Are Tiantai and Huayan worldviews radically different?

Are Tiantai and Huayan worldviews radically different?

Postby Nikolay » Tue May 14, 2013 3:01 pm

I would like to discuss this article: http://faculty.fullerton.edu/jeelooliu/ ... ua-yan.pdf

Is there really such a huge gap between Tiantai and Huayan metaphysics as the author claims here? Before reading this, I assumed that they are more or less the same.

In a nutshell, the author claims that Tiantai worldview is close to "commonsense realism", while comparing Huayan metaphysics to subjective idealism. This is really a surprising claim, at least for me, especially considering that he goes on to identify Yogacara as objective idealism.

Anyway, I fail to see how any Buddhist philosophy can be compatible with commonsense realism, since this position is arguably one of the principal obstacles to liberation. I am unable to judge whether this presentation of Tiantai is accurate, since I still do not have a sufficient understanding of Tiantai philosophy, but I strongly suspect that something is wrong here. Huayan position as presented in the article seems at least coherent to me, more or less in line with what I know about Yogacara and Buddhist philosophy in general, although I still question the offhand use of Western philosophical terms.

So, is there really such a sharp contradiction? My intuition is telling me that something is wrong here, the author may be over-exaggerating the difference, perhaps misinterpreting the Tiantai doctrine. But maybe I am wrong?

Also, does the situation change with Tendai and Kegon?
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Re: Are Tiantai and Huayan worldviews radically different?

Postby Jikan » Tue May 14, 2013 3:12 pm

The TienTai portions of that paper read like a series of generalizations in search of an argument. I am not convinced by it.

I would like to know what others think of the author's comments on Huayen.

As far as I know, the main point of distinction between Kegon-shu and Tendai-shu had to do with ordination rather than doctrine. (although doctrine was debated extensively among schools. Paul Groner's book on Ryogen describes how these debates worked among Tendai, Hosso, and Kegon monks)
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Re: Are Tiantai and Huayan worldviews radically different?

Postby Nikolay » Tue May 14, 2013 3:22 pm

This was also my impression. The whole "commonsense realism" thing looked a bit outlandish to me.

As far as I know, one of the principal points of disagreement between Tendai and Hosso was Tendai's assertion that all beings without exception are capable of reaching Buddhahood. Not sure about the Kegon position, and I also don't know what other topics were debated (besides the whole ordination thing). Unfortunately I do not have access to the book on Ryogen.

I also hope that someone with deeper knowledge of Huayan doctrine will help clarify the issue.

By the way, good to see you back Jikan.
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Re: Are Tiantai and Huayan worldviews radically different?

Postby Jikan » Tue May 14, 2013 3:28 pm

Nikolay wrote:This was also my impression. The whole "commonsense realism" thing looked a bit outlandish to me.

As far as I know, one of the principal points of disagreement between Tendai and Hosso was Tendai's assertion that all beings without exception are capable of reaching Buddhahood.


That's my understanding as well.
I also hope that someone with deeper knowledge of Huayan doctrine will help clarify the issue.


Me too!
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Re: Are Tiantai and Huayan worldviews radically different?

Postby Luke » Mon May 19, 2014 11:50 pm

I would be very interested to hear the opinions of Ven. Indrajala, Ven. Huifeng, and Astus on this question! :D
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Re: Are Tiantai and Huayan worldviews radically different?

Postby rory » Tue May 20, 2014 3:11 am

Okay I started reading and then quit, ugh. Now I will quote from a first class scholarly resource J. Stone's "Original Enlightenment and the Transformation of Medieval Japanese Buddhism" . This book is truly excellent as she sums up very complex ideas in mere sentences.

First T'ien-tai vs. Hua-yen:

"
In contrast to Hua-yen emphasis on all things arising from the mind, early T'ien-t'ai - as well as the later T'ien-t'ai thought of Ssu-ming Chilh-li..who attempted to counter Hua-yen influences - denise that the mind is a pure, undifferentiated cosmic principle from which all things arise. In the words of Chih-i...."One may say neither the one mind is prior and all the dharmas posterior nor that all dharmas are prior and the mind posterior. All one can say is that the mind is all dharmas and all dharmas are the mind. Therefore the relationship is neither vertical nor horizontal, neither the same nor different." p. 8

"Hua-yan thought sees all phenomenon as expressions of an originally pure and undifferentiated one mind." p. 7 ..."the Yogacara model in which differentiated phenomena arise from seesd stored within the alaya-vijnana and are independent of suchness."

Chinese thought via The Awakening of Faith" introduced the idea of tathagata-garba the idea of an originally pure enlightened mind intrinsic to all sentient beings, conceptualized as the 'wond' or 'embryo' of Buddhahood" p. 5

"Within the Indian Mahayana, this question has been addressed most explicitly by the Yogacara doctine of the alaya-vijnana or "store consciousness". ...."Ignorance has its source in the defiled seeds that have accumulated in the store consciousness since the inconceivably distant past. Only their thorough extirpation can transform and purify consciousness, a process thought to require many successive lifetimes - three incalculable aeons being a common estimate." p. 5-
6

So you see there are 3 traditions: Yogacara, Madhyamaka and tathagara-garba.

Hope this clears things up.

FYI Hosso supposedly did support the Yogacara idea that some beings could not acheive Buddhahood, but I believe Jokei modified it so that these are beings who don't want to ever embrace Buddhism, so it's their choice.

gassho
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Dharani of Amoghapasa Avalokitesvara:

Om amogha-padma-pasa-krodhakarsaya praveshaya maha-pashupati-yama-varuna-kuvera
brahma-vesa-dhara padma-kula-samayan hum hum

heart mantra: Om amogha vijaya hum phat
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Re: Are Tiantai and Huayan worldviews radically different?

Postby rory » Tue May 20, 2014 3:55 am

gosh sorry for the typos! (I'm more tired than I thought) that's 'womb' of Buddhahood. :oops:
Dharani of Amoghapasa Avalokitesvara:

Om amogha-padma-pasa-krodhakarsaya praveshaya maha-pashupati-yama-varuna-kuvera
brahma-vesa-dhara padma-kula-samayan hum hum

heart mantra: Om amogha vijaya hum phat
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Re: Are Tiantai and Huayan worldviews radically different?

Postby Qianxi » Tue May 20, 2014 7:13 am

Chinese thought via The Awakening of Faith" introduced the idea of tathagata-garba the idea of an originally pure enlightened mind intrinsic to all sentient beings, conceptualized as the 'wond' or 'embryo' of Buddhahood" p. 5


That's not true, there were several Tathagatagarbha sutras translated before The Awakening of Faith was composed. The most influential probably being the Mahayana Mahaparinirvana Sutra.

As for the difference between Huayan and Tiantai, I think it depends quite a lot on which period you look at, whether it's early Tang, late Tang, Song or Japan. When Zhiyi and his disciple Guanding wrote the founding works of the Tiantai school, there was no Huayan school in existence.

Also, I'd say reducing Tiantai or Huayan teaching to an ontology (realism/idealism) doesn't really fit my impression of the emphasis of the works of those schools I have read. The emphasis is always on liberation - the long discussions of the relative superiority of certain sutras, the descriptions of different stages of realisation - the merit of such frameworks is whether or not they lead to Buddhahood, not whether or not they describe reality in some objective way that makes sense outside of the Buddhist path.
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Re: Are Tiantai and Huayan worldviews radically different?

Postby Luke » Tue May 20, 2014 6:37 pm

Thanks for your answers, Rory. :namaste:
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