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Won Cheuk on Yogacara Philosophy

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For both K'uei-chi and Wŏnch'ŭk, the Heart Sūtra a represents an upāya of the second turning of the Dharma Wheel, which, for them, explains why it emphasizes emptiness (空)and nonexistence (無). That emphasis, according to the theory of the three turnings of the Dharma Wheel expounded in the Sa9dhinirmocana Sūtra and elsewhere, was a response to the first turning of the wheel during which—in an effort to concretize the abstruse and unclear—basic facts of existence (有) were asserted. That emphasis on existence, since it lent itself to the extreme of eternalism, needed to be corrected by counter-stressing emptiness. K'uei-chi and Wŏnch'ŭk both associate this second turning of the wheel with Mādhyamika (though in different ways). The second turning, since it could foster the opposite extreme of nihilism, needed to be supplanted as well, this time by a third turning of the Wheel, represented by Yogācāra thought, which provided the culminating corrective to the existence/nonexistence dialectic. Both Wŏnch'ŭk and K'uei-chi cite the same passage from the Madhyānta-vibhāga (vs. 2-3) to illustrate this12:

Abhūta-parikalpa exists.
In this, duality is entirely nonexistent.
In this, only emptiness exists,
In that [i.e., emptiness] also exists this [i.e., abhūta-parikalpa].

Hence it is said: all dharmas
are neither empty nor not-empty.
Existence, nonexistence and again existence,
This conforms to the Middle Way.

Wŏnch'ŭk expresses the corrective project entailed in the relationship between Mādhyamika and Yogācāra in terms of a debate between Bhāvaviveka and Dharmapāla. According to his understanding, Bhāvaviveka stressed the negative, i.e., wu (無), while Dharmapāla countered that by re-emphasizing the positive, yu (有). Wŏnch'ŭk casts this debate not as an intractable sectarian impasse, but as two faithful bodhisattvas expressing two sides of the same Buddhist truth, complimenting rather than conflicting with each other.(T.33.1711.544a.) It is not uncommon in such literature to find an author conflating 'emptiness' with 'nonexistence,' as if the two were synonymous, and Wŏnch'ŭk's text displays some degree of guilt in this regard. However he does show that he is aware that these should not be conflated, when, for instance, he writes during his discussion of the Heart Sūtra passage "form is emptiness, emptiness is form"13:

However, then emptiness does not contradict existence; that is precisely the principle of emptiness. Nor is it that nonexistence does not contradict emptiness; that is precisely the explanation of how rūpa (form) establishes itself. 'Both emptiness and existence' accords with and establishes the two truths. 'Neither emptiness nor existence' conforms to the Middle Way. Isn’t this the Great Tenet of the Buddha Dharma? [emphasis added]
He also summarizes Dharmapāla's project, in one place, in the following way (T.33.1711.544b.8-10.):

  Dharmapāla, based on the Sandhinirmocana sūtra, etc., and Maitreya's tenets, established a contemplation gate, i.e., retaining consciousness while refuting sense-objects (在識遮境). By discerning through the gate of emptiness contemplation, he established that all dharmas are understood as existent and nonexistent.
This both "existent and nonexistent"14 he explains through the trisvabhāva.
Parikalpita: [the dharmas of] sentient beings in principle are nonexistent.
Paratantra: [dharmas] exist because of causes and conditions.
Parinispanna: [dharmas] in principle exist and are not nonexistent.

Wŏnch'ŭk's contention—one drawn, I believe, by misreading some of his sources—is that a key difference between Bhāvaviveka and Dharmapāla involves their disagreements about trisvabhāva theory. According to Wŏnch'ŭk, Bhāvaviveka insists that the first two natures—parikalpita and paratantra—have to be negated15, and possibly all three svabhāvas must be negated, while Dharmapāla argues that only the first nature, parikalpita, must be negated. Wŏnch'ŭk uses this distinction to buttress one of his underlying themes, one derived possibly more from his reading of Paramārtha's works than Hsüan-tsang's: Discrimination (fen-pieh 分別). Paramārtha renders all sorts of terms— especially terms connected to the Sanskrit root √klp—into Chinese with fen-pieh, including his term for parikalpita (fen-pieh-hsing 分別性), and thus he tends to stress that the fundamental problem involves introducing discrimination into a nondiscriminate purity16. It is likely that Hsüan-tsang devised a new rendering for parikalpita—(遍計所執) pien-chi so-chih—precisely to move Chinese thinking about parikalpa beyond a narrow focus on the 'discrimination' issue, so that Chinese Buddhists would instead address the issues of attachment (so-chih) and pervasive mental constructions (pien-chi).17  For Wŏnch'ŭk, Dharmapāla's interpretation of the trisvabhāva indicates that the reason why emptiness is taught at all is so that parikalpa can be negated. That, in itself, is not an unusual claim in Yogācāra works, so he can call on a number of proof texts, such as the Yogācārabhūmi, to illustrate how emptiness and negation must be applied to parikalpita. What remains problematic is (1) Wŏnch'ŭk's frequent reduction of parikalpita to 'discrimination'—though at times he does take cognizance of Hsüan-tsang's rendering and its focus on "attachment" (so-chih), as we'll see shortly—and (2) his neglect of the equally important trinihsvabhava (three non-self-nature) theory, in which all three svabhāvas are negated, as he has only Bhāvaviveka claim.18

Wŏnch'ŭk, from the beginning of his commentary, indicates that the Buddha-Dharma is deep, profound, beyond words or discrimination, but gets carved up, discriminated, when efforts are made to teach it. In one place he returns to that theme to blame all sectarian disputes on assertions made by unenlightened so-called scholars in the name of Buddha-Dharma (學者未悟乃成異說).(T.33.1711.544a.9)

K'uei-chi also briefly seems to slip into the same error of conflating emptiness and nonexistence in his commentary, but he quickly and rigorously corrects it a little further on.19 However, one feature of Wŏnch'ŭk's work is an at times inconsistent treatment of the implications of 'existence' and 'real,' at times hypostatizing — treating as real the concept of emptiness and nonexistence &mdash these notions more than one would expect from a Yogācāra thinker. In a few places, Wŏnch'ŭk shows an affinity with tathāgatagarbha thought.20" —

A Korean Yogacara monk in China: Won-Cheuk (612--696) and his commentary on the Heart Sutra
Writer : Chang-geun, Hwang. 2000. THE UNIVERSITY OF WISCONSIN - MADISON :

Sandhinirmocana Sutra:

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