Existence of the External World Idealistic Perspective in Lankāvatāra Sūtra

Kattakaduwe Chandawimala Thera

Abstract


Idealism is a philosophical approach that conceptualizes reality or reality as wecan know it, as fundamentally mental, mentally constructed, or otherwise immaterial.The term “Idealism” is defined as "the belief that our ideas are the only things that areand that we can know about". Yogācāra tradition was developed based on the theory of"consciousness only" (viñaptimātratā) and to a greater extent on phenomenologicalanalyses of personal experience.

Lankāvatāra Sūtra is included in the category of Vaipulya (sacred) sūtra. Thereare nine basic Sūtras in Mahayana Buddhism called navadharma and Lankāvatāra Sūtrais one of them which explains the theory of Viññāṇ avāda. The listener of this sutra isMahāmate Bodhisattva. It was with the influence of the teachings of this sutra thatYogācāra tradition and its fundamental teachings were developed in Mahayanatradition.

In the second chapter of this sūtra the theory of cause and effect is divided intotwo aspects as Interior and Exterior. In that context exterior cause and effect theory isexplained as follows.

Lump of clay, a stick, a potter's wheel, a thread, water, a worker, his effort andall together form the existence of a jar. The jar means one of the things in the externalworld. In this sūtra not only the jar but also a piece of cloth, a sprout is also explained byusing exterior cause and effect theory. The conclusion of this paper is to show that theYogācāra Viññāṇ avāda is not mere idealism. The external world exists in accordancewith the theory of exterior causality albeit this tradition refuses the existence of theexternal world.

Key words: Yogācāra Viññāṇ avāda, Lankāvatāra Sūtra, Existence, External World


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