Idealism and Yogacara

Sun Dec 24 18:50:39 EST 2000

Lynken Ghose wrote:

> The question concerning the idealistic nature of Yogacara seems to
be a good starting point, as, from what I remember, the original
central question was whether or not Advaita could be said to be
influenced by the Yogacara and Sunyavada schools of Mahayana Buddhism
and in what ways.
> Unfortunately, I am not at home so I cannot post the passages that I
am referring to. But, it might be helpful if people began to post the
passages upon which they are basing their conclusions.

An excellent project -- I would be willing to contribute my ha'pence
worth.  I note, for example, that many of the Buddhist authors cited
by Satya Upadhya are actually specialists rather than
Yogaacarins -- the Tibetan tradition which eagerly inherited and
studied this strand of Buddhism did not normally classify them as
Yogaacara but as some variant of Sautraantika.
The other thing to note is that the Yogaacara schools are
multi-layered -- there are considerable differences between the early
"classical" Yogaacarins and the later ones.  One also needs to decide
the status of the La`nkaavatara-suutra which is often glibly quoted as
if it were a Yogaacara text pure and simple when that is certainly not
the case.  Even within the narrow parameters of the first three
patriarchs, Maitreya / Asa`nga / Vasubandhu, one can note subtle
conceptual shifts especially in the case of Vasubandhu.  This may be
(disregarding the historicity of Maitreya) because Asa`nga was
initially a member of the Mahii`saasaka school while Vasubandhu was
Sautraantika -- each possibly brought different Abhidharmic
perspectives with them.

As a starting point, one might like to consider the well-known
quotation, often cited to support claims that Yogaacara is a form of
idealism:   "Ida.m traidhaatuka.m citta-maatra.m /
vij~napti-maatra.m".    In this, is "traidhaatuka.m" an adjective or a
noun ?  If it is an adjective, what does it qualify ?

Best wishes for this Sol Invictus Day !
Stephen Hodge

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