On Wonhyo's Ijangui (二障義)
Charles Muller, Toyo Gakuen University
Table of Contents
|II.||Structure and Content of the Text|
|III.||A Problem for Wŏnhyo's Understanding of the Two Hindrances: The Awakening of Faith|
The Ijangŭi is one of a relatively small number of texts in Wŏnhyo's (元曉 617-686) corpus that, rather than being exegeses of major scriptures and treatises, are essays on a specific Buddhist problem that is contained in a broad class of Buddhist literature. In this case, the focus is that of the two kinds of hindrances to enlightenment taught in the Yogācāra system: the afflictive hindrances (煩惱障 K. ponnoe chang, Skt. kleśa-āvaraṇa) and the cognitive hindrances (所知障 K. soji chang, Skt.jñeya-āvaraṇa). In the Ijangŭi, Wŏnhyo analyzes the discourse contained on these two hindrances throughout a wide range of Mahāyāna texts.
I. The Hindrances
The basic definition of the hindrances that Wŏnhyo develops in this work is made in reliance on the major Yogācāra texts, such as the Yogācārabhūmi-śāstra, the Prakaranāryavāca-śāstra, Saṃdhinirmocana-sūtra, Mahāyāna-saṃparigraha-śāstra, and so forth, but Wŏnhyo also examines the interpretations of the two hindrances contained in Tathāgatagarbha scriptures such as the Śrīmālā-sūtra and the Awakening of Faith, as well as in other influential Mahāyāna works such as the Nirvāṇa Sutra and Huayan Sutra.
As we find out early in Wŏnhyo's treatise, unless one is only offering a basic definition for introductory purposes, it is technically incorrect to speak of the two kinds of hindrances in terms of simple, clearly distinguished categories, as their definitions contain many subtle nuances. Different texts have their own interpretations, and there are gray areas where determination as one or the other type of hindrance is not so easily made. Nonetheless, by way of entry into the topic, it is easiest to introduce them in terms of their standard characterizations.
The afflictive hindrances include all the various types of agitative passions initially enumerated in the Abhidharma and Yogācāra texts, being most directly characterized by the six primary (根本煩惱) and twenty secondary afflictions (隨煩惱). These hindrances appear in various forms, such as active manifestation, latent form, debilitating form, seed form, and habit energies. They also manifest themselves in a range of sub-varieties of strength and weakness, coarseness and subtlety.
The cognitive hindrances are subtler cognitive obstructions that are grounded in various forms of discrimination and attachment by the functions of awareness. Whereas it is the afflictive hindrances that directly bring about karmic suffering and rebirth in the three realms, it is the cognitive hindrances that keep sentient beings in a state of delusion, allowing them to continue making the errors that allow for, at best, the non-elimination of the afflictive hindrances, and at worst, the creation of new afflictions. Whereas the term afflictive hindrances carries only the single connotation of the afflictions directly impeding the attainment of nirvāṇa, cognitive hindrances has a double connotation, since not only is correct knowing impeded, but it is that which one already knows that impedes the opening of new awarenesses. Therefore the term could be translated, according to the context, both as hindrances of (or to) the known, and as hindrances by the known.
One useful initial approach to distinguishing the hindrances is through the structure of the so-called "three poisons" (三毒), using which we can associate the cognitive hindrances with the basic Buddhist error of ignorance, and the afflictive hindrances with the polarity of attraction and aversion. However, as we find out in the Ijangŭi, this basic division quickly dissolves under further analysis, since ignorance is not a single entity, but the name for a wide category of phenomena, including elemental constructs (or "dharmas" 法) that are obstructive in both an afflictive and cognitive sense, as well as mental functions that can be considered, in certain situations, positive in quality. The afflictive hindrances also include a wide range of mental phenomena of varying subtlety and virulence, and the basic breadth of both categories is complicated by the fact that different texts take different positions on the loci and purview of both. For example, some Mahāyāna scholars saw the afflictions as being limited to the seven transformed consciousnesses (轉識), while others saw them to be operating in the ālaya as well. It also depends on whether one is referring to the afflictions in their active mode (纏, 現行), latent mode (隨眠), debilitating mode (麁重), their seeds (種子), or their habit energies (習氣).
The other general distinction commonly made between the two hindrances in Mahāyāna-biased schema, is that the afflictive hindrances are something removable by the self-salvifically oriented practices of the two lesser vehicles (二乘), while the cognitive hindrances are only removable through the emptiness-and-compassion based practices of the bodhisattvas. As Wŏnhyo explains in several places, this is only true as a very general characterization, as many of the cognitive hindrances are actually removable by śrāvakas and pratyekabuddhas, and there are certain situations where the bodhisattvas are more proficient than the practitioners of the two vehicles at the removal of the afflictive hindrances. In the end, the table of relationships between the vehicles presented by Wŏnhyo ends up being quite fluid, and is not related to the establishment of Mahāyāna polemical positions, but instead focuses on the nature and the power of the practices in themselves.1
The Ijangŭi, in treating the matter of the elimination of the obstructions to liberation, covers almost every aspect of the relevant Yogācāra doctrine from every angle, using a multitiered type of comparative analysis. Wŏnhyo discusses the two hindrances in terms of their qualitative constitution (the Yogācāra categories of good, evil, impedimentary neutral and non-impedimentary neutral), their varying manifestations (active, latent, debilitating, seed, habit energy, etc.), their presence or absence in the eight different layers of consciousness, their removal in the context of the five Yogācāra paths, their relation to each other, their relation to the four views of self associated with the seventh (manas) consciousness (末那識), and their relation to the two kinds of attachment: attachment to self (ātma-grāha我執) and attachment to elemental constructs (dharma-grāha法執).
Each of these analyses are carried out based on various interpretive perspectives, but the most common hermeneutical divisions are those of the "loose interpretation" (通門) as opposed to the "strict interpretation" (別門), and the esoteric interpretation (隱密門) as opposed to the exoteric interpretation (顯了門). One of the main characteristics of the esoteric interpretation is that it includes the theoretical position that the ālaya consciousness can be a locus for afflictive hindrances, whereas the exoteric interpretation limits the purview of the afflictions to the seven transformed consciousnesses. As far as the subtlest of the cognitive hindrances are concerned, they extend into the ālaya regardless of the interpretive approach.
Once Wŏnhyo completes the Ijangŭi, he refers back to it often in his later commentarial works, such as in his commentaries on the Awakening of Faith and Vajrasamādhi-sūtra. This is because the Ijangŭi is the text where he worked out the details of the nature, constitution, potential, and means for elimination of afflictionsߞa topic that appears often in his other works.
II. Structure and Content of the Text
The Ijangŭi is an impressive piece of scholarship, especially when viewed in terms of the extent of the research involved, Wŏnhyo's mastery of the subject texts and the overall sophistication of his analyses of the doctrines. His incredible grasp of the Yogācāra, tathāgatagarbha, prajñāpāramitā and Huayan corpora is demonstrated in the facility with which he cites from all of these types of works in the course of this treatise. Not least among these is the massive Yogācārabhūmi-śāstra, which he often quotes with rough paraphrase, a fact that tends to indicate that he was probably citing from memory, rather than from an open scroll on his desk.
Wŏnhyo compares what the various Yogācāra texts have to say regarding all major points of interpretation, and is unflaggingly diligent in digging out the reasons for discrepancies when they appear. This is a consistent characteristic of Wŏnhyo's scholarship. He is rarely content to say merely that a certain author says so-and-so on a certain point and that another author disagrees, and leave it at that. When differences in interpretation appear, he is determined to discover the basic assumptions that each writer is working from, to discover exactly why it is that they see the matter the way they do. After fully fathoming the writers' paradigms, Wŏnhyo will explain where and how the various theories can be fit together.
Wŏnhyo approaches the explanation of the two kinds of hindrances from six perspectives, using one of his typical hermeneutic approaches. The six sections in this work are: (1) the Definition of Terminology [of the Two Kinds of Hindrances] (釋名義); (2) Presentation of the Constitution [of the Hindrances] (出體相); (3) Explanation of the Potentialities of the Hindrances (辨功能); (4) Outline of the Various Categories of the Hindrances (攝諸門); (5) Explanation of the [Processes of] the Quelling and Elimination of the Hindrances (明治斷); and (6) the General Summary (惣決擇).
The first, relatively short section, is an explanation of the basic meaning of the two terms of Afflictive Hindrances and Cognitive Hindrances. According to Wŏnhyo's explanation, we may be at ease in our selection of "affliction" as the English translation for pŏnnoe as opposed to "defilement," as he lays great stress on the power of these hindrances to bring about agitation, confusion, and disturbance. Pŏnnoe then, is understood as the direct opposite of "serenity." Soji chang is defined in two ways described aboveߞobstructions to and by the known. Wŏnhyo makes it clear from the outset that although the two kinds of hindrances do differ in terms of general tendency, there are significant areas of overlap between them.
The second section contains the Presentation of the Constitution of the Hindrancesߞi.e., their substance and their attributes. These are explained in terms of two kinds of interpretations: the exoteric and the esoteric, which are developed along the lines of the classic Yogācāra argument over whether or not the eighth (ālaya) consciousness is a locus for affliction. The exoteric interpretation of the hindrances is broken down into five sections, which are explanations according to (1) their self-natureߞi.e., what the hindrances actually consist of; (2) the eight consciousnesses and the three qualities (evil, impedimentary neutral, and non-impedimentary neutral). (3) the manifestly binding afflictions and the latent afflictions; (4) the afflictions proper and their habit energies; (5) the five ranks of the one hundred elemental constructs. These topics are discussed from a variety of sub-perspectives, such as in the context of the various Yogācāra paths, perfumation, coarseness and subtlety, etc.
In the esoteric interpretation, the afflictive hindrances are explained in terms of six kinds of defiled mind as taught in the Awakening of Faith, while the cognitive hindrances are explained in terms of their relation to innate ignorance. This explanation of the hindrances is directly associated with the Awakening of Faith, and is quite different from that found in the Yogācārabhūmi-śāstra, the Saṃdhinirmocana-sūtra, and other basic Yogācāra texts.
The third section, again broken down into exoteric and esoteric interpretations, treats the potentialities of the two hindrances. Here we are introduced to a wide-ranging analysis of the different permutations of karma, such as directive (or "generalized") and particularizing, as well as the karma that is created in this life and the karma retained from previous lives. There are a large number of sub-variations here, in terms of such differences as that of manifest and latent afflictions, the three moral qualities, specific and shared characteristics, degree of continuity or momentariness, as well as the various consciousnesses from which they are produced. Their removal is discussed in terms of the Path of Expedient Means, Path of Seeing, and Path of Cultivation, as well as in terms of the levels of worldling, two vehicles, bodhisattvas, and the four stages of the arhat's path.
In contrast to the afflictive hindrances, the cognitive hindrances lack direct power in terms of both karmic production and rebirth, due to the fact that they contain no error in regard to the Four Noble Truths. They have two basic kinds of function: discrimination of distinctions in the self-natures of all elemental constructs and discrimination of differences of marks of self and other, agreeable and disagreeable, and so forth. The esoteric interpretation in this section treats the two hindrances together in terms of their potential for production of karma and their states of contamination and non-contamination.
The fourth section explains the various categories of the afflictions (i.e., lists such as the 128 Afflictions, ninety-eight proclivities, etc.), where and how they are eliminated in terms of Yogācāra path theory, vehicle theory, layers of consciousness, contamination, non-contamination, etc. The discussion starts with hindrances associated only with afflictions, then moves into areas shared by both hindrances, and ends ups with the strictly cognitive hindrances. All are further analyzed in terms of exoteric and esoteric interpretations, as well as in terms of distinctive and shared characteristics.
In the fifth section Wŏnhyo explains the variety of theories regarding the actual removal of the hindrances, which occur at the two levels of quelling and complete elimination. This discussion has four parts: the clarification of subjective quelling; the determination of that which is eliminated; the explanation of the distinctions in quelling and eliminating; and the explanation of the stages of quelling and eliminating. Here, the whole range of Yogācāra paths and sub-paths are detailed in terms of their special connotations for worldlings, the two vehicles and the bodhisattva vehicle. Distinctions in level of attainment, time of attainment, sudden elimination and gradual elimination are also explained in terms of manifestly active affliction, latent affliction, seeds, habit energies and conceptual obstructions.
The final section of the treatise is a general conclusion, in which Wŏnhyo discusses various categorizations of the meaning of attainment of "completion of the path" according to different traditions. He also addresses apparent contradictions and differences in interpretation that may occur depending on whether one is talking about a condition in the hindrances of coarseness or subtlety; heaviness or lightness; depth and shallowness. In terms of both hindrances, he clarifies the pervasive role of ignorance, as well as the differences in regard to attachment to person and attachment to elemental constructs. Wŏnhyo concludes with a flourish that is typical of his works, wherein he explains how the various Buddhist positions that are often seen as containing contradictions, such as those of Buddha-nature, Tathāgatagarbha, self, no-self, dharmas, no-dharmas, emptiness, existenceߞcan all be based either on sound arguments or on misunderstandings. Therefore, it is always necessary to understand the context in which a particular theory is being posited before judgments are made regarding its correctness.
III. A Problem for Wŏnhyo's Understanding of the Two Hindrances: The Awakening of Faith
The content of the Ijangŭi in itself is a rich resource for anyone interested in Yogācāra soteriological theory. But issues of the relationship of the Ijangŭi to the rest of Wŏnhyo's work, and to the developing East Asian Buddhist tradition are also of interest. For example, we may inquire as to why it was that Wŏnhyo decided to conduct such an extensive and thoroughgoing work on this narrow topic, when quite probably no one in the entire Buddhist tradition before him had done so, and certainly no one after him. If Wŏnhyo was merely writing on the hindrances because he found them discussed in many Yogācāra and Tathāgatagarbha texts, he might just as well have focused on some other subject, such as the ālaya consciousness in itself, or the perennially popular matter of the three natures of perception. It is clear, however, that he had a special interest in the two hindrances.
One plausible explanation is that through analysis of two hindrances discourse, he found a means for tying together the gamut of Yogācāra soteriological theories, thus including a detailed inquiry into the process of removal of affliction from the ālaya and the transformed consciousnesses, an intimate perspective for the examination of Yogācāra path theory, and so forth. In short, the discussion of the two hindrances brings into it basically everything that Yogācāra and Tathāgatagarbha texts have to say about the dynamics of Buddhist soteriology. This reveals something fundamental about Wŏnhyo's interest in all of these textsߞthat his interest was, in great part, soteriologically oriented. He was concerned, first and foremost, with how sentient beings could attain liberation through the actualization of their innate Buddhahood. Among the vast array of content found in the Yogācāra writings, it is in the articulation of the hindrances that the theories of ālayavijñāna, the five categories of elemental constructs, karmic qualities, the five stages of advancement and so forth, are linked into practice. It is also no doubt the readiness of direct application of two hindrances theory to the matter of practice toward liberation that caused the hindrances to be one of the more noticeable aspects of Yogācāra doctrine to be incorporated into the teachings of early Chan.
Another motivation for Wonhyo's interest in the two hindrances may have come not from his Yogācāra studies proper, but instead have been influenced by the distinctive presentation of the two hindrances made in his favorite text, the Awakening of Mahayana Faith (AMF). There is one passage in particular in the AMF wherein the hindrances are discussed, which reads as follows:
Furthermore, the notion of defiled mind is called the obstacle of afflictions, because it is able to hinder the fundamental wisdom of suchness. The notion of ignorance is called the obstacle of wisdom, which is able to hinder the wisdom that understands the karmic [events] of the natural world. What does this mean? Depending upon the defiled mind, one is able to see, manifest, and illusorily grasp the objects of the world, and go against the nature of equality [of suchness]. All elemental constructs are eternally quiescent and have no arising marks. However, non-enlightenment, produced by ignorance, deludedly moves in contradiction to this [eternal quiescence] of elemental constructs, and therefore one is unable to act in accord with the wisdom that understands all the objects of the natural world.2
If one has developed an understanding of the two hindrances according to the standard definitions given in Yogācāra works such as the Yogācārabhūmi-śāstra, this passage should seem a bit odd at first glance, as it is not like anything seen in any of the texts cited by Wŏnhyo in his Ijangŭi. What is most unusual about this passage is that the hindrances of affliction are described as something that "obstructs the wisdom of suchness." This is unlike their more standard description as being the agency for the continuity of karmic suffering in saṃsāra. They are not usually explained as being obstructive of wisdom (although there is nothing in the standard definition that would deny this fact, and there is no reason to think that such obstruction would not be readily possible). Also, the definition of the cognitive hindrances as being that which prevents a proper apprehension of the natural world of karma is rather unusual, as the nature of their obstruction is usually not given such a narrow limitation.
When Wŏnhyo came across this passage in his earlier commentary to the AMF (the Taesŭng kisillon pyŏlgi大乘起信論別記), he did not attempt to deal with its unusual content. However, in his second commentary (the Kisillon so起信論疏), which is written after the composition of the Ijangŭi, he says:
The sixth [section] is an analysis of the meaning of the two obstacles of wisdom and affliction. In the exoteric interpretation (顯了門) they are called the two hindrances (二障); in the esoteric interpretation (隱密門) they are called the two obstacles (二礙). These concepts have been thoroughly discussed in my Ijangŭi. The present sentences are based on the esoteric interpretation, in which there are two sub-aspects. At first the two obstacles are classified. The passage starting with, "this means..." explains the reason they are called obstacles.
First, the meaning of the words, "the meaning of defiled mind," clarifies the six kinds of defiled mind. The words "fundamental wisdom," refer to the wisdom from illumination and quiescence. Because this damages quiescence it is called: "the obstacle of affliction."
The meaning of the words, "the aspect of ignorance," is fundamental ignorance. The meaning of the words, "wisdom of . . . karma in the world," is subsequently attained wisdom. Since there is a lack of clarity arising from ignorant confusion, this goes against the discriminating knowledge of the world. For this reason, it is called "the obstacle of wisdom."3
The fact that Wŏnhyo elected to pass over this passage the first time around, and then in a later commentary, basically creates a new "esoteric" definition of the hindrances for specific application in the AMF, tends to indicate that it may have posed a severe difficulty for him the first timeߞas it certainly would have been somewhat at odds with what he understood from his prior Yogācāra background. What is important to note about this explanation, is its tautological aspect. That is, in explaining the meaning of the two hindrances here, he refers us to his Ijangŭi. But when we go to the initial explanation of the esoteric explanation of the hindrances in the Ijangŭi, he refers us to this section of the Awakening of Faith. This means that the explanation of the two hindrances contained in the AMF is not only "based on" the esoteric interpretation, but is also the original source of that interpretation. In other words, the esoteric interpretation is Wŏnhyo's original creation, developed primarily as a means of incorporating the AMF's definition of the two hindrances into a comprehensive view.
Let us contrast the above "esoteric" definition of the two hindrances with the more standard definition, which is given at the outset of the Ijangŭi, in the "Definition of Terms (釋名義):"
The term "afflictive hindrances" refers to the fact that the anxieties caused by various passions such as craving, anger and so forth, take on their own nature. They manifest themselves according to the circumstance and bring distress to body and mind. Therefore they are called afflictions. This is an application of terminology where the subject receives its name from its function. These hindrances are also able create disturbance within the world, and the effects of the afflictions vex sentient beings, causing them to lose their serenity. . . . What are the cognitive hindrances? The natures of the myriad things and the nature of suchness are the objects of the illumination of the two kinds of wisdomߞtherefore they are called "the known." The delusions of attachment to elemental constructs and so forth suppress the nature of wisdom so that it does not accomplish clear observation. They obfuscate the nature of the objects so there is no clearly observing mind. Because of these connotations, they are called the cognitive hindrances.4
This is the basic definition of the hindrances that we find in the standard Yogācāra texts. In this definition, the cognitive and karmic aspect of the cognitive and afflictive hindrances are clearly distinguished, as well as their relative subtlety and coarseness, and the role that the cognitive hindrances play as the source of the afflictive hindrances. But in the definition found in the AMF, this distinction is blurred when the afflictive obstructions are described as hindering the wisdom of suchness. The relationship between the two is nonetheless eventually clarified along essence-function lines as Wŏnhyo, in the section of explanation of the constitution of the hindrances from the esoteric interpretation, associates innate ignorance with the cognitive obstructions and the six kinds of defiled mind with the afflictive obstructions, and then sums them up by saying "innate ignorance is the basis relied upon by the six kinds of defiled mind."5 As we can see, the character of this definition applied by Wŏnhyo here is significantly different from that used in his commentary to the AMF.
In view of the wide range of information that it weaves together on such an important topic, the Ijangŭi is an exceedingly rare sort of text, which serves well to enhance and clarify our understanding of Yogācāra soteriological theory, and perhaps as well provoke many new debates on matters of subtle interpretation of various theories of karma. Regarding Wŏnhyo's works as a whole, we cannot but forever lament the fact that three-fourths of his writings have been lost. But even with the remaining works in our possession, there is an incredible wealth of valuable material that can help us to significantly deepen our understanding of both East Asian Buddhism and Indian Buddhism. There is no doubt that the present project of translation of Wŏnhyo's texts into English will represent the one of the single most significant leaps in the knowledge of Buddhism undergone by the West to date.
Han'guk pulgyo chŏnsŏ.韓國佛教全書 (The Collected Works of Korean Buddhism). Seoul: Dongguk University Press, 1979.
Ijangŭi.二障義. By Wŏnhyo 元曉; HPC. 1.789-814.
Kisillon so.起信論疏. By Wŏnhyo; HPC. 1.698-722; T. 1844.44.202a-226a.
Taesŭng kisillon pyŏlgi.大乘起信論別記.By Wŏnhyo; 2 fasc., HPC 1.677-697; T. 1845.44.226a-240c.
Taishō shinshū daizōkyō.大正新脩大藏經 (Revised Tripiṭaka compiled during the Taishō period). Edited by Takakusu Junjirō 高楠順次郎 and Watanabe Kaikyoku 渡辺海旭. Tokyo: Daizō kyōkai, 1924-1935.
1. A good example of Wŏnhyo's comparative treatment of vehicle relationships can be found in the final section of the Ijangŭi, where he summarizes the most important points of debate. In this passage, Wŏnhyo explains the relationship between the bodhisattvas and the four levels of lesser vehicle practitioners, according to various criteria. See HPC 1.812b4-c15.[back]
2. T 1666.32.577c19-24.[back]
3. T 1844.44.215c13-20.[back]
4. HPC 1.789c11-20.[back]
5. 根本無明者彼六染心所依根本. HPC 1.795a11.[back]
Copyright © Charles Muller— 2000