Posts Tagged ‘Chinese’

Om arapacana dhîh

Discussion on the Intermediate State
in the Mahâvibhâsha

Translated from the Chinese version by Xuanzang
Apidamo da pibosha lun, T 1545, vol. 27, p. 356-64

– Why have the venerable ones included a discussion about the intermediate state 中有 in this varga (納息 category) ?
– In order to put an end to heresies and manifest the right view. Indeed, some, like the Vibhâjyavâdins 分別論者, maintain that birth in the three worlds does not imply any intermediate state. Others explain that it is sure that birth in the Worlds of Desire and Form imply an intermediate state : such is the view of the Logicians ( ? 應理論者).
– What, then, are the criteria of the Vibhâjyavâdins allowing them to assert the non-existence of the intermediate state ?
– They refer to textual evidence 至教量 by quoting a sûtra 契經 which says that one who has committed one of the five actions « with immediate retribution » 五無間業 will for sure be immediately reborn in hell. This immediate rebirth in hell is a clear proof of the non-existence of any intermediate state. A gâthâ 伽他 says :
« You who are reborn today, you quit your lofty position
And utterly decline to approach Yamarâja 琰魔王.
You’d like to go forwards but have no provisions 資量,
And if you want to rest in between, you’ll find no place to stop over. »
This « no place to stop in between » 中間無所止處 allows them to ascertain the non-existence of this intermediate state.
Answering to our objections, they also prove 說過難證 this non-existence saying : as there is no gap between a form and its reflection 影光中無間隙, in the same way there is no gap between death and rebirth. How do you, Logicians, they say, prove the existence of an intermediate state with valid criteria ?
– We use a valid cognition derived from an authoritative text which says that « the one who enters its mother’s womb must have a direct experience of three things : 1) the mother’s body must be in time and fit 時調適 ; 2) father and mother must unite ; and 3) the gandharva 健達縛 must appear right in front of them. » So, what gandharva could it be if not a being in the intermediate state ? Who or what could make this experience once the previous aggregates are destroyed ? A being in the intermediate state is thus referred to as the gandharva.
Moreover, since texts mention « parinirvâna in between » 中般涅槃, if there is no intermediate state, how is such a parinirvâna possible ?
Another text reads : « When this body is destroyed and the next is not yet born, a mental sentient being, stopped by desire, engages in appropriation. » 意成有情依止於愛而設施取。
If the Bhagavân spoke thus, we can be definitely sure that there must be an intermediate state. If it were not the case, what would this « mental sentient being » refer to ?
Moreover, their denial can be countered by other evidences, for instance : if an individual dies here [in Jambudvîpa] to be reborn in the Northern Continent of Uttarakuru, etc. 北俱盧等, and if there is nothing like an intermediate state, there will be an interruption between the destruction of its present body and the birth in the next one. In that case, the next body would exist unpreceded and this one would be nothing in spite of its existence – thus goes the nature of things 法亦應爾. What basically does not exist would exist and the existing would return to nothingness. But as such defect is impossible, we have another evidence of the necessary existence of the intermediate state.

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The Dharma Drum Buddhist College website provides many interesting resources, some of which are accessible in English. (If you click on the link above, don’t be discouraged if you can’t read Chinese, just scroll down to find a list of various archives with English names). Many of these links look to be in development and eventually English will probably be added. If you are interested in the Chinese Buddhist Canon or developing materials for Buddhist studies in general, take a look at what is being developed in Taiwan:

Work that includes a Tibetan index: Research Material for the Manchu Buddhist Canon

Development of a Jeffrey Hopkins Digital Archive: The UMA Multimedia Archive of Tibetan Buddhism

Digital Silkroad Museum

Click here to see a very useful list put together by Marcus Bingenheimer, last updated in February of 2009.

Dr. Bingenheimer’s CV.

The Thesaurus Literaturae Buddhicae (TLB) is a quadrilingual presentation of Buddhist literature sentence by sentence in Sanskrit, Chinese, Tibetan and English. See Bibliotheca Polyglotta. If that link does not function, paste this link in your browser: and click on the link to the Thesaurus Literaturae Buddhicae

So far these are the texts available:

Vajracchedikā Prajñāpāramitā

Also note that there are new links posted on our Resources page (use link to the right). These additions include an excellent resource for Tibetan studies from Columbia University, translation work from Dan Martin, and the publications of the International Association for Buddhist Thought and Culture.