Abhidharmakosa study group?

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Re: Abhidharmakosa study group?

Postby kirtu » Thu Jun 24, 2010 6:42 pm

Huifeng wrote:
Will wrote:Ven Huifeng,

Your site has six papers on Abhidharma - http://wisdom.buddhistdoor.com/huifeng/author/huifeng/

Would one of those, with your help, help us get some basics down?


Unfortunately, probably none of them.
:jawdrop:



They weren't written as intros to a study of Abhidharma, although http://wisdom.buddhistdoor.com/huifeng/ ... bhidharma/ may be an overview of the texts alone (pretty dry and boring!)


This seems to be a pretty good starting point for an historical overview .... as well as your "Development of Abhidharma Theory of Citta and Caitasika".

A nice read for background on the stuff in general, but better to read the Intro to the Kosa provided in Huseng's links given above. Or the Intro to the Amrtarasa in the link I gave, too. That is Sarvastivada to Sautrantika. That is basically the only stuff relevant to the northern and Mahayana traditions.


Will have to check these links out ....

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Re: Abhidharmakosa study group?

Postby kirtu » Thu Jun 24, 2010 6:45 pm

So - :spy: Vasubandhu's Abidharmakosa appears to be a summarization of the abhidharma of the Vaibhasikha as well as a critique (?) of their positions (in part) from a Sautantrika POV.

The Vaibhasika abhidharma appears to be the Mahāvibhāṣā Śāstra. Has this been translated into western languages (perhaps in the early days in French or German)?

As such (if Vasubandhu is merely presenting and then critiquing the Vaibhasika positions) why should we study it at all? As taught in Tibetan Buddhism, one cannot attain enlightenment with anything less than the Cittamatrin view so we should really start there (of course Tibetan Buddhism also does say that one needs to study the "lower" to higher schools views: Vaibhasika, Sautantrika, Cittamatra and Madhyamika in that order). The question would be how valid the Abhidharmakosa is in terms of even it's purported higher studies of Buddhist thought.

Also, in general, the material is a series of definitions which do not quite seem to make it to the level of an ontology. So a criticism is that they are a proliferation of concepts.

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Re: Abhidharmakosa study group?

Postby kirtu » Fri Jun 25, 2010 12:21 am

I was looking for an outline to guide study and found this very basic outline at the Rigpa Wiki

The text is divided into eight topics:
1. The elements (Skt. dhātu)
2. The faculties (Skt. indriya)
3. The world (Skt. loka)
4. Actions (Skt. karma)
5. 'Subtle developers' (Skt. anuśaya) (i.e. negative emotions)
6. The path and the individual (Skt. mārgaprahāṇa)
7. Wisdom (Skt. jñāna)
8. Meditative equipoise (Skt. samāpatti)

Maybe we can find a more in-depth traditional outline or create our own.

The Rigpa Wiki also lists a set of commentaries, one from an Indian source:

Indian
Yashomitra, Abhidharmakośaṭīkā (chos mngon pa'i mdzod kyi 'grel bshad)
Tibetan

The following are among the best known Tibetan commentaries on the Abhidharmakosha:
Chim Jampé Yang, Ornament of Abhidharma (mngon pa'i rgyan)
Gendün Drup (1391–1474) Illuminating the Path to Liberation (thar lam gsal byed)
Rongtön Sheja Kunrig, Thoroughly Illuminating What Can be Known (shes bya rab gsal)
Mipham Rinpoche, rin po che'i do shal blo gsal dgyes pa'i mgul rgyan
Jamyang Loter Wangpo, A Lamp Illuminating Vasubandhu's Intention (dbyig gnyen dgongs pa gsal ba'i sgron me)
Khenpo Shenga, A Mirror for What Can be Known (shes bya'i me long)

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Re: Abhidharmakosa study group?

Postby Huifeng » Fri Jun 25, 2010 1:10 am

kirtu wrote:So - :spy: Vasubandhu's Abidharmakosa appears to be a summarization of the abhidharma of the Vaibhasikha as well as a critique (?) of their positions (in part) from a Sautantrika POV.


Something like that, though the "Sautrantika" is a pretty loose group, and the Vaibhasikas had a number of views amongst them.

The Vaibhasika abhidharma appears to be the Mahāvibhāṣā Śāstra. Has this been translated into western languages (perhaps in the early days in French or German)?


No. It is about 2 million Chinese characters, which would probably work out to several million words in English (or any Euro language). Think of maybe 10 or 20 volumes of the Encyclopedia Brittanica in size.

As such (if Vasubandhu is merely presenting and then critiquing the Vaibhasika positions) why should we study it at all? As taught in Tibetan Buddhism, one cannot attain enlightenment with anything less than the Cittamatrin view so we should really start there (of course Tibetan Buddhism also does say that one needs to study the "lower" to higher schools views: Vaibhasika, Sautantrika, Cittamatra and Madhyamika in that order). The question would be how valid the Abhidharmakosa is in terms of even it's purported higher studies of Buddhist thought.


Because it is still one of the best systematic outlays of various Buddhist traditions. But, as you say, make sure to supplement it with your favorite "uber-system" of choice. (Though I would personally disagree with the Tibetan assertion of needing to be Cittamatra or higher to attain liberation. This is where I like the Mahaprajnaparamita Upadesa, it begins by explaining terms through Agama and Abhidharma systems, but then uses the Madhyamaka to establish the correct view of these categories. Something like Abhidharma for conventional, Madhyamaka for ultimate.

Also, in general, the material is a series of definitions which do not quite seem to make it to the level of an ontology. So a criticism is that they are a proliferation of concepts.

Kirt


Maybe something like that. The problem is, without knowing the categories as they originally were, attempts at Madhyamaka to refute them often end up in even more conceptual proliferation. Or, rather than establishing a range of conventionally wholesome and useful phenomena, but seeing them as ultimately unreal, one simply falls into the category of maintaining unwholesome and harmful phenomena, pretending that they are unreal, but using this pretension to merely follow one’s own negative habitual patterns. I’m sure we’ve all seen this sort of BS before.
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Re: Abhidharmakosa study group?

Postby Indrajala » Fri Jun 25, 2010 1:49 am

Kirt and Ven. Huifeng wrote:
Also, in general, the material is a series of definitions which do not quite seem to make it to the level of an ontology. So a criticism is that they are a proliferation of concepts.

Kirt


Maybe something like that. The problem is, without knowing the categories as they originally were, attempts at Madhyamaka to refute them often end up in even more conceptual proliferation. Or, rather than establishing a range of conventionally wholesome and useful phenomena, but seeing them as ultimately unreal, one simply falls into the category of maintaining unwholesome and harmful phenomena, pretending that they are unreal, but using this pretension to merely follow one’s own negative habitual patterns. I’m sure we’ve all seen this sort of BS before.




Kirt, without a provisional utilization of concepts, there is no means to properly practise and employ the proper methods necessary for liberation.

Cheng'guan in the Tang Dynasty addressed a similar question, probably refuting a particular group who had some idea like "getting back to the source" 還源 (which would include denying all study of unreal concepts) in mind:


問。夫求解脫。祗是了妄證真。但能契真如理。寂然無念則便離縛。何假興心觀蘊方求解脫。豈不乖理哉。
It is asked, “Seeking liberation is only just understanding delusion and realizing the truth. It is merely being able to realize the principle of tathātā – in quietude without thoughts and then binds are removed. How does one provisionally arouse the mind, examine the aggregates and then seek liberation? Is this not in opposition to the principle?”

答。離蘊真妄約何而立。且五蘊者身心之異名。行人若不識身心真妄。何能懸契。
We answer: with what do you stand without aggregates, truth and delusion? For the moment the five aggregates are a different name for the body and mind. Supposing the practitioner is not aware of the truth and delusions of body and mind, how could they completely understand them?

不達真妄之本。諸行徒施。
They do not reach the source of truth and delusion and practises are vainly undertaken.

故經云。若於虗空終不能成。
Thus the scripture states, “It is like in emptiness ultimately nothing being able to be established.”

斯之謂也。且計人我者。凡夫之執也。計法我者。二乘之滯也。
This is how it is said. The provisional conception of the self of the person is an attachment of the ordinary person. The conception of the self of phenomena is the hindrance of the two vehicles.

故令修二觀。方能了妄證真。豈可離也。
Thus we have them practice the two examinations and then they are able to understand delusion and realize the truth. How could you do without this?


Basically, the provisional use of concepts is necessary. There is nothing wrong with having a view as long as it is a right view.

This is a similar question proposed today by some Zen practitioners who would do away with all study of definitions and so on because they "do not rely on letters or words".

As Ven. Huifeng has pointed out, there is a tendency amongst some people to just label everything as unreal, yet use that as an excuse to follow their own harmful and negative inclinations. They'll even slander and ridicule anyone studying definitions and concepts.
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Re: Abhidharmakosa study group?

Postby kirtu » Fri Jun 25, 2010 11:21 am

Huifeng wrote:(Though I would personally disagree with the Tibetan assertion of needing to be Cittamatra or higher to attain liberation.


Not to attain liberation - the Vaibhasika and Sautantrika views can lead a person to the liberation of an Arhat in Tibetan Buddhist thought. However Cittamatrin or Madhyamika view is necessary to lead a person to the enlightenment of a Buddha in Tibetan Buddhism.

This is where I like the Mahaprajnaparamita Upadesa, it begins by explaining terms through Agama and Abhidharma systems, but then uses the Madhyamaka to establish the correct view of these categories. Something like Abhidharma for conventional, Madhyamaka for ultimate.


And to be clear, what is the Mahaprajnaparamita Upadesa?

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Re: Abhidharmakosa study group?

Postby Will » Fri Jun 25, 2010 10:10 pm

Bhikshu Dharmamitra has translated large sections of Nagarjuna's commentary (upadesha) on the 25000 line Prajnaparamita Sutra. One volume of the Kalavinka Press edition covers the paramitas and another plump volume has many stories from the Upadesa.

Here is some of his intro to the paramita volume:

http://www.kalavinka.com/book_excerpts/ ... _Intro.pdf
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Re: Abhidharmakosa study group?

Postby zerwe » Sat Jun 26, 2010 6:02 am

I have a personal interest in Abidharma study as well. Although, I don't know how much I will be able to contribute while I am currently engaged in a study of pramana and its applications in personal reflection, meditation, and debate. However, the Abidharma is becoming more and more of a source for my study of pramana. To address Kirtu's questioning, I have to say that one very important aspect of this work lies in Vasubandhu's use of reasoning in his refutation of opponent schools doctrinal positions. Much can be gained for our own personal development by understanding reasoning when we are without pratyaksha to answer what doubts we may have.
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Re: Abhidharmakosa study group?

Postby Anders » Sat Jun 26, 2010 10:46 am

kirtu wrote:And to be clear, what is the Mahaprajnaparamita Upadesa?
Kirt


You wouldnt know it from Tibetan studies as it only survives in Chinese translation. It is sometimes referred to as the fourth treatise of the Sanlun school ('three treatises' school - Chinese Madhyamika) and has had a profound impact on Chinese Buddhism.

It is, in a way, an encyclopedic Madhyamika abidharma (although not quite in abidharma format. Its humour, simple style and rich use of analogies and stories makes it immensely more readable than any abidharma manual I've come across) attributed to Nagarjuna that would probably run over 5000+ pages if ever translated in full to English. It covers just about every topic you could think of concerning Buddhism in general as well as Mahayana. And bellies the conception sometimes encountered that Madhyamika is only about view. It provides rich detail on the practise of Prajnaparamita, the other paramitas, the wings of awakening, ordained life vs laity, rituals, etc.

As Huifeng mentioned, the author takes a lot of time to explain the [mostly sarvastivadin] Hinayana position as the standard to explain a given topic. He will then follow up on this with the Mahayana position, sometimes to explain that here the Mahayana plain disagrees with the hinayana, or here it is the same, but most commonly explain a Mahayana view that is true from a higher perspective than the hinayana without invalidating the lesser.

For someone who is into Chinese Buddhism, I think it would not be inaccurate to say that the upadesha is the definitive word on all things madhyamika. Many luminaries in east-asian Buddhism, such as Zhiyi, the founder of Tiantai and Dogen, the founder of Japanese soto zen, were great admirers of this treatise and took strong inspiration from it. It is also believed that Kumarajiva, the great translator who also translated the upadesha, took this as his baseline when interpreting the scriptures he translated.

In addition to the works mentioned by Bhikshu Dharmamitra, Etienne Lamotte managed to translate a third of it before he died. This has most fortunately been translated into English from the French and made available freely from Gampo Abbey.
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Re: Abhidharmakosa study group?

Postby kirtu » Sat Jun 26, 2010 6:30 pm

zerwe wrote: To address Kirtu's questioning, I have to say that one very important aspect of this work lies in Vasubandhu's use of reasoning in his refutation of opponent schools doctrinal positions.


I have not yet read the entire Abhidharmakosabhasyam but typically Vasubandhu doesn't use actual reasoning in presenting different positions. An assertion is made, then a point raised from another position and then that point is addressed. So argumentation is used to present and criticize views but in general not actual reasoning.

Much can be gained for our own personal development by understanding reasoning when we are without pratyaksha to answer what doubts we may have.


This is true.

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Re: Abhidharmakosa study group?

Postby kirtu » Sat Jun 26, 2010 7:26 pm

Anders Honore wrote:In addition to the works mentioned by Bhikshu Dharmamitra, Etienne Lamotte managed to translate a third of it before he died. This has most fortunately been translated into English from the French and made available freely from Gampo Abbey.


Fantastic! Thank you! :woohoo:

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Re: Abhidharmakosa study group?

Postby dave » Sun Jun 27, 2010 9:39 am

Huseng wrote:
Yogicfire wrote:I just downloaded the pdf file no problems. Thanks for that, Huseng. Much appreciated.

Are all the pages there, though? I was looking at Chapter 3, The World, and it seems to start from p 366. There is a blank page before that...

File: Abhidharmakosa2, Belolvasas 0009. (p 11 of 210).

Are we going to give everyone a few weeks to read a certain part of this chapter? Like a few weeks?

I think we should give it a go, and see how things unfold.

By the way, I am up in Saitama. But, I know of Komozawa, and it has a good reputation.



The actual printed copy has four volumes and the page numbers start where the previous one left off.

If you ever want to come visit Komazawa send me a message. There is a museum on campus of Zen with a number of artefacts on display. The schedule follows the school schedule, which can be a bit irregular. I'll happily show you the place. :smile:

As for the reading I'd say read the introduction first to get an idea of the scope of the text.

I think maybe Chapter 3 would be a good place to start. Cosmology is always fun and under appreciated. :sage:




Hi Huseng

Thanks for taking the trouble to copy the whole Abhidharma and sharing with us.
I always thought to do it, but never managed.

Best for you! Dave
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Re: Abhidharmakosa study group?

Postby kirtu » Thu Jul 01, 2010 3:27 pm

Vasubandhu begins the Abhidharmakosabhasya with a praise to Shakyamuni Buddha:

Om. Homage to the Buddha.

1. He has, in an absolute manner, destroyed all blindness;
He has drawn out the world from the mire of transmigration:
I render homage to Him, to this teacher of the truth, before
composing the treatise called the Abhidharmakosa.


Question: Some explanatory texts say that Vasubandhu's Abhidharmakosabhasya is an auto-commentary implying that Vasubandhu also wrote a versified Abhidharma text. Is this correct? Did Vasubandhu actually himself write a separate Abhidharma text that he is now commenting on in the Abhidharmakosabhasya?

Or is the Abhidharmakosabhasya his commentary on the Vaibhasika-Sautantrika Abdhidharma, the Mahavibhasa?

Vasubandhu then explains this verse:
"He" refers to the Buddha.
"He has destroyed all blindness" - by him or through him blindness with respect to all things is destroyed.
Blindness is ignorance. Ignorance hinders the seeing of all things as they truly are.

The next paragraph states that the Buddha possessed the antidote to ignorance and definitely destroyed all ignorance wrt all knowable things so that it cannot rearise.

But the Pratyekabuddhas and Sravakas have also destroyed all ignorance wrt the defilements.

However there is a difference between the freedom of ignorance of the Buddha and the Pratyekabuddhas and Sravakas. As the text states, the Pratyekabuddhas and Sravakas have destroyed all ignorance concerning the defilements. The Buddha destroyed all ignorance wrt to all knowable things including the defilements (i.e. the Buddha's freedom is greater than the Pratyekabuddhas and Sravakas). And some examples are given:
1. The Pratyekabuddhas and Sravakas do not know the qualities proper to the Buddha.
2. The Pratyekabuddhas and Sravakas do not know about objects very distant in space and time.
3. The Pratyekabuddhas and Sravakas do not know about the infinite complex of things.
(Each of these have chapter endnotes).
Therefore the Pratyekabuddhas and Sravakas have not destroyed blindness (ignorance) in an absolute sense "for the ignorance freed from the defilements is active in them" (this phrase also has an endnote).

So this commentary so far is just about the initial verse: He has, in an absolute manner, destroyed all blindness

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Re: Abhidharmakosa study group?

Postby kirtu » Thu Jul 01, 2010 3:53 pm

kirtu wrote:The next paragraph states that the Buddha possessed the antidote to ignorance and definitely destroyed all ignorance wrt all knowable things so that it cannot rearise.


The paragraph actually reads:
By this, the Buddha, the Blessed One (1), is sufficiently designated,for he alone, through the possession of the antidote to ignorance (v 60), has definitely destroyed all ignorance with respect to knowable things, so that it cannot rearise.


[b]Chapter 1 endnote 1[b] :
The authors of the Vinayavibhasa say: (1) there is a Buddha who is not a Bhagavat *, namely the Pratyekabuddha, because he is a svayambhu**, that is because he has attained Bodhi by himself, because he has not fulfilled the task of danaparamita, etc. *** (vii. 34); (2) there is a Bhagavat who is not a Buddha, namely the Bodhisattva in his last existence ****, (3) there is a Buddha Bhagavat; and (4) there are persons who are neither Buddha nor Bhagavat (Vyakhya, 3.12). One can also say that the Sravakas, or Disciples, are Buddhas (Aryadeva, Sataka, 270), for they have acquired Bodhi (vi 67).


* a Conqueror ?
** self-arisen ?
*** the Bodhisattvas perfection of giving resulting in a great mass of merit. Presumably the etc. refers to the other 5 perfections of the six perfections of the Paramitayana, the Bodhisattva vehicle of the perfections.
**** before becoming a world-conquering Dharma dispensation preaching Buddha like Shakyamuni.

I am unsure of the further notations (vii 34), (vi 67). Perhaps they are footnotes in the introduction.

Kirt
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Re: Abhidharmakosa study group?

Postby kirtu » Thu Jul 01, 2010 3:57 pm

kirtu wrote: 1. The Pratyekabuddhas and Sravakas do not know the qualities proper to the Buddha.


Chapter 1 endnote 2:

Sariputra did not know the five pure skandhas (the precepts, etc.) of the Tathagatha.


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Re: Abhidharmakosa study group?

Postby Will » Thu Jul 01, 2010 5:36 pm

kirt: I am unsure of the further notations (vii 34), (vi 67).


I thinks these references are to the Vinayavibhasa mentioned at the beginning of the note. Also, even though Vasubandhu is referring to "the author" I think it is he; so it is an auto-commentary.

Here is a simple outline of the text; click on the yellow text at bottom to go to the second page:

http://www.bibliotheque-dhagpo-kagyu.or ... /abhi3.php
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Re: Abhidharmakosa study group?

Postby kirtu » Fri Jul 02, 2010 1:21 am

kirtu wrote: 2. The Pratyekabuddhas and Sravakas do not know about objects very distant in space and time.


Chapter 1 endnote 3:
Maudgalyayana did not see that his mother had been reborn in the Maricilokadhatu.
Sariputra did not discover the roots-of-good of a candidate for the state of Bhikshu (see vii. 30); but the Buddha declares:
moskabijam aham hy asya susuksman upaksaye
dhatupasanavivare nilinam iva kancanam

Compare Huber, Sutralamkara, p 286.


Maudgalyayana's mother had been reborn in one of the hells and didn't see it. The Buddha instructed him in a method of offering and dedication of merits that continues to today.

Sariputra didn't see the good roots in an old man who wanted to become a monk but the Buddha could see these roots. This is one of the stories where as a pig the man was chased by a dog around a stupa and thus developed good roots (there are several uch stories and I'm not sure which this one would be).

3. The Pratyekabuddhas and Sravakas do not know about the infinite complex of things.


Chapter 1 endnote 4 :
As the stanza says:

sarvakaram karanam ekasya mayuracandrakasyapi nasarvajnair jneyam sarvajnajnana balam hi tat



Hopefully our able Sanskritists can render assistance here.

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Re: Abhidharmakosa study group?

Postby kirtu » Fri Jul 02, 2010 1:48 am

kirtu wrote:Therefore the Pratyekabuddhas and Sravakas have not destroyed blindness (ignorance) in an absolute sense "for the ignorance freed from the defilements is active in them" (this phrase also has an endnote).


Chapter 1 endnote 5:
The Pratyekabuddhas and Sravakas have also abandoned (prahina) non-defiled ignorance (aklistam ajnanam), in exactly the same way as they have abandoned the organ of sight, etc., that is, by abandoning all desire (chandaraga) with respect to it. But this non-defiled ignorance remains active within them (samudacarati) even though it is abandoned, exactly like the organ of sight.
Such is not the case for the Buddha: this is why the author says he has destroyed (hata) obscurity in such a manner that it will not arise again.
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Re: Abhidharmakosa study group?

Postby kirtu » Sun Jul 04, 2010 1:20 am

kirtu wrote: As taught in Tibetan Buddhism, one cannot attain enlightenment with anything less than the Cittamatrin view so we should really start there (of course Tibetan Buddhism also does say that one needs to study the "lower" to higher schools views: Vaibhasika, Sautantrika, Cittamatra and Madhyamika in that order).


Interestingly Asanga's Abhidharmasamuccaya is the presentation of the Abhidharma from a Cittamatrin perspective.

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Re: Abhidharmakosa study group?

Postby zerwe » Sun Jul 04, 2010 9:16 pm

kirtu wrote:
kirtu wrote: As taught in Tibetan Buddhism, one cannot attain enlightenment with anything less than the Cittamatrin view so we should really start there (of course Tibetan Buddhism also does say that one needs to study the "lower" to higher schools views: Vaibhasika, Sautantrika, Cittamatra and Madhyamika in that order).


Interestingly Asanga's Abhidharmasamuccaya is the presentation of the Abhidharma from a Cittamatrin perspective.

Kirt

In the translators introduction to Shantarakshita's, The Adornment of The Middle Way there is what I have found to be a very good discussion surrounding the Chittamatra point of view as related to the writings of Asanga and Vasubandhu. While, it seems there are many benefits to understanding Chittamatra here this author interprets that this was not the stance of Asanga or Vasubandhu, but that literal interpretation led to a distortion of what was thought to be idealist positions of 'All is Consciousness' and 'All is Mind'.

from pg. 26--

'The adequacy of the description of Chittamatra has been questioned. In the opinion of some modern scholars, the Madhyamaka refutation is directed only against what was in effect a later distortion of the original teachings. This negative development had come about through the mistaken interpretation of certain passages, found in the writings of Asanga and Vasubandhu to the effect theat "All is Consciousness." Instead of understanding such expressions in the sense in which they were intended, namely, as descriptons of meditative experiences, some later philosophers, notably Dharmapala, had interpreted them literally in an ontological sense. This led to the mistaken impression that Asanga and Vasubandhu had propounded a philosophically idealist position that "All is Mind." The term "Chittamatra" has therefore been called into question as an appropriate name for the teachings of Asanga and Vasubandhu, preference being given to "Yogachara," a name that more obviously evokes the meditative context in which these teachings were irst formulated.'

There is a wealth of more information surrounding Chittamatra within this context contained in this publication. pp 26-32
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