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Search for description of mind : the development of Ālayavijñāna in China


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Long, Gem










This dissertation is a study of the development of the concept of Ālayavijñāna in China. Chinese monks of the 4th and 5th centuries were faced with this new Sanskrit term, apparently never before introduced to them by the missionaries. Over time, from different dynasties, different schools, and different monks, the various definitions of this word can be traced along with the history of the development of Buddhism in China.

Yan Shou (延壽904-975CE) gave 23 different names for Ālayavijñāna in his work, Zong Jing Lu <<宗鏡錄>>. This, however, is not a comprehensive list of all the definitions of Ālayavijñāna, within the Yogācāra School. The research of this dissertation seeks to explain why there are so many different designations for Ālayavijñāna. The explorations deal with how the various names were interpreted. The process required the identification of the first monk who translated this word into Chinese. This allows us to have the starting point for the historical study of the term. In later history, such as the Tang dynasty, there was a major change in the transliteration of the term. This involved a switch from阿梨耶識 to阿賴耶識, which occurred after the Tripitaka Master Xuan Zhuang (玄奘), founder of Fa Xiang School (法相宗), returned to China from India in the 7th century. From that point onward, the term was a major part of the teaching of the Fa Xiang School.

As a result of this research, a more complete list of the definitions of Ālayavijñāna has been constructed. This list provides quantitative evidence for the study of Ālayavijñāna in China and allows us to have material for a full assessment of the importance of the term. Included in the issues that are addressed, is the controversy over the relative importance of the 7th and 9th types of consciousness as they appeared in the debates and discourses between different schools of thought in China.