Volume 5 Editorial Note

The truth-seeking spirit is essential for those who explore the true reality of the universe. The positivist spirit of Buddhism is based on the principle of correctness and truth to eventually accomplish the ultimate and pure Buddhahood-Way. The contents of these Buddhist doctrines are as follows: Buddha Sakyamuni and all Buddhas in the past have personally realized the ultimate reality of the dharma-realm through practicing the Bodhisattva Way; then, they convert to the ultimate reality, with further practices in sequence, and finally achieve Buddhahood; in response to the sentient beings’ need, the Buddhas expound the contents of Buddhist doctrines, based on which their followers can practice and personally realize Buddhism. Hence, during the truth-seeking process, positivism and practice are two indispensable elements. However, during the practice of the Buddhist doctrines, the correctness and consistency of doctrines are the important guidelines for practitioners; the wise should follow these guidelines to choose the correct Buddhist practice. Nevertheless, the propagation of correct Buddhism is no easy task. It is because most people have no actual enlightenment and often misunderstand the contents and the practice sequence of Buddhist doctrines. They convey incorrectly what is already incorrect, and as a result, erroneous teachings resembling the true dharma become popular. This kind of resembling Buddha dharma is seemingly similar to the real Buddhist teaching in many ways, yet its substantive contents and teachings violate the real Buddhist doctrines. In Buddhist sutras or treatises, it is sometimes referred to as “semblance dharma1, resembling correct dharma2, seemingly correct dharma3, and resembling dharma4.” Such resembling Buddhist dharmas spread even more widely in the dharma-ending age. Hence, any Buddhist scholar who truthfully seeks the ultimate reality of the dharma-realm should, based on wisdom, distinguish between “real Buddhism and resembling Buddhism.” Only with such wisdom will one not fall into blind faith or superstition, and therefore correct Buddhist research results can be obtained as they really are.

For this reason, the theme of this issue focuses on the core doctrine about “real Buddhism and resembling Buddhism”; based on the substantive contents and practice sequence, using Three Valid Cognitions as the argument method, and from the three perspectives—“a discussion on correct meanings vs. evil teachings of Vijnana-Only, a study on the role of dakinis in Tibetan Buddhism, and exploring the origin of plagiarism in I-Kuan Tao,” three excellent papers are presented to explain the difference between “real Buddhism and resembling Buddhism” and to benefit the truth-seekers of this and future lives. Focusing on the correct meanings of Buddhism, three articles of different study fields are accepted in this issue:

1. Are the Eighth Vijnana’s Seeds and Entity Identical or Different?—A Study Based on “Two Truths with Four Layered Statements” and A Comment on Yinshun’s View (Chang Chihcheng)

2. An Elegy about Dakinis—The Role and Destiny of Women in Tibetan Buddhism (Tsai Jyhcherng and Chang Hwoching)

3. A Study on “Plagiarism” in I-Kuan Tao—Citing the “Pure Land of Buddha Amitabha” and the “Right Dharma-Eye Store” as Examples (Chiang Chengchung and Chang Hwoching)

In Chang Chihcheng’s article “Are the Eighth Vijnana’s Seeds and Entity Identical or Different? —A Study Based on ‘Two Truths with Four Layered Statements’ and A Comment on Yinshun’s View,” the author discusses the correct meanings of Vijnana-Only based on “Positivist Buddhism” and examines the Buddhist theory of mind and whether the relationship between dharmas is “identical or different.” Chang also follows the principle of “two truths with four layered statements,” which was established by Xuanzang and Kuiji of the Tang Dynasty according to the Treatise on the Stages of Yoga Practice. As a research methodology, the principle of “two truths with four layered statements” is perfect and commonly acceptable.

From the different views between Yinshun and the Treatise on the Establishment of Vijnana-Only, Chang explores where the difference comes from and finds that “whether one has actually realized the eighth vijnana” explains the difference between Yinshun’s view and that of the Treatise on the Establishment of Vijnana-Only; it is because whether one has actually realized the eighth vijnana (Tathagatagarbha, or Alayavijnana) will result in different opinions on the same topic and their views are even completely different. Such a difference is reflected in the two main topics. Firstly, concerning the topic of “whether the eighth vijnana has its own intrinsic natures,” the view held in the Treatise on the Establishment of Vijnana-Only is based on the actual realization of the eighth vijnana Tathagatagarbha. Hence, Xuanzang proves, with evidence from five sutras and by ten logical reasonings, that the eighth vijnana has its own intrinsic natures and he formulates “the theory of eight vijnanas,” in which each vijnana is different. In contrast, Shi Yinshun holds the academic viewpoint that “the Buddhist thoughts are evolutional” and takes “Prasangika Madhyamika” as the definitive teaching; therefore, he tends to view the eighth vijnana as “merely a nominal term without real existence” or a term representing “emptiness devoid of intrinsic natures.” The author finds that Yinshun misinterprets the doctrines of vijnana-only sutras and treatises with this presupposition; therefore, based on his false belief, Yinshun distorts or wrongly interprets the original meaning of sutras and treatises, and intends to lead the readers to believe the theory of six vijnanas of Prasangika Madhyamika rather than the theory of eight vijnanas.

Secondly, concerning the topic of “whether the eighth vijnana is manifestly functioning if it has its own intrinsic natures,” the Treatise on the Establishment of Vijnana-Only not only proves the theory that the eighth vijnana has its own intrinsic natures, based on the actual realization of the eighth vijnana Tathagatagarbha, but it also proposes “the theory of four aspects [bhagas],” indicating that the subjective aspect [darsanabhaga] of the eighth vijnana is manifestly functioning to discern the objective aspect [nimittabhaga], which consists of the physical body, the non-sentient world, and seeds; hence, the Treatise on the Establishment of Vijnana-Only holds the view that “the eight vijnanas are manifestly functioning.” In contrast, Shi Yinshun opines that “the original meaning of Asanga and Vasubandhu is one seed-aggregate with seven manifesting vijnanas.” Chang refutes Shi Yinshun’s view, with evidence from sutras and by logical reasonings, and proves that the original meaning of Asanga and Vasubandhu is that “the eight vijnanas are manifestly functioning.” From the above two topics, we can see that whether one’s view on Buddhist doctrines is correct or not depends on whether one has personally realized the eighth vijnana. Also, using Three Valid Cognitions as a research methodology and from the perspectives of the “Buddha-nature,” “the state which the defiled Manas clings to,” “the support for the Manas,” and “the bodily sensations after samadhi and other states,” the author proves that the theory of “one seed-aggregate with seven manifesting vijnanas” does not conform to the principle of Three Valid Cognitions, whereas the theory of “the eight vijnanas being manifestly functioning” by Dharmapala, Xuanzang, Kuiji, etc. is in accord with the ultimate reality of the dharma-realm.

Chang concludes that the Treatise on the Establishment of Vijnana-Only explains that the eighth vijnana and seeds are “neither identical nor different” according to the principle of “two truths with four layered statements” and it interprets the correct doctrines in more detail and accuracy; its interpretation is in complete accord with that of the Mahayanasamgraha-Sastra. Concerning the topic about the relationship between the mind-entity of the eighth vijnana and its stored seeds—“whether seeds and the vijnana are identical or different,” the author refutes, through strict arguments, the erroneous views of Shi Yinshun and Shi Shengkai, and confirms that “the eighth vijnana has its own intrinsic natures and all the eight vijnanas are manifestly functioning”; it also shows that “whether one has actually realized the eighth vijnana” represents a watershed in many different views about this topic since ancient times. This article contributes greatly to the clarification on Buddhist practice as well as its core doctrines, and it is really an excellent paper.

In the article “An Elegy about Dakinis—The Role and Destiny of Women in Tibetan Buddhism,” coauthored by Tsai Jyhcherng and Prof. Chang Hwoching, its theme focuses on the dakini, or female consort, who represents the important “sexual role” in Tibetan Buddhism (Lamaism). The authors explore the true role of the dakini in the whole Tibetan Buddhism (Lamaism) and discuss the necessary requirements for a “qualified dakini” and its position in the four divisions of tantras from the perspectives of its category, content, origin, and evolution. From the authors’ analysis, we can see that the role and function of the dakini involves the fundamental core doctrine of the whole Tibetan Buddhism, namely the “sexual pleasure” theory which takes the “Highest Yoga Tantra, Couple-Practice Tantra, and Dual Operations of Bliss and Emptiness” as its core doctrine. During its propagation from ancient India to Tibet, the description of the role connotation of those dakinis can be found even in the writings of lamas, gurus, or living “Buddhas” in Tibetan Buddhism nowadays. According to the exploration into the origin and evolution of dakinis, the “sexual role” of dakinis, female consorts, or “Buddha”-mothers in Tibetan Tantric practice is consistent. Furthermore, based on the “sexual role” of dakinis as a clue, two related topics are studied to examine the difference between Tibetan Buddhism (Lamaism) and real Buddhism. The authors show that Tibetan Buddhism, which claims that “greed is the Way and one attains Buddhahood in a lifetime,” is entirely different in essence from the real teachings of the Buddha.

From the perspective of Buddhist doctrines, Tsai and Chang examine the theory of “Couple-Practice Tantra to attain Buddhahood in a lifetime” in Tantric practice and find that it violates the doctrinal principle of achieving Buddhahood in Buddhism. On the other hand, the authors also discuss the topic that gurus or lamas of Tibetan Buddhism are mainly male dominance; the role of dakinis in the system of Tantric practice is only a “subordinate” and a “tool,” devoid of the subject nature like male lamas. From the discussion of these two topics, the following conclusion is reached: Anyone who diligently practices the radiance of bliss according to the “couple practice” of the Highest Yoga Tantra in Tibetan Buddhism will never possibly attain the real liberation and Buddhahood; the role and function of dakinis are nominally set up based on such an erroneous premise, and it is a fraud by the traditional male group of upper class to sexually exploit the females in the name of religious practice. Namely, in the Tantric practice of Tibetan Buddhism, dakinis or “Buddha”-mothers are only “sex objects” for lamas to cultivate the “couple practice of the Highest Yoga Tantra.” Those women who act as dakinis only have the significance of instruments and offerings to lamas. Substantively, the so-called “Buddha”-mothers, female consorts, or dakinis are just like sex slaves, or sex objects, who are given to men (lamas or gurus) as a present. For instance, the disciples offer attractive females to their gurus; after having sex with them, the gurus send the females back to their disciples for performing the couple practice of copulation.

Citing two cases—“Buddha”-Mother Jimiya and June Campbell, the authors explain that behind the sacred titles, such as “Dakini, Buddha-Mother, or Female Consort,” those females are essentially only sex objects who provide their sexual organs for lamas to co-practice the “great samadhi of union.” Hence, the “attainment of Buddhahood in a lifetime” claimed in Tibetan Buddhism (Lamaism) is not in accord with the fact and the doctrinal principle of the four pervasiveness in real Buddhism5. From their doctrines, the Tantric practitioners cannot even attain the First-Fruit wisdom of sound-hearer Liberation-Way of Buddhism, not to mention the profound, wondrous wisdom and merits of Buddhahood-Way. Judging from the modern global civilization with rational intellect, such doctrines of Tibetan Buddhism, as a religion, are weird, barbaric, superstitious, and feudal as compared to the highly civilized society. Tibetan Tantric doctrines are full of the witchcraft thought and ghost-deity worship characterized in ancient Tibet, which was geographically isolated with an underdeveloped culture. Such doctrines also violate the universal value of gender equality and the true reality of Buddhism. In fact, Tibetan Buddhism (Lamaism) steals the Buddhist terms and replaces the true essence of Buddhism completely with distorted, non-Buddhist connotations. Hence, from the “sexual role” of the dakini, the authors examine the true nature of Tibetan Buddhism (Lamaism), which is shown to be sexuality-oriented. This article will be of great value to the progress in religious field or realistic society. It is a clear example significantly helpful for the general public, Buddhist researchers, and even Buddhist practitioners to identify the evil religions. It is indeed an excellent paper.

In their article “A Study on ‘Plagiarism’ in I-Kuan Tao—Citing the ‘Pure Land of Buddha Amitabha’ and the ‘Right Dharma-Eye Store’ as Examples,” Chiang Chengchung and Prof. Chang Hwoching explore the origin of I-Kuan Tao and also discuss its plagiarism from its core doctrines as well as its preaching nature. According to the transmitted history edited by I-Kuan Tao and the writings of their patriarchs, the authors examine the changing contents in every transition stage and conclude that I-Kuan Tao is always plagiaristic in nature.

Examining from the developmental process of Xiantian Tao [Way of Former Heaven], the forerunner of I-Kuan Tao, this article finds that the Maitreya faith in I-Kuan Tao is actually an imitation of the Amitabha faith; from the establishment of its Absolute Heaven and the evolutional process of the Eternal Unborn Mother (Genuine Ruler of All Beings), it is not difficult to find the traces of the Amitabha faith in I-Kuan Tao. Also, the doctrines of I-Kuan Tao have been gradually changed with the times. When it was first founded, I-Kuan Tao was already plagiaristic in nature. Originally, I-Kuan Tao followed the folk beliefs of the Ming and Qing dynasties. Later, it changed to the Maitreya faith because its Amitabha faith of folklore “three assemblies under the Nāgapuspa tree” is not in accord with the true Buddhist teaching, in which Maitreya will achieve Buddhahood under the Nāgapuspa tree and hold three dharma assemblies. From the existing sutras of I-Kuan Tao, we can find the traces of the Amitabha faith. That is, from Xiantian Tao to I-Kuan Tao, with its imitation of the Amitabha faith changed to the Maitreya faith, those changes prove that I-Kuan Tao has stolen many other beliefs and is essentially plagiaristic. Because of its continuous plagiarism, unavoidably the existing doctrines of I-Kuan Tao are mixed with those of Confucianism, monotheism, etc, and therefore its doctrines become chaotic and self-contradictory. The plagiarism in I-Kuan Tao is similar to that of Tibetan Buddhism, which steals the Buddhist terms.

The authors find that the Absolute Heaven and the Eternal Unborn Mother are not first created by I-Kuan Tao, but are developed from the folk beliefs of the Ming and Qing dynasties through the historical evolution of six to seven hundred years. According to the scriptures of folk religions during the Ming and Qing dynasties, the Absolute Heaven was probably copied from the western Pure Land of Ultimate Bliss and the Eternal Unborn Mother from Buddha Amitabha. The Absolute Heaven originated from the “Parent World,” which was popularized from the western Pure Land of Ultimate Bliss by Monastic Youtan (1255-1330) of the White Lotus sect. Later, Patriarch Luo of the Ming Dynasty, as well as in the Precious Imperial Ji Jindan Nine Gates Scripture of Rectifying Faith, Becoming Buddhist, and Truly Returning Home, created the “Original Home in the World of True Emptiness” and “Cloud City” by imitating the western Pure Land of Ultimate Bliss; the “Cloud City” was further developed into the “Absolute Heaven.” Similarly, Buddha Amitabha was popularized as “Unborn Parents” by the White Lotus sect of the Yuan Dynasty; then, Patriarch Luo changed “Unborn Parents” into “Holy Patriarch of the Limitless.” In the later folk beliefs, the above content was mixed with the legend of the External Unborn Mother of the Yuan Dynasty, and the “External Unborn Mother” was solely called Genuine Ruler of All Beings. The present I-Kuan Tao still follows this tradition.

In addition, according to the transmitted documents edited by I-Kuan Tao, the authors find that the patriarchs of I-Kuan Tao stole the ideas of the pure land of “Buddha Amitabha” and the “Right Dharma-Eye Store” of the Chan School in Buddhism, which were further changed, by false analogy, into the “Original Home in the World of True Emptiness” and the “Aperture of the Mysterious Gate” respectively. Hence, the nature of I-Kuan Tao is “stealing other religious beliefs for its own use to survive in the changing times.” Until the modern times, I-Kuan Tao has stolen ideas from almost all religions, namely, Daoism, Buddhism, Neo-Confucianism, the Luo sect, Maitreya, the White Lotus sect, and so on, including Jesus Christ and Allah. From ancient to modern, with a consistent attitude of plagiarism, I-Kuan Tao always steals other religious beliefs as the means for its survival and development. With many valuable findings, this article discloses that I-Kuan Tao is consistently “plagiaristic without the Way.” This study on the nature of I-Kuan Tao confirms that it is a plagiarized religion, and this conclusion is indeed a unique and innovative idea. This excellent paper provides an important reference to the study of I-Kuan Tao.

Based on the discussions from the three papers above, we hope that this current issue can show the differences between “real Buddhism and resembling Buddhism”; for those wise people who seek the true reality and wish to actually realize the correct Buddhist doctrines, hopefully this issue can enhance their abilities to choose between right and wrong and to identify the true, correct doctrines. In other words, the wisdom of actually realizing the Buddhist doctrines is a necessary capability. Only with the actual realization of liberation wisdom and ultimate-reality wisdom can one further understand thoroughly the true reality of the universe and life. This is also one of our visions for publishing this journal.


1 The Samyukta Agama, Vol. 32: “Kasyapa! When the Tathagata’s correct dharma is going to become extinct, the semblance dharma will come into existence. After the semblance dharma has appeared in the world, the correct dharma becomes extinct.” (CBETA, T02, no. 99, p. 226, c6-8)

2 The Exposition of the Arya Teachings, Verse Treatise, Vol. 8, Section 2, “Collected Pure Meanings”: “There are the five resembling merits and virtues, which are actually faults, that all bodhisattvas should know about: (1) To not benefit those sentient beings who are violent and evil, and violate precepts. (2) To pretend to have complete awesome deportments. (3) To have good knowledge about the varied dharmas corresponding to mundane affected phraseology and non-Buddhist treatises. (4) To practice good deeds such as sinful almsgivings. (5) To expound and establish the resembling correct dharma and spread it widely.” (CBETA, T31, no. 1602, p. 518, c10-15)

3 The Treatise on the Stages of Yoga Practice, Vol. 50, Section 5, “Establishment”: “When the seemingly correct dharma does not flourish, the correct dharma will not become extinct. At the time when the seemingly correct dharma becomes flourishing, all the correct dharma that can lead to the true meaning will become extinct rapidly.” (CBETA, T30, no. 1579, p. 575, b22-24)

4 The Saddharmasmrity Upasthana Sutra, Vol. 4, Section 2, “Births and Deaths”: “Furthermore, the bhiksu views the dharma of karmic retribution as those pearls. For example, there are flawed pearls that are not all pure; they are not all gateways and not purely white; they cannot be drilled through or repaired. Everyone will not praise the flawed pearls, and kings etc. should not keep them for use. Similarly, those non-Buddhist dharmas are resembling ones like the flawed pearls. (CBETA, T17, no. 721, p. 23, a10-14)

5 The dharma-realm of ultimate reality realized in true Buddhism possesses four kinds of pervasiveness: pervading all times, pervading all sense-fields, pervading all sense-realms, and pervading all vijnanas.

Best Regards,
Pai Chihwei, The Chief Editor
Journal of True Enlightenment
December 11, 2011