In the third issue of the Dharma Drum Buddhist Journal, I have compared the contents of “Foshou da anban shouyi jing” and “The Newly Discovered Anban shouyi jing” by focusing on “the six stages of breathing.”
After comparing the corresponding paragraphs that address the issues of “counting,” “following,” “fixing,” “contemplating” and “turning” in these two sutras, we are able to distinguish the (original) “text” components from the (later) “annotations,” i.e. we can treat the corresponding parts of “Foshou da anban shouyi jing” and “The Newly Discovered Anban shouyi jing” as the original parts and treat the rest—those parts that do not correspond as “annotations”.
This paper continues to look into the final stage of “the six stages of breathing” in these two sutras, i.e. to compare the corresponding part for “purifying,” which comprises the parts for the “Four Bases of Mindfulness” (i.e. the so-called Four Arousings of Mindfulness), “Four Efforts to enlightenment,” “Four Occult Powers,” “Five Roots of Goodness.” As for the “Five Powers,” “Seven Factors of Enlightenment,” “Eightfold Noble Path,” “Calm Abiding and Special Insight,” “Four Noble Truths” and “Four abilities of unhindered understanding and expression,” I will investigate these topics in future research.
We have found that in “The Newly Discovered Anban shouyi jing,” the “Four Occult Powers” is the more complicated and repetitive part, but this subject is nowhere to be seen in “Foshou da anban shouyi jing.” It has been omitted and replaced by explanations such as “magic power” and “flying.” It can be surmised that An Shigao intentionally omitted these advanced-stage and unfathomable concepts for cultivation and practice.
Regarding difficult terms and concepts that existed in the corresponding contents in “Foshou da anban shouyi jing,” they have all been turned into shorter or easier to understand terms, and the connecting words (prefix) of the fixed pattern sentence “ru (ying) you di 如(應)有諦” (“if one truly understands the four truths) has been changed to “cong di 從諦” (following the four truths). The term “sui fen bie ke nian ke ke 隨分別可念可可” (following the discriminated faith, the faith of mindfulness, and the faith) was used to explain “xin gen 信根” (the faculty of faith), which has been changed to the easier to understand term of “xin fo yi xi信佛意喜” (gaining pure happiness from believing in Buddha).
Based on the differences seen in “The Newly Discovered Anban Shouyi Jing” and “Foshou da anban shouyi jing,” I believe that there is an omission of the two words: “如有(yathābhūtaṃ), if one has” in the transition from “The Newly Discovered Anban Shouyi Jing” to “Foshou da anban shouyi jing.” Thus I conclude that there is a transitional text existent for “Anban shouyi jing” which will be termed as the “Transitional Anban shouyi jing.”
An Shigao; text and annotation; purifying; “Transitional Anban shouyi jing”