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The influence of Buddhism on Shao Yong's (1012-1077) redefinition of the supreme ultimate : mind as the supreme ultimate

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Doctor of Philosophy in Religious Studies


Chu, William
Capitanio, Joshua
Chen, Huaiyu


This dissertation used hermeneutics to study the influence of Buddhism on the Shao Yong redefinition of the Supreme Ultimate (taiji) - "mind is the Supreme Ultimate." The author argued that the Chan Buddhist ideas of simplicity, purity and harmony were rooted in the cultural backbone of the literati of the Song dynasty (960-1126). Shao's redefinition of the Supreme Ultimate was a result of the development of the Song dynasty's history, society and culture. It has a profound Chan Buddhist ideological foundation and it was different from the classical Book of Changes and Confucianism.

The dissertation analyzed the source, content and history of the relationship between Buddhism and Shao’s redefinition of the Supreme Ultimate. The intent of the dissertation is to clarify the fundamental relationship between Buddhism and the concept of “mind is the Supreme Ultimate,” and their ideological development, along with their essential features mainly from the following aspects: 1) the historical and cultural background; 2) the life of Shao Yong; 3) Chan Buddhist concept of “realizing the mind and seeing self-nature”識 心 見 性, Zongmi’s 宗 密 (780-841) pictorial Chan schemes, Linji Yixuan’s 臨濟義玄(787-867) concept of “four discernments of person and object”四料簡and the Caodong School曹洞宗concept of “jeweled mirror samādhi” 寶鏡三昧; and 4) the lineage of the Supreme Ultimate.

After comprehensive survey, the basic characteristics regarding Shao's redefinition of the Supreme Ultimate as a Buddhism influence upon it by injecting into Buddhist fresh vitality are summarized in the following ways: (1) by considering tathāgata-garbha Buddha-nature to be self-nature in the human mind and considering the mind to be the Supreme Ultimate; (2) by self-cultivation pointing directly at the mind; (3) by orienting toward humanism and laying a great deal of stress upon the attainment of enlightenment through one's own efforts; and (4) by "merging worldly dharmas with transmundane dharma" with the goal of cultivating mundane morality while also practicing renunciation.


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University of the West



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