Tiantai Zhiyi Magnum Opus Translated: "Clear Serenity, Quiet Insight" (Mo-ho chih-kuan) 3vol

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narhwal90
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Re: Tiantai Zhiyi Magnum Opus Translated: "Clear Serenity, Quiet Insight" (Mo-ho chih-kuan) 3vol

Post by narhwal90 » Sat Dec 02, 2017 11:49 pm

Getting involved in using multiplication to express the "same but not same" identity of the 3 Truths could be misleading in a similar manner to focusing on the arithmetic in ichinen sanzen; here there are the 3 Truths we're concerned with, not a multidimensional space. I may be viewing this superficially (likely I suspect) but I get a Vajra-Samadhi vibe where everything is and is not and so take the "mutual identity", if you will, of the Truth's similarly. So I am curious about your strong emphasis of singular identity (sic) of the particular 3 terms- are you going for a deeper assertion than 3 indivisible aspects?

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Re: Tiantai Zhiyi Magnum Opus Translated: "Clear Serenity, Quiet Insight" (Mo-ho chih-kuan) 3vol

Post by jikai » Sun Dec 03, 2017 12:12 pm

Queequeg wrote:
Fri Dec 01, 2017 5:32 pm
jikai wrote:
Fri Dec 01, 2017 9:50 am
Anything in particular you didn't like? In general I found it fairly consistent with the tradition.
Maybe you can help me hash this out.

I don't have the text before me, but it was the presentation of the Three Truths, wherein they seem to suggest that the conditioned and ultimate are reconciled into the middle which subsumes them both. My understanding (I believe per Ng) is that this is one iteration of the Separate Three Truths.

IIRC, the three truths are like Isvara's three eyes - ؞. None is above the other, all are perfectly integrated, such that if one sees the conditioned, one also sees the ultimate and middle; if one sees the ultimate, one also sees the conditioned and middle; if one sees the middle, one sees the ultimate and conditioned. Donner and Stevenson refer to this a couple paragraphs later, so it seems odd that their first description would weight the middle so heavily. I conceive of the Integrated Three Truths as walking, chewing gum, and clapping at the same time. There is no transition, so to speak. All three truths are immediate and simultaneous. In contrast, we have the Separate Three Truths - in one iteration, seeing one of the three, the other two truths are implicit but not readily apparent; alternatively, the middle is some sort of negotiation between the two truths; and alternatively again, the middle is a higher level truth that subsumes the other two (what Donner and Stevenson seem to suggest).
You are right in my mind to identify a divide of sorts between Stevenson, Donner, and Swanson on the one hand, and with Ng and Ziporyn on the other. But I wouldn't attribute it to Japanese vs Chinese educated scholars. In my experience the majority of Chinese and Japanese Tiantai/Tendai scholars are in surprisingly consistent agreement on the majority of early Tiantai - as it pertains to doctrinal discourse. Of course, it is a muddier matter when it comes to the history of the tradition. The divide in this case, to my mind arises from scholars with fairly orthodox positions on the one hand (Stevenson, Donner, Swanson) who tend to be fairly 'conservative' in their ideas. And scholars who attempt to 'break new ground' as it were (Ng and Ziporyn). Ng and Ziporyn are quite different though. Ng finds himself on this end of the spectrum because he attempts to 're-orient' or perhaps more charitably 're-focus' Tiantai studies by identifying what he feels are under appreciated concepts (like the Middle Way- Buddha Nature). This sets him apart from the tradition somewhat. Ziporyn is not doing the same thing, but nontheless doesn't quite fit in with what I've described as the 'conservative' approach. Ziporyn's views are consistent with later Tiantai developments which is why he draws most consistently from Siming Zhili, and Zhanran. What Ziporyn does which sets him apart somewhat in his approach, is that he treats Tiantai as would a Philosopher. That is, he attempts to unpack and discuss the ultimate conclusion of x,y,z, and show how it relates to standard philosophical approaches/ questions, or contemporary concerns not of issue to the system and tradition itself.
Coming from a Nichiren background, my view may very well be colored by Zhanran's interpretation of Zhiyi. Zhanran figures very prominently in Nichiren's writings - when Nichiren quoted Zhiyi, he often qualified the passages with Zhanran's commentary.

Does Zhanran not figure as prominently in Tendai? IIRC, Saicho received the Tendai lineage from Zhanran's direct disciple.

On the Middle-way Buddhanature emphasis by Ng - is he breaking new ground or bringing to the fore the mystical aspect of Buddhanature that seems to be ignored in the more academically oriented scholarship? The Middleway-Buddhanature that Ng identifies is the Buddha who is constantly thinking how to quickly cause beings to attain the body of the Buddha in response to living beings; ie. the Buddha as described through the convention of the 4 siddhanta. This dynamic Buddhanature doesn't seem to sit well with secular scholars - and hence they tend to interpret Zhiyi in a way that's closer to the dry version of Madhyamika. I don't have a lot to stand on with this, but I suspect the secular scholars are closer to the Critical Buddhists on the spectrum between mysticism and that bone dry Madhyamika ("Buddhism is Criticism!") they seem to assert is "real" Buddhism.

I don't have much to go on in saying this, but I'm not sure that Zhiyi's innovation of the Three Truths is simply a misunderstanding of Madhyamika due to a bad translation. I suspect its also a synthesis of Yogacara sensibilities, filling in the full Middle that is suggested in Madhyamika analysis.

Anyways, you can probably see which way I break in terms of the "conservative/innovative" divide.

As a general suggestion to those who will are following along and would like some more details on the divide Jikai and I are discussing above, as a companion to Swanson's translation, you might consider picking up Ziporyn's Emptiness and Omnipresence. Ziporyn's iconoclastic, whimsical style I think leaves a bit to be desired, but he offers a fairly comprehensive picture of Tientai. Other than Hurvitz' study of Zhiyi, its the only widely available text that presents an overall view of Tiantai.

Jikai, do you have any other suggestions on getting the "big picture" on Tientai?
Ok, I think I have an idea of the issue now.

I'll admit that their language does stray close to the line in places, but I get the impression that is intentional. Nevertheless, I think they generally maintain their argument fairly well. Check pg 11-12 again where they mention:

"As an ultimate reality that synthesises and utterly transcends the two provisionally devised truths, Zhiyi describes the middle as an unalloyed and singular truth. By the same token, however, the very relativity implicit in the notion of a singular, transcendent middle undermines the middle's monistic inclusiveness. To counter this sort of fragmentation, Zhiyi disabuses the middle of any hint of ontological integrity and characterises it as utterly decentred. Thus it becomes a non-middle, an inconceivable (不可思議) middle that effaces itself in a simultaneous "identity with emptiness, identity with provisionality, and identity with the middle" ( 即空即假即中), where "any one interfuses with all three, and the three, one" (一即三三即一). Pushing this line of reasoning to its extreme, the very distinctions that establish an ultimate reality must vanish altogether."

You are right to notice that their discussion in places emphasises the middle in a way dangerous to purpose. However, I think this has more to do with distinguishing the concept of the middle against the backdrop of two truths. Your analogy of the three eyes of Mahesvara is used quite a few times by Zhiyi and early Tiantai writers, so its a great one to remember.

In regards to your questions about Zhanran. Zhanran is indeed incredibly important in Tendai, and you recall correctly that Dengyo Daishi trained under Zhanran's disciple, Daosui. Zhanran is essential reading you could say. He wrote the authoratative commentaries on the Tiantai Sandabu/ Tendai Sandaibu 天台三大部(i.e the Mohe Zhiguan, Fahua Xuanyi and Fahua Wenju)Three Great Works of Tiantai Dashi, and Dengyo Daishi wrote a commentary on Zhanran's Diamond Scalpel. So yes, Zhanran is of great importance in Tiantai/ Tendai.

However, there is context here which I think results in a different 'reading of' Zhanran in Tiantai/Tendai than in Nichiren. From my experience, Zhanran writes primarily to two ends: 1) clarifying and establishing the orthodox Tiantai position, 2) repudiating the doctrines of other schools, and/or identifying the influence of other schools on Tiantai thought. This is because Zhanran existed at a time when the Tiantai school's fortunes had slipped, and competition from schools like Huayan threatened Tiantai standing. I am not as familiar with Nichiren's writings and letters as your good self Queequeg, but from the readings I have done, and given what Nichiren understood to be his 'duty', I've found he quotes most consistently from the latter comments by Zhanran. I got the distinct impression that had I not read Zhanran directly, I would have come to very different conclusions as to Zhanran's ideas, had I only read him through Nichiren. Another thing to remember is that much like Zhiyi in the Mohe Zhiguan, Nichiren can be quite creative with his quoting and paraphrasing of Zhanran. This sort of thing is part and parcel of the tradition, but it needs to be said that they really do read quite differently.

Ng may well have intended as you say, to 'bring to the fore' the mystical aspect of Buddhanature, and I did enjoy his work. However, he does make too much of the Middle Way-Buddha Nature concept. It is not the 'lynch-pin' he wishes it to be. If he did indeed intend as you suspect, then there are a number of concepts better fit for purpose. Don't get me wrong, Ng's work was very enjoyable, and I learnt from it. But it isn't without fairly substantial issues. As a practitioner, I do appreciate attempts to bring out more of the dynamic elements of the tradition. But...

Your hunch is correct, and you have more to go on than you may think 😊. Tiantai is not simply a misunderstanding of Madhyamaka, and there are Cittamatrata influences present in some of his ideas. Although these probably don't come from Yogacara sources, but from Abhidharmaka texts. I could discuss these points forever, but I intend to touch on them as we go through the Mohe Zhiguan, so I'll save it.

Those are good suggestions Queequeg, and both serve as good introductions to the Tiantai tradition. Ziporyn's 'Emptiness and Omnipresence' can be used as a primer for doctrine, and Hurvitz's study of Zhiyi acts as a good companion for the early history. Unfortunately neither of them are particularly holistic. To my mind, none of the currently available literature in English is thorough enough to serve as a proper introduction to the tradition. Academic publications by their very nature often need to be finite and limited to the discussion at hand. But ironically, these works are then only useful if one is already reasonably familiar with the tradition. Myself and a few others are working to improve the situation, although I don't want to say too much. Suffice it to say that we intend to produce something fairly thorough, and well-rounded. It is still a work in progress, but will hopefully be something like Ven. Dhammajoti's 'Sarvastivada Abhidharma' textbook.

This translation of the Mohe Zhiguan helps the situation immensely, and I have no doubt that it will open the field to broader, and more consistent consideration. It can be fairly intimidating of course, and needs guidance to make the most of it.

With all of this in mind, I suggest that people start with the two aforementioned works: Ziporyn's 'Emptiness and Omnipresence', and Hurvitz's 'Chih-i'. Follow this with the translations of Gishin's Tendai hokke shū gishū (天台法華宗義集), and Chegwan's Tiantai sijiao yi (天台四教儀). Both are available in BDK editions, although if you can find it, buy the older edition of the Tiantai Sijiao Yi as it has a lot of helpful footnoting omitted from the BDK version. Neither of these two works are perfect. Gishin's work is too terse to be used by a pure beginner, and Chegwan's work is quite late, reading later doctrinal developments into Zhiyi, and weights the doctrinal classification system excessively. However, they are fairly broad in their coverage, and provide enough to give an outline of the system. If you can read Japanese go for Fukuda's 天台学概論 Tendaigaku Gairon. It is a bit dated now, but still streets ahead of any modern resource in any language.

Gassho,

Jikai.
"止觀明靜前代未聞"
(摩訶止觀)

"此妙法蓮花經者本地甚深之奧藏也"
( 法華玄義)

"觀心者空觀是般若假觀是解脫中觀是法身"
(法華文句)

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Re: Tiantai Zhiyi Magnum Opus Translated: "Clear Serenity, Quiet Insight" (Mo-ho chih-kuan) 3vol

Post by jikai » Sun Dec 03, 2017 12:15 pm

Malcolm wrote:
Fri Dec 01, 2017 8:33 pm
Queequeg wrote:
Fri Dec 01, 2017 8:31 pm
Malcolm wrote:
Fri Dec 01, 2017 8:04 pm


I have not read Ziporyn's book. I read Swanson's mentioned book some time ago.

One difference between Ziporyn and Garfield, is the latter has had a permanent and severe allergy to Dzogchen, which apparently has only recently abated somewhat.
If you have the time and inclination, I would be very interested in your take on Ziporyn and the whole subject.

Somehow, I'm not surprised that Garfield would not take to Dzogchen well. Hehe.
One thing I am curious about -- is Ziporyn a practitioner, or just a wordsmith?
The grapevine here tells me that he speaks quite often at Rissho Koseikai events, and that he may have a connection with them. While he does indeed speak at Rissho Koseikai sometimes, I haven't been able to confirm an actual link.

Gassho,

Jikai.
"止觀明靜前代未聞"
(摩訶止觀)

"此妙法蓮花經者本地甚深之奧藏也"
( 法華玄義)

"觀心者空觀是般若假觀是解脫中觀是法身"
(法華文句)

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Re: Tiantai Zhiyi Magnum Opus Translated: "Clear Serenity, Quiet Insight" (Mo-ho chih-kuan) 3vol

Post by Queequeg » Sun Dec 03, 2017 12:59 pm

Jikai, thank you for your detailed comments. Regarding Nichiren/Zhanran, I've suspected there is some creative interpretation and am very much looking forward to exploring this more. Point taken on Ng.

Do you know if anyone is working on complete translations of Fahua Hsuani and Fahua Wenju?

I am very curious to see what you are working on as an intro to Tendai! And of course this study on
jikai wrote:
Sun Dec 03, 2017 12:15 pm


The grapevine here tells me that he speaks quite often at Rissho Koseikai events, and that he may have a connection with them. While he does indeed speak at Rissho Koseikai sometimes, I haven't been able to confirm an actual link.

Gassho,

Jikai.
Interesting. Gene Reeves is associated with RKK, also from Chicago, iirc...
Those who, even with distracted minds,
Entered a stupa compound
And chanted but once, “Namo Buddhaya!”
Have certainly attained the path of the buddhas.

-Lotus Sutra, Expedient Means Chapter

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Re: Tiantai Zhiyi Magnum Opus Translated: "Clear Serenity, Quiet Insight" (Mo-ho chih-kuan) 3vol

Post by jikai » Sun Dec 03, 2017 2:02 pm

Queequeg wrote:
Sun Dec 03, 2017 12:59 pm

Do you know if anyone is working on complete translations of Fahua Hsuani and Fahua Wenju?
I've heard a few things on this front. I don't know of anyone formally intending to translate the Fahua Wenju unfortunately, but I heard Dr Swanson has hinted that he might try his hand at the Fahua Xuanyi. Although I also heard he intends to retire (i think) in the next year or so. This would make some sense given he translated a section of it for his 'Foundations of Tientai Philosophy'. This website popping up recently by Dr Swanson and co is also promising:
https://www.kukechu.org/
I have my own translations of sections here and there, but not organised into anything useful just yet. Perhaps one day! But I am trying to motivate movement within Tendai in this direction.
I am very curious to see what you are working on as an intro to Tendai! And of course this study on

I'll be sure to pass on information as and when possible. Perhaps you can help give me some feedback from some draft materials!
Interesting. Gene Reeves is associated with RKK, also from Chicago, iirc...
That's a good point. If I ever hear anything more concrete I'll let you know.

Gassho,
Jikai.
"止觀明靜前代未聞"
(摩訶止觀)

"此妙法蓮花經者本地甚深之奧藏也"
( 法華玄義)

"觀心者空觀是般若假觀是解脫中觀是法身"
(法華文句)

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Re: Tiantai Zhiyi Magnum Opus Translated: "Clear Serenity, Quiet Insight" (Mo-ho chih-kuan) 3vol

Post by Queequeg » Mon Dec 04, 2017 6:07 pm

jikai wrote:
Sun Dec 03, 2017 2:02 pm
https://www.kukechu.org/
Cool. I hope retirement doesn't mean end of translating, but rather, having more time to translate and not be interrupted with grading papers and exams! Permanent sabbatical!
I have my own translations of sections here and there, but not organised into anything useful just yet. Perhaps one day! But I am trying to motivate movement within Tendai in this direction.
It would be wonderful if Tendai-shu was able to lead translation projects for Tiantai/Tendai texts. I don't know if the current hold on shipping Swanson's translation at Amazon is any indication, but, I wonder if this is indicative of demand stronger than anticipated.
I'll be sure to pass on information as and when possible. Perhaps you can help give me some feedback from some draft materials!
I doubt that I can offer much substantive help but would be happy to help and support any way that I can. I often regret spending too much time in my school years having fun and not putting effort into language study... Ah, what could have been...

:anjali:

Anyways, very much looking forward to the study of MHCK with you! I don't think I'm alone in that sentiment.
Those who, even with distracted minds,
Entered a stupa compound
And chanted but once, “Namo Buddhaya!”
Have certainly attained the path of the buddhas.

-Lotus Sutra, Expedient Means Chapter

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Re: Tiantai Zhiyi Magnum Opus Translated: "Clear Serenity, Quiet Insight" (Mo-ho chih-kuan) 3vol

Post by Coëmgenu » Thu Dec 14, 2017 8:13 pm

narhwal90 wrote:
Sat Dec 02, 2017 11:49 pm
Getting involved in using multiplication to express the "same but not same" identity of the 3 Truths could be misleading in a similar manner to focusing on the arithmetic in ichinen sanzen; here there are the 3 Truths we're concerned with, not a multidimensional space.
However, at the risk of sounding contrarian, the 3 truths are logical propositions, which can be treated as such. My expansion of the 3 truths was logical, IMO, not mathematical, if there is such a thing as a difference between those two notions.

Furthermore, my labelling of the expansion as "logical" has to do with a very specific interpretation of "consumate interfusion/interpenetration" "vs" "mutual possession" that even I myself am not entirely sure of.

narhwal90 wrote:
Sat Dec 02, 2017 11:49 pm
I may be viewing this superficially (likely I suspect) but I get a Vajra-Samadhi vibe where everything is and is not and so take the "mutual identity", if you will, of the Truth's similarly. So I am curious about your strong emphasis of singular identity (sic) of the particular 3 terms- are you going for a deeper assertion than 3 indivisible aspects?
If you have the time, can you elaborate on what you meant here? Either here or in PM, if you are so inclined to either.
世尊在靈山會上拈華示眾眾皆默然唯迦葉破顏微笑世尊云
The Lord dwelt at the Vulture Peak with the assembly and plucked a flower as a teaching. The myriad totality were silent, save for Kāśyapa, whose face cracked in a faint smile. The Lord spoke.

吾有正法眼藏涅槃妙心實相無相微妙法門不立文字教外別傳付囑摩訶迦葉。
I have the treasure of the true dharma eye, I have nirvāṇa as wondrous citta, I know signless dharmatā, the subtle dharma-gate, which is not standing on written word, which is external to scriptures, which is a special dispensation, which is entrusted to Mahākāśyapa.

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Re: Tiantai Zhiyi Magnum Opus Translated: "Clear Serenity, Quiet Insight" (Mo-ho chih-kuan) 3vol

Post by Coëmgenu » Fri Dec 15, 2017 2:20 am

Coëmgenu wrote:
Thu Dec 14, 2017 8:13 pm
narhwal90 wrote:
Sat Dec 02, 2017 11:49 pm
Getting involved in using multiplication to express the "same but not same" identity of the 3 Truths could be misleading in a similar manner to focusing on the arithmetic in ichinen sanzen; here there are the 3 Truths we're concerned with, not a multidimensional space.
However, at the risk of sounding contrarian, the 3 truths are logical propositions, which can be treated as such.
I feel like this will earn me scolding, which it ought to. I should clarify that I think it is uncontroversial that the 3 truths themselves are a set of logical propositions, when viewed as only 3 truths. I do not think this is a reductivist approach, but it could well be (bad) "bone dry Madhyamaka" that Queegqueg spoke of earlier. That is because I see the limits of logic not necessarily strained by the 3 propositions of truth view each-on-their-own, but rather, I see the usefulness of conceptuality and conventional discrimination cease to play a significant part when it comes to the unthinkable (不可思議) interpenetration of the three of them mutually (圓融三諦). I think Ven Zhiyi rightly points out that this is an 'unthinkable' collective proposition, because it is tantamount to a logical fallacy if pursued to its ends like a mathematical problem.

In the above, I indirectly imply that 不可思議圓融三諦 is a phrase by Ven Zhiyi, it is not, it is a composite from "此三諦理不可思議無決定性實不可説." and "分別者,但法有 麁妙,若隔歷三諦,麁法也;圓融三諦,妙法也。", based on context. If this is misleading it was not my intention.
世尊在靈山會上拈華示眾眾皆默然唯迦葉破顏微笑世尊云
The Lord dwelt at the Vulture Peak with the assembly and plucked a flower as a teaching. The myriad totality were silent, save for Kāśyapa, whose face cracked in a faint smile. The Lord spoke.

吾有正法眼藏涅槃妙心實相無相微妙法門不立文字教外別傳付囑摩訶迦葉。
I have the treasure of the true dharma eye, I have nirvāṇa as wondrous citta, I know signless dharmatā, the subtle dharma-gate, which is not standing on written word, which is external to scriptures, which is a special dispensation, which is entrusted to Mahākāśyapa.

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Re: Tiantai Zhiyi Magnum Opus Translated: "Clear Serenity, Quiet Insight" (Mo-ho chih-kuan) 3vol

Post by narhwal90 » Fri Dec 15, 2017 4:18 am

Coëmgenu wrote:
Thu Dec 14, 2017 8:13 pm
narhwal90 wrote:
Sat Dec 02, 2017 11:49 pm
Getting involved in using multiplication to express the "same but not same" identity of the 3 Truths could be misleading in a similar manner to focusing on the arithmetic in ichinen sanzen; here there are the 3 Truths we're concerned with, not a multidimensional space.
However, at the risk of sounding contrarian, the 3 truths are logical propositions, which can be treated as such. My expansion of the 3 truths was logical, IMO, not mathematical, if there is such a thing as a difference between those two notions.

Furthermore, my labelling of the expansion as "logical" has to do with a very specific interpretation of "consumate interfusion/interpenetration" "vs" "mutual possession" that even I myself am not entirely sure of.

narhwal90 wrote:
Sat Dec 02, 2017 11:49 pm
I may be viewing this superficially (likely I suspect) but I get a Vajra-Samadhi vibe where everything is and is not and so take the "mutual identity", if you will, of the Truth's similarly. So I am curious about your strong emphasis of singular identity (sic) of the particular 3 terms- are you going for a deeper assertion than 3 indivisible aspects?
If you have the time, can you elaborate on what you meant here? Either here or in PM, if you are so inclined to either.
The 10-World mutual possession appears more amenable to a mathmatical presentation; draw 10 colums across, 10 rows below, label each with the respective world and the presence of each world in the others mirrors the usual exegis. Granted I don't understand the number theory behind multiplication but there is a modularity of definition of the worlds such that there are 10 unrelated cases and so the multiplication works.

OTOH wrt the 3 Truths (emptiness, provsional existence, both simultaneously true) there is not a similar uniform modularity. The 3rd term is troublesome since it specifies the other two thus a 3 * 3 sort of expression doesn't work in the same way, the structural definitions are different. I'm inclined to think the 3 Truths are not intended to be reduced to a single truth statement perilously close to monism. The presence of the middle way term in the 3 Truths does resemble the middle way argument sometimes posed about the 4 Extremes which I find interesting.

I don't want to overstate the math angle, I think of such things as a form of upaya to engage the mind. To me the 3 Truths seem more appropriately considered as logical propositions.

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Re: Tiantai Zhiyi Magnum Opus Translated: "Clear Serenity, Quiet Insight" (Mo-ho chih-kuan) 3vol

Post by jikai » Thu Feb 01, 2018 2:51 am

Hi all,

In case anyone hasn't seen it yet, I just thought I'd mention here that we've started the Mohe Zhiguan study thread in the Tendai subforum. The more involved, the better our conversations will hopefully become.

Gassho,
Jikai.
"止觀明靜前代未聞"
(摩訶止觀)

"此妙法蓮花經者本地甚深之奧藏也"
( 法華玄義)

"觀心者空觀是般若假觀是解脫中觀是法身"
(法華文句)

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