Mahayana And Yogacara Buddhism: Nirvana

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Mahayana and Yogacara Buddhism: Nirvana As one of the world’s oldest practiced religions, Buddhism has a strong foothold in South East Asian and the Indian subcontinent. Dating back to five centuries before Christ, it has found itself blossoming in the contemporary world. Founded in India, it has now gained popularity in the West. Modern religious writers are constantly trying to point out what it is about Buddhism that makes it so appealing? They look to find answers in the roots and origin of the religion.

Buddhism is established on the idea of dukkha – its cause and effect. Dukkha can generally be translated as dissatisfaction or suffering. Buddha believed that everything in the world resulted in dukkha. He claimed that this suffering
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Most of these religious scholars had different perspectives on the core values of Buddhism and developed their schools of Buddhist thoughts. Buddhists today, usually identify themselves as either Theravada or Mahayana.

Over time, both these sects branched out further, giving rise to newer schools. Madhyamaka Buddhism has two main wings – Madhyamaka and Yogacara. The thesis of this article is two compare and contrast between these two on the basis of their doctrines on Nirvana.

A lot has been written on the distinction between Madhyamaka and Yogacara. In Richard King’s article on Yogacara’s relationship with Madhyamaka School, he quotes D.T. Suzuki. The quote perfectly sums up the routine sentiment toward the two Schools. “Most Buddhist scholars are often too ready to make a sharp distinction between the Madhyamaka and the Yogacara, taking the one as exclusively advocating the theory of emptiness (śūnyatā) while the other is bent single-mindedly on an idealistic interpretation of the universe. They thus further assume that the idea of emptiness is not at all traceable in the Yogacara and that idealism is absent in the Madhyamaka. This is not exact as a historical
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They came up with the concept of unfixed nirvana (apratisthita-nirvana). This, they said, was a state in which the individual is permanently established in either the Absolute or the human realm. This is called the fluidic state that the practitioner is in, is called the dynamic state of liberation. To support the claim of the dynamic liberation, Asanga, Vasubandhu’s brother, gives the examples of three stages of comprehension to support the concept of the non-discriminating cognitions; (1) preliminary non-discriminating cognition, (2) fundamental non-discriminating cognition and (3) subsequently-acquired non-discriminating cognition. Consider a fool, he says, seeking to comprehend an object, a fool who has successfully comprehending the object and a non-fool who has comprehended the object. He then uses the mental states of these individuals in the three scenarios as metaphors for the three non-discriminating cognitions. Thus, the Yogacara thinkers successfully bridged the gap between Absolute enlightenment and individual human

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