An Anachronistic Analogy: Rereading the Dàshèng qǐxìn lùn in the light of Ratnākaraśānti’s Prajñāpāramitopadeśa

Journal of Indian Philosophy 48 (5):845-888 (2020)
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Abstract

This paper is a comparative study of two texts separated by a considerable temporal-spatial gap. The methodological approach is, as we would like to define it, a-philological. Five central concepts drawn from the Dàshèng qǐxìn lùn, traditionally associated with Aśvaghoṣa, Paramārtha, and Śikṣānanda, shall be examined against the related ideas found in Ratnākaraśānti’s Prajñāpāramitopadeśa. Our observations are the following: 1) The two dimensions of the single mind advocated in the QXL are doctrinally identical to the two forms of the dependent nature in the PPU. 2) The intermingling mind which is taken as ālayavijñāna in the QXL, corresponds to the imagination of the unreal in the PPU. 3) The mutual perfuming of the real and the unreal is in essence the same as the false inseparability of clear light and image in the PPU. 4) The essence of perception and its synonyms used in the QXL, its commentarial literature and other related texts, find equivalents such as prakāśamānatā, prakāśātmatā, saṃvedyatā, buddhilakṣaṇa, in the PPU. 5) The concept of activated perception in the QXL sheds light on a puzzling word in the PPU, arvāk, which can be interpreted as the opposite of “suddenly” in the QXL. Our investigation reaffirms the philosophical value as well as the religious legitimacy of the QXL, and it underscores the significance of the late mādhyamika texts for Buddhist Studies.

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