Tendai Sect of Buddhism

After emperor Kammu moved the capital from Nara to Kyoto, he started to encourage the growth and formation of new Buddhist sects. For doing that a new Buddhist movement was headed by two leaders, Saicho and Kukai, who were also known as the ‘Kobo Daishi’. Saicho went to China in 804 to study Buddhism and was influences by Tien Tai and Ch’an who were zen Buddhists. And then upon returning to Japan he founded the Tendai sect of Buddhism.

The teachings of the Tendai sect are based on the lotus sutra, as the sect asserted the belief the lotus sutra was identical to the living Buddha. As a supporter of Mahayana Buddhism, Saicho worked towards laying the foundation and spreading its beliefs countrywide. He claimed that the doctrines were based on the actual words of Buddha and so claimed the precedence of the Tendai sect. they believed that Buddha nature is present in all of the living beings and that everyone can find their road to salvation. They addressed that the path of salvation is contemplation and moral perfection.

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The Tendai sect was also somewhat related with esoteric practices. The ‘Tendai Esotericism’ was known as the Taimitsu. The esoteric rituals were given equivalent prevalence to the exoteric teachings of lotus sutra in the Taimitsu doctrine. Just like the belief in Shigon sect, in Tendai sect it was also believed that performing mudras, reciting mantras and doing meditation will help attain or connect with our inner Buddha nature. In Tendai sect much like Shigon sect, the doctrine enabled the Buddhists to reconcile Buddhism and Shintoism. But according to Buddhism, a person should be free from all of the worldly attachments, including activities like poetry and literature were to be scraped as well in order to attain enlightenment. Unlike other sects the Tendai sect believed in contemplation, so they believed that the contemplation of poetry and literature could also lead to enlightenment. Tendai sect played a major role in spreading Buddhism in japan through their schools, as some of their schools are still going on.