Michael Zimmermann at the 2019 Tathāgatagarbha Symposium

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LibraryMultimediaMichael Zimmermann at the 2019 Tathāgatagarbha Symposium

Michael Zimmermann at the 2019 Tathāgatagarbha Symposium
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Description
In light of the argument that the theory of Buddha-nature is non-Buddhist, Michael Zimmerman summarizes more recent research on the earliest history of buddha-nature thought in India and discusses possible reasons for why the idea that all sentient beings have buddha-nature made its appearance.

Abstract from the Author

New Research on the Concept of Buddha-Nature in India: The Beginnings

The idea that all living beings carry a buddha embryo within themselves or already have full-fledged buddha-nature is one of the most pervasive ideas in the history of Buddhist thought. Buddhist thinkers have been struggling with the different concepts based on such a thought and its meanings for soteriology and spiritual training. In the 1990s the traditions that promote the idea of buddha-nature were heavily criticized and denounced as being non-Buddhist by a Japanese group of scholars who thought of themselves as “true” followers of Buddhism which, so they claimed, always must be “critical” with regard to its underlying philosophical structure. Such normative claims have lost their pervasive power nowadays. During the last decade, research on the earliest history of buddha-nature thought in India has gained a new momentum. Early texts promoting buddha-nature thought in India have been reconsidered and new theories with regard to the origins of the theory of buddha-nature were formulated.

The talk will summarize some of these new findings and discuss possible reasons for why the idea that all sentient beings have buddha-nature possibly made its appearance. It will be argued that the idea is an integral part of Buddhist intellectual history and that it can be linked to other concepts found in older Buddhist writings.

Sources Mentioned

Secondary Publications Mentioned

People Mentioned

Amoghavajra
705 ~ 774
Buddhabhadra
359 ~ 429
Śākyaprabha
ca. 8th century
Yeshe De
mid-8th century ~ early 9th century
Michael Radich
Christopher V. Jones
Jonathan Silk
1960
Jikidō Takasaki
1926 ~ 2013
Stephen Hodge
Featuring Michael Zimmermann
Creator University of Vienna, Tsadra Foundation
Event Tathāgatagarbha Across Asia (19 July 2019, University of Vienna, Austria)
Related Website Buddha-Nature Project
Video Web Location Tathāgatagarbha Across Asia
Creation Date 19 July 2019
Citation Zimmermann, Michael. "New Research on the Concept of Buddha-Nature in India: The Beginnings." Paper presented at the University of Vienna Symposium, Tathāgatagarbha Across Asia, Vienna, Austria, July 2019. Video, 45:00. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bYkBSSAJ-zo.