Producing Xuan Zang’s image: a study on the creation of the Consciousness-only School in the Tang Dynasty

YANG Jianxiao1

(1.Department of Philosophy, Tsinghua University)

【Abstract】In the history of Buddhism, Xuanzang was generally known as the founding master of the Consciousness-Only School and an exponent of the Yogācāra School of the Dharmapāla lineage, with a focus on the Vijnaptimatrāsiddhi-śāstra (成唯识论). Few have realized that such an understanding was a construct by interested parties. Behind the invention of Xuanzang’s image we are familiar with was the effort of the Kuiji lineage to establish the Consciousness-Only School. First, Xuanzang was sanctified as a pilgrim monk, but such sanctification was driven by Xuanzang’s disciples who sought to highlight Xuanzang as a scripture translator to bolster the formation of the school. Second, after Xuanzang’s death, the Buddhist sangha council at the Ci’en Temple divided into two groups, one led by Puguang along with Fabao and the other led by Kuiji. Puguang and Fabao, who were of the prevailing party, branded the Kuiji lineage who advocated the Vijnaptimatrāsiddhi-śāstra as the “Vijñaptimātratāsiddhi-śāstra-writers.” We can infer accordingly that the text was not held orthodox by the majority of Xuanzang’s disciples. In reality, it was precisely Kuiji’s creation of a lineage dedicated to transmitting the Vijnaptimatrāsiddhi-śāstra that forged a special link between Xuanzang and the text. In this way did he not only consolidate the lineal succession of dharma but also he succeeded in setting up the Consciousness-Only School. Third, the school gradually formulated exclusive doctrines and a theoretical threshold for idiosyncratic codes for practicing Buddhism.

【Keywords】 Xuanzang; Kuiji; Vijnaptimatrāsiddhi-śāstra; Consciousness-Only School;

【DOI】

【Funds】 The National Social Sciences Fund of China (17ZDA233)

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    Footnote

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This Article

ISSN:1000-4289

CN: 11-1299/B

Vol , No. 01, Pages 72-82

February 2019

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Article Outline

Abstract

  • 1 Dual sanctification of Xuanzang: saint-like virtue and the portrait at the Ci’en Temple
  • 2 Sectarian lineage: master-disciple succession and the “Vijñaptimātratāsiddhi-śāstra-writer”
  • 3 Sectarian “theoretical threshold”: the differentiation between śāstras and the categorization of scriptures
  • 4 Conclusions
  • Footnote