Buddha-nature, Critical Buddhism, and Early Chan
This article is not concerned with whether buddha-nature and tathāgatagarbha thought is actually deleterious to critical philosophical work. Rather, the concern is to demonstrate that, far from embracing buddha-nature doctrine, the eighth-century founders of Southern Chan had serious concerns with it. Evidence for this is found in: (1) the writings of Shenhui, notably in his opposition to the doctrine of the "buddha-nature of insentient objects" (wuqing foxing 無情佛性); and (2) the Platform Scripture of the Sixth Patriarch (Liuzu tanjing 六祖壇經), particularly in the variant versions of Huineng's famous "enlightenment verse." Thus the Southern School may be viewed as a forerunner of the Critical Buddhist anti-dhātuvāda polemics. The article closes with comments on the ongoing problems Chinese Buddhist exegetes had in marrying the metaphysical monism of Yogācāra and tathāgatagarbha teachings with the anti-foundationalist thrust of Madhyamaka and Prajñāpāramitā literature.