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Tathāgata-garbha

Tathāgata-garbha. The ‘Embryonic Tathāgata’, a concept which emerges in Mahāyāna Buddhism and in terms of which all living beings are regarded as potential Buddhas by virtue of their participation in a universal ‘buddha-nature’. In the course of time this embryonic seed or potency which exists in each creature will flower into full enlightenment, and since the potency is shared by all, the enlightenment will be a universal one. The sources which expound this teaching, such as the Ratnagotravibhāga and the Tathāgatagarbhasūtra, regard it as a third and final cycle in the development of Buddhist thought, being the culmination of both the Buddha's early teaching and its philosophical elaboration by the Mahāyāna. Its critics, on the other hand, saw it as dangerously close to the monistic doctrines of Hinduism as expounded by the Advaita Vedānta school of Śaṅkara.

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Tathāgata

Tathāgata (Pāli, Skt.; Chin., ju-lai; Jap., nyorai; Korean, yotae: usually left untranslated; if translated then as ‘Thus-Gone’ or ‘Truthfinder’). According to Buddhist tradition, the title chosen by the Buddha for himself. The title was intended to convey his identity as a perfect being, though the precise meaning of the word remains problematic. Etymologically it can be read as (i) ‘thus-gone’ (tathā gata) or ‘thus-come’ (tathā āgata), generally taken to mean ‘one who has gone (or come)’ i.e. attained emancipation; (ii) ‘one come (āgata) to the truth (tatha)’. The etymology may itself be suspect, however, since it is not certain whether the word is Skt. or vernacular in origin.

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