73. Tien-tai Sect (V)
- Tien-tai Sect (V)
There are ten meanings of subtlety with regard to this realm of
sentient beings, as discussed in the Profound Meaning of Lotus Sutra,
one of the important treatises in Tien-tai Sect. These ten categories
are as follows:
- The subtlety of objects -- concerning the objective reality,
such as the Ten Suchness of Dharma.
- The subtlety of wisdom -- concerning various kinds of wisdom
to realize the objective reality.
- The subtlety of practice -- concerning various kinds of practice,
which lead to the attainment of wisdom.
- The subtlety of stages -- concerning the levels of attainment
- The subtlety of Threefold Dharma -- concerning the integrated
nature of the threefold aspects of reality and Buddha nature.
- The subtlety of empathy and response -- concerning the unity
of sentient beings' empathy towards Buddha, or capacity to attain
Buddhahood, and the Buddha's power to approach and help sentient
- The subtlety of supranormal power -- concerning some of the
supranormal power of the Buddha, for the sake of saving sentient
- The subtlety of preaching the Dharma -- concerning the variety
and ultimate unity of the teachings of different vehicles, which
is expedient for the sake of saving sentient being.
- The subtlety of attendants -- concerning the qualities of those
who attend to the teachings of the Buddha.
- The subtlety of benefits -- concerning the benefits, which accrue
to those who attend to the Buddha.
Objects of Contemplation
In Tien Tai Buddhism, the objects of contemplation are summarized
in ten realms:
- The realm of our worldly life, including the phenomenal realm,
the realm of the Five Aggregate, Twelve Fields and Eighteen Worlds.
- The realm of blind passion, which is hidden, but becomes apparent
as one deepens contemplation.
- The realm of illness, which is brought about through unduly
rigorous physical discipline.
- The realm of Karmic law, whereby countless previous lives cause
the present one.
- The realm of heavenly beings, which appear in profound contemplation.
- The realm of Dhyana, which can be an obstacle to insight if
one attaches and carves to it.
- The realm of dogmatic views about meditation, especially the
view that one is free from all views.
- The realm of arrogance and pride.
- The realm of Two Vehicles.
- The realm of Bodhisattva.
Each of these realms, including those of delusion, is none other
than the realm of truth, i.e. Dharmadhatu, one of the main features
in Tien Tai Buddhism.
Kinds of Samadhi [四種三昧]
- Samadhi of Constant Sitting [常坐三昧]
Also called One Round Samadhi [一行三昧], it lasts for 90 days.
The practitioner is required to sit in a designated posture
and get rid of all worldly thoughts and concentrate the mind
in Dharmadhatu. If tired, he should recite Buddha's name and
not let the mind leave the Samadhi. This Samadhi was formulated
by Chih-I, based on different practices found in various scriptures.
However, according to the Platform Sutra in Ch'an sect, it is
a constant practice of maintaining a direct, straightforward
mind in all places, whether one is sitting, standing, walking
or lying down. The straight mind is the Bodhimandala (i.e. Dharma
Place). The straight mind is the Pure Land.
- Pratyutpanna-samadhi [般舟三昧]
It is also called the Prolonged Samadhi or Samadhi of Constant
Walking [常行三昧] because throughout the whole period of 90
days, one meditates intensely, recites the name of Amitabha
Buddha without rest, and holds the image of Amitabha Buddha
in consciousness until one realizes the non-duality of self
and Buddha. It is the Samadhi in which the Buddhas of the ten
directions are seen as clearly as the stars at night.
- Samadhi of Half Walking and Half Sitting [半行半坐三昧]
According to the prescription of the Vaipula Sutra, it takes
7 days as one period to hold a Mantra while walking around.
Alternatively, the practitioner can follow the Lotus Sutra,
accompanied by elaborate rituals of worship, incense purification,
repentance, chanting of Dharani and Sutras, circumambulation
and meditative practice. It takes 21 days in sitting or walking
in this practice.
- Samadhi of Non-walking and Non-sitting [非行非坐三昧]
It is also called the Samadhi at Free Will [隨自意三昧]. The
practitioner contemplates on any matter at any time, thus there
is no time period. Whenever a deluded thought arises in mind,
the practitioner should be aware and get rid of it by contemplating
his own mind. Alternatively, wherever thought is awakened, that
thought becomes the object of contemplation, whether one is
sitting, walking, standing or lying down. The object of contemplation
may be either good or bad thoughts, as good thoughts are regarded
as consisting evil, and vice versa. The Samadhi reveals that
any judgment of good and evil is the result of a self-centered
human perspective. In meditation, one can penetrate through
evil to see the true reality.
These four Samadhi have a dual purpose, one is the repentance based
on 'Shih' (the phenomenal event), and the other is the repentance
based on 'Li' (the fundamental principle). The former is expressed
through some ritual activities, while the latter is achieved through
insight into the true nature of reality. Chih-I affirms the true
nature of reality, manifested in phenomenal existence.
Stages of Bodhisattva Development [六即]
As defined in the Tien-tai sect, the six stages of Bodhisattva
development is regarded as the Perfect or Round Teaching, which
is different from Ten Faiths, Ten Abodes, Ten Behavioral Conducts
as defined in Differentiated or Separate Teaching.
The six stages are:
- Stage of realization that all beings are of Buddha's nature.
- Stage of apprehension of words that one who hears and believes
in Buddhism is potential Buddha. [名即]
- Stage attained through meditation practice, study and action.
[觀行即] It is known as Stage of Five Preliminary Grades of Disciples.
- Semblance stage that is close to perfection [相似即], also known
as the stage of purification of six roots and equivalent to the
stage of Ten Faiths as defined in Differentiated Teaching.
- Stage of discrimination of truth and its progressive experiential
certification [分証即], also known as Cause or Root of Holiness
[聖因], equivalent to the Ten Abodes, Ten Merit Transferences,
Ten Grounds, Universal Enlightenment as defined in Differentiated
- Stage of Perfect Enlightenment [究竟即], also known as Fruition
of Holiness [聖果], equivalent to the Wonderful Enlightenment
in Differentiated Teaching.
in Six Degrees [六即佛]
Further to the doctrine of Six Stages of Bodhisattva Development
in Tien-tai sect, similar doctrine is used to explain the identity
of Buddha in six degrees. The Identity in Six Degrees is the successive
stages of cultivation and practice. However, in terms of the substance
of reality, which is manifested, there is no difference from one
stage to another. Therefore, it is called 'Identity'.
- Identity in Principle [理即佛] -- All beings have the Buddha-nature,
which is essential and undeveloped. The underlying truth or principle
is similar to 'Li' [理], the Absolute , as explained in Hua Yen
- Identity in Words [名即佛] -- It is the Buddha as a name or
person. It refers to the speeches from good persons and words
from the scriptures.
- Identity in Contemplative Practice [觀行即佛] -- It refers
to the practice according to the Stages of the Five Preliminary
Grades of Disciples [五品弟子位].
- Identity in Outer Appearance [相似即佛] -- It refers to the
manifestation of harmony in outer appearances in the cultivation
of the Ten Faiths.
- Identity of Partial Realization [分証即佛] -- It refers to the
partial destruction of the Fundamental Ignorance and partial realization,
in the stage of the First Abode to Preliminary or Universal Enlightenment.
- Ultimate Identity [究竟即佛] -- It refers to the complete fulfillment
of wisdom and the elimination of all ignorance, in the stage of
Supreme or Perfect Enlightenment.