A Hermeneutic Approach to the Lotus Sutra The Profound Meaning of the Lotus Sutra'

A Hermeneutic Approach to the Lotus Sutra Tiantai Zhi)仇 Work , The Profound Meaning of the Lotus Sutra' 一On H a iyan She n Department of Ph ilosophy...
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A Hermeneutic Approach to the Lotus Sutra Tiantai Zhi)仇 Work , The Profound Meaning of the Lotus Sutra'


H a iyan She n Department of Ph ilosophy, Shanghai University Abstract: The actua l fo under of the Ti a ntai Buddhist Sc hool - Zhiy i made a g reat contributi o n to the deve lo pment of Chinese Buddhis m . ln hi s mas terpie c吼 叫 e Pr,可ound M eaning of the LOlus Sutra , he presented hi s phil osophi ca l sy stem of Buddhism , a comprehensive picture of the Buddhist doctrines a nd practices , w ith hi s Fi ve Secti o ns as a n exegeti c dev ice to interpret th e L otus SUlra . Thi s pa pe r outlin es the w hol e structure ofthi s work in o rde r to explo re how hi s system of Buddhism is presented

thro ug h

hi s he rme ne uti c

a pproach and



o ur

unde rsta nding of hi s phil osophy Key


Ti a nta i

Buddhism ,


Xuany i,

Fi ve

Section s

Three fo ld Truth , Ultimate Truth

Introduction In hi story of Chinese Buddh ism, the establi shment of Tiantai Buddhism, as the fì rst estab !i shed Chinese Buddhist Sc hoo l, is one of the most signifì ca nt events marking a mil estone transformin g lndi an Buddhis l11 to Chin ese Buddhi sm. The actual fo under of th e T iantai Buddhist Schoo l is Zhi yi (538 -597). Hi s thoughts and theories laid so li d found ati on fo r th e schoo l. Amo ng

Z hi 叭 's

wo rk , hi s masterpi ece Th e

p,可'ò und

Mean ing

o( the Lotus Sutra (Mi。可'à Lianhua Jing Xuany i 妙法 蓮 華經 玄 義 ; hereafter abbreviati on Xuany i) I contains most of hi s philosophica l system concernin g Buddhis l11 ,


This paper is the reslllt ofth e p r句 ec t of Shanghai Uni versity “ 211 Proj ect" phase 111 project "the clI ltural ecology of Chi ncse folk in transition." For a study of thi s work , 5ee Haiyan Sbcn, The Pro(oll l1 d M.叩ning ofthe LOlII s SlII ra: Tiantai Philosophy of Buddhis (India: Originals (an imprint of Low Price Publicati on), 2005 ) 沈海燕 , { 法教玄義 的背學 ) U 海 」海古辛苦的版社 , 201 0 ) -35-


第卅 八 卷第十二期

20 11 . 12

and thus can be regarded as the key text in understanding deeply hi s Buddhist philosophy The work Xuanyi is composed of ten fascicles , and the interpretati on of tbe Lofus Sufra fo ll ows the fiv e categories of ana lysis na l1l ed “ Five Sections" (WlIzhang 五章 ) or

“ Five

Layers of the Profound Mea ning" (Wuchong xi間nyl 五重 玄義 ) as a genera l

guideline. These Five Sections are Zhiyi's own syste m of interp reting Buddhist sutras With the means of the “ Five Sections": Na l1l e (Ming 名 ) , Substance ( η 體), Gist (Zo咚 宗 ),

Function (Yong 用 ), and Teaching (Jiao 教 ), the inte叩 retation is no longer

pass ive ly following the scripture chapter by chapte r. Rather , the

inte叩 re tati o n

is made

according to these categories , and the reve lation of the themes of the scripture is also revo lved around these categories. These fiv e meanings serve as an exegetical device to interpret the Lofus Sulra . The first meaning “ Na l1l e" concerns an explanati on of the title ofthe L ofllS Sufra. The second meaning “ Substance" concems the fundamental theory the LOfUS Sufra is based on , and refers to the Ultimate Truth. The third meaning

concem s the essential teach ing of the Lofus Buddhahood as

ca u s 巴,

SlI fl 田 ,

“ Gist"

and takes the practice for attaining

and the attainment of Buddhahood as effect. The fourth meaning

“ Functi on" displays the power the L ofuS Sutra exerts in benefiting li ving beings. The fifth m ea nm 且“Teac hin g"

cla ss ifies the various teachings of the Buddha , so that all teac hings

of the Buddha are inco rporated and confinned as va lid Conseq uently , the work X lI anyi is no longer limited to the nature of a commentary lt becomes the mediu l1l to ex press Zhiyi's own tho ugh t. Moreover , the Five are applied for the systematic

int e叩 re tation

Sectior峙 ,


o f the Lofus SUfra , refer to the structure of

the text X uanyi itse l f. Within the domain of the Five Sections , a vast and complex structure of illustrati ons is laid


focusing on the themes of the L ofus Sufra. Dav id

Chappell has also pointed out the distinctive feature of the X lI any i Zhiyi's X uany i was totally interpretative and did not follow the indi vidua l chapters at all - a very different hermeneutica l ori entati on from that of the textual exeges is that had been the dominant method of Canon ical Buddhism in the fifth and sixth centuries w hen the central a ims were accuracy ,


a uth e ntici旬,

Haiya n Shen: A Henneneuti c Approach to the Lotlis Sutra On Tiantai Zhiyi's Work , The P, 可òund Meaning o( the Lo lUS Slitra




-r -

nunu nur oiv




“ nuAu



ss z

The issue o f thc interpretatio n of th e Lollls S lI lra

的 nol

only a bout presenting the

theme of the Lolus SlI lrα , but is a lso abo llt Z hiyi 's presentation of a co mprehensive pi cture of Buddhism. The interpretation of the Lolus S lI lra is well g llided by Z hi y i's own syste ll1 of c1 assifying the teachings of th e Buddha. That is to say, every s in g le notion of B lI ddhism that is illll stra ted in the texl is

lI nder

the scrutiny of the Fourfold T eaching

(Sijiao 四教 ) J Therefore, the interpretation of the Lotus Sutra is actlla ll y the syste ma tic expressio n o f Zhi 叭 ' s own thollgh t. Along with this interpretati on , vario us Buddhi st theories and systems a re enu ll1 e rated a nd

e lu c idat叫 ,

maki ng the Xuanyi into an

cncyclopedic compendillm of B lI ddhi s m . However, the B lI ddhi st theori es and concepts a re e numc rated as part o f the illllstrali ve discollrse for Z hi y i's own syste m of thollght , indi catin g compre hensive natllre of hi s views a nd all-embracing nature of hi s perfect and harmo nizat io n phi losophy (Yu C/ nrong zh exue 固融哲學) W ith this phil osophy , o ne sees no confli ct a mong different things and theories. A II existing things a re co mpli ll1 e nta ry 10 巴 ac h othe r. They are not sep ara te entiti es a nd do no t


David Chappell , ,‘ Hermenc lI ti ca l Phases in Chinese BlI ddhism ." In Bllddhist Hel 叫別leuflCS , ed ited by Donald Lopez {Honolulu: Uni versity of Hawaii Press ‘ 1988) , 184 In hi s schemc of classifyi ng thc tcachin且 of the Buddha , Zh iyi divides the Buddha's teaching in terms of content inl o four types, including Tripitaka (Za l1g ñÌ>~), Common (To l啟 迪 ) , Separale (Bie 別) and Perfect Tcach ings (Yllal1 阻 ). Thc ripitaka (co Il ection of writings in BlI ddh ism) Teaching rcfcrs to Srävakayãna Buddhi sm, whi ch consists of the teachin gs of thc Ihree pitaka爪 in cllldin g .\'litras (i.e. , Ihe teachings of Ih c BlI ddha) , villαIyas (i.e. , di scipline) and abhidharm的 (i.c. , commentaries on BlI ddhi st doctrin es) , and is des igned tor thc ., rävakas and pral\'ekabliddllll.\'. The Common Teaching is common to bOl h Srãvakayã na and clementary Mahãyã na. and caters to .{:,.ãνakas , pratyekab llddlu肘 , and bodh isa tt νa.\' 0 1' lowcr rac lllti cs. The Separate Teaching means thal thc tcaching caters to thc capab ilily of lhe bodhisallvo.l' on ly, and is scparate rrom the fonner Iwo tcachings , and is also separate from the laSI teaching of the Perfect , 10 Ihe doc trinc ofthe Separatc Tcachin g does not yet enable onc to perccive an integrated rea lity The Perfect Teaching addresses a Il the Three Veh icles Urävakas , pralyekabuddhas , and bodhisallν肘, and expollnds the Middl e Way of mlltual iden tifìcation , rcωgniz ín g the fll nda menlal id enl ity amo ng a Il enlilies. Th e rero悶 , the Perfect Teaching is regarded by Zhiy í as thc lI ltimate teachin且 0 1' Ihe BlI ddha . Brllno Petzo ld's 1l1 0nu ll1 cntal work The Clas刺刀catio/'l (jj Bllddh悶111 is ent ircly devo ted to the subj ecl 0 1' variolls classifì cations in India , China , and Japan Cf., Petzold. Brllno. The Classifìcatioll (jj' Bllddhislll: CO I/1,戶 IïS/I悍的e c/assifìcatiol1 0/ Bllddhist doCII 川的• il1 I lI dia. Chilla. al1 d .Jap仰 (Harra sso wit z Vcrlag: Wiesbaden, 1995)



哲學與文 化


2011 .12

exclude one anothe r. COnfimling o ne thing and negating the other can only result in parti a lity. Not only nothing is separated , but also a ll entiti es are ultimately identifi ed with each othe r. They are merged into one

e nti 句 ,

but at the same time , each o f them represents

different characteri sti cs of the Ultimate Truth . Thi s phil osophy is embodi ed in the theory of the Middle Way-Ultimate Truth (Zhongdao shix iang 中 道 質相) , which consists o f the 叭 Im間e 臼 ss 伏 ( Kon 咚 E 空 ), the Pro 圳 vI剖 S 1ω 0na 叫 a叫1 μ (.Ji叫 α 假) , and the Middle Way three aspects4 : EI叮mp

(Zhang 中 ). E mp 叭仰 tin ess is spoken of in terms o f 出 t h巴 illusory 間 n at仙 u陀 r e of 飢 eX叫 I s叫te ncωe , 釗 S m c巴 thi叮 m gs


o叫 r i 且 in a ted

depending on causes and co nditi ons. The Provisional co nveys th e

characteri sti c of things from the angle of conventi onal ex istence. Although things a re illu so吟,

they do bear certain names and temporally ex ist

T he Middle W ay is to

id e nti f扯 E mpt i n ess

with the Pro visional , or vice versa ,

transcending both views , but at the sa me time embrac ing both o f them. Thi s M iddle Way phil osophy is the perfect percepti on of co mprehensiveness , whi ch is meant not to be limited by any viewpoint and not to dwell on any de fini te concepti on. Any ri gid and fi xed form of thinki ng is doomed to be extreme and

p a rl 凶 ,

and does not enabl e one to reach

the Ultimate Truth T he Fi ve Sectioll s , as th e exegetical catego ri es of interpreting Buddhist texts can , there fore , be conside red as

Zh 阱 's

hermene utica l strategy. Moreove r , the Five Secti ons

are also appli ed as an instrument to orga ni ze hi s own di sco urse.

H e nc 巴 ,

the interpreta ti on

of the Lofus Su lra in the framewo rk of these Five Sections is al so the systemati c ex press ion of Zhiyi 's own th ought. T he interpretation of th e F ive Secti ons consists of two levels


“ Genera l lnterpretati on" and “ Spec ifi c


Swanson's Fo undlα tions of T 'i的1-f 'ai Philosophy is devoted solely to the subj ect ofthe Threcfold Truth (5,削di 三諦 ), and he considers this concept as the central concept of Zhi yi's phi losophy C f., Palll Swanson, FO ll l1 datio l1 s of Tïel1 -t 'ai Philosophy: The Flowering of the Two Tr1lf hs TheOl y in Chinese Buddhism (Berkeley: Asian HU l11 anities Press , 1989). For a brief survey of different l11 eanings of the Middle Way (Zllllllgdao ) in various schools, see Chih -fu Lee' ( 妙法 蓮吾吾終玄義研究) (還灣.中帶佛教文獻編草草而土 司 1 997 ) , 頁 3 0- 32. For a study of Z hi叭 ' s lI nderstand ing of Ihe Middl e Way and BlI ddha Natllre, see Y lI -Kwan NG , T 'ien-t 'ai Buddhism andE圳 Iy Madhyamika (Honolulll: University of Hawaii Press, 1993) -38-

Haiyan Shen: A Hcrmencutic Approach to the LOIII'< S lI lra - On Tiantai Z hi )月 ' s Work , The Profoll l1 d Meo l7 il7g of lhe LOIIIS SIIII 。

The Primary Structure of the Xuanyi-General Interpretation The “ General lI P

Intc叩 retation "

(Tongsh i


as the first leve l of the

Xt叫小時 to


and to present the Five Sections as the leg itimate exeget ica l categories for interp retin g

the Lotlls Su tra as well as a ll other slltras. The Five Sections are di sc llssed in seven parts (B iaozhang 標 ï;~ ) , (2) quotation and ve rificati on (Yinzheng

(1) introd llctory definition 司 | 證) ,

(3) origination and arising (Shengqi 生起) , (4) unfo lding and foldin g (K.叫1e 開

合 ), (5)

measuring and se lecting (L ωο,/ /(/n 料簡) , (6) cOll temp latin g mind (Guanxin î關

心) , and (7) convergi ng differences (!-IlI iyi 會與 ). The seven headings , as a whole , makes

clear the significance ofthe Five Sections as 3n exeget ica l device ( 1) The first hcading

Five Sectiolls by defìning subtl e

dhα rma

“ introdllctory defìnition" (Biaozhαng them “ Exp lainin g the name" (Sh iming

襟章) categorizes thc 釋名) is to reveal the

that is ex pollnded in the teaching of the B lI ddha. Thi s sllbt le dharma refers

to tbe Threefo ld Truth as a merging e ntity “ Di stin g山 sbing the sllbstance" (Bianti 辨骰) 的 to

convey that the U ltimate Truth is the fOllndation of the teac hing of the B lI ddha , a nd

is the sllbstance of the Lotlls Sutra. This Ultimate Truth is characterized by the Middl e Way that is

n o n- ex tre m巳 n on-d i s tincti ve ,

and permeates

everyw h e悶,

Empt iness and the Provis ional Ex istence are ide nti ca l to each other (Mingzong 明 宗 )

and reveal s that

“ Clari fy illg the g ist"

is to convey that the cause and effect of B lI ddh ahood is the essentia l

teaching of the Buddha , s ince the cause and effect of Buddhahood is what constitlltes th e whole teaching. " Discll ss ing the function" (Lul1yong 論用 )的 to demonstrate that the powerflll 心 n c ti on

benefìt others

exerted by the knowledge of the Buddha can illllminate trllth and

“ Classi fy ing

the teaching of the B lI ddha" (Jiaoxiang 教相) is to present

variolls types o fthe teaching systematica ll y (2) The seco nd headi ng

“ quotation

and verification" (Yinzh eng 引 諮)的 to cause

people to ga in fai th w ith scriptural s lI pport so that the Fi ve Sections ca n be legit imi zed as Zhiyi ' s device for interp reting scriptures

(3) The

th 凶 h eading “o ri ginat i o n

and arising" (Shengq i 生 起) exp lains the

seqllence and the ord er of thcse Five Sections , which is to cau se people not to be di stracted , so that the ir concentrated mil> ds can ari se. Each section is re lated to the nex t S巴c tion :

the preceding

011 巴的 a n 巴cessary

step for the followin g one to arise



第卅 八卷 第十二期

20 1 1.1 2

The necessity to have name is to name the dharma (truth in Buddhism) , because in order to express dharma , language is an indispensable in strumen t. When dharma bears name , it is legible and can gu ide one to recogni ze the substance , since dharma as truth is taken as the substance of the Lotus Sutra. However, this substance of the Ultimate Truth relies on the insight of the Buddha to be perceived. The insight of the Buddha is the outcome of the gist (the practice of the Buddha and his attainment of Buddhahood as the cause and effect). On ly when the gist is taken into account , can the substance as the Ultimate Truth be understood and realized. Seeing that this substance embraces all entities , it is perfec t. The perfect substance results in powerful function. This is to say that the powerful function is derived from one ' s knowledge that concerns the Ultimate Truth. Thi s is because when the Buddha realizes the Ultimate Truth , the Buddha's knowledge that concerns this Ultimate Truth exerts the power to function in fulfilling hi s soterio logical goa l of liberating a ll Ii ving beings. Consequently, the realization of this function in liberating living beings resu lts in numerous benefits in terms of the teaching of the Buddha. Since there are various types of the teaching of the Buddha in terms of benefiting living beings , it is necessary to categorize these teachings so that the validity of all types of the Buddha' s teaching can be acknowledged (4) The fourth heading “ unfolding and folding" (Kaihe 開合 ) discusses the Five Sections in terms of various Buddhist concepts in order to convey that the meaning of the Five Sections is subsumed in these concepts. This is to cause people to attain wisdom by analyzing differences and summarizing similarities a mong various doctrines (5) The fitìh heading “ measuring and se lecting" (Liaojian 料簡 ) is to cause people to atta in wisdom by

c1 arifyi 時 que s tion s

of aud iences about the definition of the Five

Sections , and the choice of using the numerical five as an exegetical

devic巳 By

doing so ,

the Five Sections are confirmed as universal for interpreting all Buddhist scriptures , as they allow one to see the common attribute that is shared by a ll sutras as well as the particular attribute of each sutra. As Zhiyi puts it “ [Applyi 月 the Five Sections to inte叩 ret all sulras is because ,] if each sutra

is interpreted commona lity.


one can only obtain the particularity but not the

Presently , when the five meanings are discussed together ,


Hai ya l1 She l1: A Herme l1 eutic Approach 10 Ihe LOllls S lI lra - 011 Tianlai Zhiyi' s Work , The Pro.fOllnd Meoning o.f lhe LOlus SllI ra [one] will obta in the commonality without losing the particularity 吋 (6) The sixth heading “ contemplating mind" (Guanxin 觀心) is to cause people to s imultaneously ga in a mind that diligcntly acquires knowledge and carries out practices ln fact , the above five headings concem nothing el se but mind contemplation and to introduce the mcthod of contemplatin g mind. By asserting that

ll1 ind

inco rporate all previous five headings , Zhiyi de ll1 0nstrates the

contemplation can

1l1 0st

accessibl e and

practical method of realizing truth 1 )With

regard to the Name , “mind is called neither origination nor extinction. ,, 6

2)With regard (0 the Substance ,“ll1 ind is the Ultill1 ate Truth. ,, 7 3)W ith regard to the Gist , “

the initial conte ll1 plation is

th巴 caus巴 ,

and the acco ll1 plish ll1 ent of the contemplation is

the effec t.吋 4)With regard to the Function, “ because of mind contemplation , evi l consciousncss does not arise. ,,9 5)With regard to the Characteristics of the Teaching, “

[because of mind conte ll1 plation , ] the dharmaof ll1 ind and

defilem 創刊 ,

whether sim il ar or

different , are a ll trans for ll1 ed and changed. Therefo re , [the teaching] is called mind conte ll1 plation.' , 10

(7) The seventh heading “ converging differences" (Huiyi 會與 ) is Zhiyi's endeavo r to integraæ the Five Sections as a new category of uncoveri ng the profound meaning of the teac hin g of the Buddha with the establis hed category of the Four Siddhãntas (Si Xitan 阿悉極). These are the four methods ofthe Buddha' s teaching: Worldly S iddhãnla (Shijie xitan

世 界悉值 ) ,

Siddhãnla for Each Person (Gege weiren xitan 各各為人悉糟 ) ,

Siddhãnla of Counteract ion (Duizhi x川an 對治 豆豆恆 ) and Siddhã川αof the Supre ll1 e Truth (Diyi y i xi lan 第 一 義悉植 ). The Four Siddhãntas are e laborated in order to converge what see ll1 to be different teachings of the Buddha , and to resolve tens ion betwecn the truth that is exp lainab le and unexplainable. With regard to tbe truth itself, the common view held by Buddhists is that it is indescribab le and inexpressible , and can only be reached by intuitive insight through conte ll1 plation. What is the point tben for the


r 若經經別釋﹒但?特別不紛向 。令 共論于l 議 , 倒 [ "j不失 3U


r 化、名不生亦復不滅 。 」 爪,叫'yi .

7 8



XlI o l1 yi. T33.685c


r 心即質徊 。 J XlI anyi. T3 3.685c r 初級為因,翻成為泉 。 J XlI onyi. T3 3.685c

r 以觀心故忠、生在 不起 。」 泊的l1yi . T33.685c 10 r 心敏處勞,若同 若真 ,皆被化而縛,是為觀心 。 J Xuonyi. T33 .685c





20 11.1 2

Buddha to teach truth? Zhi yi arglles that the Buddha's teaching is necessary for the sake of liberating senti ent bei ngs . Truth has to be de li vered when there is need for


name ly,

li ving beings have a need to hea r the teaching in order to eliminate sll ffering and attain liberat ion. For Zhi yi, thi s is exactly the po in t fo r the legitimacy o f the Five Secti ons they are necessary since they can be appli ed 10 interpret all sulras. ln view o f the Four

Siddhãn las that incorpora te all


and vari ous types of th e Buddba ' s teaching , and

in view of the Fi ve Secti ons that are the genera l instrument to eluc idate Buddhi st scriptures , these two o bviously co rrespond with each other Moreover, the introdllction of the Four Siddhãntas demonstrates that, even though there is only one single reality, the methods of express ing thi s rea lity ca n be multifario us Vari o us ways of the B uddha' s teachings can be sllmmari zed in Four Siddhãnlas , whi ch give ri se to meditati on , doctrines , and twelve types of sc ripture. The Four Siddhãnlas are so fu ndame ntal in understandin g va ri ous teac hings of the Buddha that th ey are also asserted by Zhi yi as the core ex pression o f the Fi ve Sections, i. e., the Fi ve Secti ons are nothing but the expression of the Fo ur Siddhãnlas . Since the Four Siddhõnlas are regarded as the established method of the Buddha that incorporates all Buddhist teac hings ; correspondingly, the Fi ve Secti ons ca n also be susta ined as the un iversal category for the interpretati on of all Buddhi st sc rip仇ues

The primary structure of the Xuany i - Specific Interpretation The “ Spec ific lnterpretati on"

(Biesh i 日 U~擊 )

as the second level of the Xuanyi further

e laborates the Five Sections by expl ai nin g each of the Five Secti ons separately, and thus forming five parts. The theme of the fi rst part concerns the meaning

“ Na me ,"

whi ch

expl ains the titl e of the Lolus Sulra in tenns of the fi ve words Miaofa Lianhua Ji吟妙法 蓮華經

Th e

theme of the second part concerns the meaning “ Substance ," which

di stingui shes the substa nce of the Lolus Sulra from that of other sutras. The theme of the thi rd part concerns the meaning “ G ist ," whi ch is to displ ay the unique gist of the Lotus

Sulra. The themc of the fourth part concerns the meaning “ Functi on ," which is to di scuss the powerful function possessed onl y by the Lollls

SU fl-,α

Th e

theme o f the fi fth pa rt

concerns the meaning “ Teaching ," w hich is 10 classify the charac teristics of the teaching -42-

Haiyan Shen: A Hermeneutic Approach to the LOlllS Sulra - On Tiantai Zhiyi's Work, Th e Pr% und M,凹 ning oflhe Lollls SlI lra of tbe Buddha into three types: sudden , gradua l, and indeterminate . Among these five parts , the tirst part “ Ex plaining the

Name" 的 the

most e lucidated and ri chest in conten t. It

is addressed in fo ur headings l “ Judging the common and the unique feature of the Lolus Sulra" (Pan IOngbie 判 過別 )

examines the co mmon feature s the LOlus Sulra shares with other sutras, and tbe

lI niqlle

features that are only possessed by the Lolus SUlra , 50 th at the 5uperiority of the

LOlus Sulra is confinned 11 “ Determining the order bet ween ‘ S lI btle' and ‘ Dharma'" (Ding miaofa qianhou 定妙法前後) c\ arifi es why the word " dharma" 的 interpreted be fore the word

“ subtle'\

instead of interpretin g the two words in accordance with the order of the

titl 巴 , I. e.,

“ Miaola" 妙法

11. “ S lI mmarizing previous expos iti ons of the Lolus Sulra" (Ch 1l jiujie U:l當 fý!(o) summari zes previou s ex positions of the Lol 1l s Sulra that were made by other Buddhist masters. By 5uch compari so ns between thc ex positions of others and hi s own , Zhiyi hi ghli ghts his expo siti on as more comprehensive and coherent IV

“ Correct

妙法蓮華經 )

Intc rpretation of the LOlus Sulra" (Zhengjie miαoIa Ii anhua j ing 正 解

is to form a lly prescnt Z h 巾 ' s own interpretation of the Lolus Sulra. With

the abovc three head ings as the prc ludc , Zhi yi begins in this one an ex ten s ive interprctation of the tit le o f the LoluS SUlra as foll ows 1. The lnterpretation of the W ord

“ Fa"

First of a l\, the word "dhω 削。 " (Fa 法) is interpreted . Z hiyi considcrs dharma as havi 月 threc aspects:

dha rma of se ntient beings (Zhongsheng }o 眾生法), dharm日 of

Buddha (Fo 后, 秒 Il i.t ) , and dharma of mind (Xin .f.日 , 心法 ). By the5e three aspe c俗, Z hi yi intend s to include a ll categories of thc dharma that the Buddha has addressed in hi s teaching (1 )“ Dharma of Scntient Beings" cxplains the dharma from the perspective of vastness , concerning prec ise ly the Ten Suchnesses (Shiru -卡車 11) in re lation to the Ten Dharma-rea lms (Shi .!ojie 十法界 ). Th e Ten Suchnesses are: appearance (Xia吟相) , nature (Xing 性) , substance ( η 體 ) , po wer (Li )]), fllnction (ZIIO 1"乍), ca use5 (Yin 閃), condition5 (YlI an 緣 ) , effe ct5 (G lIO 果), rctributions (Bao 報) , and beginning-a nd-end



第 卅 八 卷第十二期

也 ltima t e l y -alik e

(Ben l11 o jiujing

201 1.1 2

deng 本宋究竟等 ).

They are taken by Zhi yi to describe

the characteristics of the Ultimate Truth or the True Rea lity (Shixiang 質 相), and they are embraced by each of the Ten Dhar l1l a -rea ll1l s (hell-d wellers , hungry ghosts , animals, asurc肘 ,

humans, heavenl y beings ,

.srâνakas ,

pralyekabuddhas ,

bodhisall νas ,


Buddhas) (2) “Dh anηa

of Buddha" expresses the dharma from the perspecti ve of superiority

That is, the Ten Dh anna-rea lms and the Ten Suchn esses are viewed in ter l1l s of the Re lati ve (Quan 權) and the Ultimate (Sh i 質 ) . Re lati vely spea ki 嗯, every rea lm is d ifferent and the nine realms (as the re lative) are

di stin g ui s h ed 行o m

the Buddha -rea lm

(as the ultimate). Ultimately speaking , a ll rea lms and the Ten Suchnesses in di fferent rea lms arc nothing but th e Buddha -sta te. In princ iple , the state of Buddhahood is possessed by all rea lms , and it is ne ither relati ve nor llltimate , and is all-emb rac ing. T his state of non-di stinct io n of neither relative nor ultimate can therefore , refl ect the re lative of the nin e rea lms and the ultimate of the one Bllddha -rea lm (3) “ Dh帥 ma



of Mind" eluc idates the dha rma fro m the perspecti ve of penetration

it can penetrate all aspects o f the dharll1 a and makes no di stincti on between

Buddha , and senti ent beings . Hence , it

i nco巾 ora tes

l1l ind ,

Dharma of Buddha , and Dharma of

Se ntient Be ings 2. Th e Inte rpre t a tio n o f th e W o rd

“ M iao"

Secondl y , th e word “ subtl e" (Miao 妙)的 in terpreted. T he inte rp re ta ti凹 的 drawn in two part s

“ general interpretation o f the subtl ety"

a n d “ s p ec l 日 c

interpretati on of t he

subtlety". The “ genera l interpretati on of the subtl ety" d ivides the subtl ety into two types relative subtlety (Xiangdai m iao 相符妙 ) and abso lute subtl ety (Juedai l11 iao 絕待妙) On the one hand , “ re lat ive subtlety" sustai ns it s sllb tlety in oppos iti on to the coarse teaching. The coarse teaching does not co nvey

th e 仇Ji l

truth in Buddhism , and the rea l

intenti on of the Buddha for llni versa l salvati on is no t di sp layed. T he sllbtl e teac hing , i.c. , the LOluS Sulra , conveys the full truth , in whi ch the rea l intention of the Bllddha is rcvea led . T his mea ns the Lol lI S


consi dered to bc relati ve ly sll btl e when it is

compared wi th the coarse tcachin g. On thc other hand , the “ abso lu tc sllbtlety" does not need to depend on coarseness to susta in its sllbtl ety. T hi s mea ns , whe n the Lolus Sulra is 44-

Haiyan Shcn: A Henneneuti c Approach to the L Ol l1 S SlI lra On Tiantai Z h 吵 ' s Work , The P/'ojollnd Meaning ol the Lotlls Sutra loo ked upo n as the ultimate teaching of the B uddha , w hich unifies the Three Vehic les (ùã νakas , pra~yekab llddha ,

a b so lllte ly s llbtle . T he

and bodhisatt ν'a) into the One Ve hicle of Budd ha hood , it is

“s p ec l 日 C

inte rpretat io n of the subtlety" e laborates the s ubtl e ty

extens ively in terms of the T c n Subtleti es in the d oor of the Traces , the commona l ity a nd the differe nc e between thc Traccs a nd the O ri g in , and the T e n S lI btle ties in the door of the O ri g in . T he e laborat ion of these two categories of thc Ten Subt leties is Z hiyi 's e ndeavor to incorpo ra te a ll exi s tin g theori es in the teaching o f the Buddha in o rd e r to draw a co mpl e te a nd cohe rent syste m of B lI ddhi s m

2.1 The

Ten Subtleties in th e Door of the Traces

Th e e laborati on bcgins wit h the T e n Subtlet ies in the door of thc Traces (Jizhong s himiao 跡中 | 妙)

(1) The Subtlety of Objects (Jing miao 境妙 ) is co nccrned with va ri ous truths tba t are either s tatcd by thc Buddha , 0 1' fo rm u lated by Zhiyi himse lf, incllld ing the T e n S lI chnesses (Shi

/'lI shi

-卅日是 ) , " th e Twe lve fo ld Causa lity (Shier y inyu仰 十二 |天| 緣 ) , 12

the Fo ur Nobl e Truths (Sidi 四諦 ) , 13 the Twofo ld Trll th (Erdi -.lft串 ), 14 the T hree fo ld




The Tcn Such ncsses are Zhiyi's schemc of characteri zing the ultimate lrulh , including appea rance. naturc. substance , powcr , fll I1 c tÎ o n 、 cau ses , condilions, effects , retribulions , and beginnin g-and -end-ultimalcl y-a likc Th e "twcl ve links of dependent ori ginati on" are: ignorancc , voliti ona l act ivity , consc iollsness , namc-a nd-for111 , six scnses , contact , sensation , desire, atlachment , ex istence , rcb irth , and old age-and-dcalh. Zhiyi illustrales th e lrul h of lhe Twelvefo ld Causalily in lcrms of four types of undcrsland ing lhi s lrulh , includin g (i) lh e Twclvcfold Ca usa li ly o fOri且 inalion and Exl 川 ct i oll o f lhe Conce ivablc, (ii ) Twe lvefold Causa lily of Neither Ori gination Nor Extinction of thc Conceiva ble , (ii i) Twe lvefo ld Causali ty of Original ion and Ex lin clion of lhe lnconce ivab le, and (iv) Twclvefold Call salily of Neilher Originalion Nor Ex linclion of lh e lnconceiva ble. For delail s‘ see Xllanyi. T33.698c-700a The Four Nob le Trulh s consisl 0 1' the truth of suffer in皂, th e trul h of lhc ca use of s uffe rin 且 , lhc lrulh of the exlincli on ofs ufferin且, an d lhc trulh of the path leading to th e ex linclion ofsufferin g Zhiyi illll Slrales lhe Four Noble Trulhs in lerms o f four types. inclllding (i) Four Nob lc Trulh s of Origi nali on and EXl in cli 叫1 , (ii) FOll r Noble Trllths of Ncilh er Originalion No r ExlinClion. ( ii i) Four Nob le Tnllh s of Ih c lmm casurable , and (iv) FOllr Noble Tnllh s of Non- fu ncli on. Fo r dcta il s see Xua圳人 T3 3. 701 a-b -4 5-



201 1. 12

Truth (Sandi 三諦 ) , ' 5 and the One Truth (Yidi 一諦 ).' 6 This category of Subtlety reflects Zhiyi 's endeavor to systematize various truths taught by the Buddha or implied in scriptures , and to inte巾 ret them with his own system



The Twofold Truth refers to the Worldly Truth and the Abso lut e Truth . The Worldly Truth concerns empirical ex istence , and the Absolute Truth concerns emptiness of existence. Zhiyi enumerates the Two Truths in terms of seven types , inciudin g: (i) The Twofold Truth th at is lI nderstood as Real Existence belongs to th e leve l of attainment of the Tripitaka Teaching. (ii) The Twofold Truth that is lI nderstood as Emptiness of III l1 sory Existence belongs to th e level of attainment o f the Common Teaching. (iii) The Two fold Truth that is lI nderstood as IIlu sory Exi stence being Empty and not Empty belongs to the level of attainment of the Separate Teac hing entering the Common. (iv) The Twofold Truth that is lI nderstood as IlI usory Ex istence and all dharmas tending toward Emptiness and Non -emptiness belong to the level of attai nment of th e Perfect Teaching entering the Co mmon. (v) The Twofold Trllth that is unde rstood as IIlusory Existence and Emptin ess, and neither Existence nor Emptiness belong to the leve l 0 1' attainment of the Separate Teaching. (vi) The Twofo ld Truth that is understood as IlI usory Existence and Emptiness , nei ther Ex istencc nor Emptiness , and all dharmas tendin g toward neither Empt iness nor Non -emptiness belong to the level of attainment of the Perfcct Teac hing entering the Separate. (vii) The Twofo ld Truth that is understood as III l1 sory Ex istence and Emptincss. all dharmas tending toward Ex islcnce , Emptiness , and neither Exi slcnce nor Emptiness be long to the level of attainment of the Perfect Teac hing. For detail s, see Xuanyi T33.702c-703b For Zhi yi, true rea lity consists of the Threefold Truth: Emptiness as non-sllbstantia lity ofthings , the Provisional as th e conventional ex ist en 間 , and the Middle Way as the synthesis of Emptiness and the Provisiona l. Th e refo 悶 , Zhi yi regards the Middle Way as the best and most sllccinct formul a in express in g the Ultimate Trllth. According to Zl叭叭 's schemc , there are five types of the Threefo ld Tru 咐 , including: (i) The Threefold Truth that is lI nderstood as Ollt f1 ow , No-outflow, and Neither Out f1 ow Nor No-outnow belongs to the leve l of attainment of the Separate Teaching entering the Commo n. (ii) The Threefo ld Truth that is understood as Out f1 ow , No-out f1 ow , Neithcr Olltflow Nor No -olltf1 ow that embraces all dharmas belongs to th e level of attainment of the Perfect Teac hing entering the Common. (iii) The Three fold Truth that is understood as Existence and Emptine間, Neither Existence Nor Emptiness, a


Haiyan Shcn: A Hcrmcncutic Approach to the LO Il吋 Sulra On Tiantai Zhiyi'5 Work , Th e Profound Mea叫ng ollhe Lollls Sutra of thought , name ly , !he Four Teac hings. '7 By doing 50 , not on ly are these truths presented syste matica lly , but also thi s system of truth in turn sustains hi s system of thoug ht , and becomes the foundation of hi s pbjlosophy of Buddhism (2) The Subt lety of Knowl edge (Zhi miao 智妙 ) provides guidance for one !o penetrate objects as truth (that arc sta t巳d in the Subtlety of Objects) , a nd to carry out corresponding practices (that are stated in the Subtlety of Practice) in reaching these objects. The twen!y kinds of knowledge concerning

0句 ect i ve

rea lity are Zhiyi 's

syste l1l a ti zation in ter l1l s of the four levels of understanding of the four categories of truth By exposi ng knowledge in terms of o bject ive reality , he inforl1l s us that the four levels of unders tanding of truth (such as four types of understa nding of the Twelvefold Causality, four types of understa nding of th e Four Noble Truths , and so forth) result fro l1l the four gro ups of knowledge one po ssesses. Therefore , Zhiyi provides one with a practical orientation on how to gain a supreme understanding of rea lity with supreme knowledge. 18 (3) The Subtlety of Practice (Xing miao 行妙) inco叩 orate s a ll types of practice in Buddhis l1l by exp li cating th e con tent of these pract ices in terms of the three 111句 01 principles:

prcc ep 怡,

meditation , and wisdom. lt is worth noting that by illustrating

bodhisallva practice of saving living be ings in the twenty -five kinds of existence with the wisdo l1l of thc Four Noble Truths of No-function (WUZ lI O sidi 無作凹諦 ) , Zhiyi has a lso

The FO l1 r Teachings refer to the Tripitaka , the Common , the Separate , and the Perfect Teachin gs , 川 t erms of the content of the teaching of the Bl1 ddha, and they arc formulated by Zhiyi. The Tp 1π1tαKα (co llection of writings in Buddhism) Teaching refers to Sr直vakayãna Buddhism , which consists of the teachings of the three pitakas , in cJ uding sulra 霄, ν111αryas andabhidharlllas , and is designed for the irãvakas and p叫lIyekα buddhas. The Common Teaching is common to both Srãvakayãna and elementary Mahãyãna、 and caters to srãvakas , pratyekabuddhas , and the bοdhisal/ vas of lower fac l1 lties. The Separate Teachin g mcans that the tcaching caters to the capab ility 0 1' the bodhisal/ v.αs only , and is separatc from the former two tcachings , and is also separa t e 仕om the last teac hin g of th e Perfe仗 , for th e doctrine of th e Separate Teach in g does not yet enable one 10 perceive an integrated reality. The Perfect Teaching add rcsscs all the Thr ee Vehi c l es 似rãν'akas , pralyekabuddhas , and the bodhisaltvas. and expound s thc Middle Way 01 mutual identilicati on, recogn izi ng the fl1 ndamental identity among all entities. The reason these Four Teach ings can in co巾。 rate all teachings of the Buddha is beca l1 se they are in an ascending order, in which the first three teachings (Tripitaka , Co mmon , Separate) can lead to the Perfect Teaching of attaining 811ddhahood 18 For a s叫 dy of Zhiyi 's theory oF Knowledge , see Haiyan Sh凹 ,“The Means of Penetrating Truth- T' ien- t' ai Theory oFKnowledge."Asiutische Stlldiell4 (2005): 11 89- 1266




第卅 八 卷第十 二 期

20 1l.l 2

drawn a full pi cture of Buddhist cosmology. 19 (4) The Subtl e ty of Positi on (Wei miao 位妙) in co rpo rates theories of a ll leve ls of atta inment in Buddhism. Z hiyi group s these pos itions into six categories fro m the lower leve l ascending to the hi gh level in order to build up a system of attainment accord ing to di ffe rent levels of practi ce 20 (5) T he Subtl ety ofth e T hreefold Dharma (Sanjà miao 三法妙) addresses the Three Trac ks (Sangui 三 軌 ) in terms of the Buddh a-nature as the Threefo ld Ca use of Buddhahood (Sany in foxing 三 因佛 .,生 ) . The Track of Rea l Nature (Zhenxing gu i 真性 軌) corresponds to the Fundamental Cause (Zh engy川 /ox ing 正 因佛性 ) , whi ch refers to

the fac t that a ll beings are inherently endowed with the true nature of rea li ty. The Track of the lII umination of Wisdom (Guanzhao gu i 觀照軌 ) corresponds to the Understanding Cause (Liaoyin jòxing 了因佛性 ) , whi ch refers 10 the inherent potenti al fo r w isdo m in a ll sentient be ings that a ll ows them to eventuall y uncover their true Buddha-nature from within. The Track of Accomplishment (Zicheng gu i 資成軌 ) corresponds to the Co nditiona l Cause (Yuany in foxi咚 緣因佛性 ) , whi ch refers to th e inherent potenti al and propens ity for Buddhahood within a ll senti ent be ings that allows them to perform meri torious deeds in order to sa me aspects

a tt剖 n

wisdom. Therefore, the Three T racks refer to the

concerm 峙 。阿 ect i ve rea l 旬 ,

knowledge , and practice. These are the three

maj or co mponents in re li gious culti vati on in Z hiyi' s phil osophy of Buddhi sm, eq ui va lent to rea lization, teachi ng and practice in tradit iona l Buddhism respecti ve ly. Zh iy i's point is that , these three components are in fac t imbedded in the nature of a ll sentient be ings , by whi ch Z hiyi stro ng ly argues that all beings are abl e to attain Buddhahood. The th eory of the Three T racks concludes the previous four catego ri es of Subt lety that are concerned with religious cultivation, and

indicates that thi s reli gious cultivation can be

acco mpli shed by the power o f se lf-practi ce. To further prove the signifi cance of the T hree Tracks in atta ining Buddhahood , Zh iyi corre lates them with the ten catego ries of the triple dharma that are related to the atta inment of Buddhahood , and by whi ch the



For a study of Zhi抖 's theory of practi凹 , see Haiyan Sh凹 ,“ S ubtlety of Practice - Zhiyi's ill ustration of Reli gious Practi ce."Asialische SllI dien 1(2006): 149-207 For a study of Zhiyi ' s system of pos ition , sce H a 明 n S h凹 ,