72. Tien-tai Sect (IV)
- Tien-tai Sect (IV)
Practice in Tien-tai Sect
The Tien-tai sect emphasized the contemplative insight into mind
[觀心]. Contemplation and wisdom are just like legs and eyes respectively.
One cannot reach the destination without one of them.
There are two aspects in contemplative insight into mind, one is
'Chih' [止] and the other is 'Kuan [觀]. Both are required to attain
enlightenment. As the view of being large and small, kind or evil,
right or wrong, etc. is due to the discriminative illusion of our
mind, it can only be eliminated only by spiritual cultivation. It
is systematized by Chih-i [智顗], who wrote the influential meditation
book called ' The Great Calming and Insight' [摩訶止觀], in which
he outlined the path of practice that begins with cultivation of
morality leading to the Supreme Enlightenment.
'Chih' is the pronunciation of the Chinese word [止], which means
'stop to an end', 'cease to rise', 'calm to rest'. In Sanskrit,
it is called Samtha. Literally, it means the analytical meditation
for perceiving the emptiness of a thing or a phenomenon, and thus
all Dharmas. It is a practice of concentration to put an end to
the erroneous thinking by making clear that all Dharmas are devoid
of self-nature, and hence their existence are impermanent without
The Threefold Cessation is explained as follows:
- 1. Cessation as Insight into the True Essence of Reality [體真止]
- One understands the substantial existence of objective reality,
and the emptiness of all beings and the lack of any substantive
- 2. Cessation as Insight into Expedience Conditions [方便隨緣止]
- One realizes the conditional existence of all beings which
arises through conditioned co-arising.
- 3. Cessation as an End to Both Discriminatory Extremes [息二邊分別止]
- This refers to the contemplation of and insight into the synonymous
nature of both 'extremes' of emptiness and conventional existence.
Both 'emptiness' and 'conventional existence'. if correctly
interpreted, refer to the same thing, and that reality is simultaneously
empty of substantial beings and conventionally existent.
is also the pronunciation of the Chinese word [觀], which means
'contemplate', 'insight'. In Sanskrit, it is called Vipasyana.
Literally, it means the stablizing meditation for developing the
ability to maintain focus on one meditative object. It is a practice
of contemplation to realize that all Dharmas are produced by the
mind, thus the mind can manifest the Buddha nature through some
inanimate things, such as the sun, water, a Buddha statute, or
even a tiniest particle of dust, so as to attain the Supreme Enlightenment.
The 'insight' refers to the full penetration into the ever-changing
characters of all Dharmas and the abode in the Absolute Mind.
The Threefold Contemplation has been discussed in last section.
The relationship is simplified as follows:
- Contemplation of entering emptiness from conventional existence
- Contemplation of entering conventional existence from emptiness
- Contemplation of the Middle Path of supreme meaning [中道第一義諦觀]
Perfect and Immediate Chih Kuan [圓頓止觀] - The most superior
contemplation is called Perfect and Immediate Chih (Cessation)
Kuan (Contemplation). The three aspects of emptiness, conventional
existence, and the Middle are contemplated simultaneously and
spontaneously, and immediately perceived as being integrated,
non-dual and synonymous.
According to the Four Doctrines in Tien-tai sect, each has its
own expedient preparations and correct cultivation in the path of
cultivation. These are called the Twenty-five Expedient Preparations
[二十五方便] and the Ten Modes of Contemplation [十乘觀法]. As for
the former, they are grouped into five categories:
1. Fulfillment of the Five Favorable Conditions [具五緣]
2. Reprimand of the Five Desires [訶五欲]
3. Removal of the Five Hindrances [棄五蓋]
4. Regulation of the Five Activities [調五事]
5. Practice of the Five Virtues [行五法]
72.2.1 Fulfillment of the Five Favorable
They are generally set for the practices of the monks and nuns,
1. Upholding the precepts with purity [持戒清淨]
2. Adequate food and clothing [衣食具足]
3. Staying quietly in a tranquil place [閑居靜處]
4. Giving up all dependencies [息諸緣務]
5. Associating with good spiritual friends [近善知識]
72.2.2 Reprimand of the Five Desires
The Five Desires are the desire for
4. taste and
72.2.3 Removal of the Five Hindrances
The Five Hindrances are
4. restlessness and
72.2.4 Regulation of the Five Activities
The Five Activities are:
1. To regulate your mind not to drown nor drift
2. To regulate your body not to be sluggish nor tense
3. To regulate your breathing not to be harsh nor to be light
4. To regulate your sleep not to be short nor to be restrained
5. To regulate your eating not to be full nor to be hungry
72.2.5 Practice of the Five Virtues
The Five Virtues are:
- Resolve [欲] -- to resolve to abandon all the false discrimination
and wrong views, and to gain entry into mindfulness and wisdom
- Zeal [精進] -- to uphold the precepts strictly and to remove
the Five Hindrances diligently
- Mindfulness [念] -- to reject the deceptions of the world
and to treasure the wisdom and meditation
- Skillful Wisdom [巧慧] -- to assess the pros and cons of the
worldly happiness and the happiness of meditation and wisdom
- Single-mindedness [一心] -- to see clearly the evil in the
world, and be conscious that the merits of meditation and wisdom
Modes of Contemplation [十乘觀法]
the Tien-tai doctrines are classified as the 'complete and sudden'
teachings, the ten modes represent different dimensions of the experience
in contemplating, which imply accessibility for all of us to the
same, the Absolute Mind, no matter what our 'roots' are. The Ten
Modes of Contemplation are explained according to the Complete Doctrine.
- Viewing Inconceivable Reality [觀不思議境] -- This means viewing
completely and perfectly the Three Thousand worlds in a single
moment of consciousness [三千性相]. It is the realization of the
Triple Truth, with vast and complete freedom in every direction.
- Correctly Arousing the Mind of Enlightenment [真正發菩提心]
-- This means arousing the Bodhi Mind, taking the Four Great Vows
with the compassion to liberate all sentient beings and seeking
the Buddha's Way simultaneously.
- Skillfully Calming the Mind [善巧安心止觀] -- This means meditation
in constant serenity, and thus wisdom in constant illumination
by realizing the supreme Truth.
- Destroying Attachment [破法偏] -- This means the destruction
of the Three Delusions [三惑] by the Threefold Contemplation [三觀].
- Distinguishing the Passageways and the Obstructions [識通塞]
-- Obstructions means the Suffering [苦] and the Accumulation
[集] or the Cause of Suffering, the Twelve Links of Causes and
Conditions [十二因緣], the Six Hindrances [六蔽], the Fundamental
Ignorance [無明] and innumerable delusions. Passageways means
the Path [道] to Nirvana and the Cessation [滅] to Suffering,
the Six Perfections [六度] and the Threefold Contemplations [三觀].
One should destroy the obstructions and uphold the passageways.
- Integrating the Thirty-seven Limbs of Enlightenment [道品調適]
-- This means adjustment to the Thirty-seven Limbs of Enlightenment
one by one, and 'enter' into them.
- Curing Hindrances and Assisting Enlightenment [對治助開] --
If one comes across the hindrances to the correct practice, one
should cure it by cultivating secondary aids, such as the Five
Meditations for Settling the Mind [五停心] and the Six Perfections,
etc, which will assist one to attain Enlightenment.
- Knowing the Sequence of Stages [知位次] -- This means the practitioner
avoids the arrogance of being superior than others.
- Having Patience [能安忍] -- This means tranquility and calmness
under favorable or adverse conditions, which will lead the practitioner
to the practice of Five Preliminary Grades and enter the Stage
of Purification of the Six Sense Organs.
- Free from Attachment to Dharmas [無法愛] -- This means non-attachment
to the Ten Degrees of Faith and the Way of Identity through Outer
Appearances. It is the entrance of the First Abode in the practice.