The Dust Contemplation: A Study and Translation of a Newly Discovered Chinese Yogācāra Meditation Treatise from the Haneda Dunhuang Manuscripts of the Kyo-U Library

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The Dust Contemplation: A Study and Translation of a Newly Discovered Chinese Yogācāra Meditation Treatise from the Haneda Dunhuang Manuscripts of the Kyo-U Library
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Citation: Greene, Eric M. "The Dust Contemplation: A Study and Translation of a Newly Discovered Chinese Yogācāra Meditation Treatise from the Haneda Dunhuang Manuscripts of the Kyo-U Library." The Eastern Buddhist 48, no. 2 (2020): 1–50.
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Article Summary

The publication between 2009 and 2013 of the Haneda manuscripts housed the Kyo-U Library (Kyōu shooku) in Osaka was a momentous occasion for Dunhuang studies.[1] This collection of over seven hundred documents, assembled by Haneda Tōru (1882-1955) on the basis of the famed collection of Li Shengduo (1859-1937) with further materials later added, is the world’s fifth most significant repository of Dunhuang manuscripts after those in London, Paris, Beijing, and St. Petersburg.[2] Now that these sources are at long last available to scholars, many exciting discoveries await historians of medieval China and medieval Chinese Buddhism in particular.[3]
      In this article I introduce a previously unknown, late seventh-century (as I shall argue) Buddhist text from this collection: Hane[da] manuscript no. 598, a single scroll bearing at its conclusion the title "Method for the Contemplation of Dust[4] as Empty" (Chen kong guan men).[5] The Dust Contemplation, as I will call it, is a unique and surprisingly concrete set of instructions for the practice of Buddhist meditation based on the doctrines and technical vocabulary of the early Chinese Yogācāra tradition, particularly (but not exclusively) those often linked by modern scholars to the so-called Shelun commentarial tradition (Shelunzong), which drew primary inspiration from the Yogācāra scriptures translated by Paramārtha (Zhendi; 499–569) and which flourished during the late sixth and early seventh centuries.[6] (Greene, introductory remarks, 1–2)
  1. Tonkō hikyū 2009-2013.
  2. On the Haneda documents, see Iwamoto 2010 and Zheng 2013. For a bibliography of studies of documents from the collection, see Yamamoto 2017.
  3. Studies of new Buddhist texts found among the Haneda documents include Nishimoto 2012, 2014; Kanno 2014; Li 2013; Zhang 2014; Wang 2017; and Irisawa, Mitani, and Usuda 2014. On the Daoist scriptures from the Haneda collection, see Kamitsuka 2017, pp. 362-87.
  4. I will explain my reasons for translating chen as "dust" below.
  5. The Chen kong guan men is not listed in the catalogue of texts Li Shengduo sold in the 1930s, which was the initial core of the Haneda collection (Rong 2002, pp. 70-80). Presumably it stems from one of the other private collections that Haneda eventually acquired. Though forgery is always a possibility when dealing with poorly provenanced "Dunhuang" manuscripts (Whitfield 2002), and an in-depth codicological analysis remains a desideratum, to judge from its contents the Dust Contemplation is clearly a genuine medieval Chinese Buddhist text, as this article will make clear.
  6. On the "Shelun commentarial tradition" and the various ways its central ideas were discussed and defined, see Keng 2009. The Dunhuang manuscripts have yielded a number of fragments of exegetical works seemingly related to one or more branches of this tradition (Ikeda 2010). On Paramārtha and his translations, see Keng and Radich 2019.