Project

Thinking Through Texts: Chengguan's Huayan Commentaries and the World of Sui-Tang Buddhist Scholasticism

Program

The Robert H. N. Ho Family Foundation Dissertation Fellowships in Buddhist Studies

Abstract

Taking the work of Tang dynasty exegete Chengguan (738-839) as a starting point, this project re-imagines the early history of Huayan and other schools of East Asian Buddhism. Drawing on comparative work on scholasticism, it argues that Chengguan and other Sui-Tang Buddhist exegetes were primarily participants in a broader scholastic scene. It substantiates this thesis and explores the contours of Sui-Tang Buddhist scholasticism. It argues that while there were no “schools” as such, exegetes did differentiate between different orientations—clusters of ideas, methods, and sources of authority. It also shows that exegetes could switch between orientations. Lastly, the project looks at Chengguan’s use of doxography and proof-texting in the context of Buddhist debates on the nature of the mind.