Cultivating Original Enlightenment

Cultivating Original Enlightenment: Wonhyo’s Exposition of the Vajrasamadhi-Sutra (Kumgang Sammaegyong Non)

Translated with an Introduction by Robert E. Buswell
https://www.jstor.org/stable/j.ctt6wr2q0
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  • Book Info
    Cultivating Original Enlightenment
    Book Description:

    Wŏnhyo (617-686) is the dominant figure in the history of Korean Buddhism and one of the two or three most influential thinkers in the Korean philosophical tradition more broadly. Koreans know Wŏnhyo in his various roles as Buddhist mystic, miracle worker, social iconoclast, religious proselytist, and cultural hero. Above all else, Wŏnhyo was an innovative thinker and prolific writer, whose works cover the gamut of Indian and Sinitic Buddhist materials. The some one hundred treatises and commentaries attributed to this prolific writer, twenty-three of which are extant today, find no rivals among his fellow Korean exegetes. Wŏnhyo was comfortable with all of the major theoretical paradigms prominent in Buddhism of his day and eventually came to champion a highly synthetic approach to the religion that has come to be called t'ong pulgyo, or the Buddhism of Total Interpenetration, an approach that left an indelible imprint on the subsequent course of Korean and East Asian Buddhism. Indeed, it is no exaggeration to say that it was Wŏnhyo who created the Korean tradition of Buddhism. His importance is not limited to the peninsula, however. His writings were widely read in China and Japan as well, and his influence on the overall development of East Asian Mahāyāna thought is significant, particularly in relation to the Huayan, Chan, and Pure Land schools. The five volumes in this series will offer full translations of all of Wonhyo’s extant works, with complete annotation, and extensive introductions framing Wŏnhyo’s insights and contributions in the broader context of East Asian Buddhism. In this first volume in the series, Cultivating Original Enlightenment, Robert E. Buswell Jr. translates Wŏnhyo’s longest and probably culminating work, the Exposition of the Vajrasamādhi-Sūtra (Kŭmgang sammaegyŏng non). Wŏnhyo here brings to bear all the tools acquired throughout a lifetime of scholarship and meditation to the explication of a scripture that has a startling, even unique, connection to the Korean Buddhist tradition. In his treatise, Wŏnhyo examines the crucial question of how enlightenment can be turned from a tantalizing prospect into a palpable reality that manifests itself in all activities. East Asian Buddhism is founded on the assurance that the prospect of enlightenment is something innate to the mind itself and inherently accessible to all living creatures. This doctrine of “original enlightenment,” along with its related teaching of the “womb (or embryo) of buddhahood,” is foundational to the Korean Buddhist tradition. Given, however, the delusion we persistently face in ourselves and the evil we see surrounding us every day, it is obvious that the fact of being enlightened does not mean that we have necessarily learned how to act enlightened. In Wŏnhyo’s presentation, the notion of original enlightenment is transformed from an abstract philosophical concept into a practical tool of meditative training. Wŏnhyo’s Exposition provides a ringing endorsement of the prospect that all human beings have to recover the enlightenment that is said to be innate in the mind and to make it a tangible force in all of our activities.

    eISBN: 978-0-8248-6208-4
    Subjects: Language & Literature

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Preface
    (pp. vii-x)
  4. Abbreviations and Conventions
    (pp. xi-xii)
  5. Part 1: Study
    • I. Contemplative Practice in the Exposition of the Vajrasamādhi-Sūtra
      (pp. 3-17)

      East Asian Buddhism is founded on the assurance that the prospect of enlightenment is something innate to the mind itself and inherently accessible to all living creatures. This doctrine of “original enlightenment,” along with its related teaching of the “womb (or embryo) of buddhahood,” is basic to most of the indigenous schools of East Asian Buddhism and holds pride of place within the Korean tradition as well. Given, however, the delusion we persistently face in ourselves and the evil we see surrounding us every day, it is obvious that the fact ofbeingenlightened does not mean that we have...

    • II. The Writing of the Exposition
      (pp. 17-28)

      TheVajrasamādhi-sūtra,orBook of Adamantine Absorption,³⁰ the root text of Wõnhyo’sExposition, is a scripture that was of seminal importance for Wŏnhyo and the Silla Buddhist tradition. Wŏnhyo occupies a crucial role in the traditional legend of the discovery of the sūtra. Wŏnhyo’s time-honored associations with the text are indicated by the fact that the tale of the sūtra’s recovery figures prominently in the earliest extant account of Wŏnhyo’s life, which appears in theSong Gaoseng zhuan(The Song Biography of Eminent Monks), compiled between 982 and 988 by the Chinese monk Zanning (919–1001).³¹ Let me relate here...

    • III. The Exposition as Commentary
      (pp. 28-44)

      TheExposition of the Vajrasamādhi-Sūtrais Wŏnhyo’s longest, and arguably greatest, commentary. Looking at the paucity of works written in Silla Korea before his time, it is no exaggeration to say that it was Wŏnhyo who created the scholastic tradition of Silla Buddhism.⁶⁸ The vast majority of Wŏnhyo’s works are explicitly commentaries, and even those that are not are still strongly exegetical in character. The East Asian tradition itself also treats Wŏnhyo primarily as a commentator, as seen, for example, in theSong Gaoseng zhuan’s listing of Wŏnhyo in its “doctrinal exegetes”(yijie)section, together with a number of other...

  6. Part 2: Wŏnhyo’s Exposition of the Vajrasamādhi-Sūtra:: An Annotated Translation
    • Exposition of the Vajrasmādhi-Sūtra (Kŭmgang Sammaegyŏng Non): ROLL ONE
      (pp. 47-115)
      Wŏnhyo

      Now, the fountainhead of the one mind(ekacitta), which is distinct from existence(bhava)and nonexistence(abhava), is independently pure. The sea of the three voidnesses(trayaḥ śūnyatāḥ),¹ which subsumes absolute(paramārtha)and conventional(saṃvṛti), is profoundly calm. Profoundly calm, it subsumes dualities and yet is not unitary. Independently pure, it is far from the extremes and yet is not located at the middle. Because it is not located at the middle and yet is far from the extremes, dharmas that are nonexistent do not linger in nonexistence and characteristics(lakṣaṇa)that are not-nonexistent do not linger in existence. Because...

    • Exposition of the Vajrasamādhi-Sūtra: Roll Two
      (pp. 116-210)

      [623c] At the time when a bodhisattva perfects his contemplation practice, he cultivates according to principles that he has come to understand through his own personal contemplation of mind: namely, that the mind is neither produced nor unproduced and his practice also is neither existent nor nonexistent. It is only in order to leave behind the extreme of erroneous affirmation(samāropikā)[about the existence of things] that we provisionally refer to nonproduction. One should neither produce a thought in regard to production nor produce a thought in regard to nonproduction; therefore, in order to leave behind the extreme of denigration...

    • Exposition of the Vajrasamādhi-Sūtra: Roll Three
      (pp. 211-308)

      [650b] The dharma of true thusness subsumes all meritorious qualities and serves as the original nature of all the qualities gained through spiritual practice; for this reason, it is called “true nature.” The true nature in this wise neutralizes all names and characteristics; for this reason, it is called “the voidness of the true nature.” Moreover, this true nature leaves behind both characteristics and nature: “leaves behind characteristics” means that it stays far removed from deceptive characteristics; “leaves behind nature” means that it stays far removed from any sense of a “true nature.” Because it stays far removed from deceptive...

  7. Appendix: A Schematic Outline of Wŏnhyo’s Exposition of the Vajrasamādhi-Sūtra
    (pp. 309-334)
  8. Notes
    (pp. 335-376)
  9. Glossary of Sinitic Logographs
    (pp. 377-384)
  10. Bibliography
    (pp. 385-410)
  11. Index
    (pp. 411-424)
  12. Back Matter
    (pp. 425-428)