By Jamie Hubbard
Even with the typical view of Buddhism as non-dogmatic and tolerant, the ancient list preserves many examples of Buddhist thinkers and activities that have been banned as heretical or subversive. The San-chieh (Three degrees) used to be a well-liked and influential chinese language Buddhist move in the course of the Sui and Tang sessions, counting strong statesmen, imperial princes, or even an empress, Empress Wu, between its buyers. In spite, or maybe accurately simply because, of its proximity to energy, the San-chieh circulation ran afoul of the professionals and its teachings and texts have been formally proscribed a variety of occasions 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 accessible. the current paintings, the 1st English learn of the San-chieh circulate, makes use of manuscripts chanced on at Tun-huang to ascertain the doctrine and institutional practices of this circulate within the greater context of Mahayana doctrine and perform. via viewing San-Chieh within the context of Mahayana Buddhism, Hubbard unearths it to be faraway from heretical and thereby increases very important questions about orthodoxy and canon in Buddhism. He indicates that some of the hallmark rules and practices of chinese language Buddhism locate an early and certain expression within the San-chieh texts.
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Extra info for Absolute Delusion, Perfect Buddhahood: The Rise and Fall of a Chinese Heresy
67 Practice in Accord with the Capacity, 145. 68 Practice in Accord with the Capacity, 152. The P’u fa ssu fo is the subject of chapter 5 and is translated in Appendix A, below; see also Nishimoto, Sangaikyõ, 205–16 and 609–22. Another text that details San-chieh contemplative exercises is Pelliot 2268, to which Nishimoto has given the title The Abridged Teaching on the Contemplation of the Three Levels (San chieh kuan fa lüeh shih X‰ÖÀFt); see Sangaikyõ, 216–19 and 623–49. 475a. Hui-ssu, Tao-ch’o, and Chih-i are only a few of the prominent teachers associated with the Fang teng rite; see Stevenson, “The T’ien-t’ai Four Forms of Sam„dhi,” 82–94, 175–88; see also 538–96 for a translation of Chih-i’s Fang teng san mei hsing fa ¾fX*‘À.
It was also in China that we ³rst encounter individuals convinced that the predicted demise had actually arrived, due in part to a preexisting and pervasive indigenous discourse of decline. In an interesting twist, the dominant use in China of the Buddhist polemic of orthodoxy was to legitimize new teachings, of which the Three Levels is one example. An important reason for this was that the decline came to be seen in terms of a decline in human nature, a claim about the corrupt existential condition of living beings rather than a decline of time or doctrine.
While standing squarely in the middle of these developments, the scope and success of Hsin-hsing’s implementation of the doctrine of d„na in terms of a concrete practice were unprecedented. I am referring to the institution of the Inexhaustible Storehouse (detailed in part 3 of this study), a massive and wildly popular charitable lending institution born of a blending of Vinaya rules governing the receipt of material goods and the Mahayana doctrine of the “inexhaustible storehouse” of the bodhisattva’s compassion.