The Nonduality of Motion and Rest: Sengzhao on the Change of Things

In Youru Charlie Wang & Sandra A. Wawrytko (eds.), Dao Companion to Chinese Buddhist Philosophy. Dordrecht: Springer. pp. 175-188 (2018)
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In his essay “Things Do Not Move,” Sengzhao (374?−414 CE), a prominent Chinese Buddhist philosopher, argues for the thesis that the myriad things do not move in time. This view is counter-intuitive and seems to run counter to the Mahayana Buddhist doctrine of emptiness. In this book chapter, I assess Sengzhao’s arguments for his thesis, elucidate his stance on the change/nonchange of things, and discuss related problems. I argue that although Sengzhao is keen on showing the plausibility of the thesis, he actually views the myriad things as both changing and unchanging and upholds the nonduality of motion and rest. In fact, the nonmoving thesis follows from the discernment that things change from moment to moment without there being any enduring stuff in the process. Among philosophical works that confer a higher ontological status on nonchange over change, Sengzhao’s essay is unique and well worth pondering.
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