William S. Waldron

in Buddhism

ISBN: 9780195393521
Published online September 2010 | | DOI:

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The Yogācāra (practitioners of yoga) school, also known as citta-mātra (mind-only), or vijñānavāda (consciousness school), is one of two major schools of Indian Mahayana Buddhist thought, which flourished in classical India from the 3rd–4th century ce to the 9th century ce. It is important both for the way it synthesized and developed all aspects of contemporaneous Mahāyāna Buddhism, as well as for its historical influence on subsequent forms of Buddhism both inside and outside of India. Its encyclopedic aims led Yogācārins first to outline the “practice of yoga,” which combined Abhidharmic modes of analyzing mental processes with the Mādhyamikan notion of emptiness, and, second, to systematize the Mahayana path system and developing notions of buddhahood. Both of these syntheses—philosophical analyses of mental processes and systematization of the Buddhist path and goal—were very influential in later Chinese, Korean, and Japanese Buddhist history, while only the second—systematizing the Buddhist path and goal—attained similar importance in Tibet. Understanding the whole of Yogācāra is a challenge commensurate with its ambitious aims; accordingly, there are still no comprehensive treatments of Yogācāra in Western languages. Moreover, a huge gulf still exists between works that are relatively accessible to nonspecialists and those written for and by specialists. Academic interest in the school has been increasing since the 1990s, however, partly as a result of increased historical knowledge about and interaction between South and East Asian forms of Buddhism, and partly in response to the many venues for dialogue between Yogācāra and modern thought.

Article.  5663 words. 

Subjects: Buddhism ; Tibetan Buddhism ; Zen Buddhism

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