Cover of the Awakening of Faith
BDK America
Publish Date: 
Yoshito S. Hakeda


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Here is the seminal English translation of The Awakening of Faith, a comprehensive summary of the essentials of Mahayana Buddhism. Complete in one volume.

Comprehensive summary of the essentials of Mahayana Buddhism


Web Editor's Note: This is a reprint of the sutra as translated by the late Dr. Yoshito S. Hakeda and originally published by Columbia University Press. This reprint edition retains Dr. Hakeda’s chapter and subdivision headings and his commentaries, which are set in italicized paragraphs within the text itself.

Taishō 1666

Volume 32

The Awakening of Faith

This treatise, The Awakening of Faith, sometimes known by the longer title of The Awakening of Faith in the Mahayana, presents a concise synopsis of both the theoretical and practical aspects of the central ideas of Mahāyāna Buddhism, and has therefore been widely read as an introduction to this branch. A short work, it remains extremely important in the history of Buddhism, having exerted influence in China and Japan on the schools of Hua-yen (Jp. Kegon), T’ien-t’ai (Jp. Tendai), Chan/Zen, Pure Land (Ch. Jìngtǔzōng; Jp. Jōdo Bukkyō), Chên-yen (Jp. Shingon), and more.

However, many questions remain concerning the author and place of composition, including whether it was composed in India or China, and whether the attributive author Aśvaghoṣa lived before or after Nāgārjuna.

Skt. *Mahāyānaśraddhotpāda-śāstra, attributed to Aśvaghoṣa. Brought into the Chinese by Paramārtha as Dasheng qixi nlun (大乘起信論). 1 fascicle.

Table of Contents

A Message on the Publication of the English Tripiṭaka  NUMATA Yehan    
Editorial Foreword   MAYEDA Sengaku    vii
Publisher’s Foreword    Francis H. Cook    ix
Note on the BDK English Tripiṭaka Series Reprint Edition  xi
Foreword to the Original Edition    Wm. Theodore de Bary    xvii
Preface to the Original Edition    Yoshito S. Hakeda    xix
Translator's Introduction    Yoshito S. Hakeda    xxi

The Awakening of Faith

Invocation 3
The Contents of the Discourse 3
Part One. The Reasons for Writing 5
Part Two. Outline 7
Part Three. Interpretation 11

  Chapter 1. Revelation of True Meaning 11
     I. One Mind and Its Two Aspects 11 
         A. The Mind in Terms of the Absolute 12
            1. Truly Empty 14
            2. Truly Nonempty 15 
         B. The Mind in Terms of Phenonomena 16
            1. The Storehouse Consciousness 16
                   a. The Aspect of Enlightenment 17
                     (1) Orignal Enlightenment 17
                     (2) The Process of Actualization of Enlightenment 17
                           (a) Purity of Wisdom 20
                           (b) Suprarational Functions 21
                     (3) The Characteristics of the Essence of Enlightenment 21
                   b. The Aspect of Nonenlightenment 23
                   c. The Relationships between Enlightenment and Nonenlightenment 25
   (1) Identity 25
                     (2) Nonidentity 26
             2. The Cause and Conditions of Humankind's Being in Samsara 26
                  a. Mind 27
                  b. Consciousness 29
                  c. Defiled States of Mind 31
                  d. Comments on Terms Used in the Foregoing Discussion 32
             3. Characteristics of Beings in Samsara 34
                  a. Permeation of Ignorance 36
                  b. Permeation of Suchness 37
                      (1) Permeation through Manifestation of the Essence of Suchness 39
                      (2) Permeation through Influences 41
                            (a) The Specific Coordinating Causes 41
                            (b) The General Coordinating Causes 42
     II. The Essence Itself ant the Attributes of Suchness, or the Meanings of Mahā 44
         A. The Greatness of the Essence of Suchness 44
         B. The Greatness of the Attributes of Suchness 44
         C. The Greatness of the Influences of Suchness 46
     III. From Samsara to Nirvana 51
Chapter II. The Correction of Evil Attachments 53

     I. The Biased Views Held by Ordinary People 53
     II. The Biased Views Held by Hinayanists 57
Chapter III. Analysis of the Types of Aspiration for Enlightenment, or the Meanings of Yāna 59
     I. The Aspiration for Enlightenment through the Perfectiuon of Faith 60
     II. The Aspiration for Enlightenment through Understanding and Deeds 65
     III. The Aspiration for Enlightenment through Insight 66
Part Four. On Faith and Practice 71
    On Four Faiths 71
    On Five Practices 72
    The Practice of Cessation 74
    The Practice of Clear Observation 78
Part Five. Encouragement of Practice and the Benefits Thereof 84

Notes 83
Glossary 91
Bibliography 95
Index 99
A List of the Volumes of the BDK English Tripiṭaka (First Series)