Buddha Nature by Sallie B. King

By Sallie B. King

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Although this may sound to the reader like a complex way of talking about the same subjective states that were earlier rejected, closer examination shows this not to be the case, for this would be to render the sentence according to (1) and to ignore (2). Such a reading would 44 TH E C O N C E P T O F B U D D H A N A TU R E do justice neither to the inescapably objective quality of jin g 2 nor to the importance of the Thusness of all phenomena or things. Therefore, what the passage is intended to express is the immediately given, lived reality that includes both objective and subjective elements.

Chapter Four of the BNT, “Analysis of the Characteristics,11 which analyzes Buddha nature in terms of ten characteristics, is very close to that part of Chapter One of the Ratnagotra, which analyzes the tathagatagarbha in terms of virtually the same ten characteris­ tics. The author of the BNT, however, has greatly expanded the text by adding Yogacara concepts, discussed at considerable length, to the tathagatagarbha discourse of the Ratnagotra. Assuming that Paramartha is the author of the BNT, we can see that he was responsible not only for transmitting Yogacara-tathagatagarbha texts, but also for effecting some of the synthesis himself—and in both directions (adding tathagatagarbha passages to Yogacara texts and Yogacara passages to tathagatagarbha texts).

Thus we begin with a discussion of what Buddha nature is not, argued in the context of a refutation of competing views. The author's first move is to refute both the view that the Buddha nature exists and the view that it does not exist. The way in which this is done is typical of the logic of the BNT. With respect to Buddha nature, says the author, if you say either that it exists or that it does not exist ( 切 u) you go astray. Let us consider these important terms. You and wu are two of the most thoroughly studied words in the classical Chinese language, especially in their philosophical mean­ ings.

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