In: Religion Topics
PaperThe characteristic of Japanese Tendai
The Tendai school of Buddhism has been called "one of the most important developments in Chinese and Japanese Buddhism." It is the largest school of Buddhism and has had great practical devotional influence on Chinese and Japanese society. Tendai's doctrines and practices are based on the Lotus Sutra, which also provides the basis of the nicheren and pure land schools. It is therefore sometimes known as the Lotus School, but most commonly as T'ien-T'ai or Tendai, for the southeastern Chinese mountain on which its teachings originally developed.
In this article Hazama Jiko examined some of the special characteristics of Japanese Tendai Buddhism, with the focus on its founder Saicho.
The first characteristic of the Japanese Tendai school, he gave, is its advocacy of a comprehensive Buddhism, the ideal of a Buddhist school based on what is called the "One Great Perfect Teaching", the idea that all the teaching of the Buddha are intimately without contradiction and can be unified in one comprehensive and perfect system. But Saicho transmitted not only the teaching of the T'ien-T'ai tradition but also the Zen and esoteric Buddhist traditions, and the bodhisattva precepts. He included both esoteric and exoteric teachings, and avoided an obsession with any one category of the Buddhist tradition such as Zen or the precepts. There are many problems which could be discussed with regard to this transmission of the four traditions, but i think its clear that the Japanese Tendai school founded by Saicho is structured with these four elements of T'ien-T'ai proper, esoteric Buddhism, Zen, and the bodhisattva precepts. And this is a characteristic very different from the Chinese T'ien-T'ai tradition with its teaching of single doctrinal system based on the Lotus Sutra. So there is no doubt that Saicho's ideal and goal was to establish a single comprehensive Buddhism.
But also Hazama Jiko pointed out that of the many aspects of...