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Subject Religion

DOI: 10.1111/b.9780631181392.1995.x


[ xi ] The ‘essence of the Buddha’ ( tathagata ), or ‘womb of the Buddha’ a term commonly used in M ahayana B uddhism to refer to the Buddha-nature, that which because it is possessed by sentient beings enables them to become fully enlightened Buddhas. The idea of the tathagatagarbha was put forward in a number of Indian Buddhist sutras, and expounded particularly in a treatise said to have been revealed by the B odhisattva maitreya , the Ratnagotravibhaga (also known as the Uttaratantrashastra ). In China Fatsang (7th century ce ) saw the tathagatagarbha teaching as a further and final revelation beyond M adhyamaka and Y ogacara. Texts treating the tathagatagarbha frequently refer to it as having ‘the perfection of self’, and particular problems were caused by the suggestion that some element in each sentient being which enables one to become enlightened could be referred to as a ‘self’ ( see A natta ). Commonly it is stated that the name ‘tathagatagarbha’ is given to the ultimate truth ( dharmakaya; see B uddha, bodies of ) when it is obscured by defilements in the unenlightened person. There is a tendency for each Mahayana tradition to say that the tathagatagarbha is whatever that tradition considers to be the ultimate way of things – E mptiness for M adhyamaka , the non-dual stream of consciousness for Y ogacara. Thus this could only be a ‘self’ in a metaphoric ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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