In this thesis, we briefly explain the Chinese translation of the Vimalakīrti Sutra and Jizang’s work expounding this sutra. Then we discuss the meaning, purpose, and function of the action of “viewing sentient beings” in the system of Buddhist study. And finally, based on the chapter “Viewing Sentient Beings” of the Vimalakīrti Sutra and Jizang’s explanation of the meaning of the sutra, we use two types of perspectives, the “static unifocal perspective” and the “dynamic multifocal perspective”, to develop a philosophical discussion on the topic of “how to view sentient beings”.
Three key viewpoints are formed as follows by summing up the discussion in this thesis:
- Firstly, in the process of studying the bodhi path of Mahāyāna, the practitioners of the bodhisattva vehicle accomplish the superior merit that differs from that of the practitioners of the two vehicles. Since the former practitioners must seek to attain the true meaning within the vow and practice of widely delivering sentient beings, the action of putting wisdom into practice of “viewing sentient beings” shows its special importance here.
- Secondly, regarding the issue of the method of “how to view sentient beings”, it can be roughly divided into the two methods of “static unifocal perspective” and “dynamic multifocal perspective”, by which we have found out, from the state of living of sentient beings, that, in their true nature and form, they are, on the one hand, empty by nature and illusory, and on the other, the illusory existence of dependent origination.
- Lastly, no matter what method is applied to view sentient beings, if we want to find out the true state of their existence, then we always need to follow “using the non-abiding approach”, the operational principle of intelligence for observing all the phenomena of the world, as taught in the teaching of the Dharma approach of prajñā pāramitā, and take action in accordance with the practical spirit of “obtaining nothing mentally”.
Sentient beings, Illusory, Non-abiding, Middle way, Right observation