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Innovative Alayavijnana (Waldron)

Innovative Alayavijnana (Waldron)

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Alaya Vijnana in Buddhism
Alaya Vijnana in Buddhism

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Published by: Unelaborated on Feb 26, 2012
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11/26/2012

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 HOW INNOVATIVE IS THE 
 Ā 
 LAYAVIJÑ 
 Ā 
 NA?
The
ā 
layavijñ
ā 
na
in the context of canonical and Abhidharma
vijñ
ā 
na
 theoryby William S. Waldron
*
 
c
c
y
1
 
 How Innovative is the
 Ā 
 LAYAVIJÑ 
 Ā 
 NA
by William S. Waldron
 INTRODUCTION 
(1)
 
The
Mah
ā
 y
ā
na-sa
 graha
and other 
Yog 
ā
c
ā
ra
texts claim orthodoxy for the
ā
layavijñ
ā
na
on thegrounds that it had been taught by the Buddha within accepted scriptural sources, and that it was infact posited by other Abhidharma schools in the guise of more or less synonymous terms.
1
[i.e., claimof orthodoxy](2)
 
In an ironic reverse appeal, Walpola Rahula has claimed that “although not developed as in theMah
ā
y
ā
na, the original idea of 
 
ā
layavijñ
ā
na
was already there in the P
ā
li Canon.”
2
[i.e., claim of origination](3)
 
On the other hand, Schmithausen (1987: 46) has recently suggested that the<200>conception of the
ā
layavijñ
ā
na
eventually entailed “redrawing the theory of mind.” [i.e., claim of innovation]In this essay I will examine the relationship between the canonical
3
conception of 
vijñ
ā
na
(Pali:
viññ
āṇ
a
)
 
and the
Yog 
ā
c
ā
ra
concept of the
ā
layavijñ
ā
na
so as to contextualize these claims. The innovative aspectsof the
ā
layavijñ
ā
na
have so often been emphasized that its commonality with its canonical predecessorsand Abhidharma contemporaries, the very context in which it most needs to be understood, is all toofrequently overlooked.We shall view the
ā
layavijñ
ā
na
not simply as a radically new departure, but also as the systematicdevelopment of the early concept of 
vijñ
ā
na
within the more sophisticated context of Abhidharma. Fromthis perspective we shall be able to more fully appreciate both its continuity with the earlier conceptions, aswell as the gradual development and elaboration of 
vijñ
ā
na
theory within Abhidharma and Yog
ā
c
ā
ra,thereby supporting but at the same time qualifying the ahove-mentioned claims to (1) orthodoxy, (2)origination and (3) innovation.In the early discourses preserved in the P
ā
li Canon
vijñ
ā
na
was a polyvalent term with diverse (i)epistemological, (ii) psychological, and (iii) metaphysical dimensions, many of which becamemarginalized within orthodox Abhidharma discourse.
 
The
ā
layaviñ
ā
na
is, in crudest outline, this canonical
vijñ
ā
na
minus its role within immediatecognitive processes;
 
it encompasses those aspects of 
vijñ
ā
na
 pertaining to the continuity of 
 sa
 s
ā
ric
existence thatcould not be readily integrated into orthodox Abhidharma discourse, focusing as it does upon theimmediacy of transient states of mind.The
ā
layvijñ
ā
na
system effectively reunited these divergent dimensions in a bifurcated model of the mindwhich articulated a simultaneous and interactive relationship between(1)
 
the momentary, surface level of sensory cognition and(2)
 
an abiding, subliminal level of sentient existence.Since the
ā
layavijñ
ā
na
is presented in terms of 
2
 
 How Innovative is
 Ā 
 LAYAVIJÑ 
 Ā 
 NA
by William S. Waldron(i) the wide range of functions played by the canonical
vijñ
ā
na
[i.e., Section A] and(ii) the various problematics to which these arrived within Abhidharma [i.e., Section B],we shall examine these in some detail before we present(iii) the gradual systematization of the
ā
layavijñ
ā
na
itself [i.e., Section C].<201>
3

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