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By Jamie Hubbard

Despite the typical view of Buddhism as non-dogmatic and tolerant, the old checklist preserves many examples of Buddhist thinkers and pursuits that have been banned as heretical or subversive. The San-chieh (Three degrees) was once a well-liked and influential chinese language Buddhist circulation throughout the Sui and Tang classes, counting robust statesmen, imperial princes, or even an empress, Empress Wu, between its buyers. In spite, or maybe accurately simply because, of its proximity to strength, the San-chieh move ran afoul of the specialists and its teachings and texts have been formally proscribed various instances over a several-hundred-year historical past. as a result of those suppressions San-chieh texts have been misplaced and little information regarding its teachings or background is offered. the current paintings, the 1st English learn of the San-chieh circulation, makes use of manuscripts found at Tun-huang to ascertain the doctrine and institutional practices of this circulate within the greater context of Mahayana doctrine and perform. by way of viewing San-Chieh within the context of Mahayana Buddhism, Hubbard unearths it to be faraway from heretical and thereby increases vital questions about orthodoxy and canon in Buddhism. He exhibits that the various hallmark principles and practices of chinese language Buddhism locate an early and distinct expression within the San-chieh texts.

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Extra resources for Absolute Delusion, Perfect Buddhahood: The Rise and Fall of a Chinese Heresy

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92 The fact that the various practices relating to food come ³rst reµects a central concern with the rules for receiving alms and eating in the San-chieh community, and, inasmuch as I have no knowledge of Hsin-hsing or his followers practicing the dhðta relating to dwelling, perhaps indicates a preferential order as well. 94 Universal respect The practices described so far—various forms of meditative exercise, penitential rites, regular periods of daily worship, and the ascetic practices of the dhðta—all serve to locate Hsin-hsing in the general context of Buddhist practices popular in the northern dynasties during the late sixth century.

He argued that all living beings faced a very practical crisis in such a situation, each and every one beset by attachments to false or perverted views and incapable of accurately distinguishing true from false. Yet his teachings also embraced the nonduality of the Hua-yen, the Ekay„na, and tathagatagarbha traditions that proclaimed the Buddhahood of those same living beings. Based on these two seemingly contradictory ideas, Hsin-hsing taught the “universal doctrine” (p’u fa 3À), an all-encompassing vision that looked to the ultimate Buddha-nature of all things and refused to discriminate that ultimate truth from its conventional manifestation, thereby eliminating the distinction 1 Nid„navagga-¦‡k„ and Khandhavagga-¦‡k„, volume 33 in Dhammagiri-P„li-Gantham„l„ (Igatpuri: Vipassana Research Institute, 1994).

By T. W. Rhys Davids and Hermann Oldenberg, Sacred Books of the East, 1885, Motilal reprint, 1975), Part III, 250 ff. 86 87 Cf. E. G. Kemper, “Buddhism Without Bikkhus: The Sri Lanka Vinaya Vardena Society” in Religion and Legitimation of Power in Sri Lanka, ed. by Bardwell L. Smith (Chambersburg: Anima Books, 1978), p. 216. 26 / hsin-hsing— a buddhist heretic? not been as well commented on as the Buddhist involvement in ³nancial activities, economic enterprise, military operations, and the like, Chinese monks have also often been noted for their dhðta practice.

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