University of Hawai'i Press

Prefatory Comments

Despite the relatively small number of scholars working on Korean Buddhism outside of the Korean-language sphere, awareness of the vital role of Korean Buddhism in East Asia, as well as its relatively strong modern vitality, has been steadily growing in the West, such that many modern specialists in other sub-areas of Buddhism tend to have a basic knowledge of the distinctive characteristics and history of the Korean tradition. In recent years, Korea-based English-language journals such as the Journal of Korean Religions have done much to help in this effort. The Korean Religions Unit at the American Academy of Religion has also contributed greatly to the growing awareness of Korean Buddhism in North America. Korean institutions such as Dongguk University have helped out by inviting non-Korean scholars to conferences on a regular basis. Thus, the Zotero Buddhism bibliography now lists almost six hundred works in Western languages that deal with Korea,2 and this probably represents only a half or third of the actual amount.

One area in particular wherein interest in Korea has been relatively strong since earlier days is that of Silla-period Buddhist scholarship.3 Within Silla scholasticism, one of the most influential areas has been that of Yogācāra and related studies—which in Korea, tends to include much of what is usually categorized as the Buddhological strain of Tathāgatagarbha. Silla-period scholars were in close contact with their Chinese colleagues on the mainland, reading and writing the same Sinitic script. They had ready access to newly composed texts and translations soon after their production in Chang’an and elsewhere, and they were intimately aware of all of the most pertinent doctrinal discussions and debates occurring in the Tang capital and its surroundings, and [End Page 5] were deeply engaged in all of these. One of Silla’s own sons, Wŏnch’ŭk 圓測 (613–696), was situated in the Tang capital and was working directly with Xuanzang and his team, although sometimes not seeing eye-to-eye with other of Xuanzang’s followers, such as Kuiji 窺基 (632–682). Other Silla scholars, such as Chajang 慈藏 (sixth-seventh centuries) and Ŭisang 義湘 (625–702) (just to name a few of the better-known figures) went to Tang for serious and sustained study, making their own mark, and bringing their new knowledge home to the peninsula.

At the same time, however, there was sufficient geographical, linguistic, and cultural distance between the Silla scholiasts and their Chinese counterparts to allow the scholarship of the Koreans to go out in its own distinctive directions—even to form a uniquely Korean form of Yogācāra studies that is readily distinguishable from that of their Chinese and Indian predecessors. The most obvious characteristic of Silla Yogācāra is that its definitions of the nature of the base consciousness did not fall under the same strict parameters as its counterpart in Chang’an—that is Faxiang—the school that formed around the Cheng weishi lun and especially its interpretations by Kuiji and his circle, which maintained a strict position on the karmic moral neutrality of the store consciousness (ālayavijñāna) as the container of all kinds of seeds. While the ālayavijñāna was understood in this tradition as containing some “pure seeds,” these were not interpreted as a direct proactive generator of enlightenment. Nonetheless, there were popular consciousness-oriented texts holding great influence in this milieu, such as the Laṅkâvatāra-sūtra and Awakening of Mahāyāna Faith which saw the base consciousness as containing the “embryo of a tathāgata” (tathāgatagarbha). The influence of these texts led many Silla philosophers of mind to adopt a flexible stance regarding the character of the base consciousness. In Chang’an, such a view was seen by members of the Faxiang school as a kind of heresy. But this way of thinking would end up holding a mainstream position in Silla, such that there would end up being few major Korean scholiasts who held strictly to the position of the absolute karmic neutrality of the base consciousness. In the Yogācāra tradition that developed in Japan (known as Hossō), however, the strict interpretation of Kuiji and his colleagues would ultimately prevail and be taken as the orthodoxy. Although, as we will see in Ronald Green’s article below, given the strong [End Page 6] influence of Silla scholarship on Heian Japan, the Japanese scholars would be forced to make some difficult choices.


When we begin to discuss the major Silla Yogācāra scholars, we cannot but start with Wŏnch’ŭk. Objections are sometimes made regarding taking him as a Korean, since he did go to China at the age of nine and is not recorded as having ever returned to his homeland. The problem is, however, that if we fail to discuss him in the Korean context, he ends up being ignored almost entirely, since the Chinese Faxiang tradition would over time pretty much write him out of its history, even portraying him as an outcast. Even though he worked in the major center of Ximingsi in Chang’an, he had difficulty in accepting certain key Faxiang doctrinal positions, most notably that of that school’s position of the clear distinction in five spiritual predispositions, instead leaving open the possibility that icchantikas might also be redeemable. He also questioned Faxiang’s strict interpretations of three-vehicle theory, leaving himself open to the ideas of the one-vehicle system. It is a shame that so much of his important work has been lost, especially his twenty-fascicle exposition of the Cheng weishi lun, the Sŏng yugsingnon so 成唯識論疏. He is thought to have published nineteen works in total, with the most important being his famous commentary on the Saṃdhinirmocana-sūtra (Hae simmil kyŏng so 解深密經疏), regarded by ancient and modern scholars as the authoritative exegesis of this seminal Yogācāra text, and which was even translated into Tibetan.4


No discussion of Silla scholarship on philosophy of mind can be complete without mentioning the giant figure whose influence dominated not only the doctrinal masters of his time on the Korean Peninsula, but reached back into China, and penetrated deeply into Japan. This, of course, is the great Silla exegete Wŏnhyo 元曉 (617–686), whose name appears prominently in each of [End Page 7] the articles presented in this issue. In East Asian sectarian classification schemes, Wŏnhyo is usually categorized as a member of the Hwaŏm/Huayan tradition, and his fame in East Asia was largely based on his influential commentaries on Tathāgatagarbha/innate enlightenment works such as the Awakening of Mahāyāna Faith and the Vajrasamādhi-sūtra. But if we look at Wŏnhyo’s oeuvre as a whole, along with accounts of his life, his involvement in Yogācāra studies looms large, and in fact, in terms of sheer quantity, forms the largest portion of his work.5

An oft-cited narrative in Wŏnhyo’s hagiography is that of his enlightenment experience, which is said to have occurred while he was attempting to travel to Tang China with his colleague Ŭisang, ostensibly to study the Yogācāra doctrine under Xuanzang.6 According to the hagiographic account, what stopped Wŏnhyo from pursuing this opportunity to go to the Tang was none other than a major awakening experience.

As the story goes, when Wŏnhyo and Ŭisang arrived at their port of embarkation, their ship’s departure was delayed by inclement weather. Caught in the rain and without a place to stay, they took shelter for the night in a nearby cave where they found gourds from which to drink, and so were able to get a decent night’s sleep. In the light of the dawn, they realized that the cave in which they were staying was actually a tomb, and that the “gourds” from which they had drunk were human skulls. The storm continued, delaying their departure for another day, and they were forced to spend another night in the same cave. During their second night in the cave, they were unable to sleep, being plagued by ghosts and nightmares. As Wŏnhyo reflected on this experience, he suddenly became deeply aware of the extent to which his perception of the world was based on the limits of his own mind. He experienced a great awakening to the principle of consciousness-only, after which he decided that there was, after all, no need to go to China in search of the Dharma. He explained his experience thus: “Because of the arising of thought, various phenomena arise; since thought ceases, a cave and a grave are not two” (This is a reference to the verse in the Awakening of Mahāyāna Faith that says, “When a thought arises, all dharmas arise, and when a thought ceases, all dharmas disappear” [T 1666.32.577b22]). And so he said: “Since there are no dharmas outside the mind, why should I seek them somewhere? I will not go [End Page 8] to the Tang.”7 Regardless of the legendary character of this account, it is significant for the way it has come to define the centrality of the “mind-only” approach to Wŏnhyo’s religious insights.

Wŏnhyo’s oeuvre is permeated throughout by Yogācāra and Tathāgatagarbha discourse, and not only in his direct commentarial work on Yogācāra and Tathāgatagarbha texts. He relied on these two systems for explicating a wide range of Mahāyāna texts from many other schools. Though it is commonly overlooked in historical scholarship, it is hard to overstate the influence of Yogācāra thinking on Wŏnhyo’s thought—a situation exacerbated by the fact that Korean, as well as Japanese and Chinese, traditions have associated him with the Hwaŏm (Huayan) school.

This association is probably due to a variety of factors. For one, Wŏnhyo was generally considered a “harmonizer,” and “harmonization” is more typically associated in East Asian Buddhist discourse with Hwaŏm than with other traditions. In the same vein, traditional histories tend to list Wŏnhyo as the “patriarch” of a “dharma-nature” (pŏpsŏng 法性) tradition, which has close associations with both Hwaŏmand Tathāgatagarbha textual lineages. Wŏnhyo’s association with these systems may have also been accentuated by one of his greatest admirers in China, the renowned Huayan scholar Fazang (643–712). Fazang relied heavily on Wŏnhyo in writing his own commentary on the Awakening of Mahāyāna Faith, and was keenly aware of Wŏnhyo’s other writings, especially the System of the Two Hindrances (Ijang ŭi). At the same time, since Fazang was critical of the Xuanzang-Kuiji stream of East Asian Yogācāra—which, as noted above, he also pejoratively called “dharma-character” (pŏpsang 法相)—he would not have been likely to emphasize that dimension of Wŏnhyo’s work. Added to this is the fact that Wŏnhyo’s commentaries on the major Yogācāra texts, such as the Yogācārabhūmi-śāstra, Madhyânta-vibhāga, Saṃdhinirmocana-sūtra, Cheng weishi lun and so forth, are either wholly lost, or extant only in small fragments; thus, most of his work directly connected with Yogācāra texts has not reached to the modern era.

Nonetheless, an analysis of the content and character of Wŏnhyo’s writings, taking into account his favored hermeneutic framework, lends little support to the claim that his overall scholarly output exhibits a pervasive Hwaŏm orientation. If we look at the entire list of the more than two hundred works attributed [End Page 9] to him, the largest group by far falls under the Yogācāra and Tathāgatagarbha traditions.

First, are the Yogācāra commentaries in a narrow sense, including the following:

  • Yuga ch’o 瑜伽抄 (Extracts of the Yogācārabhūmi; four fascicles, not extant)

  • Yugaron chungsil 瑜伽論中實 (Marrow of the Yogācārabhūmi; five fascicles, not extant)

  • Sŏng yusingnon chong’yo 成唯識論宗要 (Doctrinal essentials of the Cheng weishi lun; four fascicles, not extant)

  • Yang sŏmnon so ch’o 梁攝論疏抄 (Exegetical notes on the Liang translation of the Mahāyāna-saṃgraha; one fascicle, not extant)

  • Sŏptaesŭng non Sech’in sŏngnon yakki 攝大乘論世親釋論略記 (Summary notes on Vasubandhu’s Commentary to the Mahāyāna-saṃgraha; four fascicles, not extant)

  • Sŏptaesŭng non so 攝大乘論疏 (Commentary on the Mahāyāna-saṃgraha; four fascicles, not extant)

  • Chungbyŏn punbyŏllon so 中邊分別論疏 (Commentary on the Madhyântavibhāga; four fascicles, only third fascicle extant)

  • Abitalma chapchip non so 阿毘達磨雜集論疏 (Commentary on the Abhidharma-samuccaya-vyākhyā; twelve fascicles, not extant)

  • Hae simmil kyŏng so 解深密經疏 (Commentary on the Saṃdhinirmocanasūtra; three fascicles, only fragments of the introduction extant)

There are an additional six commentaries and essays on Tathāgatagarbha texts:

  • Sŭngman kyŏng so 勝鬘經疏 (Commentary on the Śrīmālā-sūtra; two fascicles, not extant)

  • Pujŭng pulgam kyŏng so 不増不滅經疏 (Commentary on the Sutra of Neither Reification nor Annihilation; one fascicle, not extant)

  • Posal yŏngnak ponŏpkyŏng so 菩薩瓔珞本業經疏 (Commentary on the Pusa yingluo benye jing; three fascicles, only third fascicle extant) [End Page 10]

  • Posŏng non chong’yo 寶性論宗要 (Doctrinal essentials of the Ratnagotravibhāga; one fascicle, not extant)

  • Posŏng non yogan 寶性論料簡 (Analysis of the Ratnagotravibhāga; one fascicle, not extant)

  • Kugyŏng ilsŭng posŏng non kwamun 究竟一乘寶性論科文 (Analysis of the Ultimate Single Vehicle Ratnagotravibhāga; one fascicle, not extant)

He also commented on texts that can be categorized as composites of both streams:

  • Nŭngga kyŏng so 楞伽經疏 (Commentary on the Laṅkâvatāra-sūtra; seven fascicles, not extant)

  • Nŭng kyŏng chong’yo 楞經宗要 (Doctrinal essentials of the Laṅkâvatārasūtra; one fascicle, not extant)

  • Taesŭng kisillon so 大乘起信論疏 (Commentary on the Awakening of Mahāyāna Faith; two fascicles, extant)

  • Taesŭng kisillon pyŏlgi 大乘起信論別記 (Expository notes on the Awakening of Mahāyāna Faith; one fascicle, extant)

  • Ijang ŭi 二障義 (System of the Two Hindrances; one fascicle, extant)

  • • Six other Awakening of Mahāyāna Faith-related commentarial works, totaling six fascicles, not extant

Finally, the logic commentaries, which can be considered part of the Yogācāra system:

  • Inmyŏng ip chŏngni non ki 因明入正理論記 (Notes on the Nyāyapraveśa; not extant)

  • P’an piryang non 判比量論 (Critical discussion on inference; fragment extant)

Merely tabulating the number of texts, or their volume in fascicles, however, tells only part of the story. What is more significant is the overwhelming extent to which Wŏnhyo relied on Yogācāra texts—most frequently, the Yogācārabhūmi-śāstra—as a source for the doctrinal explanations in his commentaries. Indeed, [End Page 11] although it may well be argued that he considered the Awakening of Mahāyāna Faith, or perhaps the Vajrasamādhi-sūtra, as the summum bonum of Mahāyāna Buddhist thought,8 it is nevertheless clear that, based on statements Wŏnhyo made in various places or on patterns discernable in his (hypothesized) career course, he relies more on the Yogācārabhūmi throughout his exegetical writings than on any other work. This is true not only for his commentaries on Yogācāra and Tathāgatagarbha texts themselves, but for almost everything else as well, including commentaries on Vinaya, Logic, State Protection, and Pure Land. Simply put, Wŏnhyo treated the Yogācārabhūmi as the master encyclopedia for all mind-related doctrines, a source where he could find almost anything he needed.

Instructive in this regard are Wŏnhyo’s Pure Land commentaries.9 One might expect, given developments in the later East Asian Pure Land tradition, to see an extensive explanation by Wŏnhyo on topics such as faith in other-power, or the attributes of Amitâbha, availing himself to references to other Pure Land-related works. Instead, Wŏnhyo relies almost exclusively on the Yogācārabhūmi and Awakening of Mahāyāna Faith to resolve the potential breaches in the standard Buddhist commitment to the law of cause and effect that he sees in these scriptures. He asks, for example, how it could be possible, in the context of mainstream Buddhist karmic theory, that practitioners could attain a state of advanced liberation, such as that implied by rebirth in the Pure Land, by merely repeating the name of the Buddha; or how the mere existence of something like a Pure Land, with all its marvelous animals and vegetation, could be explained by that same system of cause and effect. In answering these questions, Wŏnhyo has no recourse but to rely on the categories of buddha-bodies, the different levels of practitioners and so forth, that are explained in the greatest detail in the Yogācārabhūmi and other Yogācāra texts.10 In short, in the entire history of the Yogācāra tradition throughout Asia, there are very few who utilized its corpus more than Wŏnhyo.


The Silla master that we can take next in terms of magnitude of overall impact on East Asian Buddhology is Taehyŏn 大賢 (eighth century). Although [End Page 12] Taehyŏn is categorized primarily as a Yogācāra specialist, his work extended far beyond Yogācāra to various aspects of Buddhist thought, and his commentaries on the sutras, śāstras, and vinaya were respected throughout East Asia to the extent that he received the appellation of “Ci’en of Haedong” 海東慈恩.11 Although little is extant in the way of concrete biographical information on him, we are able to construct a vague sketch of his life and works based on passages in the Samguk yusa along with his commentaries and subsequent annotations of his commentaries. Taehyŏn never studied abroad, but since his writings were well known outside of Silla, the nature of his influence is somewhat comparable with that of Wŏnhyo. As we will see in the article by Sumi Lee below, he also applied hermeneutic strategies that bear a strong resemblance to Wŏnhyo’s hwajaeng (doctrinal harmonization).

Taehyŏn’s writings made it to Japan at an early date, where they were read and annotated extensively by Heian and Kamakura scholars such as Zenju 善珠 (727–797) of Kōfukuji and Gyōnen 凝然 (1240–1321) of Tōdaiji. Taehyŏn was a leading disciple of Tojŭng 道證 (d.u., treated below), who was in turn the student of Wŏnch’ŭk, one of the leading students of Xuanzang. Taehyŏn first studied Huayan, and then turned his attention to Yogācāra. The short piece in the Samguk yusa 三國遺事 with the title the “Wise Yogâcārin” (賢瑜伽), provides a brief description of his life:

Taehyŏn, the founder of the Silla Yogācāra school, lived at Yongjang Temple on Namsan in Gyeongju. It was his regular practice to circumambulate a sixteen-foot stone image of Maitreya in the courtyard of the temple, and the image would also turn its head to face the monk. The doctrines of the Yogācāra school were so difficult to understand that the noted Chinese scholar Bai Juyi 白居易 [772–846; a famous Tang poet who was an ardent student of Buddhism] gave up its study, saying that consciousness-only was profound and unfathomable, and that Buddhist logic was impenetrable. Therefore, there were few scholars able to carry on the tradition. It was Taehyŏn alone who could discern error, who could readily disclose the arcane, sharp as a sword in play. For this reason, all his juniors East of the Sea [Silla] came for his instruction, and many scholars in the Middle Kingdom took him as a model.12 [End Page 13]

Chinese Buddhist scholars from the fifth to seventh centuries showed a pronounced tendency to carry out exegetical work that strongly valorized the foundational scriptures of their own school, at the same time placing the scriptures of other schools in an ancillary position. This was the project of Chinese doctrinal classification (panjiao 判教). The tendency of Buddhist scholarship in Silla was rather the opposite of this, in that, starting with Wŏnhyo, scholars tended to explicate a wide range of texts in an even-handed manner, seeing them all as parts of a larger, ultimately integrated system. Taehyŏn is especially notable for the way in which he, as fundamentally a Yogācāra scholar, worked broadly with the texts of the eight main doctrinal schools, and used his Yogācāra background as a means of unraveling and explaining the doctrinal issues that he encountered. There is in Taehyŏn little bias to be seen toward either of the approaches of nature or characteristics; instead he shows a tendency to apply both together in a harmonious manner. Below we list Taehyŏn’s Works on Yogācāra and Logic—only the first of which is extant.

  1. 1. Sŏng yusingnon hakki 成唯識論學記 (extant)

  2. 2. Sŏng yusingnon kaebal chang 成唯識論開發章

  3. 3. Sŏng yusingnon kyŏlt’aek 成唯識論決擇

  4. 4. Yusik isimnon kojŏkki 唯識二十論古迹記

  5. 5. Inmyŏngnon kojŏkki 因明論古迹記

  6. 6. Chŏngni mullon kojŏkki 正理門論古迹記

  7. 7. Inmyŏng chŏngni kojŏkki 因明正理古迹記

  8. 8. Inmyŏng chŏngni kojŏkki 因明正理古迹記

  9. 9. Inmyŏng ipchŏngniron kojŏkki 因明入正理論古迹記

  10. 10. Yugaron kojŏkki 瑜伽論古迹記

  11. 11. Yugaron ch’anyo 瑜伽論纂要

  12. 12. Hyŏnyangnon kojŏkki 顯揚論古迹記

  13. 13. Sŏpdaesŭngnon sech’in sŏngnon kojŏkki 攝大乘論世親釋論古迹記

  14. 14. Sŏpdaesŭngnon musŏng sŏngnonso kojŏkki 攝大乘論無性釋論疏古迹記

  15. 15. Chungbyŏllon kojŏkki 中邊論古迹記

  16. 16. Pyŏn chungbyŏllon kojŏkki 辯中邊論古迹記 [End Page 14]

Especially, the Sŏng yusingnon hakki—still extant—received high appraisal in Japan and China as well.

We have, up to this point, introduced the two most visible Silla Yogācāra figures, whose influence outside of Korea was significant, and who are still well-known and studied in China and Japan. And as the alert reader will notice in the articles that ensue, the names of these two appear frequently. But beyond this pair, there was a significant contingent of worthy Silla Yogācāra scholiasts—although most of these figures, just like Wŏnhyo and Taehyŏn, ranged in their work outside of Yogācāra, across the entire gamut of Mahāyāna doctrines. Here, we should look at few of the better-known scholars whose names appear in the articles of this issue, before moving on to introduce the articles themselves.

Other Notable Silla Yogācāra Scholars

Tojŭng (seventh-eighth century), was a Silla monk of the Yogācāra school who traveled to the Tang, staying at Ximing Temple in Chang’an, where he studied with Wŏnch’ŭk. He is said to have mastered the Yogācāra corpus, and upon returning to Silla in 692, presented the Silla king with an astronomical chart. Although he is recorded as having worked with Wŏnch’ŭk’s philosophical rival Huizhao 慧沼 (648–714), and while we know through the writings of Taehyŏn that he criticized Wŏnch’ŭk in places, he is basically considered to be a follower of Wŏnch’ŭk’s tradition. While also interested in Prajñāpāramitā thought, Pure Land belief, and Buddhist logic, he took Yogācāra to be the most fundamental approach to Buddhist studies. He is attributed with the authorship of the Panya ich’wi 般若理趣 (Prajñā maxim), Pyŏn chungbyŏllon so 辯中邊論疏 (Commentary on the Madhyânta-vibhāga), Sŏng yusingnon yojip 成唯識論要集 (Anthology of the essentials of the Cheng weishi lun), Inmyŏng chŏngni mullon so 因明正理門論疏 (Commentary on the Nyāyamukha), and several other works.

Toryun 道倫 (d.u), also known as Tullyun 遁倫, a scholar-monk during the Silla period, was a prolific commentator and commentary compiler, whose most famous extant work is the monumental Yugaron ki 瑜伽論記 (Notes on [End Page 15] the Yogācārabhūmi-śāstra) This work, while foregrounding the Yogācāra commentarial work of Kuiji’s 窺基 Yuqielun lüezuan 瑜伽論略纂, also cites other influential “consciousness-only” thinkers of the period, including Sun’gyŏng 順憬, Wenbei 文備, Xuanfan 玄範, Shentai 神泰, Huijing 惠景, Huida 惠達, Wŏnch’ŭk 圓測, and Wŏnhyo 元曉.

Sun’gyŏng 順璟 (d.u.) was also a Silla-period monk, best known for his work on post-Xuanzang Buddhist logic. Accounts differ as to whether he went to Tang and studied directly under Xuanzang, or learned Xuanzang’s new consciousness-only inference in Silla. In any case, based on this, he established his own method of “indeterminacy of contradictory propositions” 決定相違不 定量. During the sixth-seventh year of the reign of King Munmu 文武王 (666– 667) he sent a copy of his proposal to the Tang via a tributary envoy. However, since Xuanzang had already passed away a couple of years before, he did not see it. Nonetheless, it is said that Kuiji was able to peruse it, and was greatly impressed. The extent to which he took the Yogācāra teachings as the supreme expression of the Mahāyāna is reflected in the legend that he went to hell for laughing at the teaching of the Huayan jing that says, “at the first arousal of the intention for enlightenment one has already become Buddha” 始從發心便 成佛已 (see T 2061.50.728a25). There are several other Silla scholars whose work ranged significantly into the area of Yogācāra, but the above-introduced five can be seen as the most important.

Let us now turn to the articles in this issue.

The Articles in this Issue

All these pieces share in the fact that not one of them deals with matters taking place solely inside of Silla. Silla masters of consciousness-only were invariably involved in discourses with their Chinese counterparts (and even Indian predecessors), commenting on the same scriptural sources, in some cases offering a more focused treatment of a particular set of doctrinal issues, often differing in interpretations and conclusions. This involvement with Chinese and Indian scholarship is presented in the articles by Shigeki Moro, Sumi Lee, and Jiyun [End Page 16] Kim. These differences in interpretation often presented a conundrum to Japanese scholars who were at first struggling to sort out the Yogācāra system, along with the closely-related and entangled Tathāgatagarbha and Huayan discourses on philosophy of mind. In any case, the Japanese took the Korean viewpoints seriously, as is evident in the heavy citations of Korean masters in Japanese works of the Heian and Kamakura periods. These issues of simultaneous assimilation in Japan from Korean and Chinese forebears are presented in detail in the article by Ronald Green.

Shigeki Moro’s paper takes us from Silla back to not only China, but all the way to India as well, by taking advantage of Wŏnhyo’s erudition to resolve problems of distinction in argumentation going back to Paramârtha and Sthiramati. As a Japanese scholar steeped in the arguments on Yogācāra that took place in Japanese Hossō, and also well-versed in Chinese and Korean historical accounts, Moro brings a special sensitivity to the matter of the influential Japanese approach to the categorization of the East Asian Yogācāra traditions, and suggests some reconsideration of currently held assumptions. Thus, in his paper, he approaches problems of historiography and orthodoxy in Japanese Buddhism by examining Wŏnhyo’s commentary on Vasubandhu’s Madhyântavibhāga-bhāṣya (MAVBh) known as Chungbyŏn punbyŏllon so (CPS). The MAVBh is an important work not only in the Indian Yogācāra tradition but also in the context of broader East Asian Buddhist debates. Although Wŏnhyo was one of the most influential Yogācāra scholars in East Asia, little research has been carried out on his CPS, the only extant commentary on Paramârtha’s translation of MAVBh. If we compare it with Sthiramati’s Madhyântavibhāga-ṭīkā (MAVṬ), an Indian commentary of MAVBh, the CPS shows some similarities to Sthiramati’s explanations in the MAVṬ. Historical evidence that indicates some close relationship between Sthiramati and Paramârtha can be found in East Asian materials, while there is nothing that connects them with Wŏnhyo. For this reason, Moro suggests that it is reasonable to think that in the seventh century there was another lineage of Yogācāra Buddhism in East Asia, which was originally studied by Sthiramati and Paramârtha in India and brought to East Asia by Paramârtha.

Similarly, Sumi Lee’s paper takes up a Silla scholar’s treatment of a seminal East Asian Yogācāra problem. In this case the focus is on the treatment of the [End Page 17] inner arguments found in the Cheng weishi lun by Taehyŏninhis Sŏng yusingnon hakki, his only extant commentary that deals directly with Yogācāra.13 One of the arguments carried out within the Cheng weishi lun that drew the attention of scholars of Yogācāra in China, Korea, and Japan, was that which is thought to have taken place between Dharmapāla and Bhāviveka on the discussion of the extreme views of existence and emptiness. There was also some debate in these times as to whether the two protagonists are actually Dharmapāla and Bhāviveka; whether they actually engaged in live debate on this matter; and whether their positions are to be taken as entirely at odds with each other. After setting up the background of these problems, Dr. Lee leads us through Taehyŏn’s careful treatment of these issues. Taehyŏn takes a hermeneutical approach similar to that of Wŏnhyo, noting that it may just be a matter of difference in understanding of terminology, rather than fundamental differences in view of the Buddhist doctrine.

The Awakening of Mahāyāna Faith (AMF) is a text whose commentarial tradition thoroughly entangles Tang and Silla scholars, along with Yogācāra and Tathāgatagarbha ideas, and modern scholars have still not unthreaded all of the knots involved. To begin with, due to the deep influence of Wŏnhyo’s commentaries alone on the AMF, it is sometimes hard to say where Wŏnhyo begins and where the AMF ends. In any case, there is an argument to be made that the AMF is the single most influential text on Korean Buddhological thinking. And among Silla scholars, it is not only Wŏnhyo who wielded influence. In her paper, Jiyun Kim shows us some of the ways in which the AMF and its commentarial tradition attempted to assimilate the Yogācāra notions of the three forms of mental consciousness (manovijñāna, manas, and ālayavijñāna) into its system, by looking at the three important commentaries attributed to Silla monks: that by Wŏnhyo (Kisillon so 起信論疏), that by Taehyŏn(Taesŭng kisillon naeŭi yakt’amgi 大乘起信論內義略探記), and that attributed by Japanese scholarship to Wŏlch’ung (K. Sŏk mahayŏn non, Ch. Shi moheyan lun 釋摩訶衍論). These commentaries, all of which took full account of the structure and terminology of the Laṅkâvatāra-sūtra, employed an array of terms (such as shishi 事識, zhenshi 眞識, xianshi 現識, fenbieshishi 分別事識, zhi 智, zhixiang 智相, zhishi 智識, zhixiangshi 智相識) that should be mappable to the Yogācāra consciousnesses. As Dr. Kim shows, the attempt to [End Page 18] construct a simple, one-to-one correspondence among these terms is quite a complex task, but her commendable attempt to work these out for us provides a wonderful window into the issues and parameters of Tang-Silla-Heian philosophy of mind.

In the fourth article in this issue, Ronald Green provides a glimpse into the ways in which Silla Yogācāra was assimilated in Nara, Heian, and Kamakura Japan, where Japanese scholars were forced to discern the differences in the streams of Yogācāra that were straight from the Xuanzang/Kuiji school, from those derived from various Silla scholars. Variances in incoming doctrinal traditions even resulted in the formation of different Japanese schools and factions. These would ultimately be winnowed down to a form of Hossō orthodoxy, but not until a good deal of debate and discussion had taken place. In the first part of his paper, Green provides a general overview of the quantity and character of the reception of the work of Silla Yogācāra scholars such as Wŏnhyo, Sun’gyŏng, Ŭijŏk, Taehyŏn, as well as that of Wŏnch’ŭk, within the Japanese Hossō school. In carrying out this task, he has conducted a thorough reading of the research by modern Japanese scholars of Hossō. The second part of the paper is devoted to an analysis of a major doctrinal debate that occurred between the Northern and Southern Hossō temples of Nara—Gangōji and Yamashina-dera (Kōfukuji). Green examines the accounts of this debate provided by such monks as Zen’an, Ryōsan, and Gomyō, and included in the debate are positions attributed to such Indian masters such as Bhāviveka, as well as Kuiji, Huizhao, Wŏnhyo, Wŏnch’ŭk, and several other Silla scholars. A special dimension of this debate is seen in the fact that the Japanese monks attempted to work out their issues using the format of Buddhist logic. In the end, the article gives us a clear view of the awareness that early Japanese Hossō scholars held regarding the developments on the peninsula and mainland.

It is our sincere hope that this small collection of articles can serve to open up awareness of the impact of Silla scholarship to students of East Asian Buddhism and philosophy of mind around the world, perhaps serving as a starting point for new explorations of this rich area. [End Page 19]

A. Charles Muller
Professor of Buddhist Studies, Musashino University


1. This special issue on Yogācāra Studies in Silla is the result of the papers presented at a session of the 2018 meeting of the American Academy of Religion with the title “Yogācāra Studies in Silla.” This session was co-sponsored by the Yogācāra Studies Unit and the Korean Religions unit.

3. In Japan, research on the Silla period has traditionally predominated, but it has been strong in the West as well. See Muller (2017).

4. For more on Wŏnch’ŭk in East Asia, see Cho (2005), along with the articles in Japanese by Kitsukawa; for a full list of his known works, see the entry on Wŏnch’ŭk in the Digital Dictionary of Buddhism (DDB).

5. For a full list of his known works, see the entry on Wŏnhyo in the DDB.

6. The reference to Wŏnhyo’s specific interest in studying Yogâcāra is found in his biography contained in the Song gaoseng zhuan at T 2061.50.730a6.

7. This story is told in Ŭisang’s biography contained in the Song gaoseng zhuan, starting at T 2061.50.729a3.

8. Wŏnhyo called the Awakening of Mahāyāna Faith the “patriarchal teaching of all treatises,” and its author “the chief arbiter of all controversies” (T 1845.44.226b5–12). On the other hand, as Robert Buswell points out, it was quite possibly Wŏnhyo’s high evaluation of the Vajrasamādhi that brought him out of retirement to compose his final commentary. See Chapter 4 in Buswell (1989).

9. That is, his commentarial works on the Smaller and Larger Pure Land sutras (Amit’agyŏng so and Muryangsugyŏng chong’yo).

10. For a more detailed discussion of this kind of exegetical strategy in Wŏnhyo, see Muller (2007).

11. A reference to the eminent Tang Yogâcāra scholar Kuiji 窺基.

12. T 2039.49.1009c25–1010a11. English translation adapted from Ha and Mintz (1972, 326–327).

13. Taehyŏn’s other extant commentary, which has arguably been even more influential than the Hakki, is his famous commentary on the Brahmā’s Net Sutra the Pŏmanggyŏng kojŏkki (translated as Exposition of the Sutra of Brahmā’s Net in Muller [2012]).


Buswell, Robert E., Jr. 1989. The Formation of Ch’an Ideology in China and Korea: The Vajrasamādhi-sūtra, a Buddhist Apocryphon. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.
———. 2010. “Thinking about ‘Korean Buddhism’: A Continental Perspective.” Journal of Korean Religions 1(1): 43–55.
Cho, Eunsu. 2005. “Wŏnch’ŭk’s Place in the East Asian Buddhist Tradition.” In Currents and Countercurrents: Korean Influences on the East Asian Buddhist Traditions, edited by Robert E. Buswell, Jr., 173–216. Honolulu: University of Hawai‘i Press.
Ha, Tae-hung, and Grafton K. Mintz, eds. 1972. Samguk Yusa: Legends and History of the Three Kingdoms of Ancient Korea. Seoul: Yonsei University Press.
Kitsukawa Tomoaki 橘川智昭. 2005. “Chugoku yuishiki ni miru nishu ichijōgi no ku’u ni tsuite” 中国唯識にみる二種一乗義の倶有について [The One-Vehicle theory of the early Tang Mind-only school]. Indogaku bukkyōgaku kenkyū 53(2): 688–692.
———. 2007. “Enjiki no mujishō kan” 円測の無自性観 [Wŏnch’ŭk’s view of the doctrine of No Own-Nature]. Indogaku bukkyōgaku kenkyū 55(2): 559–563.
Muller, A. Charles. 2007. “Faith and the Resolution of the Four Doubts in Wonhyo’s Doctrinal Essentials of the Sūtra of Immeasurable Life (Muryangsu gyeong jong’yo).” Bulletin of Tōyō Gakuen University 15: 1–15.
———. 2012. Exposition of the Sutra of Brahmā’s Net. The Collected Works of Korean Buddhism, Vol. XI. Seoul: Compilation Committee of Korean Buddhist Thought, Jogye Order of Korean Buddhism.
———. 2015. “Wŏnhyo’s Approach to Harmonization of the Mahayana Doctrines (Hwajaeng).” Acta Koreana 18(1): 9–44.
———. 2017. “Japanese Studies of Korean Buddhism: The Present State of the Field.” Acta Asiatica 112: 91–104.

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