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Although Chikō 智光 (709-770/781) of the Gangō-ji 元興寺 temple is regarded as “the greatest monk of the Sanron 三論 sect in the Nara period”1 and attention has been paid to his vehement criticism of the Hossō / Fǎxiāng 法相 sect (the East Asian transmission of Yogācāra) has been paid attention, little is known of his thought, aside from his work on Pure Land Buddhism. In this paper, I would like to examine the intellectual-historical position of Chikō's criticism against the Hossō sect, especially comparing with the criticism by Wŏnhyo 元曉.
Chikō has been traditionally regarded as a follower of Jízàng 吉藏 affected by the new translations of Buddhist texts by Xuánzàng 玄奘 in the Tang period, because he belonged to the Sanron sect. However, in the first part of thefor general remarks in Chikō's Han'nya-shingyō-jutsugi 般若心經述義 (HJ), which is his only text preserved fully intact and the earliest commentary on the Heart sūtra in Japan, Chikō quotes not only Jízàng's texts but also Wŏnhyo's Daehyedogyeong-jongyo 大慧度經経宗要 (DJ):
|(1) 大道幽微妙…至寂至空道光法界 T 2202.57.3b21-25||Jízàng: Dàpǐn-yóuyì 大品遊意, T 1696.33.63a27-b1|
|(2) 所言摩訶般若波羅蜜多者…故名大慧度 T 2202.57.3c13-18||DJ, T 1697.33.68c17-21|
|(3) 有以境智爲宗…有以實智爲宗 T 2202.57.4b5-6||Jízàng: Dàpǐn-yóuyì, T 1696.33.65c20-27 (in summary)|
|(4) 以般若無生正觀爲宗 T 2202.57.4b7-8||Jízàng: Rénwáng-pánbōruò-jīng-shū 仁王般若經疏, T 1707.33. 315a26 (in summary)|
|(5) 又大論云…此屬第二乎 T 2202.57.4c12-19||DJ, T 1697.33.73b29-73c12|
|(6) 問佛何因縁説般若耶…故説般若波羅蜜 T 2202.57.4c19-28||Dàzhìdù-lùn 大智度論, T 1509.25.57c23-62c14 (in summary)|
|(7) 梵語摩訶…強名爲大也 T 2202.57.5a1-18||Jízàng: Dàpǐn-yóuyì, T 1696.33.63b20-c18 (in summary)|
|(8) 梵語般若…此乃説到已 T 2202.57.5a18-b12||DJ, T 1697.33.71b07-72a18 (in summary)|
|(9) 仁王經云…貫穿諸義故云云 T 2202.57.5b19-20||Jízàng: Rénwáng-pánbōruò-jīng-shū, T 1707.33.314c29-315a7|
It is especially important that the paragraph (includes (5)) criticizing the three period teaching classification (三時教判) of Kuījī 窺基 and Wŏnch'uk 圓測, which bluntly states that “the mistakes (of Kuījī and Wŏnch'uk) are terribly serious; [their inability to grasp the truth is] comparable to a blind person running around madly in the dark night”2, depends on DJ. The three period teaching classification based on Saṃdhinirmocana-sūtra is a doctrinal separation of Buddhist teachings, which consists of the teachings of existence as the first period, the teaching of emptiness as the second period, and the teaching of the middle way as the third period3. The teachings of existence means the Hīnayāna teachings established in the Four Āgama sūtras and the Abhidharma texts. The teaching of emptiness is connected with the Prajñāpāramitā sūtras and the doctrine of the Mādhyamika, especially Bhāviveka. The teaching of the middle way is the sublation of the first and second teachings, which is explained in the Yogācāra texts such as Saṃdhinirmocana-sūtra or the works of Asaṅga and Vasubandhu.
In Kuījī's commentary on the Heart sūtra, named Pánruòbōluómìduō-xīnjīng-yōuzàn 般若波羅蜜多心經幽賛, believers of śūnyatā (勝空者) are critically set against followers of reasonability (如應者) who are closely associated with the claim of the superiority of the Hossō sect, depending on the three period teaching classification. Wŏnch'uk's Fōshuō-pánruòbōluómìduō-xīnjīng-zàn 般若波羅蜜多心經賛, which is also a commentary on the Heart sūtra written from the point of view of a Yogācāra scholar, regards the Heart sūtra as the teaching of the second period.
Although strictly speaking, the thought of views of Kuījī are different from those of Wŏnch'uk, it is reasonable to interpret Chikō's comments on them as a criticism of the current Japanese Hossō sect, since the Sanron and Hossō sects were engaged in a mutual dispute on the authenticity of the Dà-fódǐng-jīng 大佛頂經 (Śūraṃgama-sūtra) around the time when HJ was written (Tenpyō 16, 744). The authenticity of Dà-fódǐng-jīng was vitally important for Sanron's claims of more direct orthodoxy, because the sūtra includes a verse that proves the truth of śūnyatā, which is also found in Bhāviveka's Dàshèng-zhǎngzhēn-lùn 大乘掌珍論4.
The criticism of the three period teaching classification in the HJ consists of two parts.
First part (T 2202.57.4b28-c12): in order to criticize the three period teaching classification which evaluates Saṃdhinirmocana-sūtra to be of a greater degree of profundity than the Prajñāpāramitā sūtras, Chikō demonstrates that Mahāprajñāpāramitā (大般若) preaches the three natures (三性) doctrine by quoting the Madhyāntavibhāga (中邊分別論) and Mahāyānasaṃgraha (攝大乘論). Needless to say, the three natures doctrine whichdoctrine, which is also taught in the Saṃdhinirmocana-sūtra, is a very important for the Yogācāra schools.
Second part or (5): Chikō shows that Prajñāpāramitā sūtras have complete revelation of meaning (了義) as does the Saṃdhinirmocana-sūtra. The Saṃdhinirmocana argues that the third period teaching by Buddha has complete revelation based on the fact that it is not yet at the stage where the debates have been settled down (非諍論安足処所). By the same token, according to Dàzhìdù-lùn, the Prajñāpāramitā-sūtra is also at the stage beyond debates (無諍処). This form of verification is also seen in the DJ. As I point out in Moro , Wŏnhyo's criticism of the three period teaching classification entailed treating the Saṃdhinirmocana-sūtra on the same level with the Prajñāpāramitā -sūtras, based on his approach of reconciliation (和諍) or “interpenetrated Buddhism” (通佛教).
Since Chikō's Hokke-genron-ryakujutsu 法華玄論略述 (HGR) is not extant, we have no recourse but to extrapolate its contents from the compilation of its quotations by later generations5. It is very important, however, that HGR mentions the tradition of the debates between Śīlabhadra 戒賢 and Jñānaprabha 智光 in India6 which is in turn based on the statement of Divākāra 地婆訶羅 quoted in Dàshèng-qǐxìnlùn-yìjì 大乘起信論義記 by Fǎzàng 法蔵. According to Divākāra, Śīlabhadra, who was a scholar monk of Yogācāra, espoused the three period teaching classification based on Saṃdhinirmocana-sūtra. Jñānaprabha, by contrast, posited his view of the three period teaching classification (consisting of the first teaching of the four noble truths, the second teaching of Mahāyāna of Dharma-character 法相大乘 and the last teaching of Mahāyāna of No-characteristics 無相大乘), based on Dàshèng-miàozhì-jīng 大乘妙智經.
If we take this quotation into consideration, it is reasonable to suppose that Chikō believed that the Sanron, rather than Hossō, was the most superior sect. This supposition can be supported by noting his above-related critique. However, the style of criticism shown by HJ and Wŏnhyo stands in distinct contrast to the attitude seen in the HGR. Paradoxically, the contradiction between the HJ and HGR demonstrates that Wŏnhyo's influence on Chikō was deep, because he could not ignore Wŏnhyo's method of critique, despite the conviction that he and his colleagues held in Sanron's superiority to Hossō.