All is One

The Profound Influence of Huayan Buddhism on Chinese Philosophy, from the Past to the Present


  • Wei Daoru 魏道儒 Chinese Academy of Social Sciences Author
  • Michael Cavayero Peking University Translator



Huayan jing 華嚴經, “All is one” 一即一切, Huayan School 華嚴宗, Chinese Buddhism 中國佛教


The discourse surrounding the interplay between the concepts of “one” (or “unity” [yi 一]) and “many” (or “multiplicity” [duo 多]) has been a subject of extensive debate within both premodern and contemporary world philosophy. Within the context of medieval Chinese philosophy, this discourse takes on a particularly rich and nuanced form. The introduction of Buddhism to China significantly influenced discussions on this topic, leaving a profound impact on Chinese philosophical thought. Notably, the Avataṃsaka Sūtra (Ch. Huayan jing 華嚴經, Flower Ornament Sūtra, hereafter Huayan jing) stands out as a pivotal example, epitomizing the Sinitic development of these philosophical ideas.

This study concentrates on a comprehensive examination of the concepts of “one” (yi) and “many” (duo), scrutinizing their relationship within the Huayan jing. Additionally, it explores the interplay between “one” and “many” in the broader context of the Huayan school (Huayan zong 華嚴宗) and Chinese philosophy as a whole. Emphasis is also placed on understanding the influence of the Huayan school’s ideas on broader Chinese philosophical discourse. Furthermore, the study delves into the contemporary Buddhist perspective, specifically investigating the significance of “perfect interfusion” or “interpenetration” (yuanrong 圓融) between “one” and “many.”

Author Biographies

  • Wei Daoru 魏道儒, Chinese Academy of Social Sciences

    Wei Daoru 魏道儒 is a Professor at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences 中國社會科學院; Distinguished Professor and Doctoral Supervisor at the University of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences 中國社會科學院大學; Research Fellow at the Institute of World Religions of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences 中國社會科學院世界宗教研究所; and Director of the Buddhist Research Center of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences 中國社會科學院佛教研究中心.

  • Michael Cavayero, Peking University

    Michael Cavayero is Assistant Professor in the School of Arts at Peking University 北京大學藝術學院. He is also cross-appointed as Researcher at Peking University’s Research Center for Aesthetics and Aesthetic Education 北京大學美學與美育研究中心. His research focuses on medieval Buddhist translation texts and language and their relationship to art historical terminology, including the early theoretical history of Chinese painting.