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Have there been any academic works examining the distinction between San Lun and the Tibetan Mādhyamaka traditions? In fairness, there are a lot of different views merely within the Tibetan commentarial traditions! (20040302 (talk) 08:19, 5 May 2011 (UTC))
There has been very little work done in the West on the subject of Sanlun. For most of the history of East Asian Buddhism, it has existed somewhat in the background. Yogacara and Madhyamaka provided an outlet for individuals who were oriented toward these doctrines. There is little history of either being a distinct "school" with strongly held doctrines, or debates between them and other schools, etc. Outside Japan, East Asian Buddhism has always been so syncretic that even speaking of Zen as a separate school is probably inaccurate. In these cultures, Madhyamaka and Yogacara are seen more as doctrinal specialties than schools with philosophical differences, etc. Xuanzang is even said to have written a treatise entitled, "The Non-difference of Yogacara and Madhyamaka", or something to that effect. In later Indian Buddhism and Tibetan Buddhism, the tendency was the opposite, to continually divide perceived philosophical differences. These tendencies, as well as the differences in materials used (East Asia typically only refers to Nagarjuna and Aryadeva as the principal authorities on Madhyamaka), probably account for the vast majority of differences. In addition, Jizang had some interpretations of Madhyamaka philosophy that were apparently not quite the same as the views in Nagarjuna's and Aryadeva's works, so some East Asians such as Yin Shun make the distinction that they only follow the original treatises and not any other interpretations of them.
Yogacara has been a bit different, with most East Asians accepting Xuanzang as a central figure, in addition to Maitreya, Asanga, and Vasubandhu. There is also a tendency to regard Yogacara as a system that can be used for examining many other doctrines of Buddhism from a technical perspective. Each is just used where appropriate. Madhyamaka plays a similar role, but for the overarching view of Buddhism, for the Tiantai school. Tengu800 22:42, 5 May 2011 (UTC)
Thanks a lot for your detailed response. I'm not sure that I can agree with you on some points (eg continually divide perceived philosophical differences - certain Tibetan traditions identify the purpose of these discourses as not to create more traditions/differences, but to understand one's own against subtle deviations. As Jay Garfield (2003) notes, Tsongkhapa refutes positions not held by adherents of Yogacarya - such as the conventional existence of the reflexive awareness - because they are potential views held by the student Madhyamaka). Outside of that, you are most informative. Do you think you can find references for your text - then we can post it onto the article proper. Also, I googled Sanlun, and it appears that the Dvādaśanikāyaśāstra is only available in Chinese (there being no translation into Tibetan, and no original Sanskrit) which, for some, brings it's authenticity into question. It also appears that as the original translations were done very early on, the additional works of Nagarjuna and Aryadeva, along with the (Skt) commentarial works by Buddhapalita, Vasubhandu, Candrakirti and so on were/are not acknowledged (?is this true) by Sanlun, which will entails that the Indo-Tibetan (aka Nalanda) tradition may differ in interpretation from Sanlun. On the other hand, maybe not!
The current article states The Three Treatise School, in keeping with Madhyamika doctrine, teaches that all phenomena, including ideas and thoughts, are fundamentally empty of a permanent, static existence. Well, certainly by the time you get to Candrakirti (and of course, he may argue that this is found in Aryadeva's and Nagarjuna's texts also) this statement is not broad enough. His argument goes 'the perception of a permanent static existence' is not an innate perception, but a contrived one, and that is not enough to bind one (and all beings, include animals) to Samsara. The perception that we need to free ourselves from is exactly the one that ties us to Samsara, and it is a perception shared innately by all sentient beings. (see Madhyamakāvatāra 6.140 ) (20040302 (talk) 09:22, 6 May 2011 (UTC))
Oh, I have no qualms with Tsongkhapa, and I wouldn't expect his views of either Yogacara or Madhyamaka to be wrong or mistaken. It has just been my own observation that there tends to be more divisions of doctrine in Tibetan Buddhism. Perhaps this is because these things have been tied more to scholasticism at times. I imagine that much of this would be related to the teacher and the approach being taken as well.
I think later works by Candrakirti, etc., would probably be a bit obscure in the Sanlun tradition. However, works available on this tradition are very rare in English. In addition, there are also trends in Chinese Buddhism to realign the schools with some new categorizations. In this case, Sanlun would just be grouped with Madhyamaka and traditions with a similar outlook. I'll try to add something about that, because I have a source describing it.
The line about the Sanlun schools general position is an old and unsourced one. Describing the outlook would probably require more research, and maybe better sources than are available in English. Still, I'll keep my eyes open and see what I can dig up. Tengu800 15:34, 7 May 2011 (UTC)