Author: Janice Dean Willis
Translator(s): Janice Dean Willis
Publisher: Motilal Banarsidass
ISBN/UPC (if available): 8120811062
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 teaching – 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 voidness (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 distortion s 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 the place of the Yogacare 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.
History of the Text and the Life of Its Author
The Yogacare School of the Mahayana
Two Threads of the Yogacare and Some Later Confusions
Contents of the Chapter
Notes to the Introduction
The Chapter on Knowing Reality
The Chapter on Knowing Reality-Running Translation