The Nonduality of Speech and Silence: A Comparative Analysis of Jizang’s Thought on Language and Beyond

Dao: A Journal of Comparative Philosophy 11 (1):1-19 (2012)
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Jizang (549−623 CE), the key philosophical exponent of the Sanlun tradition of Chinese Buddhism, based his philosophy considerably on his reading of the works of Nāgārjuna (c.150−250 CE), the founder of the Indian Madhyamaka school. However, although Jizang sought to follow Nāgārjuna closely, there are salient features in his thought on language that are notably absent from Nāgārjuna’s works. In this paper, I present a philosophical analysis of Jizang’s views of the relationship between speech and silence and compare them with those of Nāgārjuna. I first elaborate on Nāgārjuna’s doctrine of twofold truth and discuss his thought concerning the relationship between language and ineffable quiescence. I then examine Jizang’s interpretation of the doctrine. Thereafter, I distinguish silence qua teaching from silence qua principle and examine Jizang’s views on the relationship between speech and these two kinds of silence. It is shown that while Nāgārjuna leans toward affirming a clear-cut distinction between speech and the ineffable quiescence, Jizang endorses the nonduality of conventional speech and sacred silence.



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Chien-hsing Ho
Academia Sinica, Taiwan

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