Date of Award
Master of Arts (MA)
This thesis examines the conception of "nien-fo" (literally, "thinking of the Buddha") in the Ching-t'u-shih-i-lun, an eighth century Chinese text on the Buddha Amitābha and his Western Pure Land.
Nien-fo has always been an important part of religious practice for many different schools of Buddhism in China, especially for the T'ien-t'ai and Pure Land schools. In T'ien-t'ai Buddhism, the nien-fo samādhi is considered as a means to accomplish concentration and insight; it is but one among the various methods of mediatation. Considered as such, the nien-fo practice implies that salvation is achieved through the practitioner's own diligent cultivation of mind. On the other hand, the Pure Land nien-fo samādhi is essentially devout invocation of tho name of Amitābha Buddha. Nien-fo as invocation emphasizes salvation as an act of the Great Compassion of Amitābha. The concern of this thesis is to clarify the link between these fundamental meanings of nien-fo in the context of one particular text in which both forms or the practice appear.
The first chapter gives an overview of the T'ien-t'ai and Pure Land practices of nien-fo based upon a careful analysis of relevant passages taken from standard works of the two schools.
The second chapter undertakes a thorough examination of the nien-fo concept in the Ching-t'u-shih-i-lun.
The thesis concludes with a look at the relationship between the meditational and devotional paths to salvation in Chinese Buddhism. The two paths are essentially related, expressing two aspects of the bodhisattva path.
Tan, Bee Leng, "The Conception of "nien-fo" in the Ching-t'u-shih-i-lun (Treatise on the Ten Doubts Concerning the Pure Land)" (1979). Open Access Dissertations and Theses. Paper 2751.