Reconciling the Irreconcilable?

22 July 2021 - Yi Allan Ding (Chicago, IL)
Reconciling the Irreconcilable? Revisiting the Dunwu dasheng zhengli jue 頓悟大乘正理决 [The Judgement on Sudden Awakening Being the True Principle of Mahāyāna] and the Samyé Debate in the 8th Century
public online lecture at the BuddhistRoad project, CERES, Ruhr-Universität Bochum

Since Paul Demiéville published his study on the Dunwu dasheng zhengli jue 頓悟大乘正理决 [The Judgement on Sudden Awakening Being the True Principle of Mahāyāna] in Le concile de Lhasa in 1952, many scholars have contributed to the discussion about related issues by closely studying relevant Tibetan materials, which include PT 823/1, PT 827/2, PT 116, bSam gtan mig sgron [The Eye-Lamp for Meditation], Cig car ’jug pa rnam par mi rtog pa’i bsgom don [The Meaning of the Sudden Entry into Non-Conceptual Meditation], dBa’ bzhed [The Testament of Wa], etc. This presentation demonstrates that the Tibetan materials have enabled us to reevaluate the composite nature of the Judgement and to extrapolate a ‘debate’ process underneath the seemingly disorderly questions and answers. For instance, a large portion of the Judgement should be understood as Chinese translations of original Tibetan queries; owing to the existence of translation procedures, miscommunication between Kamalaśīla (ca. 740–795) and Moheyan (fl. 786–794, 摩訶衍) did at times happen. A more nuanced understanding of the Judgement also makes it possible to reconcile the narrative in the Judgement with some of the elements in the now well-studied dBa’ bzhed.

Yi (Allan) Ding is Assistant Professor at the Department of Religious Studies at DePaul University, Chicago. He has published several articles that deal with Buddhist materials from Dunhuang or Sino-Tibetan Buddhism, including “‘Translating’ Wutai Shan into Ri bo rtse lnga (‘Five-Peak Mountain’): The Inception of a Sino-Tibetan Site in the Mongol-Yuan Era (1206–1368)” Journal of Tibetology 18 (2018) , “The Transformation of Poṣadha/Zhai in Early Medieval China (2nd–6th Centuries CE)” Buddhist Studies Review 36.1 (2019), and “By the Power of the Perfection of Wisdom: The ‘Sūtra-Rotation’ Liturgy of the Mahāprajñāpāramitā in Dunhuang” Journal of the American Oriental Society 139.3 (2019). He currently works on a book manuscript that focuses on the zhai feast and relevant liturgical scripts from the sixth to the tenth century.
Report of the guest lecture.