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TAKASAKI Jikidõ - Thoughts on Dhātu-vāda and Recent Trends in Buddhist Studies - p. 314

TAKASAKI Jikidõ - Thoughts on Dhātu-vāda and Recent Trends in Buddhist Studies - p. 314

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Thoughts on Dhātu-vāda and Recent Trends in Buddhist Studies
Thoughts on Dhātu-vāda and Recent Trends in Buddhist Studies

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Thoughts on
Dh„tu-v„da 
andRecent Trends in Buddhist Studies
T
 AKASAKI
Jikidõ
T  
HEFIRSTTHING
that comes to mind in considering the majortrends of the past ten years in Buddhist studies is the claim madeby Hakamaya Noriaki and Matsumoto Shirõ that the idea of 
tath„gata-garbha 
(which happens to be my area of specialization) is apseudo-Buddhist way of thinking, or is not Buddhist at all.
1
Frankly, theclaim came as something of a shock to me, and even now continues to weigh heavily on my mind. Since I have known Hakamaya and Matsu-moto from the days when they attended my lectures as students and havekept up friendly relations with them ever since, I was not altogetherunaware of their way of thinking and the path by which they arrived attheir conclusions.The idea that
tath„gata-garbha 
thought has much in common withthe teachings of the mainstream of Indian thought as represented by theUpani¤ads and Ved„nta philosophy is a point I have often made myself,and was hardly any cause for alarm. But it is quite another thing to con-clude that such a way of thinking is “not Buddhist” simply because it issimilar to the mainstream of Indian thought. Here I part company withthem. As a form of Indian thought, it is only natural that Buddhism shouldhave certain things in common with the mainstream of Indian thoughtthat it would not, for example, have in common with Christianity orIslam. The problem, as I see it, is how one de³nes “Buddhism.” Somede³nitions may even permit one to speak of “non-Buddhistic” forms of “Buddhism.” But such talk is relative to the world of intra-Buddhist the-oretical debate and should not be taken as absolute. But when I ³rstheard the claim that “the doctrine of 
tath„gata-garbha 
is not Buddhist”I was reminded of Nichiren’s attack on other Buddhist schools—that
314
TAKASAKI JIKIDÕ
 
nenbutsu 
leads to hell, Zen followers are devils, Shingon is the ruin of thenation, members of the Ritsu school are traitors, and so forth—and dis-missed them as having nothing to do with normal academic debate.Leaving to one side the question of whether or not
tath„gata-garbha 
thought is Buddhist (a gesture to which the proponents of the idea willno doubt object), I would like to have a brief look at Matsumoto’s pro-posed neologism
dh„tu-v„da 
as pointing to the speci³c structure of thedoctrine of 
tath„gata-garbha.Tath„gata-garbha 
thought and Buddhist Vijñ„ptim„trav„da thoughtin many ways stand opposed to each other. For instance, the doctrine of 
tath„gata-garbha 
teaches the practice and attainment of a single vehicle(
ekay„na 
), while the Vijñaptim„trav„da teaches three vehicles (
triy„na 
).Even so, I ³nd the term
dh„tu-v„da 
a rather accurate expression of thecommon structure found in both. In this sense, it is a useful tool for dis-cussing that question.The idea of 
dh„tu-v„da 
takes as its model terms such as
an„dhik„liko- dh„tu‹ 
(a beginningless substance or basis), as expounded in the verses of the
Mah„y„na-abhidharma Sutra 
,
2
or
eko dh„tu‹ 
(the one realm), asfound in the even older
 Anðnatv„pur«atvanirdešaparivart
.
3
Theseterms refer to the idea that samsara and nirvana exist together or share asingle “place” or “realm.” This “place” is the context within which onepasses, through practice, from samsara to nirvana. Those who experiencethis place as samsara are ordinary sentient beings; those who experience itas nirvana are Buddhas. For ordinary sentient beings, the
tath„gata-garbha 
refers to the hoped-for result of Buddhahood, from the perspective of that potential. The
„laya-vijñ„na 
(store consciousness) has as its basis thecauses of samsara, and these must be “overturned” or “converted” forone to attain nirvana. In the
tath„gata-garbha 
tradition, the manifesta-tion of the bodhi-wisdom of the Dharma Body, which remains unmani-fested in ordinary sentient beings, is called “the Dharma Body that bearsthe mark of the conversion of the ground (of enlightenment).” Certainly one may speak of this way of thinking as a “
dh„tvasti-v„da 
” rather than a
šðnya-v„da 
.” Nonetheless, the “way of being” (
asti 
) referred to here isnot of a substantialist or essentialist sort, but existential. It is a kind of being that lacks selfhood (
an„tman 
). This is clearly the case at least in theteachings accompanying the two examples I have given. I refer to thisidea of the continuity of samsara and nirvana through practice as
ekadh„tu-v„da 
.
4
DHÃTU-VÃDA 
 AND TRENDS IN BUDDHIST STUDIES
315
 
 What, then, is the basis for this
ekadh„tu-v„da 
, the unity or continu-ity of samsara and nirvana? This is where the idea of the
dharmadh„tu 
enters into the picture. The interpretation given in the Yogacara traditionis that the
dharmadh„tu 
is equivalent to causality (
 prat‡tyasamutp„da 
); inthis sense it is the ground of the noble Buddha Dharma, the teachings of the Buddha.
5
If one pursues the question further, one ³nds that this ideais based on the teaching of 
dharmadh„tu 
in the
 Avata½saka Sutra 
, wherethe term was used in an attempt to explain the meaning of the Buddha’sattainment of enlightenment. Still further back one discovers in the
Sa½yuttanik„ya 
of the P„li canon the term
s„ dh„tu 
in the sense of “thenature of all dharmas” (
dharmat„ 
).
6
There is yet another, distinct, mean-ing of 
dharmadh„tu 
given in the Abhidharma tradition, that is, as the“things” or “phenomena” that are the direct and indirect objects of ourconsciousness (as one of the eighteen categories of “things”).The term
dh„tu,
then, has at least two meanings: the sense of “realm”or “place” (or the collection of “things” in that place), and the sense of a“cause” (or the common features that allow the classi³cation of all the“things” into a single group). This double meaning is basic to the notionof 
dh„tu-v„da 
. Such double (or multiple) meanings are not uncommonin Buddhist terms. One need look no further than the word
dharma 
, which can refer as well to a phenomenon itself as to the nature of a thingthat distinguishes it from other things. The original Indian meaning wascloser to the second meaning of the “nature” of a phenomenon.Grammatically speaking it is more accurate to use the term
dharmin 
torefer to the phenomenon itself.Or again, consider the term
 prat‡tyasamutp„da.
Originally it referredto the “causal” side of the process of conditioned arising, in contrast to
 prat‡tyasamutpanna 
, which refers to the resultant side of the process.Tachikawa Musashi has pointed out recently that in N„g„rjuna’s
Mðla- madhyamakak„rik„ 
, the term
 prat‡tyasamutp„da 
must be understood asincluding the meanings of both the causal and the resultant side.
7
Tachikawa goes on to note that N„g„rjuna deliberately avoids distin-guishing between these two meanings so as to preserve them both in hisuse of the term. N„g„rjuna recognized that
 prat‡tyasamutp„da 
expressesthe nature of all phenomena (
dharmat„ 
), and that this is the meaning of emptiness (
šðnyata 
). He did not, however, use the term
dharmadh„tu 
inits causal sense because he did not wish to acknowledge an independent“dharma-nature” apart from the phenomena themselves. In this sense
316
TAKASAKI JIKIDÕ

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