There is a perennial and universal concern toward the relationship between actions and results. People believe that a certain kind of actions will lead to a certain kind of results. Within Buddhist doctrinal system, this belief is expressed by a specific term, namely, karma, which literally meaning “action”. Two main problems regarding Buddhist Karma theory are discussed in this study: the momentariness account of causality and the no-self account of karmic causation. If Buddhist doctrine of momentariness is true, how could an action cause a result in the future? If there is no self that persist over time, then how could one receives the result of his past actions?
This study discusses Śāntarakṣita’s response to the two problems by investigating chapter nine of Tattavasaṃgraha and Kamalaśīla’s commentary to this text. This chapter is entitled “An Investigation of the Relation between Action and its Results” (Karma-phala-sambandha-parīkṣā), in which Śāntarakṣita quotes a series of questions of opponents and offers responses to them. The main opponents are Kumārila and Uddyotakara. In order to have a fuller picture of their debates, I also examined the opponents’ own expressions in their own works, such as Ślokavārttika and Nyāyabhāṣyavārttika.
This study detailedly examines Śāntarakṣita’s karma theory in his Yogācāra-Madhymaka perspective for the first time in modern scholarship on Buddhist philosophy. In my study, I reconstruct and discuss the objections of the opponents. then I explain and evaluate Śāntarakṣita’s response. Chapter one introduces the two problems and provides the background knowledge to the entire study. The problems that are connected to the momentariness account of causality are discussed in chapter two to four. Among the three chapters, chapter two discusses what is the reasonable temporal relation between a cause and its effect; chapter three discusses Śāntarakṣita’s criticism to the opponents’ concept of vyāpāra and his view of “non-activity”; chapter four presents Śāntarakṣita’s causal theory, which maintains that the causal relation implies regularities only. The problems that are connected to the no-self account of karmic causation are presented in chapter five to seven. Among them, chapter five argues that a person exists as a series (santāna), in which simple entities are connected by causal relation, due to which karmic causation could occur; chapter six discusses the debate between Buddhists and the orthodox Hindus on the problem of no-self account of recognition. Besides, a translation of the karma chapter is also appended to the study.
This study directly contributes to the study of karma theory by providing a philosophical study of an important text, which is seriously neglected due to historical reasons. It will also help the Buddhist scholars to understand Śāntarakṣita and the school he founded, namely, Yogācāra-Madhymaka. Besides, my study reveals an important Buddhist resource which can promote the understanding of the relationship between actions and their results, causality and personal identity from a general philosophical view.