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第一期 編輯序言         

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追求宇宙和生命起源的真相,一直是人類知識活動中最重要的一環,無論是古今中外的宗教或哲學界皆然。佛教創立的起因也不例外,但佛教和其他宗教或哲學不同的是:佛教並不只是一套理論或思想,它所建立的基礎是「真修實證」,不是停留在思惟所成就的思想理論玄學階段,是可以實踐而證實的真相。佛教的創始者釋迦牟尼佛在兩千五百多年前親證宇宙和生命起源的真相,並依此成佛。釋迦牟尼佛三轉法輪說法四十九年,就是將自己往世及今世久劫修行成佛的過程和內容完整地傳達出來。這些由當時弟子所記錄集結的三乘經典,都是釋迦牟尼佛「自心現量」的實證。因此要能夠完全正確瞭解佛教經典的意旨,「實證」是唯一的方法。這也是本刊強調「實證佛教」的重要性。

佛教強調的義學就是實證解脫,佛學研究則是為了邁向實證解脫而建立的義學。因此,佛學中應該將實證解脫的義學當作研究的核心目標。作為邁向義學的佛學研究,必須依循三量——現量、比量、至教量——的正確方法,才有可能證成實證法界實相的四種涅槃原理。彌勒菩薩宣說而由唐代釋玄奘所譯的《瑜伽師地論》中,建立此三量原則,現量是對於法界所有的事實真相的親自驗證,當然也包括「自心現量」的親證,也就是「實證」法界的實相,因此確認其正確性。由於眾生智慧不足,以致於對法界實相所了知的範圍極為有限,因此必須以佛陀「自心現量」親證的整體內容作為至教量;至教量的內涵,可以藉由我們努力修行與學習,必然能夠逐步親證釋迦牟尼佛所曾走過的古仙人道的各階段風光而加以比對,由至教量來證明所修所證確實無所偏斜。至於比量,則是以法界的事實真相作為前提,經過嚴密的邏輯推理,以得到正確的結論而擴展智慧。運用以上三量的研究方法與辯證的原則,不但和學術界強調客觀求真的科學精神不相衝突,甚且能夠獲得超過目前科學所能了知的宇宙、生命真實智慧。

古今中外的宗教界或是哲學界,雖然理論及方法各各不同,除了斷滅論以外,都有一個共識,就是「能夠成為有生滅的宇宙和生命起源之根本原因,必須是不生不滅的本體」。在這理論上,天主教和基督教建立上帝,回教建立阿拉,印度婆羅門教建立大梵天,而在西方哲學則有亞里斯多德主張之永恆不動的實體,或稱為神,作為不生不滅的唯一本體;以上都屬於建立而不能一再實證,故只是思想,並非生命與萬有的實相。然而宇宙和生命起源之根本原因,在佛教中並非思想上的建立法,而是實有及可以由多人一再驗證的,即是無量無邊的有情各皆本有不生不滅、不增不減的真實心,在北傳大乘聖典中稱為如來藏、我、阿賴耶識、異熟識、無垢識、第八識、識、如、真心、真如、非心心等,在南傳聖典中說為本際、識、入胎識、阿賴耶識等,皆是不生不滅的本體之異名;這個本識是可以由多人一再實證檢驗的,並非思想研究上的建立法,而是本有法,並且是歷久彌新而不會改變其創造有情、山河大地的功能,是佛陀宣說三乘經典的核心要旨,也是本學報論述的重點。

在本期創刊號中,有以下三篇論文發表:

  1. 《阿含經》對存有之定義     (蔡禮政)
  2. 《阿含經》十四難有記無記之再議
      ──兼論文獻證據等效原則  (林偉仁)
  3. 略評釋印順的《以佛法研究佛法》 (游冥鴻)
蔡禮政著作的〈《阿含經》對存有之定義〉,討論哲學中存有論、知識論,並旁及方法論。作者從西方哲學的第一哲學命題——存有論(ontology)——出發,指出西方世界對宇宙和生命根源的論述並非知識。然後進一步證明在佛教的《阿含經》中,也有對於本原存有命題的論述,但完全是以實證的方式加以定義,可稱之為「正住者」或「取陰俱識」,皆是如來藏的異名。有別於西方哲學認為生命根源是不可知、不可證的純比量論述,《阿含經》中對「存有」命題的論述具足三量,是釋迦牟尼佛「自心現量」的親證。而且任何人經由佛陀的種種分別及說明,也都可能知覺或親證「正住者」的屬性與功能,但是實證的關鍵在於方法論。作者同時引證《阿含經》,提出對「本原存有」之定義、必然成立之三個要件,並且根據第一個成立要件引申出三個操作性判斷原則,作為實證「正住者」存在之極具科學實驗精神的驗證方法。

林偉仁著作之〈《阿含經》十四難有記無記之再議〉,係對於中華佛學研究所「世尊對『有自性的存有』是存而不論,所謂『十四無記』」的主張,重新加以探討,以正確的研究方法而楷定之。作者認為中華佛學研究所對於文獻證據的採用,確有偏頗之情形而造成錯誤的結論,因此主張文獻的採用應嚴格遵守「文獻證據等效原則」,否則無法獲得正確的結論。作者以此原則重新檢視佛陀對「十四難」提問者的答覆是有記或者無記,端視提問者是否具備應有的知見以及理性求知的態度,並非無視於所有問難者的程度而全然地無記。作者極具創意地提出「全等命題」的觀點,認為「六十二見」是所有外道存有命題的天網地羅,「十四難」是此天羅地網的綱目,進而可將「十四難」歸納為唯一一個存有命題──「如來藏真實存在」。本文在文獻學方法論上樹立應該嚴謹遵守的原則,在詮釋學上提出全等命題的詮釋方式,皆屬創見。游冥鴻著作的〈略評釋印順的《以佛法研究佛法》〉中,作者認為釋印順在《以佛法研究佛法》書中,將唯一實相印和三法印做為研究佛法的方法而不是檢驗的方法,是犯了邏輯上倒果為因的嚴重錯誤,進而闡明親證才是正確的研究方法。作者並對釋印順將傳統佛教中,以如來藏為修證中心的禪宗判為真常唯心系而說是「富有外道神我色彩」的思想提出質疑,認為釋印順將真常唯心的禪宗和外道神我思想混為一談,是極不恰當的。本文嚴格遵守三量原則,在方法論上進行探討,最後歸結:研究佛法仍應以實證為最主要的方法,以免探討的結果產生偏差。在佛學學術界亦屬創見。

以上三篇論文中,前面兩篇所討論的議題,集中於佛教中可實證的「存有」命題之探討,也就是佛教聖典中所說的不生不滅、常恆存在、如如不動的如來藏之「存有」命題的探討。此兩篇論文亦同時旁及方法論的探討,其中一篇並提出採用文獻應該具體依循的原則。第三篇則是針對哲學論述的方法論,進行深入地探討與評論。此三篇論文,在台灣佛學界以哲學為進路的作品中,均屬難得一見的優秀著作。

本學報編審的精神著重在嚴格遵守三量原則。因為佛學研究唯有嚴格遵守三量原則,才能達成學術界追求真理的目標,以及達成佛學研究特有企求於佛法義學的崇高目標。本學報創刊的重要因緣之一是:我們發現台灣現行佛學學術論文的部分編審系統,已有捨棄三量原則而嚴重失真,導致「編、審」的「審」已經失效的現象,如此將導致學術界所崇尚的「求真」之科學精神,以及佛法義學逐漸在佛學學術界消失的隱憂。

所有的學報或期刊編審體系,基本上應由二個部分組成,才能使得「求真」之科學精神得以確保:一、行政流程標準化的建立;二、以學術專業原則進行實質審查。這二個部分各有其執行標準,以確保其有效性;其中第二部分以學術專業原則執行實質審查,是學報或期刊編審有效性的關鍵。佛教三藏中的論藏可以相對於現代佛學著作或學術論文,而在唐代釋玄奘時便已建立現量、比量、至教量之三量原則,作為論藏的研究準繩。我們認為此三量原則即使在現代,仍然應該被所有佛學學術研究者所共同遵循,是所有佛學學術論文撰寫者應遵守的原則,也是所有編審體系所應依循的審查標準。若是佛學論文不能恪守三量的原則,則是不堪錄用的論文;而編審體系如果喪失三量的一致性,則已明顯失去編審的鑑別力。這是台灣佛學學術界的危機,本學報緣於這危機而創刊,也必然永遠以嚴格遵守三量原則作為編審論文的自我期許。

學術研究者期望扮演帶領社會發現事實真相的角色,這些事實真相經過再三地驗證之後,才可能逐漸成為普遍的共識。學術研究者既想要扮演社會「先知」的角色,如果不能夠具有嚴謹的「求真」態度,將會誤導大眾,進而導致整個社會的危機,亦令自己成為代表「無知」的角色,違遠於「先知」角色的追求。我們會有這種擔憂的理由是:本期論文〈《阿含經》對存有之定義〉,曾經投稿於中華佛學研究所,而中華佛學研究所回覆不予刊登該論文的理由中,出現許多論點都是違反學術界「求真」之科學精神與佛法義學的目標。本學報基於尊重著作權的關係,無法刊登中華佛學研究所回覆的全部信函。因此僅藉由刊登論文作者蔡禮政回覆中華佛學研究所的信函,如附錄一~四,來加以評論。對於作者回覆信函中引述中華佛學研究所原文之內容,本刊聲明已經確實盡到查證之責。

在中華佛學研究所的審查意見書中(註:請參考附錄一〈作者回應書〉,本學報,頁139-144;英文版,頁241-247),以「乃至於許多主張違背大家公認的看法」作為不予推薦的部分理由,而沒有明確指出大家公認的看法為何,但此種審查意見明顯違反一般學術審查的原則。學術界的角色在於發現事實真相以形成共識,但前提是這些共識在學術界已被確認為事實真相。因此在某一論述還沒成為學術界已確認的真相之前,不可以把該少數人的不正確論述當做「大家公認的看法」,進而作為審查理由而否定學術論文中的另外一種不同論述;審查的標準應該在於是否遵守佛法義學三量原則的正確方法,而非結論的異同,如此才能發現真相。更何況在審查意見書中,對何謂「大家公認的看法」之論述觀點也都沒有交代。這是極權時代才會有的思想檢查,而非學術研究的精神,違反學術自由的根本原則,是中華佛研所編審體系的實質審查失效的現象之一。

論文中作者以正確的研究方法所提出的創見,是對於事實的新發現,所以才稱之為創見;或者是由於以往研究方法的錯誤,以致對於事實真相加以否定,或產生普遍的錯誤認知,後來經過正確的研究方法而重新回歸正確的認知,亦可稱之為創見。因此創見雖然有可能「違背大家公認的看法」,但如果其研究方法正確,論述符合邏輯與學理,對於學術界「求真」的目標與佛法義學,皆有正面的貢獻,則此創見應該被追求真相的學術研究編審體系客觀的認同,除非編審者能提出合於學術精神的反駁理由。例如十六世紀哥白尼提出「日心說」,認為地球應該是以太陽為中心,圍繞著太陽運轉,而不是當時大家公認的看法「地心說」——所有的星體都是以地球為中心而作圓周運動。哥白尼現量觀察:如果地球是所有星體運行的中心,那麼從地球上觀察到天空中的行星,行星的遠近應該是固定的;但事實卻不然,行星看起來卻是時遠時近的。此天文學的例子說明了現量的重要,也同時說明大家公認的看法不一定是正確的真相。此部分經過作者的申辯後,中華佛學研究所接受申辯而重新審查。由此可知其審查體系的行政流程仍具部分有效性,值得加以肯定。

然而中華佛學研究所在後續的審查意見書中(註:請參考附錄二〈作者回應書(二)〉,本學報,頁145-168,英文版,頁249-280),審查委員對於討論真理的論述,卻相當值得商榷。審查委員認為:「對真理的討論,理證即可;對實相的檢討,須具法眼、慧眼鑑定世俗聞量(包括聖言量、文獻學處理)、比量(包含邏輯學、方法學如詮釋學的調理)、現量(日常生活、宗教生活可印證者)」。從審查委員的語意——「對實相的檢討,須具法眼、慧眼鑑定世俗聞量、比量、現量」,可知應是認同三量的標準。但是在同一段中,卻又說「對真理的討論,理證即可」,不贊同必須現量實證,顯然前後二句彼此矛盾。如果對真理的討論,比量的理論上證明即可,而不必現量實證法界實相或解脫,則表示對於世俗聞量(聖言量、文獻學的處理)的鑑定,也只要有比量的理論證明即可,根本不須法眼、慧眼。反之,如果主張對實相的檢討,須具有法眼、慧眼來鑑定世俗聞量,那麼就表示對真理的討論,不能只是比量的理論證明而已,必須具有現量實證所產生的法眼、慧眼;除非審查委員主張實相與真理二者無關而且截然不同,除非審查委員認為法眼、慧眼的獲得與現量實證法界實相無關。但如果法眼、慧眼的獲得與現量實證法界實相無關,那麼對於實相的檢討何必要有法眼、慧眼方能鑑別三量?從審查委員自相矛盾的敘述,可以觀察到該所編審體系本身無法維持論理的一致性與合理性。也就是說三量中之比量邏輯,編審體系本身就沒有邏輯論述的一致性,尚且不具論文寫作的能力,如何能夠審查別人?這也是我們觀察到該所編審體系的實質審查失效的現象之一。

對於中華佛學研究所編審體系的實質審查失效的現象,我們不想完整具足論述之。我們只是將之作為未來本學報編審所應引以為鑑的案例。我們認為一個學術單位的編審功能,若只有行政流程功能有效而實質審查功能失效,那麼此一學報探究真相的功能就是失效的,也失去了存在的價值。

學術機構創立的目的及資金的獲得,不論是私人或者公立的學術機構,它們代表著背後廣大的贊助者或者人民之託付。因此學術機構忠誠地實踐其理念,即是回報廣大贊助者的託付,也是誠實面對社會大眾而負起言責的基本道德。中華佛學研究所在〈創辦人及其創所理念〉中說:「(聖嚴)法師亦秉其剃度師東初老和尚之提醒:『汝當作大宗教家,切勿為宗教學者。』」(註:引自中華佛學研究所-創辦人及其創所理念,網址http://www.chibs.edu.tw/founder/c_index. htm,2007/10/4擷取)顯然中華佛學研究所是以宗教家作為創立的目標,並非只是一所純粹宗教學者的機構,因此才能獲得廣大佛弟子的極力支持與贊助。

我們觀察論文作者後續寫給法鼓山釋聖嚴的信件(註:請參考附錄三、四,〈致聖嚴法師信函〉、〈致聖嚴法師信函(二)〉,本學報,頁169-180),顯然中華佛學研究所的創辦人以及研究所本身,已經完全捨棄東初老和尚所提醒的創立理念:「當作大宗教家,切勿為宗教學者。」我們從〈作者回應書(二)〉及後續的信函中可以得知,中華佛學研究所完全採納審查委員否定佛教禪宗實證如來藏的精神與可能性,釋聖嚴亦完全認可中華佛學研究所編審委員會否定實證如來藏的可能性之立場。然而,法鼓山網站說明釋聖嚴的禪學思想:「(聖嚴)法師的禪法雖承繼中國禪宗的法脈,卻不至於因為中國禪宗的如來藏思想色彩,而被視為真常的神我、梵我的問題。」(註:引自法鼓山全球資訊網首頁>聖嚴法師>法師禪風>主要禪學思想,網址http://www.ddm. org.tw/ddm/master/main.aspx?cateid=244&contentid=1018,2007/10/4擷取)釋聖嚴既然與論文作者同樣主張中國禪宗是以如來藏作為實證的目標,而且如來藏與神我、梵我完全不同。那麼當釋聖嚴同意中華佛學研究所否定論文作者以三量證明如來藏的實證性時,也就同時否定自己的禪學思想成立的可能性,明顯是自相矛盾的。中國禪宗法脈的大宗教家皆以實證如來藏作為開悟明心的標準,作為發起慧眼、法眼的基礎,而隸屬釋聖嚴宗教體系的中華佛研所現代宗教學者的審查委員,卻否定釋聖嚴揭櫫的如來藏實證性的宗旨。當釋聖嚴選擇同意宗教學者否定如來藏的實證性,而不認同中國禪宗大宗教家實證如來藏的可能性時,就表示釋聖嚴在大宗教家與宗教學者間,捨棄了大宗教家應該堅持實證法界實相如來藏的作為,而選擇作為一個否定實證如來藏的宗教學者;也就是說釋聖嚴已經否定自己是中國禪宗法脈的繼承者,同時捨棄創立理念中應當作宗教家的承諾,卻扮演起自己承諾切勿為宗教學者的世俗宗教學者角色。

然而透過法鼓山網站的另外一篇文章名為〈緣起就是性空〉的內涵,即可知道原來農禪寺釋聖嚴號稱的「承繼中國禪宗的法脈」,其實乃是假借弘揚實證如來藏法之名,實際上卻仍是落入斷滅論外道的邪見之中,因為他們認為:

一切事物都是因緣生,沒有實在不變的性質,這是性空的意義。因緣生的事物,經常在改變,因素改變了,它就跟著變了。例如「農禪寺」,雖然名字一直叫農禪寺,但人數在變動,素質也因訓練、熏習而改變,沒有一個不變的、固定的農禪寺。農禪寺沒有固定不變的自性叫做「性空」。性空因為緣起,加一個因素,減一個因素,現象事物就改變,會變就表示不具有不變的性質,所以叫作空性或性空…(中略)如來藏是真空──由如來藏緣起觀得解脫。如來藏本身就是真空的。如來藏分二:空如來藏與不空如來藏。空如來藏是佛;不空如來藏分二,眾生(迷,隨染緣)與佛(悟,隨淨緣)。如來藏如果不隨緣,就不可能有如來藏。真空就是如來藏,「如來藏」是一個假名,沒有一個真正的東西叫如來藏。真空而隨緣,從佛的立場說,這隨緣就是妙有。所以如來藏非第一因,不是梵我。能實證如來藏的真空,就是從如來藏緣起觀而得解脫。

(註:引自法鼓山全球資訊網首頁>佛學教育>佛學教室。網址:http://oldweb.ddm.org.tw/index.asp,2007/03/21擷取。[編註:2007/11/20查核時,前述文章在該網站中已被刪除。])

從法鼓山網站上的這樣說法就可以明白,法鼓山的堂頭和尚釋聖嚴為什麼會同意其所創辦的中華佛學研究所之編審委員的作法,任其否定實證如來藏的可能性之立場,因此釋聖嚴號稱「承繼中國禪宗的法脈」,其實是與中國禪宗傳統實證如來藏的事實相違背,實乃名不符實者,亦違學術界「求真」的態度與立場。

佛學學術研究不只是學術,應該同時是實證涅槃、實證解脫的義學,而禪宗佛教實證宇宙萬有真相而獲得解脫的原理只有一種,就是實證如來藏的本來清淨涅槃,不可能同樣是主張實證如來藏時,卻對於實證如來藏有完全不同的定義。因此法界實相如來藏是宇宙萬有起源的唯一真理,沒有所謂學派見解的差別。如果佛學學術研究的成果,不是能夠有助於佛教界實證解脫、涅槃的義學,那麼也就違背佛學學術研究發現佛法事實真相的最終目的。如果佛學學術研究只是成為一些僧侶與學者汲取世間名聞利養的事業,為了避免彼此影響名聞利養,而對彼此研究成果的錯誤相互掩護,井水不犯河水地相安無事,那麼佛學研究連世俗的學術研究目的也不可能達到,更何況是實證解脫的佛法義學。

對於中華佛研所及其創辦人,背棄自己創所理念的作為,我們不敢苟同。法鼓山是藉佛教中四方檀越的信施所設立,中華佛學研究所及其創辦人背棄四方施主追求真相的信施,是其自由選擇,將來自負因果,我們無權干涉,但我們將引以為鑑。對於佛教中四方檀越是否繼續贊助背棄創立理念的機構,這些為數眾多的施主是否繼續贊助此類破壞如來藏正法的機構而成就破壞正法的共業,成就今世及未來無量世實證佛法的障礙,則應交由此等四方檀越自己來判斷,我們不便置喙。

本學報秉承四方無數佛弟子護持如來藏正法的託付,編審群將謹記正覺教育基金會弘揚實證如來藏義學的創會目標,以戰戰兢兢的態度,嚴格恪守論藏三量的原則,以及「求真」的科學精神,促使佛學學術界回歸義學的道路而離棄玄學思想的岔路,使得釋迦牟尼佛宣示如來藏正法的光明可以再度普照今日的娑婆世界。

總編輯
白志偉 謹識
公元 二○○七年 十月 十日



Volume 1 Editorial Note

Pursuing the truth of the universe and life is always the most important topic in the human knowledge activity, no matter in the Eastern or Western religions or philosophies, or in the past or present. The establishment of Buddhism had the same objective too. But the unique difference between Buddhism and all other religions or philosophies is that Buddhism is not just a theory or thought; it had been established on the base of "personal realization," and describes the truth of the universe and life, which can be actually practiced and verified rather than a conceptual theory or thought. The founder of Buddhism, Buddha Sakyamuni, realized the truth of the universe and life in person, and became a buddha accordingly two thousand and five hundred more years ago. Within forty-nine years, He made three rounds of dharma transmission to completely expound the process and content of His practice of attaining Buddhahood for eons in this and previous lives. All those teachings, which were recorded and compiled as the three-vehicle Buddhist sutras by His followers, are Buddha Sakyamuni's "real experience of personal practice and realization." Therefore, in order to completely and correctly understand the meanings of the sutras, "personal practice and realization" to verify them is the only way. It explains why the "Positivist Buddhism" is emphasized in this Journal.

The correct understanding of sutras, which Buddhism focuses on, leads to the personal realization of liberation finally. The study of Buddhist theory, based on truly understanding the sutras, aims to personally realize liberation too. Therefore, the core target of the Buddhist study should be the realization of liberation through precise interpretation of the sutras. In order to personally realize the theory of four kinds of nirvana, which is the dharma realm reality, the Buddhist study must follow the right methodology of the three-ways-of-knowing—knowing by personal experience, logical inference and ultimate teachings—which were established in the Treatise on the Stages of Yoga Practice, preached by Bodhisattva Maitreya and translated into Chinese by Bodhisattva Xuanzang of the Tang Dynasty. Regarding knowing by personal experience, it is someone's personal verification of the true reality in the dharma realm, including his actual experience of the realization of the truth, with which he can be sure of the correctness of his cognition. But for lack of wisdom, sentient beings have very few knowledge about the true reality of the dharma realm. Therefore, we should rely on Buddha's ultimate teachings, which are the whole content of His personal experience of Buddhist practice. According to the ultimate teachings, we can follow the way that Buddha had gone through, compare the deviation between our realization and Buddha's in each stage, correct our practice and realization accordingly if necessary, and thus advance toward the Buddhahood. As for knowing by logical inference, it is the inference that uses the truth of the dharma realm as the premise, and then one can make correct conclusions through strictly logical processes and increase the wisdom finally. The methodology using above-mentioned three-ways-of-knowing and the principle of debate not only conforms to the scientific spirit of objectively pursuing the truth that academia emphasizes, but also can obtain the real wisdom of the universe and life, which is beyond the knowledge of current science.

Although there are lots of different theories and methods among Eastern or Western religions and philosophy societies in the past or present, they, except nihilism, all have a consensus that "the root cause of the origin of the arising-and-ceasing universe and life must be the fundamental substance with neither-arising-nor-ceasing nature." Based on this consensus, Catholicism and Christianity built up God, Islamism built up Allah, Indian Brahmanism built up Mahabrahma, and in the Western philosophy, Aristotle built up a permanent and non-moving substance, or called god, as the neither-arising-nor-ceasing fundamental substance. However in Buddhism, the root cause of the origin of the universe and life is not a conceptual build-up. Instead, it really exists and can be verified by any qualified persons. It is the neither-arising-nor-ceasing and neither-increasing-nor- decreasing true mind, which each of all countless sentient beings originally and independently has and is called Tathagatagarbha, self, the womb-entering consciousness, the eighth consciousness, the consciousness, suchness, the true mind, true-suchness, the non-minded mind, etc. in the sutras of Mahayana Buddhism, or called the origin, the consciousness, the womb-entering consciousness, the Alaya consciousness, etc. in the sutras of Theravada Buddhism; all are the aliases of the neither-arising-nor-ceasing fundamental substance. This root consciousness can be realized, verified and investigated by any qualified persons repeatedly, and is the originally existing dharma rather than a conceptual build-up. Its function of creating the universe and life has never changed since the beginningless eons. It is the core essence of Buddha's three-vehicle sutras, and also the focal point of this Journal.

In this first issue, there are three papers published as follows:

  1. The Definition of Being in The Agama Sutras (Tsai Lichen)
  2. A Further Discussion on the Fourteen Questions of Identification in The Agama Sutras
    --Also on the Principle of Equal Effectiveness for Documental Evidence (Lin Weizen)
  3. Brief Comments on Shi Yinshun's Studying Buddha Dharma by Buddha Dharma (Yu Minghong)

The Definition of Being in The Agama Sutras, by Tsai Lichen, discusses ontology and epistemology of philosophy, and also touches methodology. The author starts this topic from the first philosophic proposition of Western philosophy—ontology—and points out that the discourse on the origin of the universe and life in the Western world is not a kind of knowledge. Then he further proves that there are discourses on the proposition of the being of Principle in The Agama Sutras of Buddhism, which define the being of Principle by the way of personal realization. It is called "the true dweller" or "the consciousness staying together with the five aggregates," which is also the alias of Tathagatagarbha. Unlike the demonstration with pure inference of the Western philosophers who think the origin of life is unperceivable and unverifiable, the discourse of the proposition of being in The Agama Sutras possesses the complete three-ways-of-knowing, and is Buddha's personal experience of the realization. In addition, any person, through Buddha's lots of discrimination and explanations, can personally perceive or realize the attributes and functions of "the true dweller" too. For one's personal realization of the true dweller, the critical point is the right methodology. The author also brings up, by citing The Agama Sutras, the definition of the being of Principle and three corresponding necessary conditions, and according to the first necessary condition, induces three operative judging rules, which conforms to the experimental and scientific spirit, as the verifying method of the true dweller.

A Further Discussion on the Fourteen Questions of Identification in The Agama Sutras, by Lin Weizen, reexamines the claim of "The World-honored One did not comment on 'the being with intrinsic natures,' which is called 'fourteen avyakatas (no-identifications),'" by The Chung-Hwa Institute of Buddhist Studies, and corrects that claim with the right methodology. The author thinks that The Chung-Hwa Institute of Buddhist Studies has a preference for adopting specific documental evidence but ignoring others, and thus makes the error conclusion. He claims that the adoption of the referred documents should strictly comply with "the principle of equal effectiveness for documental evidence," otherwise the correct conclusion cannot be reached. The author uses this principle to reexamine whether Buddha's answers to the fourteen questions are identifiable or non-identifiable. Then he concludes that whether Buddha's answer is identifiable or non-identifiable depends on if the questioner has the required knowledge and the rational attitude toward pursuing learning or not, rather than no-identification in all cases. The author also creatively proposes the viewpoint of "congruent proposition" to summarize all the non-Buddhist views into "the sixty-two views," to condense the sixty-two views to "the fourteen questions," and further to summarize the fourteen questions into a single proposition of being—"the real existence of Tathagatagarbha." This article brings up the principle of philological methodology that should be followed strictly, and the interpretation method of congruent proposition in hermeneutics. Both are very creative ideas.

In the Brief Comments on Shi Yinshun's Studying of Buddha Dharma by Buddha Dharma, the author, Yu Minghong, thinks that Shi Yinshun made a severe logical mistake to "regard the result as the cause" in Studying Buddha Dharma Based on Buddha Dharma by using both the unique reality-seal and the three-dharma-seals as the methods to study the Buddha dharma. He further elaborates that the personal realization is the correct way instead. The author also queries Shi Yinshun's discourse that regards the Zen School of traditional Buddhism, which is categorized into the group of true permanent mind-only by Yinshun, as the Divine-self thought of non-Buddhism, and thinks that Yinshun's discourse is extremely improper. This article completely follows the principle of the three-ways-of-knowing, explores the issues based on the right methodology, and finally concludes that the personal realization should be the most important method to study Buddhism and to avoid any deviation during logical inference. It is also a creative idea in the Buddhist academia.

Among these three papers, the topics of the first two concentrate on the exploration of the proposition of "being" in Buddhism, which is personally realizable, i.e., exploring the proposition of the "existence" of Tathagatagarbha, which is described as having the natures of neither-arising- nor-ceasing, permanent existing and non-moving in the Buddhist sutras. Both papers also explore the methodology; one of them proposes a principle that document researchers should strictly follow. The third paper discusses the methodology of philosophic discourse, and provides related exploration and comments in depth. All three papers are superb writings among the publications in the philosophic study of Taiwanese Buddhist academia.

The review spirit of this Journal emphasizes on strict compliance with the three-ways-of- knowing. Only with this spirit, can the Buddhist academic study fulfill the targets of both objectively pursuing the truth and precisely interpreting the Buddhist sutras. One of the important reasons for us to publish this Journal is that we find current paper review system of Taiwanese Buddhist academia seems to give up the principle of the three-ways-of-knowing and thus becomes almost inactive. We worry that this situation will lead to the extinction of the spirits of both objectively pursuing the truth and precisely interpreting the sutras in the Buddhist academia.

To ensure the scientific spirit of pursuing the truth, the paper review system of all bulletins or journals should be composed of two parts: 1. the establishment of standard review procedure, and 2. the real review work with academic professional principles. Both parts should follow their operating standards to make the review system effective. Between these two, the latter is the key for the paper review system to be effective. In Chinese Tang Dynasty, Bodhisattva Xuanzang had established the principle of the three-ways-of-knowing as the criterion for studying the Buddhist treatises, which are similar to the Buddhist writings or academic papers nowadays. Even in modern times, this principle can still be applied in the Buddhist academia. It should be the common standard for the academic researchers, the paper writers, and the paper reviewers of Buddhism. If any Buddhist paper cannot conform to this principle of the three-ways-of-knowing, it should not be published; if any paper review system does not follow this principle, it will lose its capability of review. The neglect of this principle is a crisis of current Taiwanese Buddhist academia. Due to the crisis, this Journal is published, and thus we promise to strictly follow the principle of the three-ways-of-knowing to review papers.

The academic researchers usually expect themselves to play the role of finding the truth of the fact and leading the society. The truth of the fact should be verified repeatedly and then gradually becomes the public consensus. As the role of "the seers," if the academic researchers cannot have a strict attitude toward pursuing the truth, they will mislead the public, and lead the whole society to a crisis finally. Then, they will become the role of "the ignorant" rather than "the seers." The reason why we have this worry is the author of The Definition of Being in The Agama Sutras once submitted his article to the Chung-Hwa Buddhist Studies but The Chung-Hwa Institute of Buddhist Studies, the publisher of that Journal, rejected his article with some reasons that violate both the scientific spirit of pursuing the truth and the goal of precisely interpreting the sutras. For the concern at intellectual property rights, we cannot publish the reply letters of the Institute. Therefore, we can only comment on them based on the author's reply letters to the Institute. (Refer to Appendices A and B, pp.241-280.) For those contents of the letters cited in the Appendices, we have fulfilled our obligation to check their correctness of citation.

In the reviewers' comments from the Institute (reference to Appendix A, pp.241-247), the editor rejected the article with the statement of "His many claims even violate the viewpoint that the public all agree," as a part of the reasons, and did not provide any further explanation about what viewpoint the public all agree. Obviously, this kind of comment violates the principle of general academic review. The role of academia is to find the truth of the fact, and then let it become the consensus. But before becoming the consensus, this finding should be verified as the truth of the fact in academia first. If any discourse has not been verified as the truth yet, we should not regard that discourse, which is claimed by only a few persons, as "the viewpoint that the public all agree," and therefore use that uncertain discourse as the reason to negate another discourse that has the different viewpoint. The reviewers should examine if the article complies with the methodology of the principle of the three-ways-of-knowing, rather than examine if the conclusions agree with the reviewers' personal preference. By this way, the truth of the fact can be found. In addition, there is no explanation on the content of "the viewpoint that the public all agree" in the review comments of the Institute. This is a thought inspection under despotism, but does not conform to the academic research spirit. It violates the fundamental principle of academic freedom, and is one of the inactiveness phenomena of the Institute's paper review system.

A creative paper can either be a new finding of the fact, which has never been disclosed before, based on the right methodology, or a correction of the old viewpoint, which was brought up due to the wrong recognition of the fact. Both ways are identified by the usage of the precise methodology and the conformity with the fact. Although some creative viewpoints may "violate the viewpoint that the public all agree," if they are based on the right methodology and conform to the logical inference and theory, they all have the positive contributions to the academic targets of objectively pursuing the truth and precisely interpreting the sutras. Therefore, these viewpoints should be recognized by the paper review system, which always claims to pursue the truth, except that the reasons of negation are reasonable and based on the right methodology too. For example, in the sixteenth century, Nicolaus Copernicus proposed the viewpoint of "Heliocentricism" and thought that the Earth moves around the Sun rather than the public consensus of "Geocentricism"—all stars moving around the Earth. He personally observed that if the Earth were at the center of the moving stars, the distances between stars and the Earth should be constant. But from his real observation, the distances changed with time and this fact could not support Geocentricism. The above example explains the importance of personal realization, and also reflects the fact that the public consensus may not be the real truth. After the author argued this point based on the reasonable evidence, the Institute agreed to reexamine his article. This shows that the paper review procedure of the Institute is still partially effective.

Nevertheless, the follow-up review comment about the discourse of the truth from the Institute is highly questionable. (Refer to Appendix B, pp.249-280.) The reviewers state, "Regarding the discussion of the truth, theoretical evidence is enough; as for the self-examination of the true reality, both the dharma-eye and wisdom-eye are required to appraise the worldly documents (including the treatment of saints' teachings and philology), logical inference (including the management of logic and methodology like hermeneutics) and personal experience (including the things being able to be verified in both daily and religious life)." The reviewers' statement of "as for the self-examination of the true reality, both the dharma-eye and wisdom-eye are required to appraise the worldly documents, logical inference and personal experience," means that the standard of the three-ways-of-knowing is recognized by the committee. But in the same passage, the other statement of "Regarding the discussion of the truth, theoretical evidence is enough," means that the personal realization is not necessary for the discussion of the truth. Both statements conflict with each other. If the discussion of the truth only requires the evidence of theoretical inference rather than the personal realization of the truth or liberation, it implies that the appraisal of worldly documents (saints' teachings and philology), similar to the discussion of the truth, only requires the evidence of theoretical inference as well, but needs neither the dharma-eye nor wisdom-eye at all. Conversely, if the self-examination of the true reality requires both the dharma-eye and wisdom-eye to appraise the worldly documents, it implies that the discussion of the truth requires not only the evidence of theoretical inference but also both the dharma-eye and wisdom-eye, which are obtained through the personal realization of the true reality. From the reviewers' two completely contradictory statements, we find the paper review system of the Institute cannot keep its consistency and rationality of reasoning. That is to say, regarding the logical inference in the three-ways-of-knowing, the paper review system itself does not have the capability to keep its consistency of the logical reasoning, and the members of it thus do not have the capability of writing papers. How can this system possess the capability to review others' papers? This is another inactiveness phenomenon of the paper review system in the Institute that we have observed.

It is not our intention to discuss in detail the inactiveness phenomena of the real review work of the paper review system in The Chung-Hwa Institute of Buddhist Studies. By referring to this case, we just want to remind ourselves to avoid the same situation happening in our paper review system. We think both the standard review procedure and the real review work of a paper review system are important. The inactiveness of either one will make the paper review function of the whole system be disabled, and thus make the function of pursuing the truth of the journal ineffective as well.

Regardless whether an academic institute is private or public, both the objective of establishment and the acquisition of fund represent the trust from a large number of its sponsors or citizens. Therefore, it is in return for the sponsors and responsible to the public if the academic institute can faithfully fulfill its original vision. In About the Founder and His Vision on The Chung-Hwa Institute of Buddhist Studies, it states, "The master [Editor's note: Shi Shengyen] also completely follows his tonsure master Dongchu's advice of 'being a great religionist, but not a religious scholar.'"(About the Founder and His Vision on The Chung-Hwa Institute of Buddhist Studies, The Chung-Hwa Institute of Buddhist Studies, Website, 2007/10/4 retrieved.) Obviously, the objective of The Chung-Hwa Institute of Buddhist Studies is to be an institute of religionists rather than just an institute of religious scholars. Due to this great objective, the Institute can obtain the support and sponsorship from a vast number of Buddha's followers.

From the author's follow-up letters to Shi Shengyen, (Refer to Appendices 3 and 4, pp.169-180, no translation in English.) both the founder of the Institute and the Institute itself have apparently given up their establishment mission of "being a great religionist, but not a religious scholar," which was reminded by the old monk Dongchu. In Appendix 4 and the related following communication, we find that The Chung-Hwa Institute of Buddhist Studies completely adopts the reviewers' viewpoint, which totally negates the possibility of personal realization of Tathagatagarbha in Zen School, and Shi Shengyen also fully supports this standpoint of both the Institute and the reviewers. However, it is stated on the website of Dharma Drum Mountain about Shi Shengyen's thought of Zen School, "Although the master [Editor's note: Shi Shengyen] inherits the dharma stream of Chinese Zen School, he is not regarded, due to his Tathagatagarbha thought of Chinese Zen School, as having the true permanent Divine-self or Brahma-self thought."(Major Zen Thought, Master's Zen Style, Master Shengyen, Dharma Drum Mountain Worldwide Web, Website, 2007/10/4 retrieved.) The above statement means Shi Shengyen also claims that Tathagatagarbha is the target of personal realization in Chinese Zen School, which is the same as the author's claim, and that Tathagatagarbha is completely different from the Divine-self or Brahma-self thought. Based on this statement, when Shi Shengyen agrees to the Institute's viewpoint that negates the possibility of personal realization of Tathagatagarbha, which is proved to be possible by the author, he negates the possibility of his own thought of Zen School as well at the same time. It is an obvious contradiction. All the great religionists in the dharma stream of Chinese Zen School regard the personal realization of Tathagatagarbha as the criteria of enlightenment, and as the base to bring forth the wisdom-eye and dharma-eye. Nevertheless, the scholars who belong to The Chung-Hwa Institute of Buddhist Studies of Shi Shengyen's religious system negate his mission statement of advocating the personal realization of Tathagatagarbha. When Shi Shengyen supports his religious scholars to negate the realization of Tathagatagarbha, which is the criteria of enlightenment of the religionists of Chinese Zen School, it implies that he has chosen the role of a religious scholar rather than a great religionist, who should insist on realizing Tathagatagarbha—the true reality of the dharma realm. From this standpoint, he also negates himself as an inheritor of the dharma stream of Chinese Zen School, gives up his commitment as a religionist, and becomes a worldly religious scholar.

Nevertheless, through the contents of Dependent-Arising Being the Emptiness of Natures, which was on the website of Dharma Drum Mountain, it is shown that Shi Shengyen of Nongchan Temple and his followers, proclaiming as "inheriting the dharma stream of Chinese Zen School," are only using the name of spreading the dharma of personally realizing Tathagatagarbha, but in fact teaching the false view of non-Buddhist nihilism instead. They think,

"Everything is generated by conditions and has no real and unchangeable characteristic. This is the meaning of the emptiness of natures. The things generated by conditions change frequently; the factors change and then the things change accordingly. For example, although the name of this temple is always called Nongchan Temple, the number of persons is changing, the quality is changing due to training and permeation, and hence an unchangeable and constant Nongchan Temple does not exist. The situation of "Nongchan Temple does not have a permanent and unchangeable intrinsic nature," is called 'the emptiness of natures.' The emptiness of natures results from dependent-arising; the phenomenon of things will change through adding or subtracting a factor; anything that is changeable does not have the unchangeable characteristic; therefore it is called emptiness nature or the emptiness of natures. ... Tathagatagarbha is a vacuum state—attaining liberation based on the view of Tathagatagarbha's dependent-arising. Tathagatagarbha itself is a vacuum state. Tathagatagarbha has two parts: Empty Tathagatagarbha and non-empty Tathagatagarbha. Empty Tathagatagarbha is a buddha. Non-empty Tathagatagarbha also has two parts: A sentient being (confused, the condition of following defilement) and a buddha (enlightened, the condition of following cleanness). If Tathagatagarbha does not follow conditions, it is impossible to have Tathagatagarbha. A vacuum state is Tathagatagarbha; Tathagatagarbha is only a set-up name; there is no real thing that is called Tathagatagarbha. Keeping in the vacuum state but following conditions, from Buddha's standpoint, this conditions-following is the wondrous existence. Therefore, Tathagatagarbha is not the first cause or the Brahma-self. If someone can personally realize the vacuum state of Tathagatagarbha, he has attained liberation based on the view of Tathagatagarbha's dependent-arising." (The Classroom of Buddhist Theory, The Education of Buddhist Theory, Dharma Drum Mountain Worldwide Web, Website http://oldweb.ddm.org.tw/index.asp, 2007/03/21 retrieved. [Editor's note on 2007/11/20: this passage on the website having been deleted.])

The above sayings from the website of Dharma Drum Mountain clearly explain why Shi Shengyen, the leader of Dharma Drum Mountain, agrees with the review committee of his institute to negate the possibility of personally realizing Tathagatagarbha. Therefore, Shi Shengyen's proclamation of "inheriting the dharma stream of Chinese Zen School" actually contradicts the fact of "personally realizing Tathagatagarbha of the Chinese Zen School tradition." His proclamation does not consist with the real fact and violate both the attitude and the standpoint of "pursuing the truth" in academia.

The Buddhist academic study is not only an academic study but also a practical theory of the personal realization of both nirvana and liberation. There is only one principle to realize the truth of the universe and obtain liberation in Buddhist Zen School, i.e., personally verifying the inherent and pristine nirvana of Tathagatagarbha. It is impossible to believe in the personal realization of Tathagatagarbha while having different definitions of the realization. Tathagatagarbha, the reality of dharma realm, is the unique truth of the origin of the universe and life. The precise understanding of It should be unique and beyond all different schools. If the outcome of the Buddhist academic study cannot help the Buddhist society to verify the practical theory of both liberation and nirvana, it will violate the ultimate objective of discovering the truth of the study. In addition, if the Buddhist academic study becomes a business of monks and scholars to gain the worldly reputation and wealth, and a tool to cover the fault of study so as to avoid the loss of reputation, it is even impossible for this kind of study to achieve the worldly academic objective, not to mention the Buddhist practical theory of personally realizing liberation.

We cannot agree with the act of giving up the vision of establishing the institute, which both the founder and the scholars of The Chung-Hwa Institute of Buddhist Studies have done. The Dharma Drum Mountain was established with the sponsorship from lots of Buddhist sponsors. With that act, the Institute and its founder have betrayed the trust of their sponsors to pursue the truth. Although we do not have the right to criticize their act and they should be responsible for the retribution in the future, we will remind ourselves to avoid this case happening to us. As for those sponsors, they should decide whether they want to continue to sponsor the Institute that destroys Buddha's true dharma of Tathagatagarbha or not, and thus decide their retribution accordingly in this life and future countless lives too.

In accordance with the trust of measureless Buddha's followers to protect the true dharma of Tathagatagarbha, the editorial board of this Journal will always remember the establishment objective of the foundation to spread the practical theory of personally realizing Tathagatagarbha, take a conscientious and careful attitude, strictly follow the principle of the three-ways-of-knowing of treatises and the scientific spirit of pursuing the truth, guide the Buddhist academia to leave the imaginary thought and to return to the practical theory, and finally enable the light of Buddha Sakyamuni's true Tathagatagarbha dharma to shine in this modern world again.


Best Regards,


Pai Chihwei, The Chief Editor
Journal of True Enlightenment
October 10th, 2007

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