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Coming to Terms with Chinese Buddhism

A Reading of the Treasure Store Treatise

Robert H. Sharf

Publication Year: 2002

The issue of sinification—the manner and extent to which Buddhism and Chinese culture were transformed through their mutual encounter and dialogue—has dominated the study of Chinese Buddhism for much of the past century. Robert Sharf opens this important and far-reaching book by raising a host of historical and hermeneutical problems with the encounter paradigm and the master narrative on which it is based. Coming to Terms with Chinese Buddhism is, among other things, an extended reflection on the theoretical foundations and conceptual categories that undergird the study of medieval Chinese Buddhism. Sharf draws his argument in part from a meticulous historical, philological, and philosophical analysis of the Treasure Store Treatise (Pao-tsang lun), an eighth-century Buddho-Taoist work apocryphally attributed to the fifth-century master Seng-chao (374–414). In the process of coming to terms with this recondite text, Sharf ventures into all manner of subjects bearing on our understanding of medieval Chinese Buddhism, from the evolution of T’ang "gentry Taoism" to the pivotal role of image veneration and the problematic status of Chinese Tantra. The volume includes a complete annotated translation of the Treasure Store Treatise, accompanied by the detailed exegesis of dozens of key terms and concepts.

Published by: University of Hawai'i Press

Contents

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pp. vii-

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Acknowledgments

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pp. ix-x

This book grew out of a Ph.D. dissertation I submitted to the Department of Asian Languages and Cultures at the University of Michigan almost ten years ago. The passage of time has not diminished my debt to two exemplary scholars who supervised my training in Buddhist studies and sinology, Luis G

Conventions of Usage

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pp. xii-xiii

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Introduction: Prolegomenon to the Study of Medieval Chinese Buddhist Literature

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pp. 1-27

The modern study of medieval Chinese religion has been divided broadly between two camps: the sinologists and the buddhologists. While the former often ignored Buddhism, the latter tended to ignore everything but. Such proclivities are not difficult to fathom. Sinologists were predisposed, by virtue of their historical and philological...

Part 1 The Historical and Cosmological Background

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1 The Date and Provenance of the Treasure Store Treatise

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pp. 31-76

The Treasure Store Treatise (Pao-tsang lun) is a short work, comprising a little less than seven pages in the Taishö edition of the Buddhist canon.1 The treatise is attributed to the early-fifth-century Mädhyamika exegete and disciple of Kumärajiva, Seng-chao (374–414), and the attribution appears to have gone unquestioned until the first half of the...

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2 Chinese Buddhism and the Cosmology of Sympathetic Resonance

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pp. 77-133

In my introduction I argued that the master narrative on which the study of Chinese Buddhism is based and the ubiquitous notion of “syncretism” often mask an essentialist conception of religious history—a reduction of complex social and ideological networks to interactions among discrete teachings, lineages, and schools. Categories such as Indian Buddhism, T’ang Ch’an, Chinese Pure Land,...

Part 2 Annotated Translation of the Treasure Store Treatise

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Introduction to the Translation

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pp. 137-142

...As is typical of Chinese literary prose, the Treasure Store Treatise makes liberal use of parallelism, including metrical, grammatical (lexical and syntactic), and phonic parallel constructions. The text also abounds in puns, rhymes, assonance, alliteration, and other euphonic devices. Such devices seem designed, at least in part, to display the author’s erudition and literary virtuosity. However, the parallelism of the Treasure Store Treatise is..

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3 The Treasure Store Treatise Chapter One: The Broad Illumination of Emptiness and Being

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pp. 143-192

The “treasure store” (pao-tsang) of the title exemplifies the hyperglossia— the complex interplay of often countervailing voices—that dominate the Treasure Store Treatise. The term “pao” (treasure) was used in antiquity to denote treasure objects held in the possession of a clan or royal household, particularly the royal house of Chou. The earliest such treasures were thought to have been bestowed by....

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4 The Treasure Store Treatise Chapter Two: The Essential Purity of Transcendence and Subtlety

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pp. 193-227

The first chapter of the Treasure Store Treatise ends with a quotation from the Vimalakirti-sütra, proclaiming the purity of a buddha-land to be a function of the purity of one’s own mind. Coming as it does after the literary excursions into the arcane cosmological labyrinth of the first chapter, this short quotation acts as an effective transition to the more classically Mahäyänist concerns of chapter 2. It also introduces...

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5 The Treasure Store Treatise Chapter Three: The Empty Mystery of the Point of Genesis

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pp. 228-261

...continues to develop the “Ch’annish” concerns of the previous chapter while punctuating the discourse with copious quotes from a variety of scriptures. However, insofar as extensive use is made of images and terminology culled from nominally Taoist sources, this chapter is closer in style to the first. It concludes with a summation of the entire treatise that is...

Appendix 1 On Esoteric Buddhism in China

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pp. 263-278

Appendix 2 Scriptural Quotations in the Treasure Store Treatise

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pp. 279-286

Notes

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pp. 287-344

Works Cited

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pp. 345-378

Index

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pp. 379-400


E-ISBN-13: 9780824861940
Print-ISBN-13: 9780824824433

Publication Year: 2002