ASIA 382 Lecture Notes - Lecture 3: Vairocana, Mantra

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27 Jul 2016
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Mahavairocana sutra (Sutra of Great Sun)
Main Teachings
A) The oneness between the microcosm and the macrocosm
B) mantra (dharani, spells) words, phrases, or syllables chanted thoughtfully and
attentively (verbal): the verbal karma
C) mudra (“seal” or “sign”) (special hand gestures) (bodily): the bodily karma
D) mandala (“sacred circle”) (pictures used for meditation, by which people contemplate
the illuminated state of the universe and people’s mentality) (mental): the mental karma
E) Tantric rituals: a way through which people achieve the union between the human
and natural, the microcosmos and the macrocosmos
Impact in China
1) Relationship with Chan Buddhism:
Chan Buddhism’s jixing chenfo 即性成佛
(to achieve Buddhahood through the perfection of one’s nature, which isn’t, potentially,
different from Buddha-nature)
Tantrism’s jishen chengfo 即身成佛
(to achieve Buddhahood through the perfection of one’s body, which is – potentially – no
different from dharma-body)
2) Relationship with Taoism:
a) Historical connections: Indian Tantrism’s source in Chinese Taoism? (the legend on
b) Tantrism and Taoism’s view on the two forces in the universe (yin and yang)
c) the emphasis paid to human body: body cannot be regarded as purely physical and
corruptible; through some special training program, one can turn one’s physical body
into a kind of indestructible, diamond-like bodies
d) Taoism and Tantrism’s departure from general religions with regards human body
3) Tantrism and Sciences in medieval China
a) Tantrism and Chinese medical sciences
b) Tantrism and the development of Chemical science in medieval China (Alchemy) elixir
c) Tantrism and sexual science: the emphasis on the necessity of practicing Tantrism
with one’s spouse
Pure-land Buddhism
1. Fundamental Text
Wuliang shou jing
(Sutra of the Immeasurable Life)
3. Role and Influences of Pure-land Buddhism in East Asian society
(1) immensely popularizing the Buddhist faith (Buddhism was further infiltrated into
various walks of the society, especially the grassroots ones)
(2) creating an immense room for Buddhism’s interaction (and merging sometime) with
other religious forms (especially those called popular [folklore] religions)
(3) the movement constituted a great source of inspiration for various visual (painting,
mural, sculptures, etc) and aural (music, etc) arts
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