Mahayana Buddhism: The Doctrinal Foundations (The Library of Religious Beliefs and Practices)

Paul Williams

Language: English

Pages: 456

ISBN: 0415356539

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub

Originating in India, Mahayana Buddhism spread across Asia, becoming the prevalent form of Buddhism in Tibet and East Asia. Over the last twenty-five years Western interest in Mahayana has increased considerably, reflected both in the quantity of scholarly material produced and in the attraction of Westerners towards Tibetan Buddhism and Zen.

Paul Williams’ Mahayana Buddhism is widely regarded as the standard introduction to the field, used internationally for teaching and research and has been translated into several European and Asian languages. This new edition has been fully revised throughout in the light of the wealth of new studies and focuses on the religion’s diversity and richness. It includes much more material on China and Japan, with appropriate reference to Nepal, and for students who wish to carry their study further there is a much-expanded bibliography and extensive footnotes and cross-referencing. Everyone studying this important tradition will find Williams’ book the ideal companion to their studies.


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father has become a very rich man. The son arrives one day at his father’s house. While the son no longer recognizes his father or his new mansion, the father instantly recognizes his son and sends a servant to fetch him. The son, alas, is terrified. The father accordingly realizes that he must introduce him in gradual stages to the truth that he is the son of the father and heir to all this wealth. The father offers his son very menial and dirty work (attaining of Arhatship). He does the job

135–6). Or, as it is put in Sdka Gakkai: To become Buddha means to live everywhere a joyous pleasant life, from the moment you get up in the morning to the time you go to sleep in the evening. To call a life happy and pleasant, when it is without clothing or money, with sickness in the home and debt collectors at the door – that is of no use. (Quoted by Dumoulin 1976: 263) Such a teaching obviously harmonizes with the pressing needs of Japan’s postwar reconstruction and economic growth. How

of intrinsic existence) so all, through having the dharmakAya within, as it were, can embody the dharmakAya – that is, all can become fully-enlightened Buddhas.17 YogÄcÄra – the system develops Yogacara texts frequently refer to the bodies of the Buddha. Particularly important as sources for their model, however, are the MahAyAnasEtrAlaTkAra (M.sEtrAl.) and its commentary, and Asaóga’s MahAyAnasaTgraha (M.saTg.). The Yogacara tradition generally speaks of the Buddha possessing three bodies

interpretation and practice (see here, in particular, Dutt 1970: 42–50). First, there was the division of monks into bodies, each concerned with the recitation and preservation of particular sections of the scriptures. We know that from an early time there were specialists in the Setras, and specialists in the Vinaya. With time the setra specialists, for example, also tended to divide into groups specializing in particular sections of the Setra canon. With the rise of the Abhidharma as a

nature is the world as it is experienced by everyday unenlightened folk, the world of (assumed) really existing subjects confronting really existing and separate objects. It is how things appear to us, the realm of subject–object duality. These things do not actually exist at all (TriTZikA v. 20; Vasubandhu 1984). Things are not really like that. The second Nature, the dependent nature (paratantrasvabhAva), is, according to the SaTdhinirmocana SEtra, the dependent origination of dharmas, that is,

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