Contemplation of Mutual Identity Theory in Chinese Buddhism*
- Author: Chang Ae Soon (Ven. Kye Hwan)
- Publish: International Journal of Buddhist Thought and Culture Volume 18, Issue0, p25~46, Feb 2012
While many scholars consider pratītyasamutpādavāda (緣起論, The theory of Dependent Arising) as the basic thought of Buddhism, it is possible to say that Ji (卽) is the main logic which is necessarily derived from this pratītyasamutpādavāda thought. Meanwhile, in order to construct logic of Ji, the inconsistency which stands on the basis of śūnyatā (空, emptiness) must be resolved first. Besides this, the reason why Huayan’s Ji gets involved with others (相卽相入) in the Dharma Realm of non-obstruction of particular-phenomena and particular-phenomena (事事無碍法界) is that it tides over (超克) being functioned by the negative catalyst of śūnyatā. So firstly, from this point of view, I intend to find an example of how Ji (卽) is translated and investigate what aspect of previous logics it criticizes through Jizang’s Mutual Identity Theory of the Absolute Truth and Conventional Truth (二諦相卽論, Erdixiangjilun). And secondly, I intend to investigate the original meanings of Ji mainly through the writings of Fazang and also investigate the true nature of Ji in Huayan doctrines and how and why it utilizes Ji. By doing so, I finally intend to supplement previous studies and at the same time, through contemplation of Mutual Ji Theory (相卽論), I intend to investigate the true ideal : the viewpoint of truth (眞理觀). Namely, I mean to investigate Mutual Ji Theory which is an indispensible logical gateway when one is about to study non-obstruction of particular-phenomena and particular-phenomena (事事無碍, Shishiwoai), which is the main theory of Huayan doctrines.
Chinese Buddhism , Huayan , Wujiaozhang , Fazang , Jizang
The concept of
Ji(卽) is a very important way to express some key points of Buddhist philosophy. Its special significance is found in the way that it functions harmoniously and unobstructively, and itself composes the absolute realm in the Huayan doctrine that originated in China.
Accordingly, it is thought that in one is contained within the concept of two or ten and that it is possible to derive two or ten by way of one. It is by this pathway that the relationship in which one is the same as all things (一卽一切) and all things are one (一切卽一) is established; furthermore, there come mutual identity and mutual intercausality (相卽相入), which result in this infinitely repeated (重重無盡) Dharma Realm of non-obstruction of particular-phenomena and particular-phenomena (事事無碍法界). This shows an understanding from the standpoint of dependent arising (緣起) in its every part.
It has already become a widely-accepted opinion that dependent arising forms the fundamental idea of Buddhism; and from this basis we can say that the very logic of
Jiis a pivotal one inevitably drawn from this idea of dependent arising.
The reason why the conflictive contradiction based on emptiness (空) should be a precondition in establishing the logic of
Ji, and why the ultimate goal of Huayan Jiis mutual identity and mutual intercausality in the Dharma Realm of the interpenetration of all things, is that Jimeans transcending through the intermediation of conflictive contradiction among particular-phenomena (事).
It was Jizang (吉藏, 549‑623) that ideologically developed the logic of
Jiin Chinese Buddhism, and this monograph begins by examining in what respect the proposal of the mutual identity theory of the absolute truth and conventional truth (二諦相卽論) criticizes the previous logic. After that, it contemplates the fundamental significance of mutual identity and mutual intercausality, focusing on what is Jiin the Huayan doctrine, how Jihappens and why Jitakes place. By understanding these matters traditional studies1 could be complemented, and on the other hand, the Huayan viewpoint on truth (眞理觀) could be revealed through examining mutual identity theory; that is the final purpose of this manuscript.
1Kamekawa 1950; Sato 1954 ; Ishii 1989; Jang 1993.
The statement focusing on the “mutual identity of the twofold truth” in the second volume of the
Meaning of the Twofold Truth(二諦義) written by Jizang served to make Jicome into ideological question in Chinese Buddhism. The scriptures which Jizang made the direct basis of his arguments discussing the meaning of the mutual identity of the twofold truth in the Meaning of the Twofold Truthare the Nirvāṇa Sūtra(涅槃經), the Mahāprajñāparamitā Sūtra(大品般若) and the Vimalakīrti-nirdeśa Sūtra(維摩經). Although the examples he presented of the mutual identity of the twofold truth have the same fundamental meaning, the detailed expressions in those scriptures do not (T. 45, no. 1854, 104c).
Profound Questions and Answers Based on Mahayana Buddhism(大乘玄問答) Chinkai (珍海) explains this as follows:
Jiof mutual-inclusiveness and the Jiof sameness are the description of the meaning of mutual identity (相卽義) by the masters of the Tattvasiddhi-śāstra(成實論師); this is not necessarily a unique predicate of the Three Treatise School as Chinkai said. The interpretation of the two Sutras by the Three Treatise School, which does not include conceptual distinction, just points out differences in their expressions. Besides, at the same time it could be expected that inside the dual concepts of Ji(卽) is the interpretation of the meaning of mutual identity based on these two sutras (Hirai 1976, 570).
In other words, this means that in the background to the formation of the logic of
Ji(卽) was the mutual identity theory of the twofold truth, which was formulated by the masters of the Tattvasiddhi-śāstrain China’s Liang dynasty (梁代) whom Jizang introduced and criticized.
Then, to understand the background to the establishment of the mutual identity theory of the twofold truth we should examine how the meaning of the mutual identity of the twofold truth is explained by the masters of the
Tattvasiddhi-śāstrain China’s Liang Dynasty.
Jizang introduced the theories formulated by three philosophers—Sengmin (僧旻, 467‑527) of Zhuangyansi (莊嚴寺), Zhizang (智藏, 458‑523) of Kaishansi (開善寺), and Sengchuo (僧綽, unidentified) of Longguangsi (龍光寺)—as the typical conventional meaning of mutual identity. According to Jizang’s explanation, Sengmin and Zhizang clarified that the twofold truth is one body (二諦一体), and Sengchuo made it clear that the twofold truth has a separate essence (二諦異体). Jizang went on to explain that they tried to know whether the conventional meaning of mutual identity belongs to one body (一) or a separate body (異) (T. 45, 105b).
Though Jizang himself did not treat all these three theories in his
Profound Theory of Mahayana(大乘玄論), he mentioned as follows:
Jizang also introduced these two kinds of mutual identity theory in the
Profound Meaning of the Three Treatises(三論玄義), and mentioned the theory of one body or a separate body (一·異體說) related with the twofold truth; judging from this, we could guess that these theories of the masters of the Tattvasiddhi-śāstrawere featured in those days.
In addition the reason for avoiding conceptual distinction allows us to get a sense of Jizang’s attitude in which he tried to discuss the mutual identity of the twofold truth from the standpoint where he took a balanced approach to the
Jimeaning mutual-inclusiveness and the Jimeaning sameness; in other words, he understood them as neither one body (一) nor a separate body (異) (Hirai 1976, 571, footnote 5).
Then, what is Jizang’s own logic of mutual identity? What should be addressed before examining this is that in fact he put a high valuation on the
Flower Adornment Sūtra(華嚴經) as the Sutra that reveals the fundamental viewpoint of Buddhism, though his role as a great master of the doctrine of the Three Treatises (三論敎學) is so much emphasized that his relationship with the Flower Adornment Sūtrais overlooked (Kimura 1977a, 57).
In that sense, let’s examine first of all how much effect the Huayan idea of non-obstruction had on the establishment of Jizang’s mutual identity of the twofold truth.
His answer in
A Commentary on Madhyamaka-śāstra(中論疏, T. 42, 62c) to the question of how to break the two views (二見) of existence and nonexistence (有無) is that before anything else the sensory organ called eyes is itself inherently void and tranquil (空寂) but it is able to see everything. As evidence drawn from Sutras (經證) he cited the Vimalakīrti-nirdeśa Sūtraand the Flower Adornment Sūtra, proving the cited passages reveal that eyes see the whole thing but there is nothing to see and that there is nothing invisible. Then, from these arguments he drew “the non-obstruction of emptiness and existence (空有無礙)” as a general basis for an argument, and again he asserted a free function (自在性) without constraints of the six sense organs (六根) based on “the non-obstruction of emptiness and existence.”
Jizang’s idea of non-obstruction is connected first to the non-obstruction of emptiness and existence and then to the non-obstruction of the function of the six sense organs; his similar idea of the non-obstruction of emptiness and existence is revealed in his
Meaning of the Twofold Truth(T. 45, 85b). In other words, he elucidated the essence of the twofold truth from the standpoint of the non-obstruction of cause and condition (因緣無礙). At this point I would like to pay attention to the fact that he grasps on to the so-called Threefold-Truth Verse (三諦偈) in the Madhyamaka-śāstra(中論, T. 30, 33b) through the non-obstruction of time (竪) in the sense that “all nominal existences are of one reality (假卽中)” and through the non-obstruction of space (橫) in the sense that “all the existences are empty (有卽空)”; and that from the latter he draws the non-obstruction of emptiness and existence. Besides, he discusses “the non-obstruction of all dharmas (一切 法無礙)” focused on “existence” by way of the Flower Adornment Sūtraas scriptural evidence. We could see that his thinking develops from “the non-obstruction of emptiness and existence” into “the non-obstruction of all dharmas” on the basis of the ideas contained in the Flower Adornment Sūtra.
He explains the idea of the mutual identity between a thought-moment (一念) and innumerable eons (無量劫) based on the teaching of the
Chapter on the Merit of the Bodhisattva with the First Arousal of the Determination for Enlightenment(初發心菩薩功德品) in the Flower Adornment Sūtraas follows in the Meaning of the Twofold Truth:
Jizang’s statement means that innumerable eons are not different from a thought-moment in that both of them are the way of enlightenment. Nevertheless, this does not mean losing a thought-moment, because so-called innumerable eons are not an assembly of innumerable eons and so is a thought-moment. It is an obvious fact, he says, that innumerable eons are a thought-moment in the way they are. The citation “according to a sutra” at the end of the sentence appears in the
Chapter on Tathagata’s Luminous Enlightenment(如來光明覺品, T. 10, 423a) in the Flower Adornment Sūtra, but here the mutual identity of innumerable eons and a thought-moment is explained on the basis of non-obstruction.
Jizang seriously makes arguments on the meaning of mutual identity in the form of counterarguments to the doctrine of the above-mentioned masters of the
First, in fact Jizang’s main arguments on the two theories by Sengmin and Zhizang concentrate on making adversaries fall into the dilemma of the sameness (同一性) and difference (別異性) of the twofold truth.2 Are they a single body (一体) or a separate body (別体)? That is, the dilemma of sameness and difference can be applied to any themes set up by conceptual distinction. As the twofold truth told by the school based on the
Tattvasiddhi-śāstrameans principles and rules (約理) and perceptual objects (約境), their theory of the twofold truth says as if there are the two forms of truth. Such twofold truth as principles and rules and perceptual objects cannot avoid the dilemma of sameness and difference. Therefore, Jizang goes further than denying the two standpoints of sameness and difference (一異), denying3 even the concept of “the same and not the same (卽不卽).”
Then from the position in which he contradicts and confutes the traditional meaning of the mutual identity of the twofold truth, how does Jizang account for this issue? After presupposing that the following statement, which interprets the meaning of the mutual identity of emptiness and existence (空有相卽), is one theory of his teacher Falang (法朗, 508‑81), he clearly proclaims as follows in his
Meaning of the Twofold Truth:
Since the twofold truth is the theoretical aspect (敎門) and a verbalism (言說), the concept of existence is the existence of emptiness, that is, nominal existence or existence based on emptiness, although every verbalism says that existence is the conventional truth. Although emptiness is said to be the absolute truth, this emptiness is the emptiness of existence, in other words, nominal emptiness or emptiness involving existence. Likewise, nominal existence and nominal emptiness are both nominal, so emptiness is existence the way it is and existence is emptiness the way it is―the twofold truth becomes mutually identical (相互融卽). This is Jizang’s logic of the mutual identity of the twofold truth.
In short, when viewed neither from the standpoint of sameness (不一) and difference (不異), nor from the standpoint of the
Jiof mutual-inclusiveness (不相離) and the Ji of sameness (不卽是), this seems to negate everything; however, affirming them from the standpoint of nothing to be attained (無所得) could be said to be not negating.
2T. 45, 105b‑c. 3T. 45, 107b‑c.
The ultimate goal (究竟) of Huayan doctrine is also for Ji to be perceived in the flow of mutual identity and mutual intercausality in the Dharma Realm of non-obstruction of particular-phenomena and particular-phenomena (事事無碍法界). Besides, the viewpoint of dependent arising inherent in mutual identity is also the doctrinal theme that underlies the
Flower Adornment Sūtra(Kyookee 1933, 23).
Jiis said to be the inevitable conclusion of dependent arising from the Dharma Realm, the logic of that Jimight be seen as most clearly showing the standpoint of One Vehicle Teachings (一乘敎). It is natural that the concept of Jiis also dealt with as an important theme by Three Vehicle Teachings (三乘敎); however, if we criticize this from the logic of Jibased on dependent arising from the Dharma Realm, the Jiof the Three Vehicle Teachings is not safe from the criticism that it is not very convincing (Kamekawa 1950, 62, footnote 2). This is because if we say everything (一切) exists in that it is the same everywhere from the beginning, there cannot exist neither opposition nor contradiction; furthermore, the logic of Jias non-obstruction cannot be established.
On the other hand, from the standpoint of the advocates of the One Vehicle theory the afflictions are none other than enlightenment (煩惱卽菩提) and birth-and-death is in itself
nirvāna(生死卽涅槃) immediately present in a thought-moment. We can say that this emphasizes that form is emptiness (色卽是空) from the absolutely identical viewpoint. This viewpoint is revealed well in the interpretation of form and emptiness in Fazang’s A Commentary on the Heart Sūtra(般若心經略疏) (T. 33, 553a‑c).
However, Fazang (法藏, 643‑712) is most satisfactorily putting forward the logic of
Jiby way of explaining mutual identity and mutual intercausality in his Huayanwujiaozhang(華嚴五敎章). This is, as it were, an argument that the world of dependent arising is formed through the process in which one thing is dependent (不相由) and so embraces all the other things (一切) within itself. When we think that this one thing has the same body (同体) as the other things and that everything is interdependent (相由) and this establishes the world of dependent arising, then they (一切) are in the relationship of the separate essence (異体).
This means that when we think of a phenomenal world with one thing as a center, the way of thinking based on the same body is established; when we think of it from the standpoint of dependence on all the other things, the way of thinking based on the separate essence is set up. In other words, the reason why there are two gates related with the separate essence is that there are always two meanings in all the laws of dependent arising: the first meaning is emptiness and existence seen from the viewpoint of essence and the second meaning is power and no-power seen from the viewpoint of function. This latter means that mutual identity is possible because of dependence on power (力); and that mutual intercausality is possible on account of dependence on no-power (無力).
Here is a concrete explanation of mutual identity from the standpoint of the separate-essence gate (異體門):
In this quote the meaning of mutual identity is revealed from the standpoint of emptiness and existence relevant to essence. Above all, what is the meaning of “going upward”? Going upward means that if one is deemed as the fundamental number (本數), facing nine branch numbers (末數), then one is two; one is three; or one is ten.
In succession, if two is deemed as the fundamental number in the same way, then two is one; two is ten. If ten is thought of as the fundamental number, ten is one; ten is two; ten is nine. The next coming downward is subtracting in order, on the contrary to going upward. Likewise, when we look at everything with one thing at a center, we can understand its sameness with everything. The independence of an individual object and its sameness with the whole are the same body; in comparison, there are countless individual objects in the world, which are the different entities from the standpoint of the dependent relationship between one individual object and another.
Therefore, we can see that mutual identity is the
Jirelevant to the essence (體: emptiness [空] and existence [有]) of dharma (法); and that mutual intercausality is the Ji related with function (用: powerful [有力] and powerless [無力]). Thus, because essence and function are nothing other than the two meanings of dharma, it is said that mutual identity immediately includes mutual intercausality and it is also nothing other than mutual identity. Fazang explained this point in Wujiaozhang(五敎章) as follows:
This explanation intends to set up the logic of
Jifrom each standpoint of essence and function, which must have mutual understanding. Thus, if mutual identity is preached, it becomes mutual intercausality; if mutual intercausality is discussed, mutual identity cannot help being mentioned. If so, a question arises as to how it is possible to preach that one contains many (一中多) and one is many (一卽多). It is said that’s because the former focuses on the form (相) of numbers (數), that is, a realistic aspect; while the latter focuses on the principle (理) of numbers, that is, an intrinsic aspect (Kimura 1977b, 529).
In that sense, mutual identity and mutual intercausality might be said to be free from any obstruction between them.
The “same-essence gate” (同體門) intends to explain the mutual identity and mutual intercausality of the number with which one is inherently equipped; the “gate of mutual entry” (相入門) means that one contains many and many contains one; while the gate of mutual identity (相卽門) means that one is many and many is one. Fazang explained this as follows in his
As far as the mutual identity and mutual intercausality of the same-essence gate4 are concerned, its purpose is not different from that of the separate-essence gate. However, the facts that one is many and many is one are not just repeating the same fact in reverse order at all. The fact that one is many means that an individual being itself represents the whole in mutual identity; on the other hand, in mutual intercausality many is one because the whole represents rather the abstractive aspect of an individual being in the sense in which the very whole is what makes an individual being be truly individual.
Nagarjuna’s (龍樹) viewpoint in
Madhyamaka-sastra(中論) with consistent negation, so to speak, shows that contradiction is rather the basis of union; on the other hand, we can see again that the Huayan viewpoint tries to actively cope with contradiction.
The nature of the dependent arising of the same essence (同體緣起) consists in the time called “the same time” (同時).5 The true original nature of dependent arising should not be explained separately through the concepts of the different essence or the same essence; these conceptual divisions are made for convenience sake. Therefore, it is natural that the explanation of mutual intercausality is changed into that of mutual identity; and that the explanation of the different-essence gate ends up becoming that of the same-essence gate.
Such logic is concretely explained by the metaphor of ten coins (十錢), which originally appears in the
Chapter on the Poetic Verses Taught by the Bodhisattva at the Palace of the Heaven of the God Yāma(夜摩天宮菩薩說偈 品) in the Flower Adornment SūtraVol. 10.6 Such logical concepts as mutual identity and mutual intercausality attain their highest meaning in the ten mysterious aspects of dependent arising (十玄緣起).
The name “the ten mysterious aspects of dependent arising” is derived from the fact that it represents the realistic image of the extremely profound and subtle world by way of the ten mysterious gates. More concretely it is said to be “the unobstructed teaching on the ten mysterious aspects of dependent arising” (十玄緣起無礙法門). That is to say, the ten mysterious aspects of dependent arising includes within its comprehensive theory the logical fact that all distinctive dharmas (諸法) make contradiction a medium and this contradiction is transcended through
Ji; therefore, from the first gate the logic of Jiis clearly accounted for; however, it might also be said that this can be explained in any direction.
Accordingly, if we try to change our standpoint and clarify the logic of
Ji, it cannot in fact avoid being developed immeasurably and inexhaustibly (無量無盡). This can be known by the passage “inexhaustibleness is shown through briefly setting up the ten gates of profound meanings (十義門)” 7 in the beginning of the Gate of Establishing the Meaning (立義門) section in the the Ten Mysterious Aspects of Dependent Arisingof Wujiaozhang.
The essence of particular-phenomena (事) is inherently obstruction; the reason why every single obstructive phenomenon relates to many others (一多相容) and all dharmas have mutual identity (諸法相卽) is that obstruction exists simultaneously as non-obstruction (無障碍). The grounds for claiming this are neither that there is obstruction at first and then there is non-obstruction, nor that there is obstruction before non-obstruction. Saying that obstruction is non-obstruction means only that obstruction is not a simple obstruction.
In short, the Huayan
Jiis infinitely repeated (重重無盡), so that the particular-phenomena that seem to be conflictive and contradictory with each other instantly become non-obstruction through a medium that appears to be obstruction. Thus, the first overall approach (第一總門) of “the profound approach of the simultaneous mutual interaction (同時具足相應門),” explains this as follows:
Therefore this explanation of
Jishows that every particular phenomenon, which has the ten kinds of meanings (十義) such as teaching and meaning (敎義), principle and phenomena (理事), etc. always constitutes the one great round of dependent arising (一大緣起), in which every phenomenon is fully furnished and closely connected with one another in the same place at the same time; and also shows that there is no discrimination between front and rear or beginning and end. What is fully furnished and closely connected with one another is fully provided within the remaining nine gates (九門) among the ten mysterious aspects of dependent arising and is always based on simultaneity, in which sense simultaneity is mutual identity itself.
Record of the Search for the Profundities(探玄記) makes ten explanations8 of the reason why such perfect interpenetration without obstruction (圓融無碍) is possible, and among those explanations the very interpenetration of Dharma-Nature (法性融通) clarifies the mutual identity and mutual intercausality of all dharmas.
In other words, the mutual identity and mutual intercausality of all dharmas are proved on the basis of the dependent relationship between the infinite (無限) essential nature (理性) and all the finite (有限) dharmas; ultimately, from the standpoint of the interpenetration of the essential nature, which is the ground (所依) of particular-phenomena (事, all dharmas [諸法] in the midst of dependent arising), the relationship between any two particular-phenomena is interpenetrated by the media of the essential nature.
However, the dependent arising of mutual identity mentioned here does not mean that two things are connected with each other and simply ‘become one’. It means that each of two things has a clearly different nature and each one negates itself at its core; nevertheless, a new world of unification is given birth by the one and only media of such negation. This process is indeed mutual identity.
4See Kamata (1983, 264). 5Kamekawa (1955, 110). 6The source of this metaphor is the verse “譬如數法十 增一至無量 皆悉是本數 智慧故差別” in the Flower Adornment Sūtra (華嚴經 卷十: T. 9, 465a). However, the metaphor of “ten coins” (十錢) itself does not appear in the text of the Flower Adornment Sūtra; it appears in the Diagram of the Dharma Realm According to the One Vehicle of Huayan by Uisang (義湘) (T. 45, 714b). 7T. 45, 504b. 8T. 35, 124a.
Whether things exist or not is obvious as a concrete fact. However, the question of how to express existing things logically and compossibly becomes a different issue. In that sense, if we presuppose that existence and emptiness intend to explain the same information, which is in the relationship of the surface and the underneath (表裏) of expression, that is possible because existence and emptiness are both included within the relationship of dependent arising.
Therefore, it is incontestable that one of the tasks for forming the nucleus of Mahayana Buddhism is establishing the theory of dependent arising. In other words, since all dharmas have the quality of existence only by the relationship of mutual support and mutual dependence (相資相依), not even one dharma can exist independently in the Dharma Realm. If mutual support and mutual dependence can be possible in the relationship of dependent arising, the opposition and contradiction among all dharmas must precede them as a precondition. This is so because if there were an unconditional sameness from the start, mutual dependence could never happen.
Thus, every being is also non-being without abiding in being because it is a temporary being; emptiness is also non-emptiness without abiding in emptiness, because it is a temporary emptiness. This non-being and non-emptiness (非有非空) is the very middle way (中道) that Jizang mentioned.
Again, the Huayan concept of
Jiactively grasps this and considers mediatedness as a contradictory characteristic in the phenomena of the dependent arising of one and many, making it clear that what has genuine mutual identity and mutual intercausality should be independent and at the same time integrated.
Particular-phenomena inherently indicate distinction which means opposition; however, since the logic of
Jiis composed of the transcendence (超克) of opposition and contradiction as its essential framework, we can draw our conclusion based on the logic of the ten mysterious aspects of dependent arising or the complete interpenetration of the six characteristics of conditioned phenomena (六相圓融).
Therefore, if we want to understand the non-obstruction of particular-phenomena and particular-phenomena (事事無碍), which is the central and unifying theory of the Huayan doctrine, we should proceed through the theoretical barrier between mutual identity and mutual intercausality.