Buddha-Nature of Insentient Beings

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Buddha-Nature of Insentient Beings

Citation: Chen, Shuman. "Buddha-Nature of Insentient Beings." In Vol. 1 of Encyclopedia of Psychology and Religion. 2nd ed. Edited by David A. Leeming, Kathryn Madden, and Stanton Marlan, 208–12. Boston: Springer, 2014.

Article Summary

This encyclopedia entry discusses the historical origins and dissemination of the idea that Buddha-nature exists not only in sentient beings but also in insentient things. This doctrine emerged in various ways in medieval China with thinkers such as Jingying Huiyuan (523-592), Jiaxiang Jizang (549-623), and most prominently with Jingxi Zhanran (711-782) of the Tiantai school. This position later spread to Japan, being advocated by figures such as Kūkai and Dōgen. The underlying rationale for this position is generally grounded on the principle of nonduality and the idea of the Buddha’s all-pervading and embracing nature. The notion of the Buddha-nature of insentient beings is not only a doctrinal matter but also functions as a meditation technique whereby one learns to view phenomena as direct expressions of ultimate reality and to see oneself and the “outside” world as identical.


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