views updated

T'ien-t'ai, Tiantai, or Fa-hua-tsung (Chin., ‘School of the Celestial Platform’). School of Chinese Buddhism derived from Chih-i (538–97), who lived on Mount T'ien-t'ai. Because of its veneration of the Lotus Sūtra it is also known as the Lotus school. T'ien-t'ai looked back on previous Buddhist history and sought a way of giving status to its diverse teachings, classifying the Buddha's teaching into ‘five periods and eight schools’, and allowing that his teaching was adapted, in successive periods of his life, to different levels of attainment (upāya-kauśalya). The Lotus Sūtra contains the consummation and highest level of teaching. T'ien-t'ai approximates to the teaching of Nāgārjuna, whom it sees as its patriarch. T'ien-t'ai was taken to Japan by Saichō, where it is known as Tendai.