New Book: Treatise on Awakening Mahāyāna Faith

Oxford University Press has published a second translation in the Oxford Chinese Thought series, which is the Treatise on Awakening Mahāyāna Faith, a translation of the Dasheng qixin lun 大乘起信論. We are very pleased to make widely available this scholarly translation of one of the most influential texts in East Asian Buddhism. This is the product of years of careful work by John Jorgensen, Dan Lusthaus, John Makeham, and Mark Strange. A short description follows below the fold.

Dasheng qixin lun, or Treatise on Awakening Mahāyāna Faith has been one of the most important texts of East Asian Buddhism since it first appeared in sixth-century China. It outlines the initial steps a Mahāyāna Buddhist needs to take to reach enlightenment, beginning with the conviction that the Mahāyāna path is correct and worth pursuing. The Treatise addresses many of the doctrines central to various Buddhist teachings in China between the fifth and seventh centuries, attempting to reconcile seemingly contradictory ideas in Buddhist texts introduced from India. It provided a model for later schools to harmonize teachings and sustain the idea that, despite different approaches, there was only one doctrine, or Dharma. It profoundly shaped the doctrines and practices of the major schools of Chinese Buddhism: Chan, Tiantai, Huayan, and to a lesser extent Pure Land. It quickly became a shared resource for East Asian philosophers and students of Buddhist thought.


Drawing on the historical and intellectual contexts of Treatise‘s composition and paying sustained attention to its interpretation in early commentaries, this new annotated translation of the classic, makes its ideas available to English readers like never before. The introduction orients readers to the main topics taken up in the Treatise and gives a comprehensive historical and intellectual grounding to the text. This volume marks a major advance in studies of the Treatise, bringing to light new interpretations and themes of the text.

2 thoughts on “New Book: Treatise on Awakening Mahāyāna Faith

  1. Excited to see this. There’s so much going on in this text that having four scholars on it will be a treat for those of us still trying to get our heads around it. I use Hakeda (1967) in my Buddhist philosophy course. It’s going to be nice switching up to a new version given how important this text is.

  2. Nice to hear that, Jim! In the past I also used Hakeda in my Buddhist philosophy course, with mixed results. Hakeda’s translation was an impressive achievement, but as you say there’s a lot going on in the text and it can be hard to track — many competing doctrines being synthesized and factional disputes being addressed. It’s critical to have a translation informed by more careful consideration of that context. The new translation is also more readable, and it has a very substantive and helpful introduction that explains the key terms and background disputes.

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