Original Purity and the Focus of Early Yogācāra

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Original Purity and the Focus of Early Yogācāra
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Citation: Keenan, John P. "Original Purity and the Focus of Early Yogācāra." Journal of the International Association of Buddhist Studies 5, no. 1 (1982): 7–18. https://journals.ub.uni-heidelberg.de/index.php/jiabs/article/view/8560/2467.

Abstract

In understanding the ongoing process of the development of any doctrinal system, isolated insights into particular texts or particular doctrinal themes are not sufficient. No number of monographs on ālayavijñāna or trisvabhāva suffices, for, although such studies do clarify particular themes, no understanding is gained of the overall purpose for which these themes were developed. What is desired is an overall insight into what the system is trying to achieve. In the case of the Yogācāra system, the question of its basic intent and overall purpose is not easily determined. There are, it would appear, two reasons for this situation. The first is that the complex of questions regarding the dating, authorship, and compilation of the various textual data have not yet received definite answers in many instances, and yet each of these questions bears directly upon the understanding of the lines of doctrinal development. A second reason is that the doctrinal focuses of some of the basic Yogācāra texts appear to differ.
      The intent of this paper is to treat this latter concern. It will attempt to describe the basic doctrinal focus of four early Yogācāra texts, suggest the intent of their authors, and draw a hypothesis concerning the lines of development of early Yogācāra as seen in these texts. The texts selected are the Mahāyānasūtrālaṃkāra, the Saṃdhinirmocanasūtra, the Mahāyānābhidharmasūtra, and the Madyāntavibhāgaśāstra. All four texts were composed before the time of the classical formulation of Yogācāra by Asaṅga and Vasubandhu. Although it is not possible to determine with any degree of certitude the temporal relationship among these texts, insight into their doctrinal emphases would help to identify the overall problematic that led the early, pre-Asaṅgan Yogācārins to develop their thinking. (Source Accessed Jan 28, 2020)