’s commentary on Aryadeva’s Guangbailun SJ R iira) that quotes Korean scholar monks.

Master Wonhyo of Shilla, in his P’an-biryang-non-p[itN.№i, states that the inference in Dasheng-zhangzhen-lun is identical to that in Dasheng-guangbailun-shilun.

Master Tojungjfi.K? claims that Wonhyo’s interpretation is incorrect since the two inferences have different targets. (...) Although both the inferences were drawn in order to confute the nature of existence that was a result of attachment, the targets are different. Dasheng- guangbailun-shilun criticizes only the Hinayana and non-Buddhist schools. Dasheng-zhangzhen-lun, however, criticizes the Mahayana, Hinayana, and non-Buddhist schools. Master Sinbang states that the targets of Dasheng-zhangzhen-lun and Dasheng-guangbailun-shilun are not different (. . .) because both the texts serve the same purpose. (...)

Master Kyonghung states that the inferences in these two texts are different. (. . .) The concepts in Dasheng-zhangzhen-lun are based on emptiness, while those of Dasheng-guangbailun-shilun are based on the absence of reality. Hence, the purposes of both these texts are quite different. (. . .) For details of this, see the 10th volume of Song- yusingnon p’ydmryang...

To cite another example on this topic, Taehyon’s Song-yusingnon ha discusses whether the controversy between Dharmapala and Bhavaviveka was a historical fact or not. In the initial part of Song-yusingnon hakki, T’aehydn reveals the existence of three groups in Shilla:

There were two groups in India: Bhavaviveka and his followers, who referred to the Prajnaparamita sutras, claimed that conditioned and unconditioned existences are perceived by the ordinary view but appear empty in the true view, which is similar to the verses of Dasheng-zhangzhen-lun. (. . .) On the other hand, Dharmapala and his followers, who referred to the Samdhinirmocana, claimed that all existences are perceived both as empty and not empty, which is similar to the verses of Madhyantavibhaga. (...)

(a) Some people claim that the controversy between the two masters is a historical fact since the Buddhabhumisutra-sastra states that “one thousand years after the death of Sakyamuni, a controversy will arise among the Mahayana between the school that professes emptiness and the one that professes existence.” (. . .) Wdnch’uk Ml Sil and his followers also claimed that the controversy existed between the two schools.

(b) However, others state that the two masters did not dispute. (. . .) Sun’gvdng and his followers state that no controversy existed.

(c) Other monks such as Wonhyo and his followers claim that although the two masters expressed their opinions differently, the fundamental meaning of their teachings is the same. (.. .)

Hence, based on these two quotations, it is reasonable to suppose that Shilla had at least two groups with different opinions on the evaluations of Bhavaviveka’s inference in Shilla. In general, Wonhyo, Sinbang, and Sun’gydng were of the belief that Bhavaviveka and Dharmapala had a dispute. On the other hand, Tojung, Kyonghung, and Wonch’uk believed that they were compatible. Dharmapala was one of the founders of the Faxiang school and was the master of Silabhadra who was a master of Xuanzang. Therefore, it may be presumed that the evaluations of Bhavaviveka’s inference were related with those of Xuanzang’s inference.

3. Commentaries on Xuanzang’s Inference in Shilla

Thus far I have outlined the interpretations of Bhavaviveka’s inference. Next, I would like to examine the Shilla Buddhists’ interpretations of Xuanzang’s Yogâcâra inference. In this chapter, I also classify the Shilla scholar monks into two groups according to their claims on Xuanzang’s inference and the arguments on Bhavaviveka’s inference discussed above.

The first group consists of Wonhyo and Sun’gyong. Zenju’s Inmyd- ronsho-myoto-sho^^&^№№ quotes Wonhyo’s P’anbiryangnon, which points out the flaws in Xuanzang’s inference :

When discussing with the schools that accept the mutual use of five organs, the inference should be as follows:

In the ultimate reality, the generally accepted forms differ from the generally accepted visual consciousness.

This is because based on the theory that we accept they are categorized in the first three; however, they are not included in the visual consciousness.

Like as the eve. Hence, the inference is free of the anaikantiko viruddhavyabhicara (being counterbalanced; LYTY) flaws. For example, in the context of the Yogacara theory, a bodhisattva who is higher than the eighth bhumi can see with the ears, hear with the eyes, and so forth. In such a context, we can make the following inference, which is contrary to Xuanzang’s Yogacara inference:

In the ultimate reality, the generally accepted forms differ from the visual consciousness. Therefore, Wonhyo indicates the anaikantiko viruddhavyabhicara flaw in Xuanzang’s inference and makes a more accurate inference. On the other hand, according to Ji#, Sun’gyong pointed out that Xuanzang’s inference also contained the anaikantiko viruddhavyabhicara flaw and made the following inference to counter the flaw in Xuanzang’s inference:

In the ultimate reality, the generally accepted forms definitely differ from the visual consciousness.

This is because based on the theory which we accept they are categorized in the first three; however, they are not included in the visual consciousness.

Like as the eye.

However, according to Japanese sources, such as Zenju’s Inmyd- ronsho-myotd-sho, this counter inference appears to be originally based on Wonhyo’s inference:

This counter inference that demonstrates Xuanzang’s anaikantiko viruddhavyabhicara flaw was originally made by Master Wonhyo of Shilla. After some time, Master Sun’gyong learned this counter inference, but could not interpret it. During the Ganfeng era, he sent this inference to the Great Tang and requested them to interpret it. Master Dingping/iZ'ft states the following in his commentary on Nyayamukha: “During the Ganfeng era, master Sun’gyong of Shilla sent the counter inference in order to demonstrate Xuanzang’s anaikantiko viruddhavyabhicara flaw that was pointed out by Master Wonhyo of his country (Korea) to this country (China), and claimed that Tn the ultimate reality, the generally accepted forms are definitely different from visual consciousness. The reason and simile follow this (proposition).’ At that time, Xuanzang, faltered and could not provide an answer.”

In addition, ZoshunjK® (1104-1180) in his Inmyd-dalsho-shdAfff quoted a story from Gangyo-wajd-engijt^ai.^.1&, which also regards Wonhyo as the original author of the counter inference and a reincarnation of Dignaga, and Sun’gyong as the messenger. In contrast, Shotoin’s work Yuishiki-hiryd-shlkiA'f-'AAdf quoted in Inmyo-daisho-sho regards Sun’gyong as the author and Master Yu (if as the messenger (T68, 525b); this interpretation is based on Ji’s work Cheng- weishldun-zhangzhong-shuyaof^/fdwffif'y (T43, 647a).

In any case, it is reasonable to believe that there was a lineage of Buddhist logicians in Shilla who originated from Wonhyo. In Inmyo-daisho-sho, there exists a quotation titled Gojdkki~^'^si, which is supposed to be a fragment of T’aehyon’s commentary:

In this quotation, sentences enclosed by r. . ,j are the quotations from Ji’s Yinming-ruzhengli-lun-shu^RAmSY&St and Wonhyo’s P’anbi- ryangnon. The sentences beginning with “^B” can be attributed to T’aehyon or Tojung since Zenju quotes several parts beginning with R®S” or instead. Moreover, part (g) should be attributed to Kyonghung because it nearly coincides with the quotation of < Zenju that is quoted below:

Thus, because of his honorific title “fn±”, it may be reasonable to believe that T’aehyon respected Kyonghung. In (a), (b), (c), and (e), T’aehyon quotes various critical interpretations of Xuanzang’s inference and claims that “all critical interpretations miss the original purpose of Xuanzang’s inference” (underlined part of (c)). We must focus on the fact that he criticizes Ji, who strongly supports Xuanzang’s

inference. In (a), he criticizes Ji for premising that the concepts of Xuanzang’s inference were accepted both discussants and disputed only the predicate of the propositions (Jfftfi). On the other hand, according to (d) and (f), he regards Xuanzang’s inference as svartha-anumana in order to demonstrate the true purpose of Xuanzang’s inference. Although T’aehyon also criticizes Ji’s criticism of Sun’gydng in (b), we should not assume that T’aehyon agrees with

Sun’gydng because he also criticizes Wonhyo in (c) in the same manner as he criticized Ji. In addition, in (f), T’aehyon quotes Kyonghung, who claims that visual consciousness in the Yogacara inference should be interpreted as a combination of visual consciousness and alaya vijnana.

4. Conclusion

In conclusion, we can find at least two groups of Shilla Buddhists, one that was headed by Wonhyo and Sun’gydng (and probably Sinbang), and the other that was headed by Kyonghung, Tojûng, and T’aehyon. The former group intended to interpret and revise the Yogâcâra inference following the system of Buddhist logic, especially by using Bhâvaviveka’s method, since they believed that Xuanzang’s logic was based on Bhâvaviveka’s work. On the other hand, it appears that the latter group attempted to interpret the inference in the context of the general Yogâcâra doctrines. Nakamura examines the rationalism of the Korean people by quoting Wdnhyo and Sun’gydng, but this approach alone is insufficient. In my opinion, the peculiarity that this indicated maybe one of the characteristics of Korean Buddhism, while the interpretations in China and Japan may be unified.


I am grateful to Professor Kim Songch’ul of Tongguk University for providing valuable advice.


Korean Buddhism

in East Asian Perspectives

Compiled by

Geumgang Center for Buddhist Studies

Geumgang University

-written byKim Sang-hyon / Robert E. Buswell, Jr. / Sergei Vladimirovich Volkov

Pankaj Mohan / Henrik H. Sorensen / John Jorgensen / Jinhua Chen

Charles Muller / Jorg Plassen / Ch’oe Ki-p’yo / Ishii Kosei

Ch’oe Yon-shik / Shigeki Moro



© 2007 by Geumgang Center for Buddhist Studies


514-7 Munbal-ri, Gyoha-eup, Paju-si, Gyeonggi-do 413-756, Korea

Phone: 82-2-743-0227 E-mail:

82-2-743-3192-3 E-mail:

Fax: 82-2-743-3097, 82-2-742-4657

Home page:

ISBN 89-88095-97-9 The National Library of Korea Cataloging-in-Publication(CIP)

Korean Buddhism in East Asian perspectives / compiled by Geumgang Center for Buddhist Studies, Geumgang University.

— Paju : Jimoondang, 2007 p.; cm. — (Korean studies series ; No.35)

ISBN 89-88095-97-9 93220 220.911-KDC4 294.309519-DDC21 CIP2007001299