71. Tien-tai Sect (III)
- Tien-tai Sect (III)
Perfect Harmony of the Triple Truth [三諦圓融]
Based on the Three Universal Truths, Tien-tai believes there is
a true state or noumenon, which can be realized through its manifested
phenomena. There is no noumenon besides phenomena, and phenomenon
itself is noumenon in nature. Thus the Tien-tai established The
Triple Truth [三諦], or the Threefold Truth of Emptiness, Falseness
and Mean, which is one of the characteristics of the Tien-tai doctrines
providing the structure for its interpretation of the Buddha Dharma.
71.1.1 The Truth of Emptiness [空諦] Sometimes, it is called the Truth of Voidness or known as Sunyata
in Sanskrit. All things and phenomena are impermanent and have no
independent reality of their own. Thus, they are said to be empty.
It signifies that no Dharma can exist by itself alone, but is causally
produced and maintained in dependence of other conditions.
71.1.2 The Truth of Falseness [假諦] In Sanskrit, it is known as Samvrtisatya. Though Dharmas are
empty, they do have temporary or provisional existence as perceived
by the senses. Falseness means that things and phenomena do have
an empirical and concrete existence, but they are not permanent
and absolute, so it is known as the conventional existence.
71.1.3 The Truth of Mean [中諦]
Sometimes it is called the Truth of Middle Path, or Middle Way,
or just Middle. In Sanskrit, it is known as Madyama. Mean should
not be taken as lying between the other two, but as identical with
the two. Mean means that things and phenomena are both empty and
existent, and that the inter-penetration between the 'Li' [理]and
'Shih' [事]. While the particular thing or phenomenon (so-called
'Shih') remains distinct, they are identical on the basis of their
emptiness, thus all things and phenomena are parts of one single
unity of Law (so-called 'Li').
Mean is the true and very state of Emptiness and Falseness. It is
the synthesis of emptiness and temporary existence, of universality
and particularity. The Triple Truth must not be treated separately
because they are perpetually united and in harmony. These three
truths emphasize the idea of totality and mutual identification,
i.e. the whole and its part are identical. In this respect, the
whole cosmos is present in the tip of hair, and one thought is the
three thousands worlds. It is regarded as the inter-penetrations
of all Dharmas.
This concept is summarized by Chih-I in his writing:
The perfect Triple Truth means that it is not only the Middle
Path, which completely includes the Buddha-Dharma, but also the
real and the mundane (truths). This Triple Truth is perfectly integrated:
one-in-three and three-in-one.
to the Tien-tai doctrine, the Absolute Mind embraces the entire
universe in its entity. It is equivalent to the True Suchness [真如],
or the Womb of the Tathagata [如來藏], the Buddha Nature [佛性],
the Dharmadhatu [法界], etc.
In its substance, the Absolute Mind is everywhere the same and undifferentiated:
in its form and functions, it is diverse and differentiated, as
the phenomenal manifestations integrated in the Absolute Mind. Therefore,
in its synthetic totality, the Absolute Mind is fully and perfectly
present in all things, whether sentient or insentient, and in all
phenomena, whether the universe or a mote of dust. With respect
to the Buddha Nature, the possibility of enlightenment in Buddhahood
for a being is utterly non-exclusive.
It is original and ordinary that the Absolute Mind is the repository
of all potentialities, both pure and impure. Its pure nature is
responsible for the attributes of the Buddha, while its impure nature
is responsible for other beings in the phenomenal world.
Three Delusions [三惑]
The Three Delusions are (1) Delusion on View and Thought (2) Delusion
on 'Chen-sha', and (3) Delusion on Fundamental Ignorance.
(1) Delusion on View and Thought [見思惑] -- As we are deluded
in principle, what we view is false. As we are deluded in phenomena,
what we think is wrong. It refers to the delusion of ordinary people
who do not understand the emptiness as the reality of universe and
life, and attach to the Dharmas. Thus, we are afflicted due to lack
of understanding of the Truth of Emptiness.
(2) Delusion on 'Chen-sha' or Minute Dust-like Delusion [塵沙惑]
-- 'Chen-sha' is translated as 'dust' and 'sand'. It means we are
deluded by numerous phenomena, as many as and as minute as sand
and dust, which are temporary in existence, or so-called 'false'.
Thus, we are afflicted due to lack of understanding of the Truth
(3) Delusion on Fundamental Ignorance [無明惑] -- As we
are deluded by the Fundamental Ignorance, we do not understand the
Truth of Mean, and thus are not enlightened.In order to break the
Three Delusions, we have to practice the Threefold Contemplations
Threefold Contemplation in One Mind
to the Triple Truth and the Three Delusions, Tien-tai sect sets
forth the doctrine of the Threefold Contemplation in One Mind, which
breaks the Three Delusions and attains the Three Wisdoms. The details
are as follows:
1. Contemplation of Emptiness -- to break the Delusion on
Views and Thoughts in order to attain Sarvajna (i.e. the Wisdom
of Omniscience or the Wisdom of All Things) [一切智]. It refers
to the wisdom attained by the Two Vehicles, i.e. Sravakas and Pretykabuddha,
as they understand all the characteristics of Dharmas, which is
Emptiness in reality.
2. Contemplation of Falsehood -- to break the Delusion of
'Chen-sha' in order to attain the Wisdom of the Seeds of Way or
the Wisdom of the Path [道種智]. It is the wisdom that adopts all
means to save all sentient beings, as it can differentiate all the
Dharmas leading to Buddhahood.
3. Contemplation of the Mean -- to break the Delusion of
Ignorance in order to attain the Wisdom of the Seeds of Omniscience
or the Universal Wisdom [一切種智], which thoroughly understand
both the particular characteristics and the general nature of all
These kinds of wisdom are inherent to all beings, but are covered
by the Three Delusions. Thus, they have to be revealed through the
contemplative insight of mind.