East Asian Mādhyamaka

East Asian Madhyamaka refers to the Buddhist tradition in East Asia which represents the Indian Madhyamaka (Chung-kuan) system of thought. In Chinese Buddhism, these are often referred to as the Sānlùn (Ch. 三論宗, Jp. Sanron, "Three Treatise") school,[1] also known as the "emptiness school" (K'ung Tsung),[2] although they may not have been an independent sect.[3] The three principal texts of the school are the Middle Treatise (Zhong lun), the Twelve Gate Treatise (Shiermen lun), and the Hundred Treatise (Bai lun). They were first transmitted to China during the early 5th century by the Buddhist monk Kumārajīva (344−413) in the Eastern Jin Dynasty.[4] The school and its texts were later transmitted to Korea and Japan. The leading thinkers of this tradition are Kumārajīva's disciple Sēngzhào (Seng-chao; 374−414), and the later Jízàng (Chi-tsang; 549−623).[2] Their major doctrines include emptiness (k'ung), the middle way (chung-tao), the twofold truth (erh-t'i) and "the refutation of erroneous views as the illumination of right views" (p'o-hsieh-hsien-cheng).[5]

History in China

Early period

The name Sānlùn derives from the fact that its doctrinal basis is formed by three principal Madhyamaka texts composed by the Indian Buddhist philosophers Nāgārjuna (Longshu, 龍樹), and Āryadeva, which were then translated into Chinese by the Kuchean monk Kumārajīva (pinyin: Jiūmóluóshí) and his team of Chinese translators in Chang'an's Xiaoyao garden.[6][7]

These three foundational texts are:[8]

  • The Middle Treatise (Ch. 中論, pinyin: Zhonglun, T. 1564; Skt. Madhyamakaśāstra), comprising Nāgārjuna's Mūlamadhyamakakārikā ("Fundamental Verses on the Middle Way") alongside a commentary by *Vimalākṣa / *Piṅgala (Ch. 青目, pinyin: Qingmu).
  • The Treatise on the Twelve Gates (Ch. 十二門論, pinyin: Shiermenlun, T. 1568), allegedly Nāgārjuna's *Dvādaśadvāraśāstra,[9] also reconstructed as *Dvādaśamukhaśāstra[10] or as *Dvādaśanikāyaśāstra.[11]

Sometimes a fourth text is added, changing the collection's title to the "Four Treatises" (Ch. 四論, pinyin: Silun):[15]

  • "Commentary on the Great Perfection of Wisdom" (Ch. 大智度論, pinyin: Dazhidulun, T. 1509; Skt. Mahāprajñāpāramitopadeśa). Attributed to Nāgārjuna, but disputed by some modern scholars.

Another text translated by Kumārajīva and his team, the Satyasiddhi shastra (Ch'eng-shih lun), while not being a Madhyamaka text per se, was influential in the study of Chinese Madhyamaka, since it also taught the emptiness of dharmas.[16]

Sengrui was one of Kumārajīva's main disciples, he aided in the translation project of numerous texts, including the Middle Treatise and the Pañcaviṃśatisāhasrikā Prajñāpāramitā Sūtra.[17] He also translated a meditation manual he called the "Chanyao" which is now understood to be the Zuochan sanmei jing (Sutra of sitting dhyāna samādhi, Taisho 15 no. 614).[18]

Another of Kumārajīva's main disciples, Sēngzhào continued to promote Madhyamaka teachings, and wrote several works from this standpoint, his main one being the Zhao Lun.[19] Two of the essays in this work (Prajña Is Without Dichotomizing Knowledge and Nirvana Is Without Conceptualization) follow a similar debate format to Nagarjuna's MMK.[20] Sēngzhào is often seen as the founder of the Sānlùn school proper. His philosophy drew from various sources, including the three treatises, Mahayana sutras such as the Vimalakirti sutra, as well as Taoist works such as Lao-tzu, Chuang-tzu and Neo-Daoist "Mystery Learning" (xuanxue 玄学) texts.[21][22] His use of Taoist influenced paradoxes made him a favorite in the Chan school who considers him a patriarch.[20]

Sēngzhào saw the central problem in understanding emptiness as the discriminatory activity of prapañca. According to Sēngzhào, delusion arises through a dependent relationship between phenomenal things, naming, thought and reification and correct understanding lies outside of words and concepts. Thus, while emptiness is the lack of intrinsic self in all things, this emptiness is not itself an absolute and cannot be grasped by the conceptual mind, it can be only be realized through non-conceptual wisdom (prajña).[20]

Tang era and Jízàng

An important Sānlùn figure during the Tang dynasty was Fa-lang (507-581). He studied widely under various teachers, including the Madhyamaka master Seng-chuan (470-528) and eventually received an imperial decree to reside at Hsing Huang monastery in Ch'ien-k'ang, where he continued to give sermons on the Four Treatises for twenty five years.[23]

The most influential Sānlùn scholar of the Tang was Fa-lang's pupil Jízàng (549-623), a prolific writer who composed commentaries on these three treatises.[24] One of his most famous works is the Erdi Yi (二諦意), or "Meaning of the Two Truths", referring to the conventional and ultimate truths.[25] In one passage of the Erdi Yi, Jizang cites Falang, and argues that the four treatises have the same goal, "to explain the two truths and manifest the doctrine of non-duality".[26]

Jízàng criticized numerous Chinese Buddhists for their unwarranted metaphysical assumptions. He ultimately rejects all metaphysical assertions of being and non-being as dogmatic conceptual confusions. Thus according to Hsueh-Lu Cheng, for Jízàng:

True wisdom (prajña) is the abandonment of all views. Chi-tsang argues that metaphysical speculation of Being and Nothingness is a disease (ping). It is the root of all erroneous or perverted views. The cure of the disease lies not so much in developing a new metaphysical theory as in understanding the proper nature and function of human conceptualization and language. Chi-tsang, following Nagarjuna, claims that the very language men create and use plays a trick on them and destroys their "eyes of wisdom." Enlightened men should discard conceptualization so as to avoid being taken in by this trick. Emptiness, for Chi-tsang, is a medicine (yao) for curing the "philosophical disease."[27]

Jízàng called his philosophical method "deconstructing what is misleading and revealing what is corrective". He insisted that one must never settle on any particular viewpoint or perspective but constantly reexamine one's formulations to avoid rectification of thought and behavior.[28]

In addition to popularizing Madhyamaka, Jízàng also wrote commentaries on the Mahāyāna sūtras such as the Lotus Sūtra, the Vimalakīrti Nirdeśa Sūtra and Tathāgatagarbha teachings.

Influence on Chan

After Jízàng, the school declined considerably, thought its texts remained influential for other traditions such as Tiantai and Chan Buddhism. In, Chan (Zen), Nagarjuna is seen as one of the patriarchs of the school and thus its key figures such as Huineng must have been familiar with the four treatises.[29] According to Hsueh-li Cheng, "Zen masters such as Niu-t'ou fa-yung (594-657) and Nan-ch'uan P'u-yuan (748- 834) were San-Iun Buddhists before they became Zen masters."[29] Furthermore, major Sānlùn tenets such as the negation of conceptualization, the rejection of all views, and the twofold truth were adopted by Zen, thus Hsueh-li Cheng concludes that "in many respects Zen appears to be a practical application of Madhyamika thought."[30]

Modern Chinese Buddhism

In the early part of the 20th century, the laymen Yang Wenhui and Ouyang Jian (Ch. 歐陽漸) (1871–1943) promoted Buddhist learning in China, and the general trend was for an increase in studies of Buddhist traditions such as Yogācāra, Madhyamaka, and the Huayan school.[31][32]

A major influential figure in the modern Chinese study of Madhyamaka is Yìnshùn (印順導師, 1906–2005).[33][34] Yìnshùn applied his study of the Chinese Agamas to Madhyamaka, and argued that the works of Nagarjuna were "the inheritance of the conceptualisation of dependent arising as proposed in the Agamas".[35] Yìnshùn saw the writings of Nagarjuna as the correct Buddhadharma while considering the writings of the Sānlùn school as being corrupted due to their synthesizing of the Tathagata-garbha doctrine into Madhyamaka.[36]

While he was seen among his colleagues as a Sānlùn scholar, he himself did not claim such direct affiliation:[37]

In Zhōngguān jīnlùn (中觀今論 Modern Discussion on the Madhyamaka) [pg. 18, 24], I stated:  “Amongst my teachers and friends, I am seen as a scholar of either the Three Treatise (三論 sanlun) or the Emptiness schools”, although I “certainly do have great affinities with the fundamental and essential doctrines of the emptiness school”,  however, “I do not belong to any particular school of thought within the emptiness schools”.

Many modern Chinese Mādhyamaka scholars such as Li Zhifu, Yang Huinan and Lan Jifu have been students of Yìnshùn.[38]

History in Japan

The school was known in Japan as Sanron (三論宗) and was introduced around 625 by the Korean Goguryeo monk Hyegwan (Jp. = Ekan 慧灌) who resided at Gangōji Temple. Prince Shōtoku is known to have had two Buddhist mentors from the Sanron school. Ekan is also known for introducing the Jōjitsu (Satyasiddhi) school to Japan and the Satyasiddhi system was taught as a supplement, together with Madhyamaka, in Japanese Sanron.[39]

During the Heian period, an important Sanron figure was master Chiko (709-781), whose commentary on the Heart Sutra became a classic work of Heian Buddhist scholarship and the most authoritative commentary on the Heart Sutra in the early Heian.[40] This commentary criticized the Hosso (Yogacara) school's interpretation of the Heart Sutra, promoted the Heart Sutra as a text of definitive meaning (nītārtha) while also drawing on the work of Jizang.[41]

This school was later overshadowed by other Japanese schools such as Tendai and Zen.


  1. ^ "Sanron" in The New Encyclopædia Britannica. Chicago: Encyclopædia Britannica Inc., 15th edn., 1992, Vol. 10, p. 421.
  2. ^ a b Hsueh-li Cheng, Empty Logic: Mādhyamika Buddhism from Chinese Sources, Motilal Banarsidass Publ., 1991 p. 9.
  3. ^ 論三論宗從學派到宗的歷程 Archived November 5, 2014, at the Wayback Machine
  4. ^ Liu, Ming-Wood (1994). Madhyamaka thought in China. E.J. Brill, ISBN 9004099840. p.27
  5. ^ Hsueh-li Cheng, Empty Logic: Mādhyamika Buddhism from Chinese Sources, Motilal Banarsidass Publ., 1991 p. 33.
  6. ^ Liu, Ming-Wood (1994). Madhyamaka thought in China. E.J. Brill, ISBN 9004099840. p.27
  7. ^ Yukteshwar Kumar, A History of Sino-Indian Relations: 1st Century A.D. to 7th Century A.D. : Movement of Peoples and Ideas Between India and China from Kasyapa Matanga to Yi Jing, 2005, p. 128.
  8. ^ Nan, Huai-Chin. Basic Buddhism: Exploring Buddhism and Zen. 1997. p. 91
  9. ^ Cheng, Hsueh-li (2013).  Nagarjuna's Twelve Gate Treatise Translated With Introductory Essays, Comments, and Notes. Springer, ISBN 9789400977778. p. 5
  10. ^ Liu, Ming-Wood (1994). Madhyamaka thought in China. E.J. Brill, ISBN 9004099840. p. 27
  11. ^ Ruegg, David. The Literature of the Madhyamaka School of Philosophy in India, Volume 7.
  12. ^ Lamotte, Etienne. Surangamasamadhisutra. p. 40
  13. ^ Liu, Ming-Wood (1994). Madhyamaka thought in China. E.J. Brill, ISBN 9004099840. p. 27
  14. ^ Liu, Ming-Wood (1994). Madhyamaka thought in China. E.J. Brill, ISBN 9004099840. p. 27
  15. ^ Liu, Ming-Wood (1994). Madhyamaka thought in China. E.J. Brill, ISBN 9004099840. p.27
  16. ^ Petzold, Bruno, The Classification of Buddhism, p. 300.
  17. ^ Yukteshwar Kumar, A History of Sino-Indian Relations: 1st Century A.D. to 7th Century A.D. : Movement of Peoples and Ideas Between India and China from Kasyapa Matanga to Yi Jing, 2005, p. 111.
  18. ^ Tansen Sen, Buddhism Across Asia: Networks of Material, Intellectual and Cultural Exchange, volume 1, Institute of Southeast Asian Studies, 2014, p. 117.
  19. ^ Keown, Damien. A Dictionary of Buddhism. 2003. pp. 251-252
  20. ^ a b c Dippmann, Jeffrey, Sengzhao (Seng-Chao c. 378—413 C.E.), Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy.https://www.iep.utm.edu/sengzhao
  21. ^ Liebenthal, Walter, Chao-Lun The Treatises of Seng Chao, 1968, p. 8.
  22. ^ Cuma Ozkan, A comparative analysis: Buddhist Madhyamaka and Daoist Chongxuan (twofold mystery) in the early Tang (618-720) University of Iowa, 2013.
  23. ^ Chang-Qing Shih (釋長清), The Two Truths in Chinese Buddhism, Motilal Banarsidass Publ., 2004, p. 15.
  24. ^ Snelling, John. The Buddhist Handbook: A Complete Guide to Buddhist Schools, Teaching, Practice, and History. 1992. p. 128
  25. ^ Shih, Chang-Qing. The Two Truths in Chinese Buddhism. 2004. p. 36
  26. ^ Shih, Chang-Qing. The Two Truths in Chinese Buddhism. 2004. p. 37
  27. ^ Hsueh-Li Cheng, Chi-Tsang's Treatment of Metaphysical Issues, Journal of Chinese Philosophy V. 8 (1981) pp. 371-389
  28. ^ Fox, Alan, Self-reflection in the Sanlun Tradition: Madhyamika as the "Deconstructive Conscience" of Buddhism, Journal of Chinese Philosophy V. 19 (1992) pp. 1-24.
  29. ^ a b Hsueh-li Cheng, Empty Logic: Mādhyamika Buddhism from Chinese Sources, Motilal Banarsidass Publ., 1991, p. 56.
  30. ^ Hsueh-li Cheng, Empty Logic: Mādhyamika Buddhism from Chinese Sources, Motilal Banarsidass Publ., 1991, p. 56-64.
  31. ^ Nan, Huai-Chin. Basic Buddhism: Exploring Buddhism and Zen. 1997. p. 142
  32. ^ Sheng Yen. Orthodox Chinese Buddhism. 2007. p. 217
  33. ^ Travagnin, Stefania (2009). The Madhyamika Dimension of Yin Shun. A restatement of the school of Nagarjuna in 20th century Chinese Buddhism, PhD thesis, University of London
  34. ^ Travagnin, Stefania. The Madhyamika Dimension of Yin Shun. A restatement of the school of Nagarjuna in 20th century Chinese Buddhism, University of London, 2009, p. 155. https://eprints.soas.ac.uk/28877/1/10673046.pdf
  35. ^ Travagnin, Stefania. The Madhyamika Dimension of Yin Shun. A restatement of the school of Nagarjuna in 20th century Chinese Buddhism, University of London, 2009, pp 28, 65, 85. https://eprints.soas.ac.uk/28877/1/10673046.pdf
  36. ^ Travagnin, Stefania. The Madhyamika Dimension of Yin Shun. A restatement of the school of Nagarjuna in 20th century Chinese Buddhism, University of London, 2009, p.174.https://eprints.soas.ac.uk/28877/1/10673046.pdf
  37. ^ Yin Shun.  空之探究 (Investigations into Emptiness) 1984. Preface.
  38. ^ Travagnin, Stefania. The Madhyamika Dimension of Yin Shun. A restatement of the school of Nagarjuna in 20th century Chinese Buddhism, University of London, 2009, p. 159. https://eprints.soas.ac.uk/28877/1/10673046.pdf
  39. ^ Ronald S. Green, Chanju Mun, Gyōnen’s 'Transmission of the Buddha Dharma in Three Countries', p. 141.
  40. ^ Mikael S. Adolphson, Edward Kamens, Stacie Matsumoto, Heian Japan: Centers and Peripheries, p. 179, 186.
  41. ^ Mikael S. Adolphson, Edward Kamens, Stacie Matsumoto, Heian Japan: Centers and Peripheries, p. 188.


  • Ven. Yin Shun (1998). The Way to Buddhahood: Instructions from a Modern Chinese Master. Wisdom Publications. ISBN 0-86171-133-5.
  • Gard, Richard (1957). Why did the Madhyamika decline?, Indogaku Bukkyogaku Kenkyu 5 (2), 10-14
  • Brian Bocking (1995). Nagarjuna in China: A Translation of the Middle Treatise (The Edwin Mellon Press).
  • Ming-Wood Liu (1997). Madhyamaka Thought in China (Sinica Leidensia, 30), Brill Academic Pub. ISBN 9004099840
  • Robert Magliola (2004). "Nagarjuna and Chi-tsang on the Value of 'This World': A Reply to Kuang-ming Wu's Critique of Indian and Chinese Madhyamika Buddhism." Journal of Chinese Philosophy 31 (4), 505–516. (Demonstrates Jizang neither denigrates 'this world' nor deviates from what was mainstream Indian Madhyamikan doctrine.)

Abhinavagupta (c. 950 – 1016 AD) was a philosopher, mystic and aesthetician from Kashmir. He was also considered an influential musician, poet, dramatist, exegete, theologian, and logician – a polymathic personality who exercised strong influences on Indian culture.He was born in Kashmir in a family of scholars and mystics and studied all the schools of philosophy and art of his time under the guidance of as many as fifteen (or more) teachers and gurus. In his long life he completed over 35 works, the largest and most famous of which is Tantrāloka, an encyclopedic treatise on all the philosophical and practical aspects of Kaula and Trika (known today as Kashmir Shaivism). Another one of his very important contributions was in the field of philosophy of aesthetics with his famous Abhinavabhāratī commentary of Nāṭyaśāstra of Bharata Muni.

Buddhism in Japan

Buddhism in Japan has been practiced since its official introduction in 552 CE according to the Nihon Shoki from Baekje, Korea, by Buddhist monks. Buddhism has had a major influence on the development of Japanese society and remains an influential aspect of the culture to this day.In modern times, Japan's popular schools of Buddhism are Pure Land Buddhism, Nichiren Buddhism, Shingon Buddhism and Zen. As of 2008, approximately 34% of the Japanese identify as Buddhists and the number has been growing since the 1980s, in terms of membership in organized religion. However, in terms of practice, 75% practice some form of Buddhism (compared with 90% practicing Shinto, thus most Japanese practice both religions to some extent (Shinbutsu-shūgō)). About 60% of the Japanese have a Butsudan (Buddhist shrine) in their homes.

Caotang Temple

Caotang Temple (Chinese: 草堂寺; pinyin: Cǎotáng Sì; literally: 'Cottage Temple') is a Buddhist temple located on the north hillside of Mount Guifeng, in Huyi District of Xi'an, Shaanxi, China.

In the Later Qin (384–417), Kumārajīva resided in Caotang Temple, where he translated Madhyamika-sastra (中论), Sata-sastra (百论) and Dvadashamukha Shastra (十二门论), which laid the foundation for the theory of East Asian Mādhyamaka, so he is respected as the founder of East Asian Mādhyamaka and Caotang Temple is considered as the cradle of East Asian Mādhyamaka.


Dharmakīrti (fl. c. 6th or 7th century) was an influential Indian Buddhist philosopher who worked at Nālandā. He was one of the key scholars of epistemology (pramana) in Buddhist philosophy, and is associated with the Yogācāra and Sautrāntika schools. He was also one of the primary theorists of Buddhist atomism. His works influenced the scholars of Mīmāṃsā, Nyaya and Shaivism schools of Hindu philosophy as well as scholars of Jainism.Dharmakīrti's Pramāṇavārttika, his largest and most important work, was very influential in India and Tibet as a central text on pramana ('valid knowledge instruments') and was widely commented on by various Indian and Tibetan scholars. His texts remain part of studies in the monasteries of Tibetan Buddhism.


Guanxi (simplified Chinese: 关系; traditional Chinese: 關係; pinyin: guānxi) defines the fundamental dynamic in personalized social networks of power (which can be best described as the relationships individuals cultivate with other individuals) and is a crucial system of beliefs in Chinese culture. In Western media, the pinyin romanization of this Chinese word is becoming more widely used instead of the two common translations of it—"connections" and "relationships"—as neither of those terms sufficiently reflects the wide cultural implications that guanxi describes.Guanxi plays a fundamental role within the Confucian doctrine, which sees the individual as part of a community and a set of family, hierarchical and friendly relationships. In particular, there is a focus on tacit mutual commitments, reciprocity, and trust, which are the grounds of guanxi and guanxi networks.Guanxi also has a major influence on the management of businesses based in Mainland China, and businesses owned by Overseas Chinese in Southeast Asia (the latter is known as the bamboo network).Closely related concepts include that of ganqing, a measure which reflects the depth of feeling within an interpersonal relationship, renqing (人情 rénqíng/jen-ch'ing), the moral obligation to maintain a relationship, and the idea of "face" (面子, miànzi/mien-tzu), which refers to social status, propriety, prestige, or a combination of all three. Other related concepts include wu-lune, which supports the idea of a long term, developing relationship between a business and its client, and yi-ren and ren, which respectively support reciprocity and empathy.

Indian philosophy

Indian philosophy refers to ancient philosophical traditions of the Indian subcontinent. The principal schools are classified as either orthodox or heterodox – āstika or nāstika – depending on one of three alternate criteria: whether it believes the Vedas as a valid source of knowledge; whether the school believes in the premises of Brahman and Atman; and whether the school believes in afterlife and Devas.There are six major schools of orthodox Indian Hindu philosophy—Nyaya, Vaisheshika, Samkhya, Yoga, Mīmāṃsā and Vedanta, and five major heterodox schools—Jain, Buddhist, Ajivika, Ajñana, and Cārvāka. However, there are other methods of classification; Vidyaranya for instance identifies sixteen schools of Indian philosophy by including those that belong to the Śaiva and Raseśvara traditions.The main schools of Indian philosophy were formalised chiefly between 1000 BCE to the early centuries of the Common Era. Competition and integration between the various schools was intense during their formative years, especially between 800 BCE and 200 CE. Some schools like Jainism, Buddhism, Yoga, Śaiva and Vedanta survived, but others, like Ajñana, Charvaka and Ājīvika did not.

Ancient and medieval era texts of Indian philosophies include extensive discussions on Ontology (metaphysics, Brahman-Atman, Sunyata-Anatta), reliable means of knowledge (epistemology, Pramanas), value system (axiology) and other topics.

Japanese philosophy

Japanese philosophy has historically been a fusion of both indigenous Shinto and continental religions, such as Buddhism and Confucianism. Formerly heavily influenced by both Chinese philosophy and Indian philosophy, as with Mitogaku and Zen, much modern Japanese philosophy is now also influenced by Western philosophy.


Jizang (Chinese: 吉藏; pinyin: Jízàng; Wade–Giles: Chi-tsang. Japanese: 吉蔵 (kichizō)) (549–623) was a Persian-Chinese Buddhist monk and scholar who is often regarded as the founder of East Asian Mādhyamaka. He is also known as Jiaxiang or Master Jiaxiang (Chinese: 嘉祥; Wade–Giles: chia hsiang) because he acquired fame at the Jiaxiang Temple.

Korean philosophy

Korean philosophy focused on a totality of world view. Some aspects of Shamanism, Buddhism, and Neo-Confucianism were integrated into Korean philosophy. Traditional Korean thought has been influenced by a number of religious and philosophical thought-systems over the years. As the main influences on life in Korea, often Korean Shamanism, Taoism, Buddhism, Confucianism and Silhak movements have shaped Korean life and thought.

List of religions and spiritual traditions

While religion is hard to define, one standard model of religion, used in religious studies courses, was proposed by Clifford Geertz, who defined it as a

[…] system of symbols which acts to establish powerful, pervasive, and long-lasting moods and motivations in men by formulating conceptions of a general order of existence and clothing these conceptions with such an aura of factuality that the moods and motivations seem uniquely realistic."

A critique of Geertz's model by Talal Asad categorized religion as "an anthropological category." Many religions have narratives, symbols, traditions and sacred histories that are intended to give meaning to life or to explain the origin of life or the universe. They tend to derive morality, ethics, religious laws, or a preferred lifestyle from their ideas about the cosmos and human nature. According to some estimates, there are roughly 4,200 religions in the world.The word religion is sometimes used interchangeably with "faith" or "belief system", but religion differs from private belief in that it has a public aspect. Most religions have organized behaviours, including clerical hierarchies, a definition of what constitutes adherence or membership, congregations of laity, regular meetings or services for the purposes of veneration of a deity or for prayer, holy places (either natural or architectural) or religious texts. Certain religions also have a sacred language often used in liturgical services. The practice of a religion may also include sermons, commemoration of the activities of a god or gods, sacrifices, festivals, feasts, trance, rituals, rites, ceremonies, worship, initiations, funerals, marriages, meditation, invocation, mediumship, music, art, dance, public service or other aspects of human culture. Religious beliefs have also been used to explain parapsychological phenomena such as out-of-body experiences, near-death experiences and reincarnation, along with many other paranormal and supernatural experiences.Some academics studying the subject have divided religions into three broad categories: world religions, a term which refers to transcultural, international faiths; indigenous religions, which refers to smaller, culture-specific or nation-specific religious groups; and new religious movements, which refers to recently developed faiths. One modern academic theory of religion, social constructionism, says that religion is a modern concept that suggests all spiritual practice and worship follows a model similar to the Abrahamic religions as an orientation system that helps to interpret reality and define human beings, and thus religion, as a concept, has been applied inappropriately to non-Western cultures that are not based upon such systems, or in which these systems are a substantially simpler construct.


The Mūlamadhyamakakārikā (Sanskrit) or Fundamental Verses on the Middle Way, is a foundational text of the Madhyamaka school of Mahayana philosophy, composed by Nagarjuna in approximately the second-third century CE. A collection of 27 chapters in Sanskrit verse, it is widely regarded as the most influential text of Buddhist philosophy and had a major impact on the subsequent development of Buddhism, especially northeast of its native India in places such as Tibet and East Asia.


Nāgārjuna (c. 150 – c. 250 CE) is widely considered one of the most important Buddhist philosophers. Along with his disciple Āryadeva, he is considered to be the founder of the Madhyamaka school of Mahāyāna Buddhism. Nāgārjuna is also credited with developing the philosophy of the Prajñāpāramitā sūtras and, in some sources, with having revealed these scriptures in the world, having recovered them from the nāgas (water spirits often depicted in the form of serpent-like humans). Furthermore, he is traditionally supposed to have written several treatises on rasayana as well as serving a term as the head of Nālandā.

Nanto Rokushū

The Six Schools of Nara Buddhism, also known as the Rokushū 六宗 (also Rokushuu/Rokushu), were academic Buddhist sects. These schools came to Japan from Korea and China during the late 6th and early 7th centuries. All of these schools were controlled by the newly formed Japanese government of Nara. These schools were installed to mimic and expand upon already existing mainland Asian Buddhist thought.The schools were installed during the reign of Prince Shōtoku, most likely to increase the power of the expanding government through Buddhist and Confucian doctrine. Because of the government involvement in religious expansion, government funds were used to construct grand temples, statues, and paintings, most notably the Seven Great Southern Temples of Nara. Most of these sects wanted to be the main Buddhist school of the Imperial House of Japan and high officials. Because of this, many of them tried to be appealing to nobility. Many of the themes of these schools delved on advanced level, complicated, almost cryptic, Indian philosophies on the mind and existence. Some of the schools, though, were ideas on the formation and operations of a vihara. Due to the location of the temples constructed for these schools they were also called, The Six Southern Schools of Nara Buddhism. Eventually the increasing power of these schools of Buddhism and their influence in politics started to overwhelm the city of Nara. This forced Emperor Kanmu to relocate the capital, moving it to Heian-kyō (Kyoto). It also directly encouraged the creation of the Tendai school, founded by Saichō, and Shingon Buddhism, founded by Kūkai.All six schools shared Gautama Buddha's original teachings of human suffering and his ideas on cause, remedy, and extinction. The six schools differed on expanding on the sub ideas of inter-dependency of phenomena, ultimate enlightenment (nirvana), the non-self (anātman), and the Middle Way. These schools laid the groundwork for the development of Pure Land Buddhism and the emergence of the worship of a distinctly Japanese form of Amitābha, Amida.

Qixia Temple

Qixia Temple (simplified Chinese: 栖霞寺; traditional Chinese: 棲霞寺; pinyin: Qīxiá Sì) is a Buddhist temple located on Qixia Mountain in the suburban Qixia District of Nanjing, Jiangsu, People's Republic of China, 22 kilometres (14 mi) northeast of downtown Nanjing. It is one of Nanjing's most important Buddhist monasteries. The temple is the cradle of East Asian Mādhyamaka.


Saichō (最澄, September 15, 767 – June 26, 822) was a Japanese Buddhist monk credited with founding the Tendai school of Buddhism based on the Chinese Tiantai school he was exposed to during his trip to Tang China beginning in 804. He founded the temple and headquarters of Tendai at Enryaku-ji on Mount Hiei near Kyoto. He is also said to have been the first to bring tea to Japan. After his death, he was awarded the posthumous title of Dengyō Daishi (伝教大師).


Shantideva (Sanskrit: Śāntideva; Chinese: 寂天; Tibetan: ཞི་བ་ལྷ།, THL: Zhiwa Lha; Mongolian: Шантидэва гэгээн; Vietnamese: Tịch Thiên) was an 8th-century Indian Buddhist monk and scholar at Nalanda. He was an adherent of the Madhyamaka philosophy of Nagarjuna.


The Tattvasiddhi-Śāstra ("the treatise that accomplishes reality"; Chinese: 成實論, Chengshilun; Japanese pronunciation: Jōjitsu-ron), also known as the Sādhyasiddhi-Śāstra, is an Indian Buddhist text by a figure known as Harivarman (250-350). It was translated into Chinese in 411 by Kumārajīva and this translation (Taishō number: T1646) is the only extant version, which became popular in China.This text was translated into English by N. Aiyaswami Sastri in 1978.


Won Hyo (617 – April 28, 686) was one of the leading thinkers, writers and commentators of the Korean Buddhist tradition. Essence-Function (Chinese: 體用), a key concept in East Asian Buddhism and particularly Korean Buddhism, was refined in the syncretic philosophy and world view of Wonhyo.As one of the most eminent scholar-monks in Korean history, he was an influential figure in the development of the East Asian Buddhist intellectual and commentarial tradition. His extensive literary output runs to over 80 works in 240 fascicles, and some of his commentaries, such as those on the Mahāyāna Mahāparinirvāṇa Sūtra and the Awakening of Faith in the Mahayana, became classics revered throughout China and Japan as well as Korea. In fact, his commentary on the Awakening of Faith helped to make it one of the most influential and intensively studied texts in the East Asian Mahāyāna tradition. Chinese masters who were heavily influenced by Wonhyo include Fazang, Li Tongxuan, and Chengguan. The Japanese monks Gyonen, Zenshu and Joto of the Kegon school were also influenced by him.With his life spanning the end of the Three Kingdoms of Korea and the beginning of Unified Silla, Wonhyo played a vital role in the reception and assimilation of the broad range of doctrinal Buddhist streams that flowed into the Korean peninsula at the time. Wonhyo was most interested in and affected by Buddha-nature, East Asian Yogācāra and Hwaeom thought. However, in his extensive scholarly works, composed as commentaries and essays, he embraced the whole spectrum of the Buddhist teachings which were received in Korea, including such schools as Pure Land Buddhism, East Asian Mādhyamaka and the Tiantai.


Zhiyi (Chinese: 智顗; pinyin: Zhìyǐ; Wade–Giles: Chih-i; Japanese pronunciation: Chigi; Korean: 지의; Vietnamese: Trí Nghĩ) (538–597 CE) is traditionally listed as the fourth patriarch, but is generally considered the founder of the Tiantai tradition of Buddhism in China. His standard title was Śramaṇa Zhiyi (Ch. 沙門智顗), linking him to the broad tradition of Indian asceticism. Zhiyi is famous for being the first in the history of Chinese Buddhism to elaborate a complete, critical and systematic classification of the Buddhist teachings. He is also regarded as the first major figure to make a significant break from the Indian tradition, to form an indigenous Chinese system.

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