By Sallie B. King
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In this context, the BNT was well known and seriously studied in China and Japan because of its thorough elucidation of the Buddha nature concept and its persuasive defense of the reality of Buddha nature. 59 The controversy, that is, is formulated on an understanding of the Buddha nature as some kind of original principle or metaphysical entity that can either exist or not exist. The essential theme that we shall see in the BNT, however, is that the Buddha nature is not a metaphysical thing or entity of any kind.
There is a considerable degree of doubt, however, as to whether Vasubandhu actually wrote the text. 50 It is true that there is an unmistakable overlap between the BNT and the Ratnagotravibhdga. The two texts have a good deal of material in common, and it is quite evident that the former was partially based on the latter. 51 It is difficult not to be suspicious of Paramartha, however, inasmuch as he is given as the translator of both the BNT and the Wu Shang Yi Jing, neither of which is extant in other than its Chinese (Paramartha) version and both of which contain extensive similarities with the Ratnagotravibhdga.
That is,] because the cause perishes, own-nature does not exist, but because the effect is. produced, it does not not exist. Because at the time of the cau se there is not yet an effect, you cannot say own-nature exists. Because the production of the effect is certainly due to 34 T H E C O N C E P T O F B U D D liA N A TU R E the cause, you cannot say it does not exist. In this sense*, cause and effect, reflection and understanding reach completion together, and therefore we say there is no own-nature.