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

On the Paradoxical Method of the Chinese Mādhyamika: Seng-Chao and the Chao-Lun treatise

From Tibetan Buddhist Encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search

Journal of Chinese Philosophy, Vol.19, 1992: P.51-71 Honolulu, Hawaii, U.S.A. [P.51]


Opinions vary among scholars as to whether Chinese Buddhists correctly understood the Indian Mādhyamika religio- philosophical system, and equally, whether the Chinese understanding of Buddhist religiosity as a whole was and has been authentic. This question, whether or not the Buddhist religio-philosophical system, comprising the conceptions of dharma, śūnyatā, prajñā, nirvāna, and so forth, was communicated across barriers of cultural differences between peoples as divergent as the Chinese and Indian, can be answered in a variety of ways. I hold that the Mahayana Buddhist insight of śūnyatā (i.e. emptiness or voidness), with which the Mādhyamika method of dialectic was exclusively concerned, is transcultural; that by the time of the fifth century, the Chinese Buddhists had come to understand it in such precise terms that it became the religio-philosophical foundation for their own subsequent development; and that this achievement was prompted by their intellectual or religio-philosophical concern over the nature of logic and language. The Chao-lun(a), which is ascribed to Seng-chao (374-414), is the best evidence to substantiate the above views.

The Chao-lun or The Treatise of Seng-Chao, consisting of four short essays and two epistles written on Buddhist doctrines, is thought by modern scholarship to be the earliest extant Chinese Mādhyamika text composed by the native Chinese mind and an imported landmark in the early stages of Chinese Buddhist thought formation. Once a student of the [P.52] Taoism, Seng-chao had turned to Buddhism and was trained under Kumārajīva, the greatest textual
translator. By assisting his master in the task of translation and attending his teacher's lectures, he became well versed in the Mādhyamika treatises and developed a deep doctrinal understanding. The main body of the Chao-lun essays consists of a series of paradoxical arguments that parallel the reducio-ad-absurdum arguments (prasanga-vākya) of the Mādhyamika treatises composed by Nāgārjuna (ca. 2nd cent.) and his followers in India. The primary purpose of this paper is to demonstrate why Seng-chao's paradoxical method may have had a direct bearing on Chinese logical and linguistic thinking; and secondarily is to clarify both why the Mādhyamika or Buddhist insight into śūnyatā is transcultural, and why Chinese logico-linguistic concerns could have helped Seng-chao understand the insights of śūnyatā.


In spite of a persistent scholarly interest in Indian Mādhyamika Studies in the West, there has not been a comparable interest in Chinese Mādhyamika Studies. By "Chinese Mādhyamika Studies," I mean the philosophical and doctrinal investigation of expository works written by Chinese Buddhist thinkers, among whom Seng-chao is to be included together with other disciples of Kumārajīva, and the writings ascribed to the scholar monks who developed the San-lun School of Buddhism in China. I believe the major reason for this retarded interest in Chinese Mādhyamika studies can
be attributed to the misconception that cultural dissemination follows a general rule, that Buddhist religiosity ought
to be most authentic in the Indian Buddhist cultural environment in which it was born, and that the degree of authenticity will probably diminish whenever it is transmitted to an alien or different cultural environment. Since China and the Indian sub-continent are historically regarded as independent cultural zones, and despite the Chinese
acceptance of Buddhism, the aforementioned misconception seems to have affected every interpretation of Sino-Indian
Buddhist transmission.

Hungry ghosts realm.jpg

The study of the Chao-lun seems to have been similarly affected; we have only three major post-war works so far available to us [P.53]: W. Liebenthal's Chao-lun: The Treatise of Seng-chao, comprising a full textual translation in English, published in Peking in 1948 [a revised edition was published by the Hong Kong University Press in 1968]; a group of Japanese scholars led by Z.Tsukamoto published the Jooron no Kenkyū (The Study of Chao-lun), a full textual translation in Japanese, published in Kyoto in 1955; and R.H. Robinson's Early Mādhyamika in India and China, a partial translation in English, published by the Univ. of Wisconsin Press in 1967. I am, however, somehow dissatisfied with the way each author has approached matters, especially Seng-chao's paradoxical method of argument. In spite of his wide and deep knowledge of Chinese culture and civilization, Prof. Liebenthal expressed skepticism as to the degree of Seng-chao's understanding: "a wall of misunderstanding separated the Chinese understanding of Buddhism from that of Indians." (1) Robinson, however, dissented from Liebenthal's conclusion and asserted that Seng-chao's understanding of the
Mādhyamika doctrine and its method is fairly accurate, and yet, he too fell short of a fuller understanding and failed to see the implications of Seng-chao's paradoxical method: "his argument is imitative and hence lesser in degree than Indian masters." (2) I believe these scholars may have believed that, as a general rule, cultural dissemination is

inevitably accompanied by a degree of degeneration from the original form and quality. The detailed textual and linguistic research of the Japanese scholars is impressive, but their translation seems to be over-whelmed by Taoistic thought and jargon. This hinders the reader from reaching a proper evaluation of Seng-chao's treatise.

Having made these criticisms, I must say that I have tried in several papers to develop a more satisfactory approach to Seng-chao's religio-philosophical insights into śūnyatā as well as his dialectical method of paradoxical argument. The underlying three premises have already been given in my initial introduction. Along with these premises, I intend here
1. to demonstrate why the paradoxical method of argument Seng-chao uses in his exposition of the insight of
śūnyatā can be theoretically ascertained as an authentic Mādhyamika method of dialectic fit for a Chinese- speaking audience; and
2. to show why this paradoxical method can be more clearly analyzed in reference to the Chinese language and the Mohist logic of ancient China. I hold in hypothesis that Seng-chao knew the [P.54] Neo-Mohist system of logic, and that this knowledge helped him formulate his own dialectical method in terms of paradoxical argument.



In a series of research paper written in the early 80's, I explored Chinese Mādhyamika thought in parallel with that of its Indian counterpart. In 1983, I read a paper entitled "Is Seng-chao's method of demonstration an authentic Mādhyamika? " (3) at the 194th annual meeting of the American Oriental society. I probed why Seng-chao's paradoxical method has been
regarded as an authentic Mādhyamika dialectic. My thesis was that the Mādhyamika dialectic as initially formulated by
Nāgārjuna, forefather of the school in India, shares the same structural basis as an ordinary inferential process of the mind, and that 'dialectical thinking' and 'logical thinking' derive from their respective modifications of that common structural basis. Moreover, the structural basis of inferential logic formulated in ancient India is identical with that which the Mohist logicians formulated in ancient China, thus placing the workings of the human mind beyond culturally different forms.

In India, the core operations of inferential reasoning are seen as the dual principles of anvaya (affirmative instantiation) and vyatireka (negative instantiation). For instance, seeing a billow of smoke over a hill, we infer the probable outbreak of a fire there. Buddhist logicians, by minimizing the extra-logical linguistic factors of syllogistic inference, reduced essential mental operations to three steps which are indispensable to valid inference: (4)

(1) Position of a minor term "P" [ "bearing smoke"] to a locus 'a' :─(a) P
(2) Anvaya: Whatever similar locus 'x,' "bearing smoke, " is likely to "bear fire" [="Q"]:(x) [(x) P.(x)q]
(3) Vyatireka: Whatever dissimilar locus 'y,' " bearing no fire, " is surely to " bear no smoke" : (y) [ (y)-Q.(y)-P]

Since the initial step can be included in the second step, the inferential process can ultimately be reduced to the dual process of anvaya and [P.55] vyatireka operations. In an inference, these two operations ought to be clearly separated in reference to their respective, i.e. similar and dissimilar, loci (sapakṣa and vipakṣa). This is what I call 'Logical Context', which requires two conditions:
(1) a clear demarcation between the class of things that can bear smoke as well as fire and the class of things that can
neither bear fire nor smoke, for a logical fallacy otherwise ensues;
(2) the application of anvaya, on the one hand, by verifying a given universal relation: "wherever there is smoke, there is fire," in reference to the class of similar loci, such as, a kitchen, and the application of vyatireka, on the other hand, by falsifying the same universal in reference to the class of dissimilar loci, such as, a water tank, which then ascertains the contraposition: "Wherever there is no fire, there is no smoke."


As to the Mohist system of logic, it should be sufficient to refer to such expositions as The Development of the Logical Method in Ancient China by Hu Shih (Shang-hai: 1928), The Later Mohist Logic and Science by A.C.Graham (Hong-kong: 1978), and, in addition, Janusz Chmielewski's series of articles: "Notes on Early Chinese Logic (I- VI), " (5) Rocznik Orientalistyczny, especially, No. III [ibidem 27, 1 (1963) 103-121]. Prof. Hu Shih translated the dual operations as the t'ung (b) 'method of agreement' and yi (c) 'that of difference' and explained that the two methods combined can establish valid inference which the Neo-Mohists regarded as the true method of induction. (6) Graham's understanding of these two methods does not fundamentally differ from Hu Shih's. It was Chmielewski who compared Neo-Mohist logic with its Indian counterpart and demonstrated the important terminological correspondences between Indian and Mohist inferential structure.(7). Their difference is that the principle of instantiation of Indian syllogistic inference is absent from the Mohist system; the Mohists apply the principle of hsiao (d8), a kind of universal statement well established by induction.

The normative valid basis of inference, however, does not affect the logic of inferrence process, and is a correlative factor within the differences between Sanskrit and classical Chinese. It thus can serve as a commonality, between the reductio-ad- absurdum and paradoxical methods respectively adopted by the Indian and Chinese Mādhyamikas. [P.56]


That the Buddhist insight of śūnyatā is trans- cultural can be defended by the very fact that the inferential logic of the mind transcends cultural differences, and also that the dialectical method, which is definitive of that insight, derives from the same structural basis as that of logical thinking. This, however, does not mean that the dialectical method can arise directly from the structural basis of the inferential process. AS has been explained before, the inferential process requires two conditions: (1) the clear dermarcation of the two sets of loci; and (2) the separate application of anvaya and vyatireka operations by referring to the respective loci, a two-fold condition which I called 'Logical Context.' Now, I wish to call attention to the Dialectical Context, in which the dialectical method has its immediate basis, and which is radically different from the logical context in two ways.

At the 31st Orientalist conference [CISHAAN] held in Tokyo in the summer of 1983, my paper entitled: "Buddhist dialectical methods and their structural identity" (9) formulated the dialectical context in terms of two criteria, namely: (1) that the dialectical context is necessarily created in every logical and linguistic process of the mind as 'simultaneous application of anvaya and vyatireka,' and (2) that these operations in turn create a 'dual natured reference' that can only
be expressed by metaphorical instances, such as, magical apparition, sky flower, and so forth. Suppose we are listening to on-going speech in which phonemes, words, and sentences are incessantly coming and going. Catching a series of rapid sounds, our mind spontaneously configurates them into a word, a series of words into a sentence, and a series of sentences into a unified understanding. It is within this dynamic flow of speech or thoughts that we have a glimpse of the spontaneous juxtaposition of anvaya and vyatireka, irrespective of whether it is a clear awareness, at every linkage point where the two consecutive moments of consciousness converge. This juxtaposition is the first criterion of the dialectical context, and is clearly recognized in Nāgārjuna's favored reductio-ad-absurdum argument (parasaṇga-vākya) , for instance, over the epistemic relation between the sense faculty and its incoming stimuli, or between an individual self [P.57] (pudgala) and psycho-physical elements (dharmas).(10) In applying his dialectical treatment to these subject matters, Nāgārjuna used the metaphor of light and darkness and that of fire and fuel respectively. The pattern of his argument is precisely identical. Conceptually, light and darkness are incompatible by definition, and yet in convention, these entities are taken for granted to establish somehow their meeting so as to explain a fact of illumination. In like manner, fire and fuel, which are two different things, are taken for granted to meet together for explaining
combustion. Through dialectical manipulation of statement, Nāgārjuna repudiates this convention. The following is a
simplified translation for the Kārikās 36 through 39 in the Vigrahavyā-vartanī: (11)
36. Wherever [ i.e. in reference to the meeting point in space and time ] light illuminates darkness, darkness also obstructs illumination there. [ anvaya and vyatireka together ].
37. Wherever there is light, there should be no darkness (because they are exclusive). How could light
illuminate anything. [ anvaya, while vyatireka negated ]
38. Does light illuminate darkness at the moment of its arising? No, it does not reach darkness from the very beginning. (anvaya and vyatireka)
39. If light here illuminates darkness without reaching it, this light here should illuminate darkness of all the
world. (anvaya, while vyatireka negated]


Here's contact of light and darkness' refers to the meeting point of the faculty of sight and its incoming stimuli as a causal factor in vision. This meeting point transcends linguistic convention, thus Nāgārjuna points out two things: (12) (1) that the spatio-temporal sphere to which such a contact is referred is not a logical context, and
(2) that in that referential sphere, which is dialectical, light and darkness no longer hold their distinct self-identity, but
reciprocally exchange their functions, i.e., simultaneously light and darkness, existent and non-existent, which I call the
'dual natured reference.' From the Mādhyamika Buddhist point of view, every [P.58] empirical cognition or entity is dualistic in essence, related to another, and hence devoid of its independent self-identity [ i.e. niḥsvabhāva = śūnyatā). In short, the dialectical context consists of two criteria: (1) juxtaposition feature and (2) dual natured reference.


The Chao-lun is regarded as a difficult text not only because of its dialectical content, which it shares, in common with the Mādhyamika treatises, but also because Seng-chao's dialectical method is not the so-called reductio-ad-absurdum argument used by the Indian masters, but a paradoxical method of argument of his own. That his paradoxical method is authentic Mādhyamika dialectic can be proven in reference to the two above-mentioned criteria, namely: juxtaposition feature and dual natured reference. Without these criteria, we would be confronted with a formidable,
perhaps unintelligible form of paradoxical argument unprecedented in Indian Mādhyamika. Only after a careful analysis

with the dual criteria do we notice a set of basic patterns.

In the first essay : "The Immutability of Things (i.e. dharmas) " (e), Seng-chao deals with the causality of dharmas and sets forth a series of paradoxical arguments in terms of very tangible and concrete phenomena. As with Nāgārjuna, Seng- chao's usual procedure is to match up a contrary conception or phenomenon with one that is to be considered. This essay provides an excellent example for 'matching up contraries': (13)

By motion, people mean that things are in motion and not at rest, thinking that past things do not reach the present. (f ) For the same reason, however, I claim that it is stillness, meaning that they are at rest and not in motion. (g) People think that because things are in motion and not at rest, they do not come to the present.( h ) I think, however, that because things are at rest and not in motion, they do not pass away from the present.(i). There follows Seng-chao's typical form of paradoxical argument : (14) [ p.59]


Thus, things are said to be permanent and yet not abiding (j) they are said to passing and yet not changing. (K) Because they are not changing, things are passing and yet always at rest. (l) Because things are not abiding, they are at rest and yet always passing. (m) Because things are at rest and yet always passing, they are passing and yet not changing.(n) Because they are passing and yet always at rest, they are at rest and yet not staying.(O)

Seng-chao then concludes the argument by applying the principle of juxtaposition : (15)
When people say that things are abiding, I say that they are gone. (P) When they say that things are gone, I say that they are abiding.(q) Although 'gone' and 'abiding' are different in expression, what they mean is one reference.(r)
Given the foregoing type of argument, one anticipates a spontaneous objection or skepticism from the conventional
point of view. Seng-chao states such an objection in the third essay: " Prajñā is Not-Knowledge" (r1) in the second question-reply section. The question which Seng-chao raises from the common sense point of view reflects, I assume, his own intellectual, logico-linguistic concern, reads as follows:
Things cannot be used for communication, (s) and hence they are given names by which they are referred to
and communicated among men. (t) Although things are not names, they become the objects to be denoted by names in terms of correspondence. (u) Hence, by a name, if we seek for anything, we can obtain something that corresponds to the name. (v)

Now, however, you assert that the transcendental insight is 'not-knowing', (w) and yet you also said that
there is nothing that it does not know. (x) If the Prajna is 'not-knowing,' it must mean not to have ever known anything, (y) and if it is 'knowing', [P.60]

It must mean to have always been knowing. (z) This is what the Doctrine of Names promulgates, (ā)and it is the basic principle of stating about things. (ab) Contrary to this common sense, you are saying that 'knowing' and 'not-knowing' are assumed to be identical in the Prajñā insight. (ac) Yet you are differentiating the meanings of these contrary faculties.(ad) Examining what is said and looking for its reference, I have not found anything that can substantiate what you have so asserted.(ae) For if knowing should mean to distinguish the nature of the Prajñā insight, then 'not-knowing' would not fit to distinguish it (af) and vice versa.(ag) If neither does not fit to do so, there is no sense for further discussion. (ah)

IMG 3061.JPG

Seng-chao replies to this criticism through his paradoxical method of argument, and in doing so, he again applies the dialectical criterion of juxtaposition. Initially he quotes some textual passage as defining 'prajñā' (17) in paradoxical terms as 'neither namable nor expressible in language,' 'neither existent nor non-existent,' or 'neither real nor unreal.' Then, after apologizing, (18) "Although words cannot explain what the Prajñā is, since there is no other way of communication, I shall try to explain it by sing such words," Seng-chao confirms: (19)

The Prajñā is subtle and formless and cannot be said as existent. (ai) Yet, because it is functionally extensive,
it cannot be said non-existent. (aj) Because the Prajñā cannot be said non-existent, it may have to be said that the Prajñā is (transcendentally) existent. (ak) Because the Prajñā cannot be said as existent, no
correspondence theory of language can denote it by name. (ak1) Hence, it follows that the Prajñā cannot be
(an empirical) knowing.(al) If the comprehensive awareness of the Prajna is wished to be expressed, it must be said 'not-knowing' and yet not 'not-knowing.' (am) If the function of distinguishing (things') aspects, it cannot be said as nothing. (an) The (state of ) comprehensive awareness cannot be said as [P.61] existent. (ao) Because it is non-existent, the Prajñā is 'knowing' and yet 'without knowing.' (ap) Because it is not non-existent, the Prajñss id 'without knowing' an yet 'knowing' (aq) It follows that 'knowing' is identical with 'not-knowing,' (ar)

and 'not-knowing' is identical with 'knowing.' (as) Although 'knowing' and 'not-knowing' are different in expression, they are not different in the Prajñā insight. (at)


Admitting that Seng-chao's paradoxical method conforms the dialectical criteria of 'juxtaposition' and 'dual reference,' we are confronted with a question as to why Seng-chao relied exclusively on his distinctive paradoxical form of argument instead of the reductio-ad-absurdum form which Indian Mādhyamikas favored. In dealing with this curious difference, I presented another paper at the 33rd annual conference of the Japanese Association for Indian and Buddhist Studies held in Tokyo, 1984. (20) I identified two possible approaches to the problem in question, namely, (1) by
exploring formal differences between (Sanskrit) and classical Chinese, or (2) by exploring cultural differences between
the two peoples. On that occasion, I adopted the first approach.


My reason for adopting this approach was that, despite formal differences between classical Chinese and Sanskrit, the human capacity for language and symbol formation is generally accepted to be universal, and the logical laws underlying it, as noted above, are everywhere the same. On the contrary, cultural forms, such as the conceptual networks of Taoist and Indian Buddhist thought cannot be immediately compared due to the lack of clear criterion that the two systems share, unlike the logico-linguistic rules underlying all forms of language. For instance, the surface structure of synatactical relations may be quite different from one language to another; some languages have an intricate case system, whereas some others a much simpler one. Yet, the deep structure synatcical relations are universal across languages, as is confirmed by the fact of translatability from any language to any other language. In
any case, my findings are as follows. [P.62]

Sanskrit is equipped with an intricate system of syntactical categories, i.e. Kāraka Cases, accompanied with case inflections, grammatical word classes, and so forth, whereas classical Chinese is mono-syllabic, lacking inflection and grammatical word classes, and so forth. In addition, Chinese ideographical symbols contrast sharply with the phonetic symbols of Sanskrit. The formal aspects of Chinese, however, are not necessarily a disadvantage, because recent studies indicate that certain characteristics of Chinese in question facilitae logical thinking, because they bring classical Chinese closer to the symbolic language of modern logic than any tongue of the Indo-European type. The action- centered sentential structure of Sanskrit itself was restructured by Buddhist logicians, such as Dignāga,to attain the logically calculational subject-predicate form. On the other hand, the sentential form of Chinese (esp. Classical one) is constructed over the form of the logically fit topic-comment structure and with no grammatical constriction, such as, copula, inflection, parts of speech, etc., which are often logically ambiguous or misleading. I here seek to demonstrate in that, regarding the dialectical treatment of convention, the reductio-ad-absurdum method is more suitable vis-a-vis Sanskrit, whereas the paradoxical method is more suitable vis-a-vis classical Chinese.

In Sanskrit, a sentence is action-oriented. Syntactical categories (Kāraka, case relations) help a given action expressed by its main verb to accomplish its goal. Thus, a simple statement "He goes" (gacchati) is believed in convention to acquire its symbolic power from the Kāraka framework, of which kartṛ (agent, e.g. 'goer' or gantṛ) , karman (recipient of action,
e.g. 'referential passage' or gamyamāna), and karana (instrument, 'act of going' or gamana) and so forth are theoretically abstracted as nomatives. From a root verb gam (to go) are differentiated the forms of gamyamāna (passive or reflexive progressive), gamana (transitive, active progressive) , gantr (agent of going). In the Mūlamādhyamikakārikā ii, Nāgārjuna applies his reductio-ad-abusurdum method to these Kāraka categories by focusing upon the Dialectical Context in which an act of going or motion (gamana) is concomitant with its referential passage of motion (gamyāmana) as well as its agent (gantṛ). Although there are series of applications to be found in the chapter, here it is sufficient to [P.63] give only two passage [ Kārikās 5 and 6 ] in order to familiarize any one with the method in question. (21)


If a gamana (an act of going) is to be found in the gamyamāna (within its referential passage), this assertion ipso facto commits itself to another assertion, such that there are two gamanas, namely: one gamana by which the gamyamāna is produced, and another gamana which is inherent in the gamyamāna.

If there are two gamanas, there should follow two agents of going (gantṛ), because no motion is possible without its agent, and vice versa. A similar predicament is also at hand by a simple statement, namely: 'The goer goes" (gantā gacchati), because it implicates two gamanas, one gamana which indicates its agent and another gamana which the agent produces.

Now, it is clear why Seng-chao's dialectical method did not resort to the reductio-ad-absurdum argument over the aforementioned action context (i.e. Kāraka system) which is absent from classical Chinese, and also the reason why, as has been shown before, he availed the sets of contrary concepts or phenomena, such as, motion and stillness, passing

and abiding, and so forth. Moreover in order to repudiate the self-identifying nature (svabhāva) of epistemic subject (pramāna) and object (prameya), Nāgārjuna treated the relation over the metaphor of light and darkness by means of reductio-ad-absurdum method, whereas Seng-chao instead matches up contraries such as 'knowing' and 'not-knowing' by means of his paradoxical method.


It is intriguing to consider whether a special relationship exists between a language and a system of logic developed within that linguistic environment, especially in case of the Mohist system of logic in ancient China. Indian logic, as the terminology anvaya and vyatireka indicates, [P.64]evolved initially within the grammarians' inductive discipline to
organize the rules and principles of Sanskrit. If Seng-chao's paradoxical method is more attuned to Chinese language, it
may very well be questioned whether his method was at all based upon the Mohist system of logic, as the Nāgārjunian dialectical method was based upon Indian logic. Charles Graham informed us that the Neo-Mohist text was circulated during the third century.(22)

Seng-chao, who lived in the fourth century and was trained in the Taoist classies might have been exposed to the Mohist logical thought. In a paper I presented at the 36th annual meeting of the Japanese Association of Indian and Buddhist Studies in summer, 1987, entitled " On the dialectical meaning of instantiation in terms of māyādṛṣṭānta in the Indian and Chinese Mādhyamikas," (23) I give evidence that Seng-chao may have known the Mohist system of logic.

Unlike Indian syllogistic inference, the Mohist system did not advocate the principle of instantiation, but provided the principle of hsiao (au) as essential to valid inference, which Hu Shih interpreted to mean 'model thought' or 'standard mode of thought,' and Chmielewski interpreted to mean any universal statement of causality well established by induction. (24)In short, hsiao was conceived by the Mohists as an "all" statement arrived at by an inductive procedure and accepted as true, and hence regarded as a legitimatic general premise for deriving any particular statement.

According to Sanskrit inferential rules (anvaya-vyatireka), each inference must include an affirmative as well as a negative instance, thus combining inductive procedure with deduction. The Mohist system theorized the dual rules as the method of sameness and difference, fully parallel with Sanskrit counterparts, but without the principle of instantiation. This may be why Seng-chao does not appeal to instantiation, except to quote the sutras when necessary. For instance, in his second essay "The Unreality of śūnyatā" he applies a māyā metaphor quite adequately, quoting: (25)

We want to say that dharmas exist, but their existence is not a real production. (av) We want to say that dharmas do not exist, but phenomenal forms are already configurated. (aw) Phenomenal forms cannot be said as 'identical with nothing, (ax)[P.65] but we only say that anything unreal is not a real existent.(ay) It follows that the meaning of "Sūnyatā of Whatever is Unreal" is thus re- vealed.(az) Accordingly, the Pañcaviṇśati- sāhasrikā-prajñāpāramitā-sūtra says:
"Dharmas are called metaphorically as 'unreal' (ba) just as a magically created man is. (bb) For we cannot say
that there is no magically created man, (bc) but that such is not a real man. (bd).

I am convinced that Seng-chao was acquainted with Mohist logic because of the special context in which he uses the term hsiao. Although he does not use hsiao to designate an inferential universal or a norm for valid inference, he uses it to designate the dialectical context that validates all dialectical statements. In his last eassay "Nirvana is Name-less" he considers the relationship between psycho-physical elements (dharmas) and an individual self (pudgala) while trying to demonstrate the truth of non-dality, by demonstrating that there is no difference between the pudgala and the dharmas from the point of view of the Prajñā insight. Seng-chao initially describes what the perfect man is: (26)


The perfected man is all void without any form whatsoever,(be) and yet there is none in myriads of things that is not created by his self. (bf ) Whoever should cause myriads of things to be met with himself and thus realize his own being, would it be such perfected man alone?(bg) If a man is not with the true nature of things, he should not be a perfected man.(bh) Without a perfected man, there should arise no true nature of things(bi) Wherever there is the true nature of things, there should arise a perfected man; accordingly the perfected man is not different from the true nature of things.(bj)

Seng-chao then quotes a doctrinal query and reply between Indra and Subhūti: (27)
Then, the lord of gods questioned: "In what reference should I seek for the Prajñā insight?" Subhūti replied: "You should [P.66] not seek for it in reference to a rūpa,(bk) nor should you seek for it in reference to anything separate from a rūpa." (bl) Subhūti again said: "Seeing the causality of 'Dependent Origination" means seeing the Dharma; seeing the Dharma means seeing the Buddha." (bm)

Seng-chao, then, referring to the above triad [i.e. seeing pratityasamutpada, seeing dharma, and seeing buddha), uses the term hsiao to designate it, and says: (28)

This is but the ultimate causal basis for the insight of non-difference between things (dharmas) and an individual self (pudgala).(bn)
That Seng-chao deliberately uses the logical term hsiao to denote the translogical context indicates by itself not only
his acquaintence with Mohist logic but also his awareness of the dialectical context underlying the Prajñā insight as the ultimate basis for realizing Nirvāṇa. This hunch is supported by the immediately following statements Seng-chao makes to substantiate his quotation of the above tried: (29) “Thus it is said in the Sutra [?]:"One realizes Nirvāṇa without separating himself from dharmas" (bo) and also it is said:
"Because there is no limit with the (number of ) dharmas, there is neither a limit with Enlightenment." (bp) Thus, the path of Nirvāṇa is known as having no limit." (bq)...ḥence, it follows that things (dharmas) are neither different from an individual self (pudgala). (br) nor is the self different from things, (bs) and that things and the self inexpressively meet together.(bt)


Jiuhuashan yunhai.JPG

I deliberately avoid Seng-chao's expository statements which contain Taoist jargon to avoid making any interpretative commitment to one [P.67] cultural form or to another. I always try to confine my investigation to the forms and functions of his paradoxical method to see how successfully Seng-chao created the dialectical context, which aone is capable of revealing the Prajñā insight of śūnyatā.

Seng-chao's application of his paradoxical method to terms, relations, and referential objects indicates that he may have been familiar with Mohist logic, and that his knowledge of that logical system may have facilitated him in formulating his dialectical method. Thd use of the Mohist terms hsiao, by which he deliberately designates the dialectical context, warrants careful study. The logical meaning of 'hsiao' fits quite well in that particular passage, preluding the suspicion that it was mistakenly added by scribes. If Seng-chao had in fact used the term, it seems safe to assume that the Mohist terminology was still used by intellectuals of the day. My research on the relationship between Seng-chao's paradoxical method and Mohist logic is not complete. The origin and role of 'hsiao' as a valid inferential criterion is still a mystery to me.

The insight of śūnyatā is not confined to the linguistic and cultural form of Indian people but transcends them. Fundamentally, it was only through this term that Buddhist religiosity was accepted by the Chinese. What Seng-chao teaches us is that, unlike a cultural dissemination, paradoxically, transcendental religiosity involves the application of one's own method to transcend one's own linguistic and cultural forms within one's own cultural and linguistic medium. Seng-chao's paradoxical method seems to vindicate the very fact that he applied his own method in the confines of his own linguistic and cultural forms in a way that was fully parallel with the way Indian Mādhyamikas accomplished the task in their own cultural and linguistic environment.


(1). Libental, op. cit., p.22 [P.68] (2). Robinson, op.cit.,pp.154-155.
(3). The article included in The Professor L.M. Joshi Memorial Volume, Central Institute of Higher Tibetan Studies, Samath, Varanasi, India
(4). śankarasvāmin simplified the inferential rules in his Nyayapraveśakasūtram [GOS, 33 (1930), p.1] pakṣsadharmatvām sapakṣe sattvām vipakṣe cāsattvam iti. (5). RO 26, 1(1962) 7-22; 26,2(1963) 91-105; 27, 1 (1963) 103-121; 28, 2(1965) 87-111; 29, 2(1965)117-138; 30, 1(1966)31-52.
(6). Hu Shih, op.cit., pp.103-105; Graham: op. Cit., p.102 and p.130. Here the principle of agreement and that of difference are translated as: "Having respects in which they are the same is being of the same kind. Not having respects in which they are the same, is not being of a kind," namely: "having some thing by means of which they are (judged to be) the same."
(7). Chmielewski, loc.cit., "Notes on...III." P.109. (8). Ibid., " Notes on.. īI ; " the entirety of the article is devoted to the subject of hsiao.
(9). Ichimura: the resume of the article included in Proceedings of the 31st International Congress of Human Science in Asia and North Africa [[[Wikipedia:Tokyo|Tokyo]]: The Toho Gakkai] 1984, pp.149-150; the full text included in The Dr. S.V. Sohoni Felicitation Volume, JBRS, 1987
(10). For the dialectical treatment on the relation- ship between pramāṇa and prameya, see the Vigrahavyavātanī, partially treated in this article in the following. For the dialectical treatment of the relation between pudgala and dharmas, see the Mūlamādhyamikakārikā X: Agnīndhanaparīksā, where Nāgārjuna uses the metaphor of fire and fuel respectively for pudgala and dharmas. (11).yadi ca svaparātmānau tvadvacanena prakāś- ayaty agnih/ pracchādayisyati tamaḥ svaparātmānau hutāśa iva//36 nāsti tama's ca jvalane yatra ca parātmanijvalanah/ kurute katha^m prakāśa^m sa hi prakāśo
'ndhakāravadhah//37 utpadyamāna eva prakāśayaty agnir ity asadvadah/ utpadyamāna eva prāpnoti tamo na hi hutāśaḥ //38 aprāpto 'pi jvalano yadi va punar andhakāram upahanyāt/ lokadhā tamo 'yam iha sa.msthito hānyat//39
(12).Cf. Ichimura : " An analysis of Mādhyamika dialectic in terms of the logical principle of anvaya-vyatireka, in Studies in Buddhology: The Professor P.V. Bapat Felicitation Volume, ed. Nḥ. Santani [[[Wikipedia:Delhi|Delhi]]: Motilal Banarsidass, 1988], esp. Sect. IV. Also "An Approach to Doogen's dialectical thinking and method of instantiation (a comparative study of Shoo-boo-genzoo), Journal of the International Association of Buddhist Studies, IX, 2(1986) 79-80), in which the verses are put into symbolic notation. [P.69]


(13). Taisho., 45; No. 1858; p.151a(22-24). (14). Ibid., p.151b(18-21).
(15). Ibid., p.151c(10-12). (16). Ibid.p.153c(15-22). (17). Ibid., (23-24); (bu) (18). Ibid.,(26-27): (bv)
(19). Ibid.,p.153c(27-29) and p.154a(1-4).
(20). Ichimura : " A determining factor that differentiated Indian and Chinese Mādhyamika
methods of dialectic as reductio-ad-absurdum and paradoxical argument resepectively, " Journal of Indian and Buddhist Studies, 33, 2(1985) 834-841. (21). gamyamānasya gamane prasaktam gamanadvayam/ yena tad amyamāna^m ca yac cātra gamana^m punaḥ//5 dvay gantārau prasjyete prasakta^m gamanadvaye/ gantāra^m hi tirask.rt ya gamana^m nopapad- yate//6 ganta tavad gacchatiti katham evopapadyate/ gamanena vinā gantā vada naivopapadyate//9 gamane dve prāsajyete gantā yady uta gaccahti/ ganteti cocyate yena ganta san yac ca agcchati //11
(23). JIBS. 36, (1988) [forthcoming].
(24). Hu Sh ih : op. cit., p.95f; Chmielewski : loc. cit., pp.106-109. (25). Taisho., 45, p.152b (16-20).
(26). Ibid., p.161a(7-9). (27). Ibid., (10-12).
(28). Ibid., (12). (29). Ibid., (16-20). P.70
(a)肇論 (t) 故立名以通物 (b)同 (u) 物雖非名,果有可名之物 (c)異 當於此名矣
(d)效 (v) 是以即名求物,物不能隱 (e)物不遷論 (w) 而論云聖心無知 (f)人之所謂動者,以昔物不 (x) 又云無所不知至今,
故曰動而非動 (y) 意謂無知未嘗知 (g)我之所謂靜者,亦以昔物 (z) 知未嘗而知不至今,故曰靜而非動 (aa)斯即名教之所通
(h)動而非靜以其不來 (ab)立言之本意也 (i)靜而非動以其不去 (ac)然論者欲一於聖心
(j)是以言常而不住 (ad)異於文旨 (k)稱去而不遷 (ae)尋之求實,未見其當 (l)不遷,故雖往而常靜 (af )若知得於聖心,無知無所
辨 (m)不住,故雖靜而常往 (ag)若無知得於聖心,知方無 所辨 (n)雖靜而常往,故往而不遷 (ah)若二都無得,無所復論哉
(o)雖往而常靜,故靜而弗留 (aj)聖心者,微妙無相不可為矣 (p)人之所謂住,我則言其去 (aj)用之彌勸,不可為無
(q)人之所謂去,我則言其住 (ak)不可為無,聖智存焉 (r)然則去住雖殊其致一也 (akl)不可為無,故名教絕焉 (r1)般若無
知論 (al)是以言知不為知 (s)夫物無以自通 (am)欲以通鑑,不知非不知 p.71 (an)欲以辨其相,辨相不為無(bi)非聖不理
(ao)通鑑不為有 (bj)理而為聖,聖不異理也
(ap)非有故知而不知 (bk)般若不可於色中求 (aq)非無,故無知而知 (bl)亦不離色中求 (ar)是以知即無知 (bm)不離諸法而得涅槃
(as)無知即知 (bn)見綠起為見法,見法為見 (at)無以言異,而異於聖心也(bo)斯則物我不異之效也 (au)效 (bp)諸法無邊故
菩提無邊 (av)欲言其有,有非真生 (bq)以知涅槃之道 (aw)欲言其無,事象既形 (br)然則不異我 (ax)象形不即無 (bs)我不異物
(ay)非真非實有 (bt)物我去會 (az)然則不真空義,顯於茲矣(bu)經云般若義者,無名無說 (ba)諸法假號不真 非有非無非實非虛

(bb)譬如幻在人 (bv)今試為子狂言辨之 (bc)非無幻化人 (bd)幻化人,非真人也 (be)夫至人空洞無象 (bf )而萬物無非我造