The Way of Nonacquisition: Jizang's Philosophy of Ontic Indeterminacy

In Chen-Kuo Lin & Michael Radich (eds.), A Distant Mirror: Articulating Indic Ideas in Sixth and Seventh Century Chinese Buddhism. Hamburg: Hamburg University Press. pp. 397-418 (2014)
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For Jizang (549−623), a prominent philosophical exponent of Chinese Madhyamaka, all things are empty of determinate form or nature. Given anything X, no linguistic item can truly and conclusively be applied to X in the sense of positing a determinate form or nature therein. This philosophy of ontic indeterminacy is connected closely with his notion of the Way (dao), which seems to indicate a kind of ineffable principle of reality. However, Jizang also equates the Way with nonacquisition as a conscious state of freedom from any attachment and definite understanding whatsoever. The issue then becomes pressing as to how we are to understand Jizang's notion of the Way. Does it indicate some metaphysical principle or reality? Is it actually a skilful expedient to lead one to the consummate state of complete spiritual freedom? How is this issue related to Jizang's conception of ontic indeterminacy? In this book chapter, I examine Jizang's key writings in an attempt to clarify his ontological position.
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