Avīci Hell and wújiān in the Cognitive Process: Observations on Some Technical Terms in the Jié tuō dào lùn

Journal of Indian Philosophy 44 (5):939-956 (2016)

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Abstract
The text Jié tuō dào lùn, or Chinese translation of *Vimuttimagga mentions the Avīci Hell all of a sudden in the section on the cognitive process. The problematic phrase wújiān shēng Āpídìyù has been interpreted in different ways by several scholars. Japanese scholars tend to skip the phrase, or regard the term Āpídìyù as a typographic error. Given that we do not have an original text, however, the phrase needs to be understood as it is. In contrast, the English translation interprets the term wújiān as a name of hell, and considers it as a synonym of Āpídìyù, namely the Avīci Hell. Even though the Chinese term wújiān itself is usually understood as the Avīci Hell, namely, Wújiāndìyù or Āpídìyù, of which the corresponding Pāli is Avīci-niraya, it is not the case here since a hell as such has nothing to do with the cognitive process. Assuming that the term Āpídìyù is not a typographic error, I propose to understand this problematic phrase as the simile in the sentence ‘seven mind-moments [immediately proceed just as one who has performed] the Five Sins is reborn into the Avīci Hell [as soon as he dies]’. The term wújiān meaning ‘no-gap’ in the cognitive process section conveys that there is not any intermission between the successive mind-moments. In Pāli perspectives, it implies that the successive mind-moments are in the proximity condition. The Jié tuō dào lùn was likely to use a metaphor in order to set a rule for governing the cognitive process rather than making a specific technical term.
Keywords Wújiān  Avīci Hell   Anantara-paccaya   Jié tuō dào lùn  *Vimuttimagga
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DOI 10.1007/s10781-015-9287-2
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