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Religion

종교 탐방

V. Early Buddhist schools

 초기의 불교 학파

 

 

1. THE EARLY COUNCILS

The early Buddhist councils (sangitis, or "recitals") were concerned largely with the purity of the faith and practice of the monastic community. Unfortunately, the councils pose an enormous problem to the historian because each major sect has its own account and opinion of them. Legend and even myth have so coloured these accounts that scholars cannot be sure when and where they took place or even who took part in them. Though many scholars deny its very existence, all Buddhist traditions maintain that a council was called at Rajagaha (modern Rajgir) immediately after the Buddha's death. According to legend, this council (comprising 500 arhats, or accomplished monks) was responsible for the composition of the vinaya (monastic discipline), under the monk Upali, and the dhamma (i.e., the sutras), under the monk Ananda, even though the latter was supposedly brought to trial at the same council. Though there were memorizers of sutras and the vinaya, as well as authorized commentators at work in the community during the period of the first three Buddhist councils, the scriptures as such existed only in an inchoate oral (yet normative) form.

초기의 공동체

More scholars are prone to accept the historicity of the second council that was held at Vesali a little more than a century after the Buddha's death. According to the tradition, a controversy arose between a certain Yasa and the monks of Vajji. The 10 points of discipline observed by the Vajjian monks, and opposed by Yasa, permitted storing salt in a horn, eating in the afternoon, and drinking buttermilk after meals. These and other lax rules were condemned by the council. Many scholars believe this council to have been closely associated with the controversy that led to the open division between two segments of the early community--the Mahasanghika school, which displayed more liberal attitudes, and the Sthaviravada (Theravada) school, which took a more conservative and elitist stance.

According to Theravada accounts, a third council was called by King Ashoka at Pataliputta (Patna) about 250 BC. Moggaliputta Tissa, president of the council, is said to have completed his Abhidharma treatise, the Kathavatthu("Points of Controversy"), during this council. It is also said that a controversy arose between the Sarvastivadins and the Vibhajyavadins (usually identified with the early Theravadins) over the reality of past and future states of consciousness (cittas). After the Sarvastivadin view that such states actually exist was condemned, the sect supposedly withdrew from the lower Ganges valley to Mathura in the northwest. There it appears to have continued to develop as a transitional school between the older, more conservative schools and the nascent Mahayana movement.

According to northern Buddhist traditions, a fourth council was held under King Kaniska, probably in the 1st century AD, at Jalandhar or in Kashmir. This council seems to have been limited to the composition of commentaries. Because it appears that only the Sarvastivadin viewpoint was represented, scholars generally conclude that this was a sectarian synod rather than an actual ecumenical Buddhist council. At any rate, the fourth council has never been recognized by southern Buddhists. ( J.M.K./F.E.R.)

2. THE EIGHTEEN SCHOOLS AND THEIR SUCCESSORS

During the first several centuries of Buddhist history, at the time when the early councils were reportedly held, a number of different schools took form and developed particular traditions regarding the Buddha's teaching and its proper interpretation. In addition to the schools that scholars have connected with particular councils and the controversies associated with them, many other schools appeared. From the information available, it appears that many of these schools were loosely organized and fluid, that in some cases different names were used to designate the same group, and that in other cases the same name was applied to different groups.

부파불교

According to later Buddhist tradition, 18 such schools emerged during the first few centuries of Buddhist history. (These are the schools that the practitioners of the Mahayana, or "Greater Vehicle," grouped together and dubbed the Hinayana, or "Lesser Vehicle.") Among these so-called Eighteen Schools there are a few about which some reasonably certain statements can be made. And in some cases it is possible to trace connections between the early schools and similarly oriented traditions that played a significant role in the later phases of Buddhist history.

1) Sthaviravada/Theravada.

As noted above, many scholars trace the emergence of a specific "School of the Elders" (Sthaviravada in Sanskrit, Theravada in Pali) to the second century following the Buddha's death. Whether or not this is true, it is clear that the Theravada was one of the earliest of the early Buddhist schools, and it was certainly--from a historical point of view--the most successful. Because the Theravada school ultimately became and has remained the predominant Buddhist school in Sri Lanka and much of mainland Southeast Asia, it is described in detail in the following section (see below The major systems and their literature: Theravada ).

2) Mahasanghika/Lokottaravada.

According to traditional accounts, the Mahasanghikas ("Adherents of the Great Order, or Assembly") split off from other Buddhists in the 4th or 3rd century BC, in what may have been the original schism. Their emphasis was on a more open community, a less strict version of the discipline, and a metaphysical view of the Buddha, all of which were later appropriated by the Mahayana (see below The major systems and their literature: Mahayana ). In the developed form of their teaching they focused not on the historical Buddha and his teachings but on the transcendent Buddha. In their view, the Buddha is lokottara("transcending the world"), indestructible, completely devoid of all worldly impurities, with stainless karma. When the Buddha utters a single word, its meaning can be understood by all creatures at a level determined by their degree of karmic purity. His body is perfect, for the body through which he reveals himself is not his true body; it is instead an apparitional body (nirmana-kaya). Being above the world, he has boundless power and life; he neither sleeps nor dreams. Even in the state of a bodhisattva, prior to his final birth, the Buddha entered the maternal womb completely pure. All bodhisattvas can remain as long as they will among the inferior creatures for the purpose of leading creatures to salvation. The knowledge of things occurs in a single instant: all is void (shunya) and without self; the ultimate end of the way of seeing is an instantaneous recognition that reveals the singular and proper character of all things. (see also Index: shunyata)

The only surviving part of the Mahasanghika canon, the Mahavastu ("Great Subjects"), is derived from Lokottaravadins, who stem from the Mahasanghikas. They assert that things of this world do not possess any reality at all. Only two principles are absolutely real, the two kinds of void (shunyata): of persons and of things. The (or a) Buddha is completely supramundane (lokottara, hence the name Lokottaravada), and his historical life and actions are mere appearance, convention, or mental image.

3) Sarvastivada (P'i-t'an, Chü-she/Kusha).

This group detached itself from the Sthaviravada school, the predecessor of Theravada, around the time of Ashoka and spread from Mathura into Kashmir (northwestern India). Taking a different tack than the Sthaviravada/Theravada monks, the Sarvastivadin scholastics developed their own set of "canonical" Abhidharma texts. (The Abhidharma [Pali: Abhidhamma] texts are systematizations of the teaching in the early sutras that were composed by the monks of the various schools.) The name Sarvastivada refers to the doctrine that everything exists (sarvam asti). More specifically, this meant that all things, past and future as well as present, exist because the cognizing agent, at the moment of thinking of them, could not have contact with them if they did not exist. Karma exists, as do the component elements that constitute a human person (the five skandhas). Matter has aspects, hence characteristics, and therefore is definable. The other components have characteristics, and therefore they too are knowable. What does not exist is an atman, pudgala, or any other kind of underlying self or person. (see also Index: Kusha)

A branch of this school, the Mula-Sarvastivada, was widely diffused in India, Central Asia, Myanmar, Thailand, Kampuchea, and Indonesia.

Vasubandhu's Abhidharmakosha("Treasury of Abhidharma"; 4th or 5th century AD) was based on the Sarvastivada Abhidharma as interpreted in terms of its author's Sautrantika propensities (see below Sautrantika/Satyasiddhi ). It became the basic text for the development of Sarvastivada in China and Japan, which is designated by the short form of the title: Chinese Chü-she, Japanese Kusha, for kosha ("treasure"). Before the Chinese translations of Vasubandhu's work in the 6th and 7th centuries, Sarvastivada abhidharma doctrine was represented in China by the P'i-t'an school, based on texts of the Gandhara and Kashmir branch of Sarvastivada (P'i-t'an is the Chinese abbreviation for Abhidharma). Summarizing, interpreting, and confuting the theories of various masters in regard to external and psychosomatic dharmas, time, and categories, the Abhidharmakosha has, since its introduction, been regarded as a basic treatise on Buddhist dogma in China, as also in Tibet. (see also Index: Tibetan Buddhism)

4) Vatsiputriya/Sammatiya.

The Vatsiputriyas (or Pudgalavadins) probably split off sometime during the 3rd century BC. They affirmed the existence of an enduring person (pudgala) distinct from both the conditioned (samskrta) and the unconditioned (asamskrta); the sole asamskrta for them is nirvana. The pudgala really exists and can transmigrate from life to life, unlike all other things, none of which possess this property. The Vatsiputriyas refer to a text in which the Buddha speaks of a "bundle" (i.e., the components of a human being, the skandhas) and of one "who carries the bundle." If consciousness exists, there must be a subject of consciousness, the pudgala; it is this alone that transmigrates. The Vatsiputriyas recognized an intermediate life between death and rebirth.

The Sammatiya school, a derivation of the Vatsiputriya school, had a wide diffusion. According to the reports of Chinese Buddhist pilgrims in the 7th century, its followers were numerous along the Ganges valley; the school flourished in Gujarat and in eastern India, as well as in Champa, located in what is now central Vietnam; and a 16th-century Tibetan account states that it still flourished during the Pala dynasty that ruled Bengal up to the end of the 11th century. The Sammatiyas maintained that an act vanishes but that it leaves a thrusting, a commitment to fructify, to have consequences. A person (pudgala) is an essence not wholly identical with its components. Thus, the Sammatiyas have tendencies toward an ontological concept of the pudgala--that it is real though undefinable. They also posit an intermediate existence between death and rebirth.

5) Mahishasaka/Dharmaguptaka.

The Mahishasaka school apparently took its name from its founder (but, according to others, from the name of a place). Its origins purportedly go back to a disagreement concerning disciplinary rules that occurred at the first Council of Rajagaha (483 BC); however, some of the school's theses seem to have developed later than the Sarvastivada.

A so-called Dharmaguptaka branch separated from the Mahishasaka school toward the end of the 2nd or the beginning of the 1st century BC. It recognized as its original master Maudgalyayana (Pali: Moggallana), one of the first disciples of the Buddha, although its actual founder may have been Dharmagupta (3rd century BC?). It was still to be found in scattered places in the 7th century. The Dharmaguptakas added two new "baskets," or collections (pitakas), a Bodhisattvapitaka and Dharanipitaka, to the regular Tripitaka of the Buddhist canon (see below The major systems and their literature: The Pali canon ). They held that the Buddha was not part of the sangha--consequently, a gift given to him is infinitely superior to one given the sangha. They emphasized the merit that derives from the cult of the stupa--a mound, often containing relics--which is a centre of devotion in lay Buddhism. They also contended that the paths of the buddha and the bodhisattva are distinct from that of the shravaka (disciple). Like the views of the closely related Mahasanghika school (see above Mahasanghika/Lokottaravada ), the teachings of the Dharmaguptas contain many elements that were emphasized and developed by the Mahayana.

6) Sautrantika/Satyasiddhi.

The Sautrantika school is so named (sutra plus anta, "end") because it gave preeminence to the sutra portion of the canon. Its followers trace their school back to Ananda, a close disciple of the Buddha. For them, the karmic factors ( samskara) are insubstantial and momentary, disappearing as soon as they have been manifested only to reappear again to give rise to a new aggregate. There is continual motion by virtue of which a person passes from one condition to another. Every thought or act is pervaded by a very subtle impregnation that in turn is capable of impregnating the subconscious so as to generate new correlated psychic situations. The school is of great importance because its tenets were precursors of the Vijñanavada (see below Yogacara/Vijñanavada [Fa-hsiang/Hosso] ).

The Satyasiddhi school, probably derived from the earlier Sautrantika school, is based on the Satyasiddhi-shastraa work attributed to Harivarman, a 3rd-4th century Indian writer, and known only in its Chinese version (4th-5th century). It gave birth to a school in China (Ch'eng-shih) and Japan (Jojitsu) which maintained that all things are merely designations devoid of reality. Human beings are enveloped in the illusion that either the ego (pudgala) or the world (dharmas) is real, whereas in fact neither is. The past does not exist, the future has not yet come to be, and the present, as soon as it comes into being, disappears. Hence, the sense of continuity is illusory.

Harivarman, like the Lokottaravadins, postulates a void, both of the dharmas and of the ego: no dharmas of any sort exist, though from the point of view of relative truth dharmas may appear to exist. In China this doctrine was sharply attacked by its opponents as destructive nihilism. It is perhaps improper to speak of Satyasiddhi as a school; it refers rather to certain centres that attached particular importance to the Satyasiddhi-shastra without ignoring the rest of the Buddhist teachings. (In Japan, Jojitsu is considered part of the Sanron school.)

7) Vinaya schools: Lü/Ritsu.

The development of schools based on an emphasis on the Abhidharma and Sutra "baskets" has been indicated above in the presentation of Sarvastivada and Sautrantika. As for the Vinaya, however, although it constituted an integral part of the Tripitaka and regulated and consecrated the norms of monastic life, it gave rise to a school of its own only in China and Japan, apparently without any Indian precedent. The Lü-tsung (Vinaya school) originated in China in the 7th century during a period of highly intellectualist Buddhism and stressed observance of the ethical precepts and disciplinary rules. In the following century it was introduced into Japan by the famous Chinese priest Chien-chen (Japanese: Ganjin) at the invitation of the Japanese emperor and was known as Risshu or Ritsu (Japanese for Vinaya). The emphasis of Vinaya in Japan was on the correctness and validity of ordination (initiation) into the sangha, especially for monks and nuns; and controversy ensued between those who stressed the formal, external aspect and those who stressed the spiritual, internal aspect of vows and discipline. A reformed Ritsu school was established in the 13th century, based on a "self-vow discipline," marking a return to the validity of spontaneous vows, beyond any formalism, in accordance with Mahayana teachings. The Vinaya Lü-tsung, with its ethical, disciplinary emphasis, so congenial to the Chinese mind, continued to play a vital part in Chinese Buddhism down to modern times; Ritsu, whose teachings were in principle accepted by most Japanese Buddhists, still has its temples and following in contemporary Japan. (see also "Vinaya Pitaka")

   


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