Is dharma-nature identical to ignorance? A study of ‘ji 即’ in early Tiantai Buddhism

Jenny Hung

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Zhiyi (智顗) (538–597) is the most important scholar of Tiantai Buddhism. He uses the term ‘ji即,’ which is normally translated as ‘equals to’ or ‘is identical to,’ to illustrate the relation between two contradictory properties. Some examples are ‘ignorance equals ji 即 dharma-nature (wuming ji faxing 無明即法性),’ ‘saṃsāra ji 即 nirvāṇa (shengsi ji niepan 生死即涅槃),’ and ‘suffering ji 即 enlightenment (fannao ji puti 煩惱即菩提).’ In this essay, I investigate the meaning of ‘ji即’ in the sentence ‘ignorance ji 即 dharma-nature (wuming ji faxing 無明即法性)’ in the early Tiantai school. I propose that there are two ways to understand ‘ji 即’ in that sentence. I further argue that there is no logical contradiction involved when Zhiyi asserts it.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)307-323
Number of pages17
JournalAsian Philosophy
Volume30
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - 2020

Keywords

  • Chinese Buddhism
  • identity
  • paradox
  • Tiantai
  • Zhiyi

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Religious studies
  • Philosophy

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