Burmistrov S.L. Five Stages of Religious Practice in the Early Yogācāra Philosophy

DOI: https://doi.org/10.15688/lp.jvolsu.2020.1.1
Sergey L. Burmistrov
Doctor of Sciences (Philosophy), Leading Researcher, Section of South Asian Studies, Department of Central and South Asian Studies, Institute of Oriental Manuscripts of the
Russian Academy of Sciences
Dvortsovaya Emb., 18, 191186 Saint Petersburg, Russian Federation,
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Abstract. Ascending by the stages of religious practice according to Mahāyāna teaching, an adept finally achieves the enlightenment and leaves the wheel of deaths and rebirths. The first stage of the practice according to "The Compendium of Mahāyāna" by Asanga (4th century) is the stage of accumulation. On this stage, an adept follows the rules of monastic discipline improving his moral virtues. His aim on this stage is to make morality natural for him, when moral behavior does not demand special from him. The second stage is the preparatory one, and here the adept proceeds to the meditative practice based on his moral achievements, gradually eradicating afflictions that obstruct enlightenment. On the third stage, the stage of seeing he intuitively comprehends the essence of four Noble truths. On the fourth stage, the stage of cultivation he finally eradicates afflictions remaining in his consciousness after the third stage. The last, fifth stage of conclusion leads him to enlightenment and nirvā a. But there is a paradox in the religious ideology of Mahāyāna. The religious ideal of Mahāyāna is the bodhisattva, or the person who voluntarily renounce to enter into nirvā a for the sake of other sentient beings whom he vowed to save from sa sāra. But if a person enters into nirvā a he cannot already save other beings. Therefore if a person seeks to realize the religious ideal of Mahāyāna he cannot go through this way till the end and must stop "on the threshold of enlightenment" retaining some minimum of unwholesome dharmas in his consciousness. For solving this problem Mahāyāna thinkers introduced the notion of "unestablished nirvā a" (aprati hita-nirvā a) or the state of enlightenment that does not exclude being in sa sāra and allowing bodhisattva to preach Dharma and to lead all sentient beings to the liberation from the wheel of rebirths.
Key words: Indian philosophy, Buddhism, Yogācāra, meditation, religious practices.

Five Stages of Religious Practice in the Early Yogācāra Philosophy by Burmistrov S.L. is licensed under Attribution 4.0 International

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