By Jamie Hubbard

Inspite of the typical view of Buddhism as non-dogmatic and tolerant, the historic list preserves many examples of Buddhist thinkers and activities that have been banned as heretical or subversive. The San-chieh (Three degrees) was once a well-liked and influential chinese language Buddhist circulate throughout the Sui and Tang classes, counting strong statesmen, imperial princes, or even an empress, Empress Wu, between its buyers. In spite, or even accurately simply because, of its proximity to energy, the San-chieh circulation ran afoul of the professionals and its teachings and texts have been formally proscribed a variety of instances over a several-hundred-year background. as a result of those suppressions San-chieh texts have been misplaced and little information regarding its teachings or background is out there. the current paintings, the 1st English examine of the San-chieh circulation, makes use of manuscripts chanced on at Tun-huang to envision the doctrine and institutional practices of this circulate within the greater context of Mahayana doctrine and perform. by means of viewing San-Chieh within the context of Mahayana Buddhism, Hubbard finds it to be faraway from heretical and thereby increases very important questions about orthodoxy and canon in Buddhism. He indicates that a number of the hallmark rules and practices of chinese language Buddhism locate an early and targeted expression within the San-chieh texts.

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85 The dhðta practices are sociologically interesting as well, as they are generally seen to represent a radical impulse to ascetic renunciation and solitary practice in contrast to the even stronger tendency in the Buddhist community toward the settled life of the vihara. That is to say that they represent an extreme lifestyle and as such they have always been controversial. 86 So, too, it was not long before Š„kyamuni’s “community of the four directions” came to dwell in permanent structures as corporate landowners, and it is primarily this cenobitic institution that is represented in doctrinal and institutional documents.

5 3 C. A. F. , The Book of the Kindred Sayings (London: The Pali Text Society, 1982), part II: 21. 490c. 344b. This exactly parallels the threefold taxonomy preserved in the Pali tradition of (a) authoritative teaching (pariyatti), (b) practice (pa¦ipatti), and (c) attainment (adhigama); from the Manorathapðra«‡, cited in John Ross Carter, Dhamma: Western Academic and Sinhalese Buddhist Interpretations, A Study of a Religious Concept (Tokyo: Hokuseido Press, 1978), 131–35. 5 absolute delusion, perfect buddhahood / 39 This meant that in addition to the question of the true teachings the issue of people’s capacity for realization of those teachings also arose, an important shift in the growth of this tradition.

Thus we should note from the very beginning that it was never the teaching conceived as the causal uniformity of all things (dhammat„) that was believed to decline or disappear. 3 Ching-ying Hui-yüan (523–592), for example, lamenting the lot of the Buddhist church at the hands of Emperor Wu, is reported to have said, This is the fate of our time … it is truly lamentable that we are unable to attend [the Buddha-dharma] at this time, but the dharma is actually not annihilated [ÀÄ#n]! 4 This point is more important than has usually been recognized, for it directs our attention to the lived tradition as the locus of the timeless, ahistorical truths that more often are the focus of our study.

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