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Awakening of Faith, The

Product no.: 0-231-13157-7
This text is a short treatise, but its importance is out of all proportion to its length, since it provides a comprehensive summary of the essentials of Mahayana Buddhism.

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Publisher's Synopsis

It discusses the question of how man can transcend his finite state and participate in the life of the infinite while still remaining in the midst of the phenomenal order and concludes with a discussion of the particular practices and techniques that will aid the believer in the awakening and growth of his faith.

First published in 1967, Yoshito S. Hakeda's critical interpretation of the Awakening of Faith has become a classic. This edition, which includes a new introduction by Ryuichi Abe, presents a beautiful and accessible translation of one of the most influential works in Mahayana Buddhism. The Awakening of Faith explores the path leading to enlightenment and teaches the principles and methods of meditation. However, the text does not advocate a passive retreat into the quietude of meditation; instead it calls for dynamic social engagement based on compassion and wisdom. Philosophical and religious in its approach, the Awakening of Faith provides a comprehensive summary of the essentials of Mahayana Buddhism.

The Awakening of Faith, commonly attributed to Asvaghosa, has been read and studied for more than a thousand years. Hakeda's interpretive comments, which have influenced a generation of scholars and readers, illuminate and explain the work and its more esoteric elements. Ryuichi Abe's introduction examines the importance of Hakeda's translation as well as the place of the Awakening of Faith within Buddhism.

In this reprint edition, Chinese terms are rendered in Pinyin romanization. Also new to this edition are a Chinese character glossary and a vastly expanded index, which identify and cross-reference both major and minor theoretical terms and concepts throughout the work.

Reviews

"Whenever I have questions on Mahayana Buddhist doctrine, I return to this text and Professor Hakeda's interpretation of it. I wonder if I will ever encounter a work that is at once more profound, attractive, and mysterious than the Awakening of Faith."     ~Ryuichi Abe

"The Awakening of Faith in the Mahayana (Jp. Daijokishinron) presents itself as one of the most profound, concise and authoritative summaries of Mahayana philosophy and metaphysics that this tradition has bequeathed to us. This text has been used and venerated by all the major schools of the Greater Vehicle for centuries and continues to inspire and challenge students of Buddhism even to this day.

Although recent scholarship has attempted to call into question the Indian origins of the text, it still remains inconclusive as to whether this was a work by the Indian sage Asvaghosha or a work originally composed in Chinese at a much later date. An original Sanskrit version of this text has never been found but if the Indian origins of this text were ever to be validated, it would confirm that this may be the earliest Mahayana shastra known to us, predating even the works of Nagarjuna."       ~Journal of Shin Buddhism

Excerpt

Chapter One: Revelation of True Meaning

"The Mind in terms of the Absolute is the one World of Reality (Dharmadhatu) and the essence of all phases of existence in their totality. That which is called 'the essential nature of the Mind' is unborn and is imperishable. It is only through illusions that all things come to be differentiated. If one is freed from illusions, then to him there will be no appearances (lakshana) of objects regarded as absolutely independent existences; therefore all things from the beginning transcend all forms of verbalization, description, and conceptualization and are, in the final analysis, undifferentiated, free from alteration, and indestructible.

They are only of the One Mind; hence the name Suchness. All explanations by words are provisional and without validity, for they are merely used in accordance with illusions and are incapable of denoting Suchness. The term Suchness likewise has no attributes, which can be verbally specified. The term Suchness is, so to speak, the limit of verbalization wherein a word is used to put an end to words. But the essence of Suchness itself cannot be put an end to, for all things in their Absolute aspect are real; nor is there anything which needs to be pointed out as real, for all things are equally in the state of Suchness. It should be understood that all things are incapable of being verbally explained or thought of; hence the name Suchness."

Biography
Aśvaghoṣa (c. 80 – c. 150 AD) Indian philosopher and poet considered the father of Sanskrit drama. Born a Brahman, he opposed Buddhism until a debate with a Buddhist scholar led to his conversion. Asvaghosa became known as a brilliant orator, and he spoke on Mahayana at the fourth Buddhist council. He is considered India's greatest poet before Kalidasa. Works attributed to him include the Buddhacarita (“Life of the Buddha”) and the Mahalankara (“Book of Glory”).

Author Asvaghosa
Translator Hakeda, Yoshito S.
Book Type Trade Paperback
Page Count 117 pp.
Publisher Columbia University Press 2006
Gold Medal

Gold Medal

 
 

  Gold Medal Essential Reading

Browse these categories as well: Mahayana Sutras, Northern Buddhism, Hinduism: Gurus and Advaita Vedanta, Bodhidharma and Chinese Ch'an, Shinran and the Pure Land School, Noteworthy Releases 2006, Gold Medal Essential Reading

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