Ch'eng-kuan on the Hua-yen Trinity

Chung-Hwa Buddhist Journal 9:341- (1996)
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One of the interpretive devices that Ch'eng-kuan (澄 觀) is famous for having employed to distill the essence of the vast Mahāvaipulya Buddhāvataṃsaka Sūtra (Tafang-kuang fo-hua-yen ching 《大方廣佛華嚴經》 was a series of variations on the contemplative theme (kuan-men 觀門) of the complete interfusion (yüan-jung 圓融) of the scripture's three chief protagonists (san-sheng 三聖) ── the Buddha Vairocana (Pi-lu-che-na 毘盧遮那) and the bodhisattvas Mañjuśrī (Wen-shu-shih-li 文殊師利) and Samantabhadra (P'u-hsien 普賢). By aligning these three powerful sacred persons with a number of philosophical categories that he believed to be central to the sūtra ── categories like "cause" (yin 因 ), "fruition" (kuo 果 ), "faith" (hsin 信 ), "understanding" (chieh 解), "insight" (chih 智), "practice" (hsing 行), "principle" (li 理), etc. ── he provided a focal point at which the rich and vivid meditative and liturgical lives of Hua-yen devotees could be made to converge with their philosophical reflections. Although Ch'eng-kuan invoked this device in several of his writings, his most concerted development of it is a short essay entitled San-sheng yüan-jung kuan-men, which appears to have been written relatively late in his long career. Like many important Hua-yen texts, this essay seems to have been lost in China not long after its author's death. However, it was preserved in Korea and Japan and from the latter country was reintroduced to China in the last years of nineteenth century. Neither in China nor in the West has it yet been adequately studied. The core of the present article is a critical edition of the Chinese text of the essay based on a careful comparison of all available versions and presented together with a copiously annotated English translation. The edition translation are preceded by a brief interpretive introduction and followed by an appendix in which are given: a detailed discussion of the work's textual history, detailed accounts of its various editions, and descriptions of its several surviving paraphrases and commentaries.


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