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Sangha, Rituals, and Power: Tiantai/Tendai Buddhism in East Asian Cultural Interactions
Tiantai/Tendai Buddhism,East Asian cultural interaction,Ritual texts,state-protection,Tendai zasu,
|Publication Year :||2019|
Japanese Buddhism was introduced from Korean Peninsula and China at the beginning, so the history of Japanese Buddhism can also be represented as a history of Cultural Interactions. One of the most significant examples is the establishment of Tendai school in the ninth century. Tendai school became one the most powerful schools in Japanese Buddhist history, and highly influenced the development of Japanese Buddhism. Tendai was named after the Tiantai school in China, and it revealed their tight connections within the East Asian Buddhism.
My dissertation takes sangha, ritual, and power as different perspectives to inspect Tiantai/Tendai Buddhism, in order to consider the characteristics of Tiantai/Tendai Buddhism within East Asian cultural interactions. First, take sangha for example, Tiantai community were active around Taizhou, where Temple Guoqing located, Mingzhou area, and Temple Yuquan in Jingzhou. In Tang dynasty, Tiantai Buddhism had no clear connection with capital city or central government and kept its locality. At the same time, Tiantai Buddhism was highly international for its location. Tiantai texts have been introduced to Korea and Japan, and sometimes imported back to China as well. That is, this kind of interaction has made Tiantai Buddhism important resources in East Asian cultural interactions.
Buddhist culture as resources can be related to different meanings, and ritual is one of them. Sangha defines their own rituals, and rituals reflect values they share. Inspecting ritual texts of Tiantai/Tendai Buddhism can help us understand how they regard the ruling class headed by emperor. With the transmission of Tiantai/Tendai Buddhism, rituals as part of the discourse resources were also comprehended. Thereafter, how would Japanese Tendai school utilize these ritual resources from Chinese Tiantai Buddhism? How did these resources transform? Tiantai/Tendai Buddhism in East Asian cultural interactions refers to a process that Tiantai/Tendai Buddhism as resources that gradually founded within cultural interactions in this dissertation.
Zhiyi (538-597) was regarded the founder of Tiantai Buddhism. He led his followers to Mount Tiantai and establish the place as important Buddhist site in China ever since. Guoqing bailu provides clues to explore the rituals Zhiyi made for his followers, and in these rituals, ruling class that headed by emperor was highly respected and further systematized. Personally, Zhiyi had a close association with ruling class even while staying at a rather rural area, and his idea of state-protection never changed. But this state-protection idea was not noticed by the ruling class of Tang, because the center of politics had moved to Guanzhong area instead of the south. Via contemporary ritual texts, state-protection idea that related to Tiantai Buddhism can be observed among different areas in Tang. Meanwhile, Tiantai Buddhism in Tang never had the chance to reach out to the central ruling class because of its location.
Although Tiantai Buddhism in Tang was limited to the Taizhou and Mingzhou area, with Japanese monk Saichō (767-822) as an agent, it transformed to Tendai Buddhism in Heian Japan. In the beginning of the ninth century, Saichō, who just finished his journey to Mount Tiantai, established Tendai school at Mount Hiei with the support of Emperor Kanmu (737-706). The establishment of temple at Mount Hiei, was a representation of Chinese Tiantai Buddhism in Japan by Saichō and his followers. Canons and other Buddhist items brought from China became the provenance of legitimacy for Japanese Tendai school. At the same time, Saichō's Sanbu chōkō eshiki, a Japanese Tendai ritual text, demonstrated local development of Tendai Buddhism. Japanese deities along with other elements that were absent in Tiantai ritual texts reflect the originality of Japanese Tendai school. Also, emphasizing Akṣobhya in ritual texts instead of chanting Buddhas of the ten directions, reflects the consciousness of Japan as an eastern country. Though this creative interpretation kept strengthening the distinctness of Japanese Tendai school, they till firmly believed in the straight connection with Chinese Tiantai. Keiran shuyoushu, an encyclopedia of Tendai in medieval Japan, was an excellent example, for it claims that the connection between Saichō and Tiantai/Tendai idea of state-protection was the very beginning to construct the lineage of state-protection idea.
In fact, as for the production of Buddhist ritual texts, Japanese Tendai school indeed had many creations in Heian period. Especially in the latter half of Heian period, Genshin (942-1017) had a reputation for his innovative works, for he was the pioneer to inaugurate Japanese Buddhism. However, through investigating Genshin's ritual works, the tradition of both Tiantai and Tendai Buddhism still played an important role in his works but did not exactly conform to canons or previous ritual texts. His comprehension and digestion of Tiantai/Tendai Buddhist discourse had made him the best creator of ritual texts at the time. Meanwhile, Zunshi (?-1015) in Song China, who is also famous for ritual works, showed a different attitude toward ritual works. That is, Zunshi followed canons rather strictly, and represented the idea of textual authority.
Finally, by observing the historical development of Tendai school in Heian Japan, the connection with Emperor and Saichō's statement of state-protection at the beginning of Tendai's foundation had deeply affected the characteristic of the sangha. The administration system of Tendai that headed by Tendai zasu was independent and directly related to Emperor. The court that led by Sessho and Kanpaku, along with Emperor, were regarded the top of national political structures, and they kept interaction with Tendai school which claimed to be state-protected. The latter part of Heian period was an important turning point of Japanese political powers. According to Tendai zasuki, Tendai monks did not follow the orders of sekkan regency, and they boycott what they claimed to be state-protected. The engagement and conflicts between sangha and sekkan regency encourage the antagonism toward different sects under Tendai. At last, with the establishment of Kamakura shogunate, Tendai's state-protection discourse clearly disobey what shogunate needed, so that Tendai school was in the doldrums until Tokugawa shogunate, that Tendai once again created a discourse that fulfill the demand of ruling class.
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