18. Yogic Perception, Meditation, and Enlightenment

The Epistemological Issues in a Key Debate

  1. Steven M. Emmanuel
  1. Tom J. F. Tillemans

Published Online: 5 FEB 2013

DOI: 10.1002/9781118324004.ch18

A Companion to Buddhist Philosophy

A Companion to Buddhist Philosophy

How to Cite

Tillemans, T. J. F. (2013) Yogic Perception, Meditation, and Enlightenment, in A Companion to Buddhist Philosophy (ed S. M. Emmanuel), John Wiley & Sons, Ltd, Chichester, UK. doi: 10.1002/9781118324004.ch18

Author Information

  1. University of Lausanne, Switzerland

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 5 FEB 2013
  2. Published Print: 25 MAR 2013

ISBN Information

Print ISBN: 9780470658772

Online ISBN: 9781118324004



  • Buddhism;
  • enlightenment;
  • epistemology;
  • Heshang;
  • Kamalaśīla;
  • knowledge;
  • meditation;
  • Tibet;
  • yogic perception


Towards the end of the eighth century CE there occurred a debate over the future direction of Buddhism in Tibet. It pitted an Indian side, with their Tibetan sympathizers, against a Chinese side, with their Tibetan and perhaps even some Indian sympathizers too. The philosophy of Kamalaśīla, the leader of the Indian side, of meditation and yogic perception concords by and large with mainstream Indo-Tibetan Buddhist theoretical accounts. The exchange between Kamalaśīla and Heshang, the Chinese leader, was heatedly polemical. Details of the debate and its historical context are found in the classic work of the Sinologist Paul Demiéville, Le Concile de Lhasa. The debate is in part about the efficacy of various types of meditation, but, more broadly, it is about the respective worth of analysis and meditation as approaches to knowledge and enlightenment. The debate, as the chapter shows, is fundamentally about epistemological issues, problems of knowledge.