About the Book
On Knowing Reality is the first English translation with commentary of a crucial chapter of the Bodhisattvabhumi, composed in Sanskrit in the late fourth century by the philosopher-sage Asanga, founder of the Yogacara school of Mahayana Buddhism. The chapter is the core of Asanga's theoretical teachings: it deals with the central epistemological question of how to judge and validate knowledge, and how confusions about "reality" arise.
The Yogacara school has long been considered by scholars, East and West, as advocating a fully idealistic view of reality. But Janice D. Willis argues that Asanga himself had no such intention, and that in fact he rejected idealism as forcefully as he rejected the notion that ordinary beings know things as they really are. Instead, the chapter "On Knowing Reality" shows that Asanga expounded void ness (sunyata), rather than mind (citta), as the only absolute mode of being. He attempted to redefine sunyata in a more positive way than had Nagarjuna and other philosophers of the so-called "critical" school, setting up a philosophical scheme to mediate between inexpressible reality and the distortions of ideation and language.
In addition to her translation and extensive commentary, Willis has written an introduction which describes the history of the text and of its author, discusses he place of the Yogacara school in Buddhist philosophical history, and interprets key terms in Asangas system. The result is a work of fundamental importance to the study of the Mahayana Buddhist tradition.
About the Author
Janice D. Willis, Associate Professor of Religion at Wesleyan University, has travelled extensively, lived, and studied in India and Nepal. The author of the Diamond Light of the Eastern Dawn: A Collection of Tibetan Buddhist Meditations, she is currently engaged in a major project of collecting contemporary rnam thar, the oral histories of renowned Tibetan teacher.
History of the Text and the Life of Its Author
The Yogacara School of the Mahayana
Two Threads of the Yogacara and Some Later Confusions
Contents of the Chapter
Notes to the Introduction
The Chapter of Knowing Reality
The Chapter on Knowing Reality: Running
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