How to Attain Enlightenment Through Cognition of Particulars and Universals? Huizhao on Svalakṣaṇa and Sāmānyalakṣaṇa

  • Chen-kuo LinEmail author
Part of the Dao Companions to Chinese Philosophy book series (DCCP, volume 9)


This chapter attempts to explore Huizhao’s theory of svalakṣaṇa (particular) and sāmānyalakṣaṇa (universal) on the basis of his works, especially his Treatise on Two Means of Valid Knowledge. In this treatise, the main question regarding the nature of cognition in the context of mental cultivation is addressed as such: Is the cognition of universals or the cognition of particulars capable of guiding the practitioner to attain liberation? According to Abhidharmamahāvibhāṣā, universal is the correct answer to the question, since only the path that takes universal as the object is able to eliminate the defilements. For the Chinese Yogācārins and logicians who followed Dignāga, conversely, only the particular can be taken as the object of valid cognition that leads to the final awakening. In the case of Huizhao, he grounds the ontology of universal in the doctrinal framework of Yogācāra idealism, which leads him to compromise between nominalism and conceptualism. This chapter concludes that, as far as the issue of particular and universal is concerned, the Indian side is more devoted to the debate among different philosophical theories, such as realism, nominalism, and conceptualism, whereas on the Chinese side more interests are directed to contextualizing the issue within the practice of cognitive cultivation.


Buddhist epistemology Universal Particular Huizhao Yogācāra 



Pramāṇasamuccaya of Dignāga


Pramāṇasamuccayavṛtti of Dignāga


Primary Sources

  1. Abhidharmamahāvibhāṣāśāstra. Apidamo Da Piposha Lun 阿毘達磨大毘婆沙論 (Great Exposition of Scholasticism), trans. by Xuanzang 玄奘. T 27, 1545.Google Scholar
  2. Bandhuprabha 親光. Buddhabhumyūpadeśa. Fodi Jing Lun 佛地經論 (Treatise on the Buddha Realm). T 26, 1530.Google Scholar
  3. Dharmapāla 護法, et al. Cheng Weishi Lun 成唯識論 (Treatise on the Establishment of Consciousness-Only), trans. by Xuanzang 玄奘. T 31, 1585.Google Scholar
  4. Dignāga (Chenna 陳那), Nyāyamukha. Yinming Zhengli Men Lun 因明正理門論 (An Entrance to Logic), trans. by Xuanzang 玄奘. T 32, 1628.Google Scholar
  5. Kātyāyanīputra. Abhidharmavibhāṣāśāstra. Apitan Piposha Lun 阿毘曇毘婆沙論 (Exposition of Scholasticism), trans. by Buddhavarman, Daotai 道泰, et al. T 28, 1546.Google Scholar
  6. Kuiji 窺基. Cheng Weishi Lun Shuji 成唯識論述記 (Commentary on the Cheng Weishi Lun). T 43, 1830.Google Scholar
  7. ———. Yinming Ruzhengli Lun Shu 因明入正理論疏 (Commentary on the Nyāyapraveśa). T 44, 1840.Google Scholar
  8. Huili 慧立. Datang Daciensi Sanzang Fashi Zhuan 大唐大慈恩寺三藏法師傳 (Biography of Tripiṭaka Master Xuanzang of Great Tang Cien Temple). T 50, 2053.Google Scholar
  9. Huizhao 慧沼. Cheng Weishi Lun Liaoyideng 成唯識論了義燈 (The Lamp for Illuminating the Definite Meaning of the Cheng Weishi Lun). T 43,1832.Google Scholar
  10. ———. Erliang Zhang 二量章 (Treatise on the Two Means of Valid Knowledge). In Dasheng Fayuan Yilin Zhang Buque 大乘法苑義林章補闕 (Supplement to the Compendium of the Great Vehicle). X 55, 882.Google Scholar
  11. ———. Yinming Ruzhengli Lun Xushu 因明入正理論續疏 (The Continued Commentary on the Nyāyapraveśa.). X 53, 852.Google Scholar
  12. ———. Yinming Yiduan 因明義斷 (Verdict on Buddhist Logic). T 44, 1851.Google Scholar
  13. Śaṅkaravāmin 商羯羅主. Nyāyapraveśa. Yinming Ruzhengli Lun 因明入正理論 (Introduction to Logic). Trans. by Xuanzang. T 32, 1630.Google Scholar
  14. Sthiramati 安慧. Abhidharmasamuccayabhāṣya. Dasheng Apidamo Zaji Lun 大乘阿毘達磨雜集論 (Commentary on the Compendium of Abhidharma). T 31, 1606.Google Scholar
  15. Vasubandhu 世親. Abhidharmakośabhāṣya. Apidamo Jushe Lun 阿毘達磨俱舍論 (Commentary on the Treasure of Abhidharma), trans. by Xuanzang 玄奘. T 29, 1558.Google Scholar
  16. Zhizhou 智周. Cheng Weishi Lun Yanmi 成唯識論演秘 (Disclosing the Hidden Meaning of Cheng Weishi Lun). T 43, 1833.Google Scholar

Secondary Sources

  1. Anacker, Steven. 1984. Seven Works of Vasubandhu. Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass.Google Scholar
  2. Arnold, Dan. 2005. Buddhists, Brahmins, and Belief: Epistemology in South Asian Philosophy of Religion. New York: Columbia University Press.Google Scholar
  3. Dravid, Raja Ram. 1972. The Problem of Universals in Indian Philosophy. Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass.Google Scholar
  4. Hattori, Masaaki. 1968. Dignāga, On Perception. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
  5. KATSURA Shōryū 桂紹隆. 2011. “From Abhidharma to Dharmakīrti – With a special reference to the concept of svabhāva.” In Religion and Logic in Buddhist Philosophical Analysis, eds. by Helmut Krasser, Horst Lasic, Eli Franco, and Birgit Kellner. Vienna: Verlag der osterreichischen Akademie der Wisseschaften.Google Scholar
  6. ———. 2014. “Theory of Apoha in Kuiji (窺基)’s Cheng-wei-shi-lun-shu-ji (成唯識論述記).” In A Distant Mirror: Articulating Indic Ideas in Sixth and Seventh Century Chinese Buddhism, eds. by Chen-kuo Lin and Michael Radich. Hamburg: University of Hamburg Press.Google Scholar
  7. Lin, Chen-kuo. 2010. “Truth and Method in the Saṃdhinirmocana Sūtra.” Journal of Chinese Philosophy 37.2: 261–275.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Motilal, Bimal Krishna. 1986. Perception: An Essay on Classical Indian Theories of Knowledge. Oxford: Clarendon Press.Google Scholar
  9. NEMU Kazuchika 根無一力. 1987. “Eshō no kenkyū (慧沼の研究).” In Yuishiki shisō no kenkyū: Yamasaki keiki kyōju teinen kinen ronshū 唯識思想 の研究:山崎慶輝教授定年記念論集 (Studies in Yogacara Thought: Collected Essays for the Anniversary of Professor Yamasaki Keiki). Kyoto: Hyakka’en Shōwa.Google Scholar
  10. Pind, Ole Holten. 2009. Dignāga’s Philosophy of Language: Dignāga on Anyāpoha. Vienna: Universität Wien.Google Scholar
  11. Russell, Bertrand. 2008. The Problems of Philosophy. Rockville, MD: Arc Manor.Google Scholar
  12. Steinkellner, Ernst. 2005 April. Dignāga’s Pramāṇasamuccaya, Chapter 1. Access at
  13. Tucci, Giuseppe. 1930. The Nyāyamukha of Dignāga. Heidelberg. Reprint: San Francisco: Chinese Material Center, 1976.Google Scholar
  14. Wogihara, Unrai. 1936. Bodhisattvabhūmi: A Statement of Whole Course of the Bodhisattva (Being Fifteenth Section of Yogācārabhūmi). Tokyo: Sankibo Buddhist Store. 1971 Reprint.Google Scholar
  15. Yao, Zhihua. 2005. The Buddhist Theory of Self-Cognition. London/New York: Routledge.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Nature B.V. 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.National Chengchi UniversityTaipeiTaiwan

Personalised recommendations