Skill-in-means and the Buddhism of Tao-sheng:

A study of a Chinese reaction to Mahaayaana of the fifth century
By David C. Yu
Philosophy East and West
vol.24.no.4(1974)
P 413-427


413 This article is an attempt to investigate two doctrines: skill-in-means as embodied in the Lotus Suutra(1) (hereafter, Lotus) and sudden enlightenment as expounded by the Chinese monk Tao-sheng(a) (ca. A.D. 360-434). The reasons these two doctrines may be juxtaposed are that they were influential topics of discussion among the Chinese Buddhist intellectuals in the fourth and fifth centuries, and also that Tao-sheng's theory of sudden enlightenment was chiefly a reaction to the idea of skill-in-means. Since skill-in-means of the Lotus was an Indian doctrine and sudden enlightenment was a Chinese concept, a comparison of these two should also reveal how the Chinese sangha reacted to Indian Buddhism during the formative era of Buddhism in China. Although there have been three Chinese translations of the Lotus (Saddharmapu.n.darika), Kumaarajiiva's(b) version, translated in A.D. 406, is generally identified, in East Asia, with the Lotus.(2) Kumaarajiiva, a Kuchean monk, was in China from 402 until his death in 413. The years preceding and following his sojourn in China, 350 to 450, were indeed a creative period of Chinese Buddhism. From the point of view of Buddhist philosophy, practically all the known Buddhist intellectuals of this period were students of the Praj~naa school, based upon the doctrine of 'suunyataa and derived from the Suutras of the Perfect Wisdom (Praj~naapaaramitaa).(3) It is known that in this period Neo-Taoism asserted great influence upon the intellectual Neo-scene(4) and that the philosophy of praj~naa was interpreted in terms of the Taoist concept of wu(c) (nonbeing), which will be explained later in part two. The domination of the Praj~naa school in China in this period explains why the leading associates and disciples of Kumaarajiiva were all students of praj~naa. Tao-sheng, who was with Kumaarajiva for three years (406-409) and probably assisted for the translation of the Lotus, formulated his doctrine of Buddha-nature on the basis of praj~naa philosophy. Seng Chao(d) (374-414), author of the Chao-lun(e) which synthesized the praj~naa thought with Neo-Taoism, was with Kumaarajiiva during the entire period of the latter's career in China. Hui-yuan(f) (344-416), a student of Tao-an(g) who was a great praj~naa master, exchanged eighteen letters with Kumaarajiiva and was a close friend of Tao-sheng. Despite the fact that the Lotus embodies the greatest range of Mahaayaana doctrines, its central concepts are two: praj~naa and skill-in-means. Praj~naa is the absolute emptiness, being the wisdom of Buddha; and skill-in-means is the relative, referring to the phenomenal expressions for the communication of the meaning of praj~naa. Although this article deals with only one of these two doctrines, in our explanation of skill-in-means, the meaning of praj~naa will also be explicated. I. SKILL-IN-MEANS The Sanskrit word for skill-in-means is upaayakau'salya, meaning an expedient, management, or diplomacy.(5) This term has been variously translated as skillfulness (Kern) , skill-in-expedients (Thomas) , convenient means (Chan), skill-in- 414 means (Conze, Ch'en), or adaptability (Hurvitz). In Kumaarajiiva's Lotus, it was rendered as the convenient power (fang pien li(h)) or convenience (fang-pien(i)); it refers to Buddha's willingness to accommodate or compromise. It should be noted that skill in-means has its origin in the Theravaada scriptures. In the Samyutta Nikaaya [Group discourse], Buddha assumes that truth should be taught on different levels to individuals of different up-bringings.(6) In the Mahavastu [Great story], 'Saakyamuni, prior to his enlightenment, is depicted as a bodhisattva who undergoes ten stages (bhuumis) of births for the cultivation of moral and spiritual perfections.(7) Here the motif of skill-in-means is implied. As for the Mahaayaanists, the doctrine of the ten stages of the bodhisattva career is first presented in the Suutras of the Perfect Wisdom.(8) In this section, we shall deal with three meanings of skill-in-means: (1) as power of the Supreme Buddha, (2) as provisional truth learned by the believers, and (3) as power acquired by the celestial bodhisattvas. Meanings (1) and (2) are fully discussed in the Lotus, and meaning (3) is first expressed in the Suutras of the Perfect Wisdom and later elaborated in the Suutra of the Ten Stages (Da'sabhuumikas). Skill-in-means as Power of the Supreme Buddha. When skill-in-means is applied to the Supreme Buddha ('Saakyamuni as the metaphysical being), it denotes his power to produce innumerable devices for the salvation of sentient beings; and behind this power there lies Buddha's infinite wisdom and compassion. In the Lotus this power is chiefly explained in terms of similes or parables. The simile of the rain cloud in chapter 5 best illustrates the cosmic meaning of this power. Here the Dharma (Wisdom) is compared to the rainfall and creatures are compared to various plants--grass, shrubs, thickets, small trees, and big trees.(9) The purpose of this parable is to show that although the Dharma is the same, each creature receives it differently relative to its endowment, interest, and environment. An eminent Chinese monk of the seventh century said, "Buddha expresses his Truth by means of one sound, but individuals interpret it differently each in accordance with his own nature."(10) The rain-cloud parable, however, does not illustrate an important aspect of the skill-in-means, that is, Buddha's deliberate "scheming" in order to induce the individuals to salvation. But there are other similes which illustrate this point. In the parable of the burning house (chapter 3), the father resorts to promising his children toy carts in order to get them out of the house (world of sense-desires). In the parable of the estranged son (chapter 4) , the father purposely conceals himself from the son so that his son may learn hardships before he can be accepted into the household (Wisdom of Buddha). But an incredible example of "scheming" is the parable of the physician-father (Kern, chapter 15; Kumaarajiiva, chapter 16) . Here the father deliberately makes himself known as being dead so that his unmindful and sick children may be moved to take medicines (Buddhist teaching). 415 The "death" of the physical father actually refers to the nirvaa.na 'Saakyamuni, which took place some five hundred years ago before the Lotus was first composed. But according to the Lotus, the nirvaa.na of 'Saakyamuni is only a device; he as the Supreme Buddha was actually enlightened in the infinite past. The Buddha explains: "The Tathaagata, who was so long ago enlightened, is of unlimited length of life, and has always existed. Without having attained Nirvaa.na he makes a show of attaining Nirvaa.na for the sake of those who have to be trained.... Now again, though not attaining Nirvaa.na, I announce my attaining of Nirvaa.na."(11) Then he proceeds to explain that if he were around the world indefinitely, believers would not take him seriously and would become careless. Hence he made a "show" of entering into nirvaa.na so that they might become earnest in their quest for enlightenment. It may be said that the nirvaa.na of 'Saakyamuni in the Lotus is a prototype of skill-in-means. One may wonder why Buddha has to resort to "deceit" in order to bring individuals to the path of enlightenment. The Lotus also raises the same question: Does Buddha teach falsehood? Buddha's answer is no. He says that he does so for the purpose of educating the individuals. But this is really not an answer because the end does not change the nature of the means. I would suggest that the question of the falsehood of the skill-in-means can be approached in two ways. (1) According to the Praj~naa school, whose philosophy the Lotus teaches, the Dharma as emptiness transcends all individualities and dualities. Hence for one who is enlightened, he neither affirms nor denies the world. Buddha says: "In the triple world, there is neither birth nor death, neither decease nor rebirth; neither sa.msaara nor Nirvaa.na; neither reality nor unreality; neither such nor otherwise. The Tathaagata does not view the triple world in the same way as the triple world views itself."(l2) Here Buddha is viewing the world from the point of view of praj~naa. Now skill-in-means as devices of Buddha to refers his specific acts in time and space. As such, they belong to the world. Thus Buddha could neither say that his skill-in-means is true nor that it is false. (2) Another answer to the falsehood of skill-in-means is to approach this problem from the Hindu metaphysical perspective that has influenced such Mahaayaana suutras as the Lotus. As Kern has reminded us, the term upaaya of upaayakau'salya in Indian metaphysics can also mean maayaa which refers to the world or the energy of nature.(13) Now from the vantage of the Brahman (Absolute), maayaa means illusion, that is to say, a thing claims to be more or other than what it really is; hence it has a certain "magical" appearance. In the Lotus, the role of the Supreme Buddha as the creator of innumerable devices for salvation is comparable to the role of Brahman as the creator of maayaa. Thus, it is not incorrect to say, though unacceptable to the Lotus, that Buddha's skill-in-means is "false" in that, from the point of view of the Absolute, skill-in-means is simply another aspect of maayaa. At this point we might mention that the parable in chapter 7 of the Lotus, in which Buddha compares his skill-in-means to a magic city 416 which he has created, may suggest a real connection between upaayakau'salya and maayaa. In the Lotus, there is no way we can reconcile the skill-in-means from the point of view of praj~naa philosophy, which says that it is neither true nor false, with the skill-in-means from the point of view of Hindu metaphysics, which says that it is maayaa. Since the philosophical and the magic meanings are both present in this doctrine, both should be recognized. Skill-in-means as Provisional Truth. So far we have explained the cosmic side of the skill-in-means. Now we shall discuss the human side of it, namely, the appropriation of this power as instruction. Skill-in-means in this sense refers to provisional truth. In the Lotus, provisional truth is primarily explained in terms of the doctrine of the three vehicles (yanas or careers) : the vehicles of disciples ('sraavakas) , solitary buddhas (pratyeka-buddhas) and bodhisattvas. Disciples refers to the Theravaadins and Buddhists of the non-Mahaayaana sects; solitary buddhas to certain non-Buddhist ascetics who have attained nirvaa.na privately without the aid of a buddha;(14) and bodhisattvas to those who have undertaken the bodhisattva career by practicing the six or ten perfections (paaramitaas) , in order to attain buddhahood.(15) According to the Lotus, the teachings and practices of these three groups are viewed only as vehicles of the Dharma; they are Buddha's devices for approximating knowledge about the Dharma but are not to be identified with the Dharma. The doctrine of shill-in-means enables the Mahaayaanists to justify that all these three teachings are provisional truths even though the Lotus holds that the Mahaayaana (bodhisattva vehicle) is superior to the other two. This doctrine also carries the implications that Buddhism may recognize some non-Buddhist teachings as preparatory truths also. At this point some clarifications should be made regarding the word vehicle in the Lotus and this applies to both the translations of Kumaarajiiva and Kern. In addition to the expression "three vehicles," the Lotus also uses the terms "One vehicle" and "Great vehicle." It should be emphasized that, whereas the three vehicles are skill-in-means, the One vehicle or the Great vehicle refers to Buddha, Dharma, or Praj~naa. The bodhisattva vehicle (Mahaayaana), being one of the three teachings, is not the same as the One vehicle or the Great vehicle. But the reader may confuse the Great vehicle with the Mahaayaana, thus identifying the Great vehicle with the Mahaayaana, thus identifying the Great vehicle with the bodhisattva vehicle. It is unfortunate that the Lotus uses the term Great vehicle in reference to the Dharma. Strictly speaking Dharma as Perfect Wisdom is not a vehicle. With this clarification in mind, we should have no difficulty in distinguishing the One--or Great--vehicle from the bodhisattva vehicle. This distinction is best 417 illustrated in the parable of the burning house (chapter 3).(16) It is said that an old house was on fire, but the children, immersed in play inside, were unaware of the imminent danger and refused to get out when urged by their father. In great distress, the father resorted to a device: he announced that each of the children would receive a toy cart of his choice as a present from among three kinds of carts --goat, deer and bullock--if they would leave the house immediately. Upon hearing this news, all the children rushed out and were safe outside. In great relief, the father gave each of his children "a great cart beautifully adorned and yoked with white bullock." It should be noted that once the children were delivered from danger, they were not given the three kinds of cart, which refer to the teachings of the disciples, solitary buddhas, and bodhisattvas, but were given the same "great carts of the white bullocks.' After stating that he was not guilty of deception, Buddha explains the above parable as follows: "He [Buddha] first taught the three vehicles in order to safeguard the multiple creatures; but he later delivered them through the Great vehicle. Why so? Because although the Tathaagata....is capable of bestowing the Great vehicle to all creatures, many of them are unable to understand it on account of their low karmic conditions. Therefore, the Buddha resorts to skill-in-means so that the One vehicle is explained in three ways."(17) It is certain the that same "great carts of the white bullocks" that were given to the children in the parable refer to the Great vehicle, namely, the Dharma. The reason the white bullocks symbolize the Great vehicle is because white is the basis of all colors just like the One vehicle is the basis of the three vehicles.(18) The Lotus makes a clear distinction between provisional truth and nirvaa.na. The distance between them may be infinitely short or long, depending on how the believer grasps the wisdom of Buddha. It is the intent of the Lotus to emphasize this distinction, by way of metaphorical exaggeration, but it is not its intent to offer a solution to the problem of how one may move from provisional truth to the Dharma. In section two of this article we shall see that it is the intent of the Buddhism of Tao-sheng to show that there is a way one may move from provisional truth to the Dharma. Skill-in-means as Power of the Celestial Bodhisattvas. The phenomenon of the celestial bodhisattvas is a unique creation of Mahaayaana. Such well-known disciples of 'Saakyamuni, as 'Saariputra, AAnanda, Manju'sri, as well as hundreds of mythological beings, have become celestial bodhisattvas in the Mahaayaana suutras, and the Lotus exemplifies this phenomenon. These beings carry on their bodhisattva careers unceasingly through numerous cycles of rebirths for the salvation of others. The suutra which deals with the bodhisattva career most extensively is the Sutra of Ten Stages, first translated in the fourth century A.D. and later translated by Kumaarajiiva in the early fifth century.(19) In it the bodhisattva career is viewed as a progressive journey through the ten stages. The first six stages are comparable 418 to the six perfections in that each stage is dominated by a corresponding perfection.(20) In the sixth stage, the bodhisattva attains perfect wisdom which refers to the understanding of the emptiness of all things. He could now attain nirvaa.na but his compassion prevents him from doing so; thus he postpones his entering into it. In the seventh stage, called "going far," he acquires the power of skill-in-means which enables him, like the Buddha, to conjure up devices for his ministry. At this point his career exemplifies the paradox of a bodhisattva: skill-in-means implies that he recognizes individuals and is immensely concerned with their well-being, but wisdom implies that he views these individuals and himself as being empty. When the bodhisattva enters the eighth and ninth stages, he becomes celestial; he now possesses a dharrmic body which is nonphysical and is able to transform himself into fictitious bodies that appear in different regions to rescue the beings in distress.(21) When the bodhisattva enters the tenth stage, he becomes a buddha. According to Conze, skill-in-means as power of the bodhisattva is an answer to the problem of perfect wisdom attained in the sixth stage.(22) The Mahaayaanists did not believe that a bodhisattva should merely be contented with dwelling in emptiness and become completely detached from the world. Hence they resorted to the doctrine of skill-in-means which teaches that a bodhisattva should return to the world and become involved in it. The importance of making efforts is required here. This explains why skill-in-means is esteemed as an even more advanced power than wisdom in the scheme of the ten stages. The last stages were added later in order to popularize the doctrine of celestial bodhisattvas in Mahaayaana, which had gained large support from the ordinary believers. It can be seen that the skill-in-means, as acquired by the celestial bodhisattva, has a strong magic import. He attains in the sixth stage, but he is not enlightened in actuality until the tenth stage; and between them his magic power sways. Why should there be a distinction between wisdom and buddhahood? Why should there be an emphasis upon the esoteric power of the bodhisattva? Why should the attainment of nirrvaa.na require such insurmountable efforts? Such questions have perturbed Tao-sheng. His doctrine of sudden enlightenment is an indirect answer to these questions. II. TAO-SHENG'S REACTION TO THE SKILL-IN-MEANS BUDDHA-NATURE OF MAN Tao-sheng's doctrine of sudden enlightenment is essentially predicated upon his understanding of the Buddha-nature of man.(23) Hence in order to understand his Buddhism we must start with it. The formation of the idea of Buddha-nature was a gradual process in his life; it was constructed only after he had passed his fiftieth birthday. Here we shall trace the earlier stages of his intellectual development in order to place this doctrine in a historical perspective. 419 1. Praj~naa as li.(j) Earlier, we mentioned Tao-sheng's close association with the Praj~naa school. As a young novice, he studied under a praj~naa master. When he was a scholar-monk, the happy marriage between the Praj~naa school and Neo-Taoism was already firmly established. The Buddho-Taoists in those days equated praj~naa (chih-hui(k) ) with li, both being ontological concepts. In Neo-Taoism, li refers to nonbeing or "nothing" (wu); it has no phenomenal characteristics or quality of duality. It is described as being "naturally so" or spontaneity (tzu-jan(l), Waley translated it as the Alwaysso), referring to an ontological state where duality or opposites are united into the Undifferentiated.(24) Thus li is indivisible. In the same way, the praj~naa in the Suutras of the Perfect Wisdom refers to emptiness which has no opposites or characteristics (lak.sa.nas). Thus the translation of praj~naa as li, in those days, was a logical match. However, li as praj~naa carries a connotation which, for the Chinese, is not present in the Suutras of the Perfect Wisdom. The praj~naa refers to the wisdom of Buddha; but man does not have this wisdom and it has to be acquired through stages of study and cultivation. In contrast, the Neo-Taoist term li has the connotation of being the "original nature" (hsing(m)) of all phenomenal entities, and li as such can also mean the original nature of man. Thus, for instance, when the great Tao-an spoke of praj~naa as having the nature (hsing or li) of emptiness,(25) the word nature inevitably carries an anthropological connotation. When Tao-sheng was musing over the identity of praj~naa with li, a thought must have come to him that the wisdom of Buddha is also the human nature in its origin (li as the original substance, pen-t'i(n) , as the neo-Taoists would say) . Indeed, some of his statements appear to point to this direction. For instance, he said that the Buddhist sage must exhaust the li in order to fulfill his nature (ch'iung-li chin-hsing(o)).(26) Also, "When one sees his own nature, he attains the Buddhahood" (chien-hsing ch'eng-fo(p)).(27) 2. The wisdom of Buddha in the Lotus. In part one we mentioned that Tao-sheng was a student of Kumaarajiiva for three years while the latter was staying in Ch'ang-an(q). At that time there was apparently an inner circle centered around the general imperial guest and discussion took place regularly. One student, a companion of Tao-sheng, asked Kumaarajiiva whether the Lotus teaches about the Buddha-nature of man.(28) The master's answer was that the Lotus teaches primarily about how one might see the wisdom of Buddha (fo-chih(r)), which may also be understood as the Buddha-nature of man. Although, said Kumaarajiiva, he would not say that the doctrine of Buddha-nature is mentioned in the Lotus, neither would he say that it is not in the Lotus. Assuming the authenticity of this account, we can surmise that the doctrine of Buddha-nature was a lively issue of discussion at the Ch'ang-an sangha when Kumaarajiva was there. According to him, this doctrine is but a logical sequence of the praj~naa. When Tao-sheng left Ch'ang-an in 409 and went to the south for the 420 remainder of his career, the philosophical ground of this doctrine must have been laid by him. 3. The Nirvaana Suutra.(29) When the Nirvaa.na Suutra was translated in 418 in Nanking(s) , Tao-sheng was living in that city. Since the translation of this work was a major event at the Nanking sangha (250 Buddhists witnessed it),(30) it can be assumed that its basic teaching, namely, the Buddha-nature of man, was known to Tao-sheng before the translation was completed. Now Tao-sheng had a scriptural basis for a doctrine long conceived by him. The Nirvaa.na Suutra teaches that the Thusness-nature (Tathaagata-garbha or yu-lai-hsing(t)) is the Buddha-nature of man and this nature is man's true self (bhuutaatman or chen-wo(u)).(31) The suutra says, "True-self is the Tathaagata-garbha. All sentient beings possess it.... Because this Self is covered by immeasurable passions, it cannot be seen by the sentient beings."(32) This Buddha-nature for Tao-sheng is no other than li; "garbha is li, which is eternal bliss, is hidden and has not yet come to light."(33) Tao-sheng's interpretation of the Buddha-nature was strongly influenced by the Praj~naa school. Emptiness as truth or reality transcends duality or opposites in existence and thought; it has no individuality. Any definition of Buddha-nature must be transcended since a definition implies an individuality. Likewise, when this ontological nature is equated with the original nature of man, namely, the true self, the same praj~naa logic must be applied. Hence this true self is not the phenomenal self nor the negation of the self ("no self"); for emptiness must transcend one-sidedness. Also, the true self does not mean the soul (shen-wo(v)) which, according to Tao-sheng, refers to the spiritual component that enters into rebirth. But emptiness, being without a quality, is not a spiritual component. Sudden Enlightenment. Although we do not know when Tao-sheng began to teach the doctrine of sudden enlightenment,(34) it must have followed his view of Buddhanature(35). Tao-sheng distinguished two kinds of Buddhist knowledge: one is "understanding through seeing" (chien-chieh(w)) and the other is "understanding through hearing" (wen-chieh(x)).(36) "Understanding through seeing" means the realization of one's Buddha-nature. Since the Buddha-nature is man's original nature and the actualization of which lies entirely within his potentiality, no pursuit of external knowledge alone can lead directly toward the realization of this nature. And since the Buddha-nature is indivisible, and pertains to emptiness, it cannot be realized in stages; one either realizes it instantaneously or does not realize it at all. The second kind of Buddhist knowledge, "understanding through hearing," referring to the study of Buddhist scriptures and philosophy, means learning through instruction (chiao(y) ) . This involves the accumulation of knowledge "external to the self."(37) Since the learning of this kind of knowledge depends upon outside sources, the approach to it is through "faith" (hsing(z) ) , namely, believing in the written words. The pursuit of such knowledge, according to Tao-sheng, is an 421 endless process, for it will never necessarily lead to enlightenment. Tao-sheng called such knowledge provisional truth (ch'uan-chiao(aa)), (38) meaning that it is tentative and preparatory; it helps the believers to know about praj~naa by degrees. But the attainment of praj~naa demands another approach. Tao-sheng considered the provisional truth (understanding through hearing) as skill-in-means,(39) as taught in the Lotus. And the doctrine of the three vehicles of the Lotus for him is simply a hermeneutic device in Chinese Buddhism whereby all Buddhist scriptures and doctrines are viewed as provisional truth. Tao-sheng felt that there should be a difference in approach between enlightenment (understanding through seeing) and skill-in-means (understanding through hearing). Enlightenment is an instantaneous realization apart from the written words, (40) whereas skill-in-means involves a cumulative process of learning. There is also a difference in effect in these two approaches. The effect of sudden enlightenment is the "extinction of one's ties with the world" (mieh-lei(ab) ).(41) "When the total enlightenment comes, all the myriad impediments are equally brought to an end."(42) In this state, "external things and self are equally forgotten, and being and nonbeing are viewed in one and the same way."(43) On the other hand, the effect of skill-in-means can only aid the believer to "subdue his ties with the world" (fu-lei(ac)),(44) which means that although his ties with the world may gradually be diminished, it is impossible to extinguish these ties completely. As long as the believer relies on skill-in-means, "others and self are still differently felt, and non-being and being are still perceived."(45) The doctrine of sudden enlightenment was in fact first taught by Chih-tun(ad) (314-366), who preceded Tao-sheng by half a century. Chih-tun was specially known for his equation of praj~naa with li,(46) which was the substance of his argument for the doctrine of sudden enlightenment. But Chih-tun explained this doctrine in the context of the ten stages of the bodhisattva career as presented in the Suutras of the Perfect Wisdom, according to which the bodhisattva attains wisdom in the seventh stage (in the Suutra of the Ten Stages wisdom is attained in the sixth stage).(47) In the previous six stages, the bodhisattva cultivates morality and accumulates knowledge gradually, but in the seventh stage he reaches enlightenment instantaneously. However, although he has attained enlightenment in the seventh stage, he does not realize buddhahood until he enters the tenth stage. According to Tao-sheng, the doctrine of sudden enlightenment as explained by Chih-tun has two inconsistencies: (1) the bodhisattva reaches enlightenment in the seventh stage but realizes boddhahood in the tenth stage, thus enlightenment and buddhahood are viewed as two separate entities.(48) For Tao-sheng, enlightenment and buddhahood are identical. (2) Since the bodhisattva still has three more stages of progress after the attainment of enlightenment, his "enlightenment" cannot be viewed as instantaneous and complete. Indeed, it implies that there is further room for illumination. Hence Chih-tun's sudden enlightenment is but a teaching of gradualism.(49) 422 As Tao-sheng saw it, the real problem which confronts Chih-tun is that he explained sudden enlightenment in the context of the ten stages, which is an expression of gradualism (skill-in-means) .(50) Thus to explain sudden enlightenment in this context is to make it an outcome of gradual growth. It can be said, in view of our discussion in this section, that the Buddhism of Tao-sheng actually follows closely the two principal doctrines of the Lotus: praj~naa and skill-in-means. The difference lies in emphasis. Whereas the Lotus teaches the doctrine of skill-in-means while insisting upon the necessity of praj~naa, the Buddhism of Tao-sheng emphasizes praj~naa while giving a preliminary place for the doctrine of skill-in-means. This difference is due to a difference in intent: the Lotus' intent is basically practical; it promotes the universality of skill-in-means and considers the worship of celestial bodhisattvas as a convenient path of Buddhism. The intent of the Buddhism of Tao-sheng is intellectual; it aims at enlightenment as a realization of the essence of Buddhism and this essence is now identified with the original nature of man. Of the three meanings of skill-in-means mentioned in part one, Tao-sheng only appropriated skill-in-means as provisional truth. But even as provisional truth, skill-in-means in his Buddhism does not play as important a role as it does in the Lotus because of his emphasis upon the Buddha-nature of man. As to the other two meanings of the skill-in-means: power of the Supreme Buddha and power of the celestial bodhisattvas, Tao-sheng was silent. It should be noted that both these two meanings convey an esoteric quality. In the Lotus the Supreme Buddha can produce an infinite variety of devices, and in the Suutra of the Ten Stages the celestial bodhisattva in the seventh stage obtains this magic power. Because Tao-sheng taught that the Buddha of the Pure Land does not really possess a land (from the point of view of the Praj~naa school, Buddha cannot be identified with a particular realm),(51) we may be certain that the magic aspect of Buddhism holds only a peripheral place in his Buddhism. REACTION TO THE INDIAN SCRIPTURES Tao-sheng's attitude toward the Indian scriptures may also be a factor which reduced the importance of the doctrine of skill-in-means in his Buddhism. In his day, the Chinese sangha was still facing the overwhelming task of translation. He felt that many of the translators "have been blocked by holding [too narrowly] to the text, with the result that they seldom have been able to see the complete meaning."(52) He seemed to think that the translators had emphasized the law rather than the spirit of the letters. He stated his own attitude toward the Indian scriptures as follows: "Rely upon the scriptural passages that have been understood, not upon those that have not been understood; rely upon meaning, but not upon the words of the scriptures; and rely upon wisdom, not knowledge."(53) Tao-sheng felt that there are many passages in the Indian scriptures which are not comprehensible to the Chinese, owing to the cultural and metaphysical 423 differences between India and China. And what cannot be comprehended should not be used. For example, skill-in-means as the power of the Supreme Buddha and skill-in-means as the magic power of the celestial bodhisattva would fall under this category. This may be the overriding reason why Tao-sheng disagreed with Chih-tun's interpretation of sudden enlightenment on the basis of the ten stages of the Bodhisattva career. However imaginative and interesting the doctrine of ten stages may be, it was too esoteric to comprehend for the Chinese. III. CONCLUSION Viewed from the historical perspective, Tao-sheng's Buddhism was a voice crying in the wilderness in fifth century China, because the sangha was too busy with the domestication of Indian Buddhism to listen to him. China was then immersed in a 道生 y 教 aw 妙法蓮華經疏 b 鳩摩羅什 z 信 ax 續藏經 c 無 aa 權教 ay 註維摩詰經 d 僧肇 ab 滅累 az 涅槃經集解 e 肇論 ac 伏累 ba 高僧傳 f 慧遠 ad 支遁 bb 慧皎 g 道安 ae 禪 bc 王弼 h 方便力 af 天台 bd 郭象 i 方便 ag 華嚴 be 易經 j 理 ah 陳榮捷 bf 窮理盡性以至於命 k 智慧 ai 正法華經 bg 喻疑論 l 自然 aj 妙法蓮華經 bh 慧叡 m 性 ak 添品妙法蓮華經 bi 法顯 n 本體 al 道行經 bj 謝靈運 o 窮理盡性 am 光讚經 bk 慧嚴 p 見性成佛 an 放光經 bl 慧觀 q 長安 ao 積砂藏 bm 辯宗論 r 佛知 ap 中華大藏經 bn 肇論疏 s 南京 aq 大藏經 bo 慧達 t 如來性 ar 妙法蓮華經玄贊 bp 王弘 u 真我 as 漸備一切智德經 bq 馮友蘭 v 神我 at 十住經 br 廣弘明集 w 見解 au 湯用彤 bs 胡適 x 聞解 av 漢魏兩晉南北朝 佛教史 424 the task of deciphering the meaning of the Indian scriptures which had arrived in abundance. Thus scriptural and doctrinal study, namely, provisional truth, remained the primary task of the day. On the other hand, Tao-sheng's Buddhism, which represents a major attempt to make Buddhism more indigenous and less foreign, showed the sangha the future direction toward which Chinese Buddhism should move. It took the sangha two more centuries before it was ready to absorb Tao-sheng's ideas on a nation-wide basis. It was Ch'an(ae) (Zen) Buddhism that took over the germinal ideas of Tao-sheng and turned them into a genuine Chinese expression.(54) But Ch'an Buddhism did not blossom until the passing of Buddhist scholasticism under the aegis of the T'ien-t'ai(af) and Hua-yen(ag) schools. NOTES 1. The exact language of the original Lotus is uncertain. According to Wing-tsit Chan(ah), it might have been written in a local dialect and later put into Sanskrit. See his "The Lotus Suutra, " in Approach to Oriental Classics, William Theodore de Bary, ed. (New York: Columbia University Press, 1964), p. 164. According to Kern, the primitive portion of the Lotus (Kern, chaps. 1-20, 27; Kumaarajiivaa, chaps. 1-22) contains materials as old as any other ancient Buddhist scriptures, but the Lotus in the present form was completed around A.D. 250. See his The Lotus of the True Law (New York: Dover Publications, 1963), pp. xx-xxii. Hajime Nakamura dates the primitive part of the Lotus around A.D. 40 and the completion of the Lotus near the end of the second century. See his "A Critical Survey of Mahaayaana and Esoteric Buddhism," in Acta Asiatica 6 (1964): 83-84. 2. Today there are three extant Chinese versions of the Lotus: (1) Cheng fa-hua-ching(ai) translated by Dharmarak.sa in 286; (2) Kumaarajiiva's translation entitled Miao-fa lien-hua ching(aj); and (3) Tien-p'in miao-fa lien hua ching(ak) of 601. Kumaarajiiva's translation was based upon a Kuchean text more primitive than Dharmatak.sa's of 286. See: Richard H. Robinson, Early Maadhyamika in India and China (Madison, Wisc.: University of Wisconsin Press, 1967), p. 75. Kumaarajiiva's Lotus has been translated in part by W. E. Soothill entitled The Lotus of the Wonderful Law (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1930). The other two European translations based upon later Sanskrit versions are: La Lotus de la Bonne Loi (1852) by E. Burnouf, and The Lotus of the True Law (1884) by H. Kern, which was based upon a text of 1039. The quotes in this article are my translations unless otherwise indicated. 3. For the influence of the Praj~naa school in China of this period, see: Erik Zucher, The Buddhist Conquest of China (Leiden: E. J. Brill, 1959), 1, pp. 116-130, 190-193. 4. The Praj~naaparamitaa Suutras were known to the Chinese before A.D. 300. The A.s.tasaahariskaa [Perfection of wisdom in 8, 000 lines], called Tao-hsing ching(al), was translated between 164 and 186. The Pa~ncavim'satika [Perfection of wisdom in 25, 000 lines], called Kuang-tsan ching(am), was translated in 286. A portion of the Pa~ncavim'satika was also translated under the title of Fang-kuang ching(an) around 300. 4. For a study of Praj~naa school and Neo-Taoism, see: Arthur Link, "The Taoist Antecedents of Tao-an's Praj~naa Ontology, " in History of Religions 9, nos. 2-3 (Nov. 1969-Feb. 1970): 181-215. 5. H. Kern, op. cit., p. 30, note 1. 6. Eward Conze, ed., Buddhist Texts Through the Ages (New York: Harper & Row, 1964), pp. 33-41. 7. Eward Conze, Thirty Years of Buddhist Studies (Columbia, S. C.: University of South Carolina Press, 1968), p. 136; hereafter cited as Buddhist Studies. 8. Buddhist Studies, pp. 133-134. 9. This parable is in chapter 5 of the Lotus. A complete translation of this chapter also appears in Conze's Buddhist Studies, pp. 105-122. For Kumaarajiiva's Lotus, I have used the Chi-sha tsang(ao) (A.D. 1232-1322) of the Chinese Tripitaka now reproduced in 1963-1972 by the China Ta-tsang Ching Reproduction Association, Taipei, Taiwan, under the title Chung-hua ta-tsang ching(ap) ; hereafter 425 cited as the Ta-tsang ching(aq). The Lotus is in series 1, part 1, vol. 17. The Lotus is also in vol. 9 of the Chinese Tripitaka of the Taisho Daizokyo (1922-1933) edition, 85 volumes, in Tokyo, Japan: Taisho Issaikyo kankokai. 10. His name is K'uei-chi (632-682). The quote is from his Miao-fa lien-hua ching hsuan-tsan(ar) in the Ta-tsang ching, series 1, part 1, vol. 77, p. 33469. 11. Edward J. Thomas, The History of Buddhist Thought (London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1951), p. 184. 12. To tsang ching, series 1, 17, p. 7073; translation is based on Soothill, The Lotus of the Wonderful Law, p. 202. The triple world refers to the world of sense-desire, world of form, and the formless world. 13. H. Kern, op. cit., p. 30, note 1 and p. 307, note 1. 14. According to Hajime Nakamura, the Pratyekabuddhas can be traced to a Jainist origin. See his "A Critical Survey of Mahaayaana and Esoteric Buddhism," in Acta Asiatica 6 (1964):85. 15. The ten perfections of a bodhisattva are: (1) generality, (2) morality, (3) patience, (4) vigor, (5) concentration, (6) wisdom, (7) skill-in-means, (8) vow--determination to adhere to the highest vow to be a Buddha, (9) power--being able to change his form and to teach beings according to their dispositions, (10) supreme knowledge─comprehension of the ultimate nature of things. The first six perfections were actually introduced by the Sarvaastivaadins, a Theravaada related sect. See: Richard H. Robinson, The Buddhist Tradition (Belmont, California: Dickenson Publishing Co., 1970), pp. 39, 58. Later on the Mahaayaanists because of their growing interest in the activities of the celestial bodhisattvas added four more perfections to complete the list. See, Edward Conze, Buddhist Thought in India (London: George Allen and Unwin, 1962), p. 211. 16. Ts-tsang ching, series 1, part 1, vol. 17, pp. 7044-7045; Soothill, The Lotus of the Wonderful Law, pp. 86-89. 17. Ta-tsang ching, series 1, part 1, vol. 17, p. 7044. 18. This explanation was made by K'uei-chi in his Miao-fa lien-hua ching hsuan-tsan, Taitsang ching, series 1, part 1, vol. 77, p. 33447. 19. The Suutra of the Ten Stages [Da'sabhumika] was first translated by Dharmarak.sa between 265 and 316 under the title of Chien-pei i-ch'ieh chi-te ching(as), later translated by Kumaarajiiva between 408 and 412 under the title of Shih-chu ching(at). The ten stages of the bodhisattva career are: (1) joyous, (2) pure, (3) light-giving, (4) radiant, (5) hard to conquer, (6) face-to-face, (7) far-going, (8) immovable, (9) of good thought, (10) cloud of Dharma. In the seventh stage, the bodhisattva also attains the ten perfections (paaramitaas) , the seventh of which is the skill-in-means. The Suutra of the Ten Stages is in the Ta-tsang ching, series 1, part 1, vol. 15, pp. 6415-6457. For an explanation of the ten stages, see: Thomas, The History of Buddhist Thought, pp. 206-210. 20. Buddhist Studies, p. 235. 21. Conze, Buddhist Thought in India, pp. 236-237. 22. Buddhist Studies, pp. 139-140. 23. For the life and thought of Tao-sheng, see: W. Liebenthal, "A Biography of Chu Tao-sheng," in Monumenta Nipponica 11, no. 3 (1955):64-96; T'ang Yung-t'ung(au), Han Wei liang-chin nan-pei-ch'ao fo-chiao-shih(av) [History of Chinese Buddhism from 206 B.C. to A.D. 589] (Peking: Hsin-hua Press, 1955), pp. 601-670; hereafter cited as History. Tao-sheng's Miao-fa lien-hua ching su(aw) [Commentary on the Lotus] appears in the Japanese edition of Hsu tsang ching(ax) [Tripitaka supplement] Kyoto, Japan: Nihon Zokuzokai, 1923-1925, series 1, part 2, vol. 150, pp. 396-412. His two commentaries appear in the following works: Chu Wei-mo-chieh ching(ay) [Collective commentaries on the Vimalakiirtinirde'sa Suutra] in the Taisho Daizokyo, chuan 10; Nieh-p'an ching chi-chieh(az) [Collective commentaries on the Nirvaa.na Suutra] in the Taisho Daizokyo, chuan 72. His thought can also be gleaned from his biography in the Kao-seng chuan(ba) [Biographies of eminent monks] by Hui-chiao(bb) in the Ta-tsang ching, series 1, part 1, vol. 60, p. 26356. 24. Wang Pi(bc) (A.D. 226-249) , a leading Neo-Taoist, gave these ideas a permanent place in Chinese thought. But the Neo-Taoist ontological meaning of li appears to be initiated by Kuo Hsiang(bd) in his Commentary on the Chuang-tzu. 25. History, p. 246. 26. This remark is actually an allusion to a passage in the I-ching(be): "The sage in order to attain 426 li must realize his human nature, thus fulfilling his destiny" (Ch'iung-li chin-hsing i-chih-yu ming(bf). See: W. Liebenthal, "The World Conception of Chu Tao-sheng," in Monumenta Nipponica 12, nos. 1-2 (1956) : 66; "The World Conception of Chu Tao-sheng: Texts, " in ibid., 12, nos. 3-4 (1956):74-76. 27. History, pp. 631, 668-669. 28. This is a quote from Yu-i lun(bg)[Clarification of doubt] by Hui-jui(bh), a companion of Tao-sheng and a student of Kumaarajiiva. See, History, pp. 632-633. 29. The first translation of the Nirvaa.na Suutra, the six-chuan version, based upon an incomplete text, was made by Fa-hsien(bi) and Buddhabhadra in 418. The second translation was based upon a complete version of the forty chuan by Dharmakshema in 421, being the standard version. There is also a third version, a reduction of the first and second translations, jointly made by Hsieh Ling-yun(bj), Hui-yen(bk), and Hui-kuan(bl) in 430. The Nirvaa.na Suutra is a Mahaayaana text to be distinguished from the Mahaaparinibbhanasutta, a Hiinayaana text. See: Kenneth Ch'en, Buddhism in China (Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1964), pp. 113-114. 30. History, p. 616. 31. Liebenthal, "The World Conception of Chu Tao-sheng," pp. 92-93. 32. This quote is from the first translation of the Nirvaa.na Sutra, Ta-tsang ching, series 1, part 1, vol. 16, p. 6832. 33. Liebenthal, "The World Conception of Chu Tao-sheng: Texts," p. 85. 34. I am grateful to the reader who advised me to consult the Thera-Therii-gaathaa, a Paali scripture, in which ideas of sudden enlightenment might be found. See, Psalms of the Early Buddhists, part 1, Psalms of the Sisters, part 2, and Psalms of the Brethren, C. A. F. Rhys Davids, trans. (London: Luzac & Co., 1909-1913). The reader has suggested seven references in this work and out of which I have endorsed four as being related to sudden enlightenment. These are: vs. 42-44 (Uttamaa Therii) ; 112-116 (Pataacaaraa Therii) ; 267-270 (Naagasamaada Thera); 405-410 (Sappadaasa Thera). The other three references are: vs. 39-41 (Saamaa Therii); 48-50 (Dantikaa Therii); 67-71 (Anonymous Therii). These first four references seem to show a common phenomenon: after a long period of spiritual struggle the disciple, in witnessing some external happening, suddenly experienced a flash of insight; henceforth he or she lived in peace. As can be seen, this sort of experience reminds one of many incidents told in the koan literature of Ch'an Buddhism. Although we are prepared to say that some evidences of sudden enlightenment can be found in the Thera-Therii-gaathaa, these evidences are expressed in poetic anecdotes. Sudden enlightenment as a philosophical tradition still awaited the maturity of the sangha in China. 35. We do not have direct sources from Tao-sheng regarding his doctrine of sudden enlightenment. For this doctrine, we depend chiefly upon two sources: Pien-tsung lun(bm) [Discussion of essentials] by Hsieh Ling-yun (385-433) , a close friend and expositor of Tao-sheng; Chao-lun su(bn) [Commentary on the treatises of Seng-chao] by Hui-ta(bo) (557-589). Both authors attributed their meanings of sudden enlightenment to Tao-sheng. See, notes 35, 40, herein. 36. This distinction appears in the Chao-lun su. See, History, pp. 658-659; Liebenthal, "The World Conception of Chu Tao-sheng: Texts," pp. 89-90. 37. Tao-sheng himself distinguished between "truth" to be realized within and "knowledge" to be discovered without in a letter to Wang Hung(bp) (379-432). See: Fung Yu-lan(bq) and Derk Bodde. History of Chinese Philosophy (Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1953), 2, pp. 281-282; History, pp. 668-669. 38. History, pp. 644, 660-661. 39. Ibid. 40. This reference to enlightenment is derived from the biography of Tao-sheng (see note 23, herein) in which it is said that Tao-sheng "was suddenly enlightened apart from the written words after having contemplated upon the truth for a long time." Thus his doctrine of enlightenment is based upon his own experience. See, History, p. 616. 41. The distinction between "extinction of one's ties with the world" and "subdual of one ties with the world" is attributed to Tao-sheng by Hsieh Ling-yun in the latter's Pien-tsung lun (see note 34, herein) in the Kuang hung-ming chi(br) [sequel to the Buddhist studies], in the Ta-tsang ching, series 1, 61, pp. 27022-27025. See, Fung and Bodde, History of Chinese Philosophy, 2: 274-284; History, pp. 663-668. 427 42. Fung and Bodde, History of Chinese Philosophy, 2:278. 43. Ibid., pp. 280-281. 44. History, p. 666. 45. Fung and Bodde, History of Chinese Philosophy, 2, p. 281. 46. Ch'en, op. cit., p. 66. 47. Buddhist Studies, p. 136. 48. History, p. 656. 49. K. Ch'en, op. cit., p. 119. 50. History, pp. 650-654. 51. Ibid., p. 643. 52. Fung and Bodde, History of Chinese Philosophy, p. 270. 53. History, p. 629; K. Ch'en, op. cit., p. 116. 54. According to both T'ang Yung-t'ung and Hu Shih(bs), Tao-sheng is the spiritual founder of Ch'an (Zen) Buddhism. See, History, p. 663; Hu Shih, "The Development of Zen Buddhism in China," in the Anthology of Zen, W. Briggs, ed., (New York: 1961), p. 13. But Liebenthal disagreed with both; he believed that Tao-sheng's thought is closer to the Buddho-Taoism than to Ch'an Buddhism. The reason why Liebenthal said so is because he felt that Ch'an Buddhism is anti-intellectual whereas the Buddhism of Tao-sheng is intellectual. See: Liebenthal, "A Biography of Chu Tao-sheng," p. 90.