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Solonin K. The Tang Heritage of Tangut Buddhism. Teachings Classification in the Tangut Text „The Mirror“ // Manuscripta Orientalia. Vol. 6, No 3, September 2000. P. 39-48.

The Tangut collection of the St. Petersburg Branch of the Institute of Oriental Studies contains a number of texts which can be regarded as important sources for the native Tangut tradition of Chan Buddhism. Some of them have been briefly examined elsewhere. Among these texts, a compilation known only by its abridged title The Mirror occupies a unique place, being the text which introduced the Chan doctrine of the late Tang Huayan Heze tradition to Tangut readers. This text has already been preliminarily investigated and a draft translation of it was provided by the present author. This paper is an attempt at a more detailed analysis of the contents of The Mirror to locate the text within the framework of the development of Chinese Buddhism in Northern Asia before the Mongol period. Another point is to locate the tradition represented by The Mirror within the Tangut Buddhist context, and to bring out its Chinese component in particular, as it is known now. The idea advocated by the present author is that the Tang Buddhist scholar of the later period Guifeng Zong-mi (780—841), from the Straw Hut Temple, was the most influential among Chinese Buddhist thinkers in Xi Xia. His own writings, as well as the works related to him and his tradition, are numerous both in the Chinese and Tangut parts of the Tangut holdings in St. Petersburg. There is evidence that the lineage of Guifeng Zong-mi was not totally destroyed by Huichang prosecution, as was previously believed, but continued in Xi Xia until at least the twelfth century and even later. Moreover, the doctrine of Zong-mi once again emerged in the capacity of the source of a harmonious Chan tradition in the writings of the founder of the Korean Son tradition Chinul (1158—1210) (see below).

As was demonstrated by the present author in his previous works, The Mirror is a text which may be considered evidence of the continued lineage of Zong-mi in the Tangut State. Judging by its contents, it is clear that it is a “teachings classification” text. It shares the general approach and certain ideas of Zong-mi, but its classification scheme is rather unique and independent from the late Tang author. The most famous classification treatise by Zong-mi — The Preface to the Collection of Chan Sources Taisho No. 2015) — was well known in the Tangut State and produced various commentaries. One of the extant books is a complete translation of the first juan of the Chan Preface whence a number of observations concerning the nature of the text may be made. First, the Tangut version is extremely close to the Chinese original. The existing differences are very few and minor (mainly in word order). The “ten principles”, according to which Zong-mi develops his classification, are highlighted in the text, forming a sort of partial table of contents. Generally, the Tangut text is better prepared in terms of reader’s convenience: the major points are highlighted and marked with numbers, so that the text can be easily read. Besides, the Tangut translation is most valuable for the reconstruction of Tangut Buddhist terms, proper names and text titles; it also contains no information which would be different from the present Taisho copy. The comparison between Chan Preface and The Mirror confirms the substantial similarity between these texts…


The entire paper


Guifeng Zong-mi
Manuscripta Orientalia, selected papers
The Mirror
The Preface to the Collection of Chan Sources
Tangut Buddhism
Tangut literature

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