Yogacarabhumi-sastra

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The Yogācārabhūmi-Śāstra (YBh, Sanskrit; Treatise on the Foundation for Yoga Practitioners) is a very influential, large encyclopedic compendium, associated with north Indian Sanskritic Mahāyāna Buddhism.[1] It is generally associated with the Indian Yogācāra school because it contains certain unique Yogācāra doctrines, like the eight consciousnesses and the ālaya-vijñāna. According to Ulrich Timme Kragh, "its overall objective seems to be to present a coherent structure of Buddhist yoga practice with the Mahāyāna path of the bodhisattva placed at the pinnacle of the system", but substantial parts also deal with non-Mahāyāna "mainstream" practices.[1] The text also shows strong affinity to the Abhidharma works of the Mainstream Buddhist Sarvāstivāda school, adopting many of its technical terminology and classifications of phenomena (dharmas).[2]

While it likely contains earlier materials, the YBh is thought to have reached its final redaction in the fourth century CE.[3] Traditional sources name either the Indian thinker Asaṅga (ca. 300-350) or the bodhisattva Maitreya as author, but most modern scholars hold that it is a composite text with different chronological textual layers and various authors, though this does not rule out the possibility that Asaṅga was among them.[4][5]

The YBh was studied and transmitted in East Asian Buddhist and Tibetan Buddhist translations. It remained influential in these traditions, however, because of massive size and complexity, it was eventually abandoned in monastic seminaries.[6] Besides the Chinese and Tibetan translations which survive in full, at least 50% of the text survives in nine extant Sanskrit fragments.[7]

Content overview[edit]

The complete YBh comprises five major sections, which can be divided into the Basic Section and the Supplementary Section.

Basic Section[edit]

The first section, which is the largest (49.9 % of the work), is the "main stages division" or "the basic section" (Skt. *Maulyo Bhūmayaḥ, Ch. 本地分 Běn dì fēn, Tib. Sa'i dngos gzhi) and contains fourteen books that describe the successive seventeen levels (bhūmi), which cover the entire range of mental and spiritual stages of practice in Mahayana Buddhism.[8][9] However, according to Ulrich Timme Kragh, "in the present context, the word bhūmi appears in many cases to imply a 'foundation' in the sense of a field of knowledge that the Yogācāra acolyte ought to master in order to be successful in his or her yoga practice."[10] Most of the Basic Section which includes such seminal works as the Bodhisattva-bhūmi and the Śrāvaka-bhūmi survives in Sanskrit, but little survives from the other parts. The following list is based on the Chinese arrangement, which seems to be closer to the original order.[10]

The fourteen books of this section are:[11]

  1. Pañcavijñānakāyasamprayuktā Bhūmiḥ - The Foundation on the Fivefold Group of Empirical Consciousness. It provides an analysis of the five sensory consciousnesses, in terms of five points, their bases (āśraya), nature (svabhava), foci (alambana), accompanying mental states (sahaya) and functioning (karman).
  2. Manobhūmi - The Foundation on Cognition. Self consciousness is explained in detail, in terms of the same five points outlined above. It also explains the ālayavijñāna and afflictive cognition or kliṣṭaṃ manaḥ, as well as the 51 mental factors (caittasikā dharmāḥ). In explaining karman, an extensive overview of death and rebirth is given, as well as an exposition of Buddhist cosmology and 24 typologies which discuss many modes of existence. The rest of the book discusses various classifications of dharmas (phenomena), including physical (rūpasamudāya), mental (cittacaitasikakalāpa) and unconditioned (asaṃskṛta) phenomena, as well as their casual relations and their ethical classification as beneficial (kuśala) or not (akuśala) or indeterminate (avyākṛta).
  3. Savitarkasavicārādibhūmi - The Foundation on Having Discernment (vitarka) and Discursiveness (vicāra), and So Forth. - Vitarka and Vicara are explained at great length, as well as correct observation (śomanaskāra) and incorrect observation (ayoniśomanaskāra). The three realms are also explained (the desire realm, the realm of subtle non-sensual corporeality and the realm of incorporeality). The defilements (saṃkleśa) are also explained in this section.
  4. Samāhitā Bhūmiḥ - The Foundation on Meditative Absorption. Topics dealing with meditation are discussed in this book, such as dhyāna, different types of liberation (vimokṣa), meditative attainments (samāpatti) such as nirodhasamāpatti, the five hindrances (nivaraṇa), the various types of foci (ālambana) or 'images' (nimitta) on which the meditator concentrates, and the four powers (bala). Different kinds of samādhi are outlined, such as the emptiness (śūnyatā), wishlessness (apraṇihita), and imagelessness (ānimitta), as well as samādhi with and without vitarka-vicara.
  5. Asamāhitā Bhūmiḥ - The Foundation on Being Without Meditative Absorption. This short book lists 12 states that remain devoid of Meditative Absorption, such as a mind that is engaged in the realm of sensual desire (kāmāvacara).
  6. Sacittikā Acittikā Bhūmiḥ - The Foundation on Having Mentation and Being Without Mentation. This short book "examines the notion of 'mind' or 'mentation' (citta) in relation to meditation and other doctrines" and discusses different states that are with or without citta, such as nirvāṇa, which is a state in which all mentation ceases, even the latent consciousness (ālayavijñāna).
  7. Śrutamayī Bhūmiḥ - The Foundation on What is Derived from Listening. Focuses on various issues dealing with learning, listening to, and memorizing Buddhist doctrine, such as its subdivisions into Sutra, Vinaya and Matrka (Abhidharma). It outlines various basic Buddhist concepts in different sets or groupings. It also outlines other forms of knowledge, such as the arts of healing (cikitsā), logical reasoning (hetuvidyā), and linguistic knowledge (śabdavidyā).
  8. Cintāmayī Bhūmiḥ - The Foundation on What is Derived from Understanding. Understanding (cintā) is when the practitioner, based on his studies, arrives at a certain view of reality and of the path that leads to full understanding of reality. This book then focuses on different classifications of the characteristics (lakṣaṇa) of existence, such as specific characteristics (svalakṣaṇa), general characteristics (sāmānyalakṣaṇa), and causal characteristics (hetulakṣaṇa). It also presents an analysis of "fivefold existence" (astitā), the first three of which are the Yogacara "three natures".
  9. Bhāvanāmayī Bhūmiḥ - The Foundation on What is Derived from Meditative Cultivation. Discusses cultivation (bhāvanā), in terms of its basis, conditions, practice of yoga and its results. The right circumstances needed to encounter the teachings and practice them are explained, as well as the conditions for the development of insight (vipaśyanā) and tranquility (śamatha). The ten types of remedies and antidotes applied to the afflictions are outlined, including contemplating unattractiveness (aśubhasaṃjnā), impermanence (anitya), suffering (duḥkha), indifference to food (āhāre pratikūlasaṃjñā) and contemplating death (maraṇasaṃjñā). Practical advice is also given on topics such as living with others, finding and learning from a teacher, material affairs, one's environment, sleep and eating patterns, practicing asceticism, etc.
  10. Śrāvakabhūmi - The Foundation on the Hearer. This book focuses on practices associated with "hearers" or "disciples" (śrāvaka). Lambert Schmithausen, Noritoshi Aramaki, Florin Delenau and Alex Wayman all hold that this is the oldest layer of the YBh.[12] It is divided into four sections called yogasthānas (yogic foundations). The first section discusses, in depth, how different practitioners have different spiritual dispositions (gotra), how one enters (avatāra) into the path and goes forth into the life of renunciation. The path is divided into two branches, the mundane (laukikaḥ mārgaḥ) and supramundane (lokottaraḥ mārgaḥ) which are explained, along with the 13 requisites (sambhāra) needed for following them, including ethics (śīla), restraint of the senses (indriyasaṃvara), proper food intake, a spiritual friend (kalyāṇamitra) and so on. The second section discusses numerous different personality types and also various forms of meditation are described in detail. Certain meditations are then recommended for certain personality types. The thirty-seven factors of Awakening and the four stages of fruition are also explained in detail. The third section discusses various practical issues such as the teacher student relationship, solitary retreat, various meditation topics such as one-pointedness of mind (cittaikāgratā), śamatha and vipaśyanā, and the purification of hindrances. The fourth section discusses the mundane and supramundane paths in detail. The mundane path deals with abandoning the sensual realm and practicing the meditative absorptions (dhyānas), which lead to rebirth in high realms. The supramundane path deals with fully understanding the four noble truths and its sixteen characteristics (including the four characteristics of suffering), which lead to nirvana as an arhat.
  11. Pratyekabuddhabhūmi - The Foundation on the Solitary Buddha. Outlines the path and practices of the pratyekabuddha.
  12. Bodhisattvabhūmi - The Foundation on the Bodhisattva. Divided into three yogasthānas. Yogasthāna I deals with the basis (ādhāra) for becoming a bodhisattva (including inborn disposition or gotra, arousing bodhicitta, practicing for the benefit of oneself and others, understanding the nature of reality and the perfections). It also discusses how bodhisattvas are superior to other practitioners. Yogasthāna II explains the characteristics (liṅga) of bodhisattvas (like courage and karuṇā), classes (pakṣa) of bodhisattvas (lay and monastic), exalted conviction (adhyāśaya) and dwellings (vihāra) in the practice of a bodhisattva. Yogasthāna III explains the five kinds of rebirths (upapatti) a bodhisattva undergoes during their journey, the six ways that they lead (parigraha) sentient beings to perfection, seven bodhisattva levels (bhūmis), the bodhisattva's practices (which are the 10 perfections, the factors of Awakening, clairvoyance and training sentient beings) and their ascension (pratiṣṭhā) to Buddhahood along with all the Buddha qualities which are manifested in them.
  13. Sopadhikā Bhūmiḥ - The Foundation on Having an Existential Substratum. This discusses the state of the living arhat, as well as "what it is that forms the remaining layer or basis for continued saṃsāric existence, namely the notion of there being an existential substratum (upadhi)", such as the five aggregates and so forth.
  14. Nirupadhikā Bhūmiḥ - The Foundation on Being Without an Existential Substratum. This final book explains the state of an arhat who has died and entered parinirvāṇa, and thus is without a substratum for continued existence. This state is said to be complete and eternal extinction/completion (nirvṛti).

Supplementary Section[edit]

This part is made up of four 'collections' or 'compendia' (saṃgrahaṇī, shè 攝, bsdu ba), which supplement the Basic Section:[13]

  • Viniścayasaṃgrahaṇī - Compendium of Ascertainment - Discusses and provides a clarification (viniścaya) on aspects of the seventeen bhumis from the Basic Section. This section also contains a "detailed treatment of ālayavijñāna and at the same time quoting and making use of the Saṃdhinirmocanasūtra." Thus it is considered a later strata by Schmithausen.[12]
  • Vyākhyāsaṃgrahaṇī - Compendium of Exegesis - A manual of hermeneutical and exegetical techniques, as well as on rhetorical and logical argument (hetuvidyā).
  • Paryāyasaṃgrahaṇī - Compendium of Related Terms - Defines many of the various strings of quasi-synonymical expressions found in the Āgamas.
  • Vastusaṃgrahaṇī - Compendium of [Selected] Themes - Includes the Sūtravastusaṃgrahaṇī which summarizes and explains key topics of each sūtra contained in the Samyukta-āgama. This section also includes 'The Compendium of the Vinaya' (Vinayavastusaṃgrahaṇī) and 'The compendium of Abhidharma lists' (Mātṛkavastusaṃgrahaṇī). Lambert Schmithausen, Florin Delenau and Noritoshi Aramaki both hold that this is part of the oldest textual layer.[12]

The Chinese version also contains a Compendium of Abhidharma, missing from the Tibetan translation.

An Indian commentary was also written on the YBh, called the Yogācārabhūmivyākhyā.[14]

Chinese translation[edit]

By the end of the Sui dynasty (589-618), Buddhism within China had developed many distinct schools and traditions. In the words of Dan Lusthaus:

[ Xuanzang ] came to the conclusion that the many disputes and interpretational conflicts permeating Chinese Buddhism were the result of the unavailability of crucial texts in Chinese translation. In particular, he [Xuanzang] thought that a complete version of the Yogācārabhūmi-śāstra (Yuqielun, 瑜伽論), an encyclopedic description of the stages of the Yogācāra path to Buddhahood written by Asaṅga, would resolve all the conflicts. In the sixth century an Indian missionary named Paramārtha (another major translator) had made a partial translation of it. Xuanzang resolved to procure the full text in India and introduce it to China.[15]

The leader of Nalanda, Śīlabhadra taught this shastra to Xuanzang and other audiences three times in nine or fifteen months. The Xuanzang version consists of one hundred fascicles (juan), and was translated into Chinese between 646-648 CE at Hongfu Monastery (Chinese: 弘福寺) and Dacien Monastery (Chinese: 大慈恩寺).

Before Xuanzang's version, Dharmakṣema, Guṇabhadra (394-468) and Paramartha had translated part of it.

Tibetan translation[edit]

The Tibetan version was done by team of Indian scholars including Jinamitra, Prajñāvarma and Surendrabodhi together with the renowned Tibetan translator, Yéshé Dé (Wylie: ye shes sde) lotsawa. In East Asia, authorship is attributed to Maitreya-nātha, while the Tibetan tradition considers it to have been composed by Asanga, but in all probability it is the work of several writers who compiled it during the 4th century CE.

Nan Huai-Chin touches on the Yogacarabhumi-sastra in his book.[16]

English translation[edit]

A subsection of the work, the Bodhisattva-bhūmi, was translated into English by Artemus Engle and is part of the Tsadra series published by Shambhala Publications.

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ a b Ulrich Timme Kragh (editor), The Foundation for Yoga Practitioners: The Buddhist Yogācārabhūmi Treatise and Its Adaptation in India, East Asia, and Tibet, Volume 1 Harvard University, Department of South Asian studies, 2013, pp. 16, 25.
  2. ^ Ulrich Timme Kragh (editor), The Foundation for Yoga Practitioners: The Buddhist Yogācārabhūmi Treatise and Its Adaptation in India, East Asia, and Tibet, Volume 1 Harvard University, Department of South Asian studies, 2013, p. 45.
  3. ^ Ulrich Timme Kragh (editor), The Foundation for Yoga Practitioners: The Buddhist Yogācārabhūmi Treatise and Its Adaptation in India, East Asia, and Tibet, Volume 1 Harvard University, Department of South Asian studies, 2013, p. 26.
  4. ^ Delhey, Martin, Yogācārabhūmi, oxfordbibliographies.com, LAST MODIFIED: 26 JULY 2017, DOI: 10.1093/OBO/9780195393521-0248.
  5. ^ Ulrich Timme Kragh (editor), The Foundation for Yoga Practitioners: The Buddhist Yogācārabhūmi Treatise and Its Adaptation in India, East Asia, and Tibet, Volume 1 Harvard University, Department of South Asian studies, 2013, pp. 40, 53.
  6. ^ Ulrich Timme Kragh (editor), The Foundation for Yoga Practitioners: The Buddhist Yogācārabhūmi Treatise and Its Adaptation in India, East Asia, and Tibet, Volume 1 Harvard University, Department of South Asian studies, 2013, pp. 16, 46.
  7. ^ Ulrich Timme Kragh (editor), The Foundation for Yoga Practitioners: The Buddhist Yogācārabhūmi Treatise and Its Adaptation in India, East Asia, and Tibet, Volume 1 Harvard University, Department of South Asian studies, 2013, p. 47.
  8. ^ Lusthaus, Dan; Muller, Charles; Summary of the Yogācārabhūmi-śāstra, http://www.acmuller.net/yogacara/outlines/YBh-summary.html
  9. ^ Ulrich Timme Kragh (editor), The Foundation for Yoga Practitioners: The Buddhist Yogācārabhūmi Treatise and Its Adaptation in India, East Asia, and Tibet, Volume 1 Harvard University, Department of South Asian studies, 2013, p. 49.
  10. ^ a b Ulrich Timme Kragh (editor), The Foundation for Yoga Practitioners: The Buddhist Yogācārabhūmi Treatise and Its Adaptation in India, East Asia, and Tibet, Volume 1 Harvard University, Department of South Asian studies, 2013, p. 50.
  11. ^ Ulrich Timme Kragh (editor), The Foundation for Yoga Practitioners: The Buddhist Yogācārabhūmi Treatise and Its Adaptation in India, East Asia, and Tibet, Volume 1 Harvard University, Department of South Asian studies, 2013, pp. 51, 60 - 230
  12. ^ a b c Ulrich Timme Kragh (editor), The Foundation for Yoga Practitioners: The Buddhist Yogācārabhūmi Treatise and Its Adaptation in India, East Asia, and Tibet, Volume 1 Harvard University, Department of South Asian studies, 2013, p. 54-57.
  13. ^ Ulrich Timme Kragh (editor), The Foundation for Yoga Practitioners: The Buddhist Yogācārabhūmi Treatise and Its Adaptation in India, East Asia, and Tibet, Volume 1 Harvard University, Department of South Asian studies, 2013, p. 52.
  14. ^ Ulrich Timme Kragh (editor), The Foundation for Yoga Practitioners: The Buddhist Yogācārabhūmi Treatise and Its Adaptation in India, East Asia, and Tibet, Volume 1 Harvard University, Department of South Asian studies, 2013, p. 30.
  15. ^ Lusthaus, Dan, Xuanzang (Hsüan-tsang) (undated). (accessed: December 12, 2007)
  16. ^ Nan, Huai-Chin (1994). To realize enlightenment : practice of the cultivation path. York Beach, ME: S. Weiser. ISBN 978-0877288022.

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