On the Ālayavijñāna in the Awakening of Faith: Comparing and Contrasting Wŏnhyo and Fazang’s Views on Tathāgatagarbha and Ālayavijñāna

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On the Ālayavijñāna in the Awakening of Faith: Comparing and Contrasting Wŏnhyo and Fazang’s Views on Tathāgatagarbha and Ālayavijñāna
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Citation: Lee, Sumi. "On the Ālayavijñāna in the Awakening of Faith: Comparing and Contrasting Wŏnhyo and Fazang’s Views on Tathāgatagarbha and Ālayavijñāna." Religions 10, no. 9 (2019): 1–15.

Abstract

The Awakening of Faith, one of the most seminal treatises in East Asian Buddhism, is well-known for its synthesis of the two Mahāyāna concepts of tathāgatagarbha and ālayavijñāna. Unlike early Yogācāra texts, such as the Yogācārabhūmi, in which ālayavijñāna is described as a defiled consciousness, the Awakening of Faith explains it as a "synthetic" consciousness, in which tathāgatagarbha and the defiled mind are unified in a neither-identical-nor-different condition. East Asian Buddhist exegetes noted the innovative explanation of the Awakening of Faith and compiled the commentaries, among which Huayan master Fazang’s (643–712) commentary had a profound effect on the process of the establishment of the treatise as one of the most representative tathāgatagarbha texts in East Asia. However, as scholarly perceptions that the commentators’ interpretations do not always represent the Awakening of Faith’s tenets themselves have grown, the propriety of relying on Fazang’s commentary for understanding the treatise has also been questioned. What attracts our attention in this regard is that the Silla scholar-monk Wǒnhyo’s (617–686) commentaries, which are known to have significantly influenced Fazang’s, present very different views. This article demonstrates that two distinct interpretations existed in Wǒnhyo’s days for tathāgatagarbha and ālayavijñāna of the Awakening of Faith by comparing Wǒnhyo and Fazang’s commentaries, and further considers the possibility that the Awakening of Faith’s doctrine of ālayavijñāna is not doctrinally incompatible with that of early Yogācāra on the basis of Wǒnhyo’s view on ālayavijñāna.