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What are Tendai Buddhist practitioners?

​Buddhism is a religion which was originated by Shakyamuni (釈迦仏) Buddha around 5th century BC.  The Spirit of Buddhism is that of great loving-kindness and compassion.

The doctrine of Buddhism aims for the liberation of sentient beings from the cycles of suffering (苦). It teaches that every phenomenon arises as the result of a vast concurrence of causes and conditions and everything disappears as these causes and conditions change and pass away.


Buddhists are  those who follow the teachings of Buddha and practice them. The Buddhist practitioners take refuge in the Buddha, the Dharma, and the Sangha.  They study the sutras and the teachings, observe moral precepts, practice meditation, and cultivate prajna wisdom.


They will be introduced the Fourfold Noble Truth (四諦);


1. the Truth of Suffering,  

2. the Truth of the Cause of Suffering,

3. the Truth of the Cessation of Suffering,

4. the Truth of the Noble Path to the Cessation of the Cause of Suffering.


Then, they will learn how to enter into a state where there is no desire and no suffering by following the Noble Eightfold Path (八正道);

  1. Right View: our actions have consequences; death is not the end, and our actions and beliefs have also consequences after death. Right view is the Buddha’s wisdom which one obtains by practicing the teachings of Buddha. The fundamental concept of the right view is to correctly understand the Fourfold Noble Truth, to believe in the law of cause and effect and not to be deceived by appearances and desires.

  2. Right Thought: the giving up the life with worldly passions and adopting the life of a religious resolution not to cherish desires, not to be greedy, not to be angry, and not to do any harmful deed. This concept aims at peaceful renunciation, into an environment of non-sensuality, non-ill-will (to loving kindness), away from cruelty (to compassion). Such an environment aids contemplation of immpermane, suffering, and non-Self.

  3. Right Speech: no lying, no abusive speech, no idle speech, no double-tongue, no telling one person what another says about him.

  4. Right Conduct: no killing or injuring, no destroying any life, no taking what is not given, no committing adultery.

  5. Right Livelihood: avoid any life that would bring shame, only possessing what is essential to sustain life;

  6. Right Effort: guard against sensual thoughts and do one’s best diligently toward the wholesome direction. This concept aims at preventing unwholesome states that disrupt meditation.

  7. Right Mindfulness: maintain a pure and thoughtful mind; never be absent minded, being conscious of what one is doing; this, states encourages the mindfulness about impermanence of body, feeling and mind, as well as to experience the five aggregates (skandhas) the Five Hindrances, the four True Realities and seven factors of awakening.

  8. Right samadhi: practicing four stages of meditation (dhyana) culminating into unification of the mind.  [Refer to The Ideas and Meditative Practices of Early Buddhism]

Right Samadhi means to keep the mind right and tranquil for its concentration, seeking to realize the mind’s pure essence.


They also study the source of human grief, lamentation, pain and agony. It is Ignorance of the fact that desire is the source of suffering. From ignorance and greed, their spring impure desires for things that are, in fact, unobtainable, but for which men restlessly and blindly search. How suffering arises is explained in the Twelve Nidanas of the dependent origination (十二因縁, dvadasanga-pratitya-samutpada);


1. Ignorance


(Avidya )

2. Mental formations/actions



3. Consciousness


( Vijnana)

4. Mental Functions



5. The five organs and the mind



6. Contact



7. Perception



8. Desires/cravings/longings



9. Attachment



10. Generation of factors for rebirth



11. Birth



12. Old age and death




There are two major branches in Buddhism: Theravada (the School of the elders) and Mahayana (the Great vehicle).


Tendai Buddhism belongs to Mahayana branch. Tientai Buddhism in China was established by Chihi (531-597), and it views the reality as the Triple Truth; Emptiness, Temporal, Middle way. The fundamental theory of this school is the Triple Identity; the Emptiness is simultaneously temporary, the temporary is simultaneously the middle, which is simultaneously the Emptiness. Emptiness,Temporal, and Middle way do not form a pyramid of contrasting realities, but are simultaneous aspects of one reality. [Tientai Philosophy]


Japanese Tendai Buddhism was founded by Dengyo Daishi Saicho (767-822), after studying the Tientai Buddhism in China.  Japanese Tendai Buddhism was authorized as an officially recognized Buddhist School by the Japanese Imperial court on January 26, 806. Dengyo Daishi Saicho believed in the teachings of Ekayana (One Vehicle); everyone is equal and anyone can attain spiritual awakening. Japanese Tendai Buddhism consists of exoteric and esoteric traditions. Tendai School is the source of many Buddhist traditions in Japan such as Soto and Rinzai Zen tradition,  Jyodo-syu Purland tradition, Jodo-Shin-syu True Pureland tradition, The Nichiren tradition, and others.


Those who wish to be a Tendai practitioner will receive the five precepts (五戒Panca-Sila), which are moral and ritual guidelines.


  1. Abstain from killing

  2. Abstain from steeling.

  3. Abstain from sexual misconduct.

  4. Abstain from lying.

  5. Abstain from having wrong view.


Tendai practitioner studies and practices the teachings of Buddhism while embracing Tientai Doctrine, that is , the Triple Truth.  The Tientai concept of discerning the reality is refered to as the Isshin-Sangan (一心三観)and Ichinen Sanzen (一念三千) Concept.


The doctrine of Isshin-sangan is a type of Tientai meditation in which one views a phenomenon from three viewpoints in a single moment of  consciousness; Emptiness, Temporal, and Middle. Three thousand realities exist in a single moment of consciousness.


Ichinen Sanzen, or Three Thousand realities exist in a single moment of consciousness.  Whether we are conscious or not, the tree thousand realities are present in each single moment of our consciousness. This is the basic idea of the Tendai Doctrine.


“The true Buddha is not a human body. It is enlightenment itself. A human body must die, but the wisdom of Enlightenment will exist forever in the truth of the Dharma, and in the practice of the Dharma.”


Ryoei Tyler Ph.D,


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