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Pure Land Sūtras

(15,233 words)

Author(s): Vincent Eltschinger
Buddhism focused on Pure Land faith and practice can be defined as the set of all ideas and practices related to Buddhas who are presently living in world-systems other than our own…, [of] all Buddhist teachings that look forward to the possibility of rebirth in another world-system [ lokadhātu] or Buddha-field [ buddhakṣetra; foguo (佛國)], where a Buddha is presently teaching the Dharma. (Nattier, 2000, 74–75) Let it be emphasized from the outset that a “pure land” is a paradise-like universe of its own and not, stricto sensu, a heaven ( svarga), an expression that must be reserved fo…

Philosophical Literature: South Asia

(18,876 words)

Author(s): Vincent Eltschinger
Kamalaśīla (740–795 ce?), one of the most outstanding figures in the history of Indian Buddhism, composed and glossed works on logic, epistemology, and Madhyamaka; commented on important Mahāyāna sūtras such as the Vajracchedikā and the Śālistamba; and, besides being versed in Tantra, authored treatises in defense of the view that salvation results from a gradual cultivation process extending over innumerable lifetimes. Mutatis mutandis, the same can be said of the most revered Indian Buddhist authorities, Nāgārjuna, Vasubandhu, …


(10,257 words)

Author(s): Vincent Eltschinger | Yoshifumi Honjō
As most traditional biographies of the Buddha have it, Śākyamuni spent the last 45 years of his ultimate existence preaching the law ( dharma) he had discovered in his awakening. Buddhist accounts of the Buddha’s dispensation agree in regarding it as a therapeutic and pragmatic approach to salvation adapted to the language, the religious needs, the social and psychological profiles as well as the intellectual capacities of the audience. However, while such “skill in means” ( upāyakauśalya) perfectly suited the needs of early Buddhism as a missionary religion, it made a …