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Buddhadharma : Summer 2018
108 BUDDHADHARMA: THE PRACTITIONER’S QUARTERLY mind that, on coming into contact with defilements, produces the phenomenal world. The goal of practice in that frame- work, then, is to return to the original pure mind. Zhiyi rejected this view. Between a single thought and all phenomena, he said, there is no before or after, no horizontal or vertical; the mind and its objects always arise simultaneously. “This [relationship] is mysterious and sublime, profound in the extreme, cannot be grasped concep- tually, and cannot be verbalized. This is what is called [‘contemplating] objects as inconceivable.’ ” For Zhiyi, dichotomies of self and other, subject and object, and so forth, while empty of fixed self-essence, are not illu- sions to be overcome but patterns by which the inconceivable relationship of mind and phenomena is manifested. “If there is even an ephemeral thought,” he said, “this includes three thousand [realms].” There is no primal purity to return to, no greater reality beneath, behind, or above the one we see; enlightenment lies nowhere apart from the impermanent, ever-shifting realities of the world we live in. Anything that comes within our field of conscious- ness can immediately serve as an object of contemplation; no situation is so impover- ished or irredeemable that we cannot use it for liberative aims. Given Zhiyi’s reputation as a consum- mate interpreter of the Lotus Sutra, some readers may be surprised to find little men- tion of it in the Mohe zhiguan. While he revered the Lotus Sutra as a perfect expres- sion of the threefold truth, Zhiyi did not emphasize a hierarchy of sutras. Rather, he understood each one as suited to the capac- ities of particular persons, and thus as play- ing a unique soteriological role. However, his later disciple Zhanran (711–782), faced with sectarian rivalries unknown in Zhiyi’s day, stressed the absolute supremacy of the Lotus Sutra and firmly welded it to Tiantai identity. (It was Zhanran who first grouped the Mohe zhiguan together with Zhiyi’s two Lotus Sutra commentaries as the “three major Tiantai works.”) In his trans- lation, Swanson opted not to rely heavily on Zhanran’s commentaries, long deemed authoritative in the Tiantai tradition, but rather—insofar as possible—to approach Zhiyi directly. This both clarifies Zhiyi’s original stance and establishes a bench- mark by which to recognize interpretive shifts in the later tradition. Clear Serenity, Quiet Insight consists of three volumes comprising more than two thousand pages. Swanson’s “Translator’s Preface” illuminates issues in Buddhist translation beyond this single work. For example, Swanson argues persuasively that there is no single “right” or even “best” translation; the same expression may require different translations according to the context. For critical terms, he helpfully explains why he chose one possible English rendering over others. Swanson’s copious notes, arranged in a reader-friendly format, introduce decades of relevant Buddhist scholarship. Also included are Swanson’s translations of supplementary materials— relevant extracts from sutras and other works by Zhiyi—along with a glossary of Buddhist terms, a Chinese character index, charts, and a bibliography of Tiantai stud- ies. This is a monumental work that one is meant to return to and reflect upon again and again. It has insights to offer practi- tioners of any tradition and belongs on the bookshelf of every serious student of East Asian Buddhism.