This chapter presents a systematic examination of the relationship between Tang Junyi’s thought and the Treatise on Awakening Mahāyāna Faith. It outlines Tang’s study of the Treatise in his mature philosophical thought. According to Tang, the Treatise’s doctrine of the tathāgatagarbha pure mind was able to resolve the problems of the Yogācāra tradition concerning the attainment of buddhahood, and moreover its notion of “one mind, two gateways” inspired later Tiantai doctrines and Huayan doctrines. This chapter also shows that even though the philosophy of the Treatise was not decisive in the making of Tang’s philosophy, its notions of “one mind, two gateways” and “intrinsic reality, characteristics, and function” were intrinsically involved in the construction and formation of Tang’s philosophy.
Through an in-depth reading of the New Confucian thinker Tang Junyi’s (1909–1978) philosophical engagement with the Treatise on Awakening Mahāyāna Faith in his On the Origins of Chinese Philosophy (Zhongguo zhexue yuanlun), this chapter provides a critical analysis of Tang’s interpretation of the “one mind, two gateways” model put forward in the Treatise. In doing so, I argue that Tang’s approach to this model testifies to his staunchly transcendentalist outlook: his insistence on the ontological as well as epistemological irreducibility of the mind vis-à-vis its various “horizons” (jingjie), and his related endeavor of channeling the soteriological potential of philosophy as a form of spiritual practice.
This chapter describes and analyses Taixu’s attempt to refute Ouyang’s allegations that the Treatise on Awakening Mahāyāna Faith is not a Mahāyāna Buddhist text by claiming that the doctrines of the Treatise belong to a higher level of Mahāyāna truth than that of the Yogācāra Buddhism championed by Ouyang. Ouyang’s disciple, Wang Enyang, countered that the Treatise is like Sāṃkhya, not Buddhism, and that it and Taixu had misunderstood causation, Nothing but Consciousness, the relation of the conditioned and unconditioned, and confused true suchness with a permanent entity. The Treatise thus can neither account for ignorance nor for a mechanism for enlightenment.