萬物一理 in Chinese Buddhism: Heresy or Interpretive Liberty?

Exploring Theravāda's connections to other paths - what can we learn from other traditions, religions and philosophies?
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Coëmgenu
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萬物一理 in Chinese Buddhism: Heresy or Interpretive Liberty?

Post by Coëmgenu »

萬物一理 is a saying in Chinese Buddhism, "ten thousand things, (but) one principal," that is as much lauded as it is criticized. This thread is to explore the applications and limitations of 萬物一理 thought as it applies to the Dharma, particularly the Śrāvaka Dharma of the suttas and āgamas. I will be posting various examples of 萬物一理 thought that I think are either well-adapted to the Buddhadharma or beyond the pale. If users wish to participate, I would recommend looking up the Chinese phrase and also this paper by Charles Muller, "The Emergence of Essence-Function (ti-yong) 體用 Hermeneutics in the Sinification of Indic Buddhism: An Overview," which can be found here: http://www.acmuller.net/articles-shisou.html

Reading the paper is not a prerequisite, but will prevent you from being completely uninformed. Another paper is here: http://www.acmuller.net/articles/indige ... eutics.htm
Then, the monks sang this gāthā:

These bodies are like foam.
Them being frail, who can rejoice in them?
The Buddha attained the vajra-body.
Still, it becomes inconstant and rots.
The many Buddhas are vajra-entities.
All are also subject to inconstancy.
Quickly ended, like melting snow --
how could things be different?

The Buddha passed into parinirvāṇa afterward.

(T1.27b10 Mahāparinirvāṇasūtra DĀ 2)
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