teaches us not to hate and not to be destructive with our
thoughts, words or actions. Buddhism teaches us to establish a sublime
and virtuous ideal, to be firm with ourselves, and to practice
self-improvement. It teaches us to do good deeds for the benefit of
others and to have patience. It also encourages us to be sympathetic
towards the wicked. Do not despise those in error but endeavour to
assist their sublimation of that error. Gradually exert your benign
influence upon them so that the salutary inclination towards virtuous
fulfilment may grow in their minds.
the verity and sheer beauty of this ideal enables us to
understand why the Buddha wanted us "not to slight the unlearned" and
"not to slight those who offend us." Everybody can attain Buddhahood.
Those who are ignorant and confused may learn and gradually become more
and more learned and virtuous. Those who commit offences against the
precepts and rules may confess and gradually accomplish more skilful
moral behaviour. With such ideas in mind we can have sincere
friendships with other people, and not just take advantage of them. We
should sow true kindness containing no seed of war. Consider yourselves
to be equal to others. Never consider yourself superior.
dedication towards these ideas we can increase our compassion for
others and strengthen our determination to save all. We can cultivate
our wisdom towards non-self (viz. "anatta" the Buddha's teaching
concerning the unreality of ego) and help Buddhahood ripen within us by
practicing the perfections of the Bodhisattva. If we can extend this
ideal and practice it well we will enter a period of mutual
understanding, mutual trust, mutual help and enjoyment of great peace
and happiness together.
Sadaparibhuta used to say, "I would never slight you, you
shall all be Buddhas." This is a saying of everlasting and perfect
truth. With this saying I began and with this saying I shall end. This
is a special offering to all of you today.
by Chai Gao Mao, edited by Mick Kiddle, proofread by Neng
The Position of the Chinese Tripitaka in World Buddhism
main objective of the World Buddhist Fellowship is to link the
various schools of Buddhism, coming as they do from all over the world.
This communion can be accomplished by harmonious co-operation on the
basis of spiritual sharing. As a global community we can then actualize
the inspiring ideals of world enlightenment and salvation through the
encouragement of our common Buddhist culture.
must first acknowledge that the various schools of thought in
Buddhism are indeed facets of the Triple Gem that is Buddhism. There is
no room for superficial and dogmatic claims that one school is true
whereas others are not. For instance the Mahayana schools should not be
lightly dismissed as illegitimate, nor should the Sravakavana school
conversely be despised as moribund. Only when the study and practice of
Buddhism is carried out in a friendly and accommodating atmosphere,
with mutual trust and understanding, will co-ordination and
co-operation be possible. With this attitude, the trash and trimmings
now enshrouding Buddhism can be removed to reveal the essential
splendor of the Triple Gem. Thus Buddhism, which is well-adapted to
this modern world, can be redeemed and developed for the purpose of the
enlightenment and salvation of the world in its dire present need.
stems from one point of origin and is highly adaptable under
many circumstances. For different races, time and environments it seems
to develop into entirely different shapes and forms. But a close study
of its trends and modes of development, its adaptations to new
environments whilst preserving the integral identity of its core,
brings one to the realisation that the different forms of Buddhism are
interrelated and that cooperation amongst them is entirely feasible.
Generally, each school has its own characteristics and shortcomings.
Buddhists should honestly survey these various schools, exchanging the
shortcomings in each for the strengths in others on the basis of
equality, and for the sake of pursuing truth. In so doing, the ultimate
truth as experienced by the Buddha may be realized and his original
intention, as embodied in his teaching, may be fully understood.
we trace the different schools of Buddhism in the world today from
their origins in India we can see that the profile sprouting of
sectarian Buddhism seems to have taken place as follows:
The sacred texts embodying the Buddha-dharma developed over time.
The sutras and Vinaya Pitaka were the earliest to be compiled and
circulated. Round about the beginning of the first century A.D., the
researchers of the Agama Sutra and those dedicated to Sravaka practice
had compiled the Abhidharma, emphasising the existential aspect of
Dependent Origination. On the other hand, the Mahayana scriptures had
been compiled by those who stressed the virtues of the Buddha and the
practice of the Bodhisattva, emphasizing the aspect of emptiness as
central to the attainment of real understanding of Dependent
the third century A.D., Nagarjuna had composed his famous Sastras on
the Madhyamika doctrine interpreting the Agama and Abhidharma on the
basis of the Mahayana sutras of the Sunyata school. At about the same
time, Mahayana scriptures tending towards 'eternal-reality' idealism,
such as the Srimaladeve-Simhanada Sutra and the Mahaparinirvana Sutra,
had begun to be found, followed by sutras such as the Lankavatara
Sutra. Along with this development, the Asters and Yogacaryas of the
Sravastivada school accepted the "mind-only" aspect of the Mahayana
school. They compiled a number of Sastras of the Yogacara Vijnanavada
and eventually flourished as a great Mahayana school in their own
at about the fifth century there was a further development of
esoteric Yoga from the school of eternal-reality idealism. If one tried
to follow the course of development of Buddhism as outlined above, one
would have no difficulty tracing the evolution of the vast diversity of
scriptures and doctrines held sacred by the many schools.
Doctrinally, Buddhism was just Buddhism at first and there was no
sectarian difference. It did not divide into the Sravakayana and
Bodhisattvayana until about the beginning of the Christian era. Then in
the scriptures of the Bodhisattvayana we begin to see the division of
Hinayana and Mahayana.
the second and third centuries scriptures of eternal-reality
idealism started to appear in the Bodhisattvayana. In such Sutras were
first seen the terms "noumenon, Sunya and Madhya"; and "Hina-, Maha-
and Eka-yana." These scriptures of later date laid special emphasis on
the achievement of Buddhahood, and were thus also classified as
the beginning of the fifth century, another 'yana', the Dharaniyana,
sprung into existence from the noumenal school of Buddhism. This school
classified all Buddha Dharma into the Tripitaka, the Paramita Pitaka
(including everything of the exoteric schools), and the Dharani Pitaka.
It also categorised the Dharma according to practice as:
Catvri-satyani, Paramita, and greed-ingrained.
classification are indicative of the diversification and
development of Buddhism and are consistent with the schematic three
periods of historical development proposed by the late Venerable Tai
Hsu. The latter were as follows:
500 years after Buddha's demise - Hinayana in vogue with Mahayana
in the background. The Pali Tripitaka are representative of the
Buddhism of this period.
500 years - Mahayana to the fore with Hinayana attendant. The
Chinese Tripitaka reflects the development of Buddhism in this period.
500 years - Tantric Buddhism took the lead, leaving the exoteric
school in its wake. The Tibetan Tripitaka is the fruit of this period.
Buddhism - from which Japanese Buddhism derives is
representative of the Buddhism of the second 500 years, i.e. it is
founded mainly on Bodhisattvayana, which links the earlier Sravakayana
and the later Buddhayana. It therefore effectively ties Buddhist
it plays such a pivotal role in the historical development of the
Buddha-dharma, the Chinese Tripitaka deserves the special attention of
all those concerned with the present development of world Buddhism. It
is my humble opinion that only in the study of the Chinese Tripitaka
can the contents of Buddhism be fully and totally understood. The
Chinese Tripitaka offers the following:
Agamas: All four Agamas belong to the Bhava division. The
Madhyamagama and Samyuktagama were translated from the texts of the
Sravastivada school while the Dirghagama and Ekottaragama were
translated from those of the Mahasamghika or Vibbajyavada schools.
Though admittedly it does not contain a complete set of the sutras of
any single school, (the Pali Tripitaka does present a more complete
set), a textual conglomeration of many schools does have its merits
(The Tibetan Tripitaka contains no Agama at all).
Vinayas: The Tibetan Tripitaka contains only the new rules of the
Tamrasatiya sect, while the Chinese Vinaya contains all the following:
(i) The Mahasamghika Vinaya of the Mahasamghika school.
The five divisions of the Mahisasaka Vinaya, the four divisions of
the Dharmagupta Vinaya, the pratimoksa of Mahadasyapiyah, and the
Sudarsana Vinaya of Tamrasatiya. All these are rules of the
The old Sravastivada Vinaya and the new Mulasarvasti vadanikaya
Vinaya, both of the Sarvastivada school.
The Twenty-Two-Points-Of-Elucidation Sastras of the Sammatiya sect
of the Vatsiputriyas school.
rich collection of materials from different sources greatly
facilitates comparative studies of sectarian Buddhism.
Abhidharmas: This body of scripture is common to the three main
schools of Theravada Buddhism, namely, the Vibhajyavadins, the
Sarvastivadins, and the Vatsiputriyas. In the Tibetan Tripitaka there
are only the Prajnapti of the Jnanaaprasthanasatpadabhidharma and the
Pali Tripitaka contains seven Sastras. While the Chinese Tripitaka
has an especially large collection of the work of the Sarvastivada
school, it also possesses the Abhidharma work of practically all sects.
The Chinese Tripitaka contains:
The Samgitiparyaya, the Dharmskandha, the Prajnapti, the
Vijnanakaya, the Dhatukaya, the Prakaranapada, the Jnanaprasthana, the
Mahavibhasa, the Abhidharma-hrdaya -vyakhya, the
Abhiraharmananyanyanusara and the Abhidharmasamayapradipika Sastras of
the Sarvastivada school.
Of the works of Vibhajyavadins, it includes the Abhidharma Sastra
of Sariputa, which is the only important work that links up the
Southern and Northern Abhidharmas.
It also contains the Vimmuttimagga which is a different version of
the Pali Visuddhimagga.
It further contains the Sammitiya Sastra of the Vatsiputriya
The renowned Abhidharmakosa of the third to fourth century which
combines the best teachings of the Sarvastivada and Sautrantika
schools, and the Satyasiddi Sastra of Harivarman which greatly
influenced Chinese Buddhism.
these treasures of the Abhidharma may be found in the Chinese
Tripitaka. It can thus be seen that although the works of earlier dates
in the Tripitaka were not given the full respect due to them by the
majority of Chinese Buddhists, the wealth of information they contain
will be of great reference value to anyone interested in tracing the
divisions of the Sravaka schools and the development of the Bodhisattva
ideal from the Sravakayana. If these scriptures are ignored, I will say
that it would definitely not be possible for anyone to fulfil the
responsibility of co-ordinating and linking the many branches of world
(d) Mahayana scriptures of the Sunyavada
Mahayana scriptures of the noumenon school, or the school of
eternal-reality, are very complete in the Chinese Tripitaka. These
scriptures are very similar to those found in the Tibetan Tripitaka.
The four great Sutras, the Prajnaparamita, the Avatamsaka, the
Mahasamghata, and the Mahaparinirvana (to which may be added the
Maharatnakuta Sutra, making five great sutras), are all tremendously
voluminous works. Here it may be pointed out that the Chinese
scriptures are particularly notable for the following characteristics:
The different translations of the same Sutra have been safely
preserved in the Chinese Tripitaka in their respective original
versions without their being constantly revised according to later
translations, as was the case with Tibetan scriptures. From a study of
the Chinese translations we can thus trace the changes in content which
the majority of scriptures have undergone over time and reflect upon
the changes in the original Indian texts at different points in time.
Thus we have the benefit of more than one version for reference,
recording the evolution of the scriptures.
The Chinese Mahayana scriptures that were translated before the
Tsin Dynasties (beginning 265 A.D.) are particularly related to the
Buddhism of Chinese Turkestan with its center in the mountain areas of
Kashmir. These scriptures form a strong nucleus of Chinese Buddhist
thinking. The translations of the Dasabhumika Sastra and Lankavatara
Sutra all possess very special characteristics.
Madhyamika: The Madhyamika texts of the Chinese Tripitaka are
considerably different from the Tibetan renditions of the same system
of thought. The Chinese collection consists mostly of earlier works,
particularly those of Nagarjuna, such as the Mahaprajnaparamita Sastra
and the Dasabhumikavibhasa Sastra, which not only present Madhyamika
philosophy of a very high order but also illustrate extensively the
acts of a Bodhisattva.
the late Madhyamika works, i.e. works produced by the disciples of
Nagarjuna after the rise of the Yogacara system, only the Prajnapradipa
Sastra of Bhavaviveka has been rendered into Chinese. The Chinese
Tripitaka dose not contain works or as many schools of this system as
the Tibetan Tripitaka. The Mahayanavataraka Sastra of Saramati and the
Madhyayata Sastra of Asanga clearly indicate the change of thinking
from the Madhyamika to the Yogacara system.
Yogacara-Vijnanavada: The Chinese Tripitaka contains a very
complete collection of this system of thought. It includes important
scriptures such as the Dasabhumika, Mahayanasamparigraha Sastra, and
Vijnaptimatrasiddhi Sastra. While the Tibetan system was mainly founded
on the teachings of Sthiramati which are more akin to the
Mahayanasamparigraha school of Chinese work, the Chinese students of
orthodox Vijnanavada follow the teachings of Dharmapala.
Vinaptimatrasiddhi Sastra, which represents the consummation of the
Dignaga-Dharmapala-Silabhadra school of thought, is a gem of the
Chinese Tripitaka. The Hetuvidya which is closely connected with
Vijnanavada, is not fully translated in the Chinese Tripitaka and
cannot compare favourably with the works of Dignaga and Dharmakirti
collected in the Tibetan Tripitaka.
seems to indicate that the Chinese people were not logically
inclined, and gives no weight to engagements in verbal gymnastics and
debates. In times past this had relegated the position of Sastra
masters in China to one of relative unimportance.
The esoteric Yoga: The Chinese Tripitaka includes Chinese
translations of both the Vairocana Sutra of the practical division, and
the Diamond Crown Sutra of the Yoga division of the Tantric school of
Buddhism. The only esoteric scriptures that are missing are those of
the Supreme Yoga division which, as they arrived in China at a time of
national chaos, did not have much chance to circulate widely. Its very
nature of achieving enlightenment through carnal expressions also made
Tantrism unacceptable to the Chinese intellectuals. However, the texts
of esoteric Yoga are abundant in the Tibetan Tripitaka
the above it can be seen that the Chinese Tripitaka is composed
mainly of Mahayana scriptures of the second 500 years, yet translations
were not restricted to scriptures of this middle period. The Chinese
Tripitaka also possesses a wealth of works of early Buddhism as a good
portion of the later productions.
if one could have a sufficient knowledge of the Chinese
Tripitaka, and could extend his knowledge from there to include the
Pali Tripitaka of the Sravakayana, and the Madhyamika and Supreme Yoga
of the Tibetan system, then he would have little difficulty in gaining
an accurate, complete and comprehensive panorama of the 1,700 years of
development of Indian Buddhism, the record of which has been preserved
in the three great extant schools of Buddhist thought.
late Venerable Tai Hsu once said, "To mold a new, critical and
comprehensive system, based on the Chinese Tripitaka, the Theravada
teaching of Ceylon, and selected components of the Tibetan canon,
should be the objective of the writing of a history of Indian
Buddhism." Even more so, it should be the objective of co-ordinating
and connecting the many tributaries of world Buddhism. It is our
responsibility to discard the trimmings and to retain the very essence
of the great Tripitakas, adapting Buddhism to the modern world so that
it may fulfil its mission of leading the way, taking under its wings
the miserable beings of the present era.