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This volume makes available in English the seminal treatises in Korea's greatest interreligious debate of the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries. On Mind, Material Force, and Principle and An Array of Critiques of Buddhism by Confucian statesman Ch?ng Toj?n (1342-1398) and Exposition of Orthodoxy by S?n monk Kihwa (1376-1433) are presented here with extensive annotation. A substantial introduction provides a summary and analysis of the philosophical positions of both Neo-Confucianism and Buddhism as well as a germane history of the interactions between these two traditions in East Asia, offering insight into religious tensions that persist to this day. Translator A. Charles Muller shows how, from the time Confucianism and Buddhism met in China, these thought systems existed, along with Daoism, in a competing relationship that featured significant mutual influence. A confrontative situation eventually developed in China, wherein Confucian leaders began to criticize Buddhism. During the late-Kory? and early-Chos?n periods in Korea, the Neo-Confucian polemic became the driving force in the movement to oust Buddhism from its position as Korea's state religion. In his essays, Ch?ng drew together the gamut of arguments that had been made against Buddhism throughout its long history in Korea. Kihwa's essay met Neo-Confucian contentions with an articulate Buddhist response. Thus, in a rare moment in the history of religions, a true philosophical debate ensued. This debate was made possible based upon the two religions' shared philosophical paradigm: essence-function (ch'e-yong). This traditional East Asian way of interpreting society, events, phenomena, human beings, and the world understands all things to have both essence and function, two contrasting yet wholly contiguous and mutually containing components. All three East Asian traditions took this as their underlying philosophical paradigm, and it is through this paradigm that they evaluated and criticized each other's doctrines and practices. Specialists in philosophy, religion, and Korean studies will appreciate Muller's exploration of this pivotal moment in Korean intellectual history. Because it includes a broad overview of the interactive history of East Asian religions, this book can also serve as a general introduction to East Asian philosophical thought.
The Brahma's Net Sutra plays an important niche role in the development of East Asian Mahayana Buddhism. It is the primary extant Vinaya text that articulates the precepts from a Mahayana perspective. That is, it takes its main audience to be bodhisattva practitioners, mainly householders who remain engaged with society rather than becoming renunciant monks or nuns. The Vinayas, and especially the discourse in this sutra, show monastic and lay Buddhist practitioners engaged at every level of society, from top to bottom. Buddhist practitioners were involved in military affairs, political intrigues, matchmaking, and every other sort of mundane social activity. The Vinaya texts reveal how the Buddhist community in its time judged and dealt with such matters. The Brahma's Net Sutra was written in two fascicles, each radically different in structure, content, theme, grammar, etc., from the other. The first fascicle discusses the forty Mahayana stages: the ten departures toward the destination, the ten nourishing states of mind, the ten adamantine states of mind, and the ten bodhisattva grounds. The second fascicle explains the ten grave precepts and the forty-eight minor precepts. These came to be referred to as the bodhisattva precepts, the great Brahma's Net precepts, the buddha precepts, and so forth. The second fascicle has been especially esteemed, studied, and circulated separately for more than a millennium as the scriptural authority for the Mahayana bodhisattva precepts. [Adapted from the Translators' Introduction.]
Leading East Asian Buddhist thinkers of the seventh century compared, analyzed, and finalized seminal epistemological and soteriological issues that had been under discussion in India and East Asia for centuries. Among the many doctrinal issues that came to the fore was the relationship between the Tathagatagarbha (or Buddha-nature ) understanding of the human psyche and the view of basic karmic indeterminacy articulated by the new stream of Indian Yogacara introduced through the translations and writings of Xuanzang and his disciples. The great Silla scholiast Wonhyo (617-686), although geographically located on the periphery in the Korean peninsula, was very much at the center of the intense discussion and debate that occurred on these topics. Through the force of his writings, he became one of the most influential figures in resolving doctrinal discrepancies for East Asian Buddhism. Although many of Wonhyo's writings are lost, through his extant work we are able to get a solid glimpse of his profound and learned insights on the nature and function of the human mind. We can also clearly see his hermeneutical approaches and methods of argumentation, which are derived from apophatic Madhyamika analysis, the newly introduced Buddhist logic, as well as various indigenous East Asian approaches. This volume includes four of Wonhyo's works that are especially revelatory of his treatment of the complex flow of ideas in his generation: System of the Two Hindrances (Yijang ui), Treatise on the Ten Ways of Resolving Controversies (Simmun hwajaeng non), Commentary on the Discrimination between the Middle and the Extremes (Chungbyon punbyollon so), and the Critical Discussion on Inference (P'an piryang non).