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Sautrantika school

From Tibetan Buddhist Encyclopedia
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Sautrantika school
経量部 (Skt; Jpn Kyoryo-bu)

    One of the twenty Hinayana schools.

The Sautrantika school broke away from the Sarvastivada school. Unlike the Sarvastivadins, who valued abhidharma works, or Buddhist treatises, the Sautrantikas relied only on the sutras.

Whereas the Sarvastivada school held that the dharmas, or elements of existence, are real and have an abiding existence of their own, the Sautrantika school taught that the dharmas have actual existence only in the present and that only the present exists.

The Sautrantika doctrine is similar in several aspects to Mahayana thought and is regarded by some scholars as the origin of the Consciousness-Only, or Yogachara, teaching because the two share in common the concept of "karmic seeds," the causes or sources of all phenomena, which are inherent in life.

  Sautrāntika, ancient school of Buddhism that emerged in century BCas an offshoot of the Sarvāstivāda (“All-Is-Real Doctrine”).

The school is so called because of its reliance on the sutras, or words of the Buddha, and its rejection of the authority of the Abhidharma, a part of the canon.

The Sautrāntikas maintained that though events (dharmas) have only momentary existence, there is a transmigrating substratum of consciousness that contains within it seeds of goodness that are in every person.

The Sautrāntika sometimes is characterized as a transitional school that led to the development of the Mahāyāna tradition, and many of its views influenced later Yogācāra thought. Indian Buddhism, as transmitted to Tibet, had four main schools of philosophical tenets (grub-mtha’).

According to tradition,Buddha is the source of them all. Various Indian masters wrote the major treatises presenting the views of the four.

Two of the tenet systems are Hinayana (theg-dman) –Vaibhashika (bye-brag smra-ba) and Sautrantaka (mdo-sde-pa) – and two are Mahayana (theg-chen) – Chittamatra (sems-tsam-pa) and Madhyamaka (dbu-ma-pa). Each has several subdivisions. According to the Sautrantika:

Superficial true phenomena have their existence established merely by their being imputed by conceptual cognition (rtog-pas btags-pa-tsam-du grub-pa). They lack the ability to perform functions and thus lack substantially established existence.

They include all static phenomena.

Deepest true phenomena have their existence established from the side of their own individual manner of abiding (rang-gi sdod-lugs-kyi ngos-nas grub-pa), without depending on being imputed by words or conceptual cognition. They have the ability to perform functions and thus have substantially established existence. They include all nonstatic phenomena.

Modes of Existence of the Two Truths in Sautrantika Existence Established by Something’s Self-Nature and Existence Established from Something’s Own Side Existence established by something’s self-nature (rang-bzhin-gyis grub-pa, findably established existence, inherent existence) and existence established from something’s own side (rang-ngos-nas grub-pa) are synonymous terms (don-gcig).

If a phenomenon has one of the two types of existence, it also has the other, and vice versa. Both modes of existence are defined as existence established by the fact that when one searches for the referent “thing” (btags-don) – the actual “thing” referred to by a name or concept, corresponding to the names or concepts for something – that referent “thing” is findable. The referent “thing” is findable on the side of the object that is being named. This definition is accepted by all tenet systems.

Sautrantika, Buddhist Philosophy

Sautrantika was an early school of Buddhist philosophy. They are believed to be descended from the Sthaviravada.

Abhidharma texts of other early Buddhist schools were also not accepted by these schools.

Sautrantika philosophy rejects the view of the Vaibhashikas that physical objects consisting of real basic ingredients are directly perceived.

Reality consists of unique momentary particulars with a specific causal power. Particulars cause sensory impressions of which the mind forms images.

This school feels that the variety of experience must have extra-mental causes although one is not directly acquainted with it. The direct objects of awareness are not physical objects but ideas having their own forms. There is no match between cause and representative content.

Sautrantikas object to the Vaibhashika tenet that physical objects are built up out of partless atoms. The Sautrantika differed from their parent school - the Sarvastivadins as far as ontology is concerned.

The Sautrantika subscribed to a doctrine of "extreme momentariness" that believed that only the present moment existed. They used the concept of an asraya to explain the continuity of consciousness through rebirth.

The school is so called because of its reliance on the sutras, or on the words of Lord Buddha.

There are two kinds of Sautrantikas: the Sautrantikas who follow scripture whose description of the two truths accords with that of the Vaibhashikas and the Sautrantikas following logic who take as their basis, Dharmakirti's Seven Treatises on Logic.