Understanding Tsung-mi's view on Buddha Nature
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Tsung-mi detailed the cosmological and soteriological map, embracing both the scholastic and the Ch’an traditions. In doing so, he interpreted Buddha nature as “empty tranquil awareness” (k’ung-chi chih) from the view point of the Ho-tse school of Ch’an. For him, all sentient beings possess this empty tranquil awareness as their true nature of mind. According to Tsung-mi, “empty tranquil awareness” serves ontologically as a basis for a soteriological path as well as epistemologically as a basis for phenomenal appearances: whether it is covered by de-filements, it remains pure and unchanging and becomes the foundation for sentient beings to attain Buddhahood; whether it is disrupted by beginningless ignorance, ever-present awareness brings phenomenal diversity into the minds of sentient beings.