Category: Mystic groups and systems
Tendai is a Japanese school of Mahayana Buddhism, a descendant of the Chinese Tiantai or Lotus Sutra school.
Chappell (1987: p. 247) states the following:
Although Tendai (Chin., T'ien-t'ai) has the reputation of being a major denomination in Japanese history, and the most comprehensive and diversified school of Chinese Buddhism, it is almost unknown in the West. This meagre presence is in marked contrast to the vision of the founder of the movement in China, T'ien-t'ai Chih-i (538-597), who provided a religious framework which seemed suited to adapt to other cultures, to evolve new practices, and to universalize Buddhism.
The Tendai sect flourished under the patronage of the imperial family and nobility in Japan, particularly the Fujiwara clan; in 794, the Imperial capital was moved to Kyoto. Tendai Buddhism became the dominant form of main-stream Buddhism in Japan for many years, and gave rise to most of the developments in later Japanese Buddhism.
Nichiren, Hōnen, Shinran, and Dōgen—all famous thinkers in non-Tendai schools of Japanese Buddhism—were all initially trained as Tendai monks. Japanese Buddhism was dominated by the Tendai school to a much greater degree than Chinese Buddhism was by its forebearer, the Tiantai.
Buddhist monks and nuns do not have relationships of a sexual nature with either men or women, but within this sect it was accepted that the love of another - especially a loved figure such as the Buddha was a possible route to spiritual experience.
In effect, one of the principle activities was Love with visualisation.
Tendai Buddhism has several philosophical insights which allow for the reconciliation of Buddhist doctrine with aspects of Japanese culture such as Shinto. It is rooted in the idea, fundamental to Mahayana Buddhism, that Buddha-hood, the capability to attain enlightenment, is intrinsic in all things. In effect through the love of another, the raising of their status to the divine, one could attain the divine oneself.
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