Encyclopedia of Psychology and Religion

2020 Edition
| Editors: David A. Leeming

Buddha-Nature of Insentient Beings

  • Shuman ChenEmail author
Reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-24348-7_9002

Throughout time, Buddhist teachings have been mainly sentience concerned or, more specifically, anthropocentric, aiming at an individual human’s final liberation. In contrast to Theravadins who aim at arhatship, Mahayanists consider Buddhahood the final goal. As a result, the concept of Buddha-nature has been one of the central themes in Mahayana Buddhism. Over the course of its development on the Indian subcontinent to East Asia, the doctrine of “Buddha-nature” has been interpreted in at least four ways: (1) the inherent Buddha-nature as metaphysical principle is present but concealed within each sentient being; (2) intrinsically endowed with the true nature, all sentient beings have always been the enlightened ones, even if they might not be aware of this truth; (3) in terms of tathāgatagarbha, everyone has Buddha seeds within and has the potential of becoming a Buddha; and (4) every sentient being is assured of actually becominga Buddha at some future time. Apparently, these four...

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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Northwestern UniversityEvanstonUSA