Althought Buddhism has been viewed as an exquisitely rational religion, Buddhist philosophershave not failed to create conceptual problems for themselves. Perhaps the most persistent of these problems focus on the nature of a buddha: as truly awakened (buddha), a buddha must embody the utter transcendence of nirvana; but as a compassionate guide, a buddha must also remain completely immanent in sumsara, the world of suffering, so as to show others the way to freedom. This tension between a buddha’s transcendence and immanence-his location within both nirvana and samsura prompted much debate among Buddhist philosophers. This article examines how Dharmakirti and Candrakirti, two prominent Buddhist thinkers of India’s post-Gupta period (sixth to seventh century C.E.), address the question of a buddha’s transcendence and immanence.
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