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Tiantai (天台宗, Wade-Giles: T'ien T'ai) is one of the thirteen schools of Buddhism in China and Japan, also called the Lotus Sutra School. It was founded by Zhiyi (538-597) during the Sui dynasty in China.
Tiantai is a Mahāyāna school established at Tiantai mountain . Zhiyi, taking the Lotus Sutra as his basis, classified the other Buddhist sūtras into five periods and eight types of teachings; he discussed the theory of perfect interpenetration of the triple truth , emphasized both scriptural study and practice, and taught the rapid attainment of Buddhahood through observing the mind. The official line of transmission lists the Indian scholar Nagarjuna and Chinese monks Huiwen and Huisi as Zhiyi's predecessors, although modern scholars believe that Zhiyi was in fact the sect's founder. The sixth patriarch, Jingqi helped popularized the sect through his commentaries on these three scriptures.
Zhiyi organized all existing Nikaya and Mahayana sutras into a five-part scheme, comprising his view of the various levels of teaching revealed by the Buddha. Zhiyi's schema culminated with the Lotus Sutra, which he held to be the supreme synthesis of Buddhist doctrine.
Tiantai thus became doctrinally broad, able to absorb and give rise to other movements within Buddhism. It also took up a principle of triple truth derived from Nagarjuna:
- All things are void and without essential reality.
- All things have a provisional reality.
- All things are both absolutely unreal and provisionally real at once.
The transient world of phenomena is thus seen as one with the unchanging, undifferentiated ground of existence. This doctrine was elaborated in a complex cosmology of 3000 interpenetrating realms of existence.
- Digital Dictionary of Buddhism (log in with userID "guest")
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