Redefining the Ideal Character: A Comparative Study between the Concept of Detachment in the Aṣṭasāhasrikā and Guo Xiang’s Theory of Eremitism at Court

The Aṣṭasāhasrikā Prajñāpāramitā Sūtra criticizes the traditional practice of dwelling in an isolated place for self-cultivation and advocates returning to the human realm with a liberated mind and compassionate engagement. This new theory of detachment aims at defining the Bodhisattva, a new ideal character, for the rising Mahāyāna movement. In his theory of eremitism at court, Guo Xiang 郭象 describes a sage image of governing the empire with a detached mind. This image is invested with the concept of self-liberation from reality and defines a new ideal character that actively engages in sociopolitical affairs while becoming freed from personal concerns. Guo Xiang’s sage image is similar to the Bodhisattva image in several aspects, and textual and historical evidence shows that Guo likely read the two early translations of the Aṣṭasāhasrikā and other Buddhist texts and was influenced by them to a certain extent. With the influence of Buddhist ideas, Guo completed the Mysterious Learning’s mission of harmonizing the teaching of names with spontaneity
Keywords Perfection of Wisdom in Eight Thousand Lines  Detachment  Guo Xiang 郭象  Eremitism at court  Mysterious Learning  Bodhisattva
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DOI 10.1007/s11712-015-9461-y
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Confucian Role Ethics: A Vocabulary.Roger T. Ames - 2011 - The Chinese University Press.

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