This festschrift volume commemorating the late Richard H. Robinson, founder of the Buddhist Studies Program at the University of
Wiscon-sin-Madison, was compiled in honor of Professor Robinson’s contributions to Buddhist studies. It is designed for Buddhologists and
the specialized reader in religion and philosophy.
The studies and essays in this collection represent some of the best of contemporary scholarship in Mahayana Buddhist studies and
deal with the theory and practice of Mahayana meditation. The use of original sources and the presentation of previously untranslated material
make this collection a significant contribution to the understanding of Buddhist meditation as it developed historically, intellectually, and in
Minoru Kiyota received his B.A. from the University of California in 1949, and worked for the Far East U.S. Air Intelligence in
civilian capacity during the Korean War. After the war, he enrolled at Tokyo University as a graduate student and received his Ph.D. from the
Department of Indian Philosophy in 1963. He then was employed as an Assistant Professor by the University of Wisconsin-Madison with a joint
appointment in the Department of Indian Studies and the Department of East Asian Languages and Literature. In 1989, he was given a post as a
Senior Lecturer at the Department of Kinesiology and began to teach Kendo. He retired in 1999, but continues to teach Kendo.
Following the untimely death of Richard H. Robinson, there was a strong wish on the part of many friends, colleagues, and former students to
see the birth of a commemorative volume honoring Professor Robinson’s contributions to the advancement of Buddhist studies. Actual plans for
the making of such a volume began to take definite shape in the spring of 1971 at the meeting of the Association for Asian Studies in
Washington, D.C., when a committee was formed for this purpose. The original committee consisted of Minoru Kiyota (then appointed
chairman), Mrs. Richard Robinson, Willard Johnson, Arthur Link, and Kathryn Cissell. The committee made a selection of possible contributors
and delegated the responsibility of final selection and compilation to Minoru Kiyota, who subsequently chose Mr. Elvin W. Jones as editorial
assistant. Funds were forthcoming from the Robinson Memorial Fund, and contributions of papers were solicited. Response was immediate and
extremely gratifying; it is unfortunate that, due to the limitations of size, many excellent papers could not be included.
The editors wish to express appreciation and acknowledgement to Mr. Aaron Koseki for preparing the glossary of Chinese characters,
to Mr. Leonard Zwilling for proofreading the Sanskrit terminology used in the articles, to Mr. Otis Smith and Mrs. Georgianna March for
proofreading the manuscript, to Mrs. March for assisting with the standardization of the notes, and to Mrs. Mary Jo Smith for typing the
These studies and essays are representative of the work of modern Buddhist scholarship. The collection is designed not only for the
Buddhologist, but also for the more or less specialist reader in world religion and philosophy for whom, it is hoped, the volume may be of
assistance in understanding some of the ramifications of later Buddhist thought. Consequently, the writings here deal primarily with the
Mahayana, and are developed from Sanskrit, Tibetan, and Chinese sources composed in the third century A.D. and after. The principal method or
approach to be found in most of these studies, regardless of the differences in the Buddhological viewpoint of their respective authors, is simply
the exposition of classical source material.
Here, as has been the case among Buddhist scholars in general, the viewpoints of the authors are more or les evenly divided between
those who tend to view Buddhism as a predominantly rational system and those who view it as pure existentialism. The former will view the core
of Buddhist teaching as the outcome and derivative of the process of reasoning, whereas the latter will regard it as a verbal-conceptual
formalization of an essentially translational and yogic-type experience to be judged solely by its being known experientially or existentially. For
the former, the core of the formalizations of Buddhism are propositions whose truth or falsity are ascertainable by means of a purely
philosophical critique; for the latter, they are merely the signposts pointing the way to a stronger manner of “being here” or Dasein.
As serviceable as these approaches may be as emphases or priorities in talking about Buddhism, an actual cleavage between scientific
and existentialist thought is, of course, a peculiarly European development and has its genesis in Europe’s own intellectual past. Consequently, a
hard and fast distinction between the two, at least in the same manner, may not also be altogether applicable to other cultures such as Indian, for
example, where religion, philosophy, and science have developed in other ways. For instance, nothing prevents a philosophy, once taken outside
of the European framework, from being existentialism in the prime sense of holding that an individual’s potentiality for a given mode of
existence can not be derived from any metaphysics of being, and from being at the same time a philosophy derivable from the process of
reasoning, provided that the reasoning process be a critique of thinking, rather than a construction of another system of rationalist dogma or
ideology. Buddhism, in fact, appears to be just such a case in point, as long as one considers the primary systems of the Hinayana and the
Mahayana as set forth in the Buddhist sutras, together with their systematization by the main Buddhist acaryas, Nagarjuna, Asanga, and others.
Subsequently, when Buddhism began to spread over the major portion of Asia, it always did so in association with its philosophies, since
Buddhism never presented itself as a new revelation or gnosis, its founder having cautioned his followers about accepting his dharma on the basis
of his personal authority rather than scrutinizing it by means of reason. The subsequent developments of Buddhism throughout numerous Asian
countries are too multifarious to be generalized.
In this volume devoted to Buddhist meditation, the reader will soon discover that many of the studies and essays deal with the theories
of the Mahayana, which is as it should be. In both the Mahayana systems, the Madhyamika and the Yogacara, as well as in the Hinayana, the actual
nature of the object to be meditated upon is at first purely noetic, and results from a correct analysis of the phenomenal thing. Subsequently, this
noetic object is brought into the limits of direct perception through the power of repeated meditative practice; to become an object of
meditation at all, a thing must first be established as an object noetically. Consequently, the acaryas of all the Buddhist schools, both Hinayanist
and Mahayanist, seem to have been unanimous in holding that study and investigation need to precede the practice of meditation, simply in order
to establish the number, nature, and so forth of the objects upon which to meditate. In Buddhism, this has always entailed some correct
understanding and acceptance of anatma, which is the principal object of meditation, for the core of Buddhist teaching is simply the
demonstration of anatma, and of the paths and final results which arise from meditating upon that view.
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