The continuity of madhyamaka and yogadira in Indian Mahayana Buddhism

Ian Charles Harris
E.J. Brill
Publish Place: 
Leiden, The Netherlands
Publish Year: 

Harris, Ian Charles. The continuity of madhyamaka and yogadira in Indian Mahayana Buddhism. Leiden: E.J. Brill, 1991.

This book started life as a doctoral thesis presented at the University of Lancaster in 1985. Since that time a good deal of scholarly effort has been expended in re-examining the relationship between the early schools of Indian Mahayana Buddhism and I have attempted, where appropriate, to draw on these fresh insights in the present text. While it is probably true to say that Madhyamaka philosophy has received a major share of the attention of English speaking scholars, a gentle shift to the Yogacara is now underway, particularly in the U.S.A.

One must, of course, be aware of the more positive treatment given to the Yogacara on the continent of Europe and this is, no doubt, in some part due to the differing philosophical and cultural proclivities in that geographical region. Anyone embarking on work in this field must therefore be aware of their enormous debt to scholars such as Louis de la Vallee Poussin, Sylvain Levi, Eric Frauwallner, Etienne Lamotte and Lambert Schmithausen for substantial labours already completed. The problem for the present writer has been in the drawing together of sources generally confined to hermetically sealed compartments in an attempt to reassess the overall development of the early Mahayana tradition of thought. I am all too well aware of my lack of competence in many facets of this work, not the least my lack of knowledge of relevant Chinese materials, and am conscious of the many loose ends and vague generalisations which I have been forced to make. A great deal still needs to be done on the reasons for, and background to, the new terminology of the Yogacara, for instance. Similarly a more in depth treatment of the relationship between spiritual practice and philosophy in a religious context, particularly in the early Mahayana period, would greatly enhance our overall appreciation of the interconnections between individual Buddhist thinkers. Nevertheless I am encouraged to publish the results of my deliberations, despite their provisional nature, since many of my conclusions appear, at least partially, congruent with those of other researchers. I dare say that some of the views expressed in this book will need to be modified in the light of constructive criticism, but my hope is that this work will at the least stimulate debate in this exciting area of
Buddhist studies.