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Five Types of Buddhist Study and Practice (Schools or Lineages of Buddhism Cultivation)

Five Types of Buddhist Study and Practice:

1) study and practice of the teachings (Scholastic Buddhism),

2) study and practice of the moral Regulations (Vinaya or Pratimoksha),

3) study and practice of the Mysteries (Tantra or Secret School or Vajrayana - Tantrayana - Mantrayana) ,

4) study and practice of meditation (Shamatha-Vipassana-Chan-Zen-Dzogchen-Mahamudra,

5) study and practice for rebirth in the Pure Lands of the Buddhas.

“The Buddha's teachings are taught in five schools: the teachings school, the Vinaya school, the Esoteric school, the Chan School, and the Pure Land school.

There are many who like to say that these are five sects, or types of Buddhism, which leads to all kinds of doctrinal squabbling. It is not accurate; the schools might better be called five basic approaches to cultivation. Each of these Dharma Doors has special appeal to certain types of people, but only one can be said to be Equally easy for all to cultivate, and that is the Pure Land Door.” (WM 17-18)

I. Teachings - Philosophical Schools

The teachings includes the Buddhist doctrinal schools, such as the eighteen Hinayana schools, the Madhyamaka and Yogachara schools of the Mahayana, and Sutra-based Mahayana schools such as Tian Tai and Hwa-yan.

“The teachings school emphasizes using skillful]] expedients, and therefore capitalizes on beautiful expression and elegant phraseology. Adherents to this school are well-versed in terminology and characteristics. They determine the different periods of the teachings and divide them into categories. thus, the sea of meanings billows, and the Dharma's principles run deep. They serve to focus the audience's rambling thoughts, and to gather in stray mental activities that leak out through seeing and listening. When this occurs, it's as if one has entered the hall of Samadhi, and ascended the heavens of the six desires. layer upon layer one bores in; step by step one ascends. Even if one wanted to stop, it would be nearly impossible, and it's hard to fathom the very source.

“Regarding the teachings of the teachings school–such as the four teachings of Tian Tai, the five Esoteric meanings of Syan Shou (i.e., Hwa Yan), the Dharma-mark propagated by consciousness-Only]]–each has its strengths. Although each of these schools may not be extremely biased; nevertheless, on occasion they extol themselves at others' expense.

“Whenever clear-eyed Good and Wise Advisors see such incidents, they feel Greatly pained at heart. Since the foundation of the teachings has not flourished, and true talent is scarce, these good advisors are willing to act personally as models, practice ascetic discipline, and cultivate the door of the Six Paramitas. In the face of a hundred oppositions they do not bend, and they are glad to undergo ten thousand vicissitudes, to the point that even if their bodies had to be smashed to pieces and their bones pulverized, they would not begrudge such a sacrifice. Supported by magnanimous vows, they are courageous and vigorous. Renouncing themselves for others, they take across everyone with whom they have causal connections. Observing the opportunities, they entice with the teachings and dispense Medicine according to the illness. Notavoiding weariness or toil, they would offer up their heads, eyes, brains and marrow, give away their bodies and minds, all with the sole intention of causing living beings to turn away from confusion and return to enlightenment, to cast out the Deviant]] and come back to what is Proper. They want living beings to quickly attain Bodhi and perfect the Sagely fruition. Therefore, they employ both provisional and actual means, and bestow both sudden and gra[[dual teachings. With kindness they draw in those with whom they have no affinities; with compassion they embrace all things and become one with them. revealing a vast and long tongue, they take Great pains to exhort with earnest words, sparing no efforts. They teach and admonish without tiring, while always conducting themselves in accord with strict discipline. In such ways they act as the 'Dragons (Naga) and Elephants' at the Dharma's entrance, also as Teachers of Gods and people. Throughout long kalpas they practice the Bodhisattva way and never rest.” (WM 74-75)

“The cultivation of the teaching school, while serving as an excellent cure for the disease of stupidity, does demand certain qualifications. It cannot, for example, be cultivated by the illiterate, by those who do not know the languages in which the teachings are written, or by the very stupid. And so, although the teachings are Universal and there is not a single being who cannot benefit from them, in their literary form there is a definite group of people to whom they are best suited.” (WM 18)

II. Moral Regulations (Vinaya School)

“The Vinaya school stresses the study of precepts, the rules and regulations. In the four Comportments of walking, standing, sitting, and lying down, one has to be stern and dignified, and the Three karmas of body, mouth and mind have to be pure. Upasakas and Upasikas (laymen and laywomen), the two lay assemblies, may maintain the Five Precepts and the eight precepts, as well as the Ten Major and Forty-Eight minor Bodhisattva precepts. Shramanas and Shramanerikas take the ten Novice precepts. Bhikshus have 250 precepts, and Bhikshunis have 348 precepts. One should maintain each and every one of those precepts without every violating them and believe in them, accept them, and offer up one's conduct. One should be mindful of the agony of revolving in birth and death. If we lose this human body, it will be hard to recover it in ten thousand eons. Therefore, at all times, we should strictly cultivate the Vinaya and never be lax.” (WM 75-76)

“The Vinaya, or 'Rules and Regulations' school, requires not only that one be literate, but also that one be living a monastic life. There is no way for the worldly man to perfect cultivation of the Vinaya. pure maintenance of this Dharma Door serves as a supremely efficacious cure for greed, desire, and arrogance. Much of it, however, can be practiced by men and women in the world, and it can be an immense help in cultivation. All real practicers of Buddha Dharma, Sangha-members or lay people, formally maintain precepts, ranging from the five for lay people to the more than Three hundred for Bhikshunis. There are few more awesome people in the world than the Masters of Vinaya, perfect in the Three thousand rules of Deportment.” (WM 18)

III. Mysteries (Tantra Mantra Vajrayana)

“The school of the Mysteries specializes in the Holding of Mantras and maintains that one can realize Buddhahood in this very life. And yet, if practitioners are the slightest bit reckless, they can easily fall into the Dharma Realm of the Asuras. That is because the majority of those in these practices have not subdued the hatred in their minds, and their tendency to seek revenge is extremely strong. They lack thoughts of kindness and compassion, and rarely practice the art of patience. Many of them are prone to be arrogant, and their pride and conceit are deeply rooted. In Holding Secret Mantras they dare to slight others, and wielding their Vajras they are not afraid of bullying people. However, if one can be rid of the bad habits described above, then one's practice of Samadhi can become successful, and one can go on to achieve the fruition that is Bodhi. In that case, this Dharma Door is also a skillful]] expedient for cultivators of the way.” (WM 76)

“The school of the Mysteries requires among other things both a good memory to hold its many Mantras and Dharanis, plus a good deal of money to carry out its elaborate and splendid rituals. A fully adorned Temple and Bodhimanda are required as well as a profusion of images and various Dharma instruments. Also essential are numbers of Dharma Masters well-trained and conversant with the Esoteric lore of this school. They are hard to find. Without them and without special instruction]], it is not possible to be successful with the teachings of the school of the Mysteries.” (WM 19)

I have preached the Truth without making any distinction Exoteric and Esoteric doctrine; for in respect of the Truths, Ananda, the Tathagata has no such thing as the closed fist of a Teacher who keeps some things back. (Dialogues of the Buddha II 107)

IV. Meditation (Shamatha-Dhyana-Vipassana of Chan-Zen - Dzogchen-Mahamudra)

“The Chan (Zen) or Dhyana meditation school stresses the practice of meditation, and its cultivation requires a special set of circumstances. first, it is essential to have an advisor, one of Great wisdom and skill, who can teach the student by all manner of expedient means. Without such a Teacher, there is no way for ordinary people to have any success in Chan meditation. They may achieve some measure of attainment, but due to lack of wise counsel, they will be turned by their experience; thinking that they are like the Great Chan Masters of old, they will go around committing all sorts of stupid and even d[[angerous or immoral acts. Such so-called 'enlightened Masters' and 'Patriarchs' are too often well-meaning practicers of Chan who have either not met or not submitted to the teaching of a good and Wise Advisor. Too many of them have entered into the various demonic states that the Buddha discussed in the Shurangama Sutra. Anyone who professes to be a follower of the Buddha should act in accordance with his teachings and find a capable advisor, one whose experience and lineage are unquestioned.

“In addition to the above qualifications, Chan cultivation requires a certain temperament which is rarely found. While some immediately get a response in Chan cultivation, there are many for whom it represents unbearable difficulty. If this is the only means of cultivation presented to them, many people will flee from the Buddha Dharma as a small child screams upon seeing a tame but incredibly fierce-looking tiger on a leash. ” (WM 18-19)

See Also Chan School.

V. Pure Land School (Faith-based Buddhism - Devotional Bhakti)

“The Pure Land School Dharma is the most perfect and the most instantaneous, the simplest and the easiest. It is a Dharma that everyone can cultivate; one and all can practice it. Hence it is described as 'Universally including the Three types of faculties (superior, average, and inferior capabilities), and gathering in both the keen and the dull.' One only has to single-mindedly uphold the Great name 'Namo Amitabha Buddha', that of the teaching host of the Land of ultimate bliss of the west. When one recites this name and arrives at the point of single-minded concentration, then one will definitely be reborn in the west from a Lotus Flower. When that Lotus blooms, one will see the Buddha, awaken to a for[[bearance]] with the not coming into being of Dharmas, and attain irreversible Anuttara- SamyakSambodhi. Therefore, if all cultivators only become replete with deep faith and earnest vows, and actually realize the Three requisites–faith, vows, and practice, they all will most certainly reach their destination. It is my hope that all of you good people will exhort each other onwards.” (WM 76-77)

recitation is the central practice of the Pure Land Dharma Door. 'Namo Amitabha Buddha'. 'Namo' means 'to return in reliance', 'to take refuge'. 'Amita' means 'limitless' and refers to the fact that this Buddha has both 'Limitless Light (Amitabha)' (Amitabha) and 'limitless life' (Amitayus). 'Buddha' means 'Enlightened One'. And so 'Namo Amitabha Buddha' means 'I take refuge with and return my life in worship to the Buddha of Limitless Light (Amitabha) and life.' The constant repetition of this Buddha's name is the core of the Pure Land Dharma Door. . . .

“The Pure Land Dharma Door requires no Great learning. Many illiterates attain inconceivable spiritual benefit through it. Many, too, are the high and learned Masters who praise this door. The Pure Land Dharma Door shows us how to purify our minds, and as such it is identical with the teaching school, whose complex and learned systems serve to keep the mind from wandering off on useless excursions. To be able to hold (in one's mind) the elaborate systems of the teaching school requires prolonged concentration on the Buddha Dharma. ConcentRating on what is pure is fundamentally identical with recollection of the Buddha. The Pure Land Dharma does not require that one lead a monastic life and perfect the Three thousand awesome Deportments. This Dharma Door can be cultivated right in the midst of the most ordinary life. lay people and Vinaya specialists alike can cultivate this Dharma. Nor does it require elaborate rituals and expensive ceremonies, or Secret, Esoteric lore to be learned from specialized Teachers. The Secret of the Pure Land School–and there is indeed a Great Secret to it–lies in the response. It is a Secret clothed not in elaborate ritual and Ceremony but in the simplicity of faith and sincerity. Its Secret, which is right out in the open, is in fact the highest Secret.” (WM 19)

“The five schools were created by Buddhists who had nothing to do and wanted to find something with which to occupy their time. The five schools all issued from Buddhism. Since they came forth from Buddhism, they can return to Buddhism as well. Although the five schools serve different purposes, their ultimate destination is the same. It is said:

There is only one road back to the source.

But here are many expedient ways to reach it.”

(Shambala Review, v.5, nos.1&2, Winter, 1976, p. 26)

1) Chinese: wu jyau , wu da dzung , 2) Sanskrit: —–, 3) Pali —–, 4) Alternate translations: five basic approaches to cultivation, five schools, five Great schools. teachings:* 1) Chinese: jyau. moral Regulations:* 1) Chinese: jye, 2) Sanskrit: Vinaya, 3) Pali Vinaya, 4) Alternate translations: discipline. *Mysteries:* 1) Chinese: mi dzung, 2) Sanskrit: Tantra, Mantrayana, Vajrayana. 4) Alternate translations: Esoteric, Secret, tantric. meditation: 1) Chinese: Chan, 2) Sanskrit: Dhyana, 3) Pali —–, 4) Alternate translations: Zen (Japanese pronunciation of Chan). Pure Land: 1) Chinese: jing du.

See Also: Consciousness-Only School, Tian Tai School, Hwa Yan school, Chan school, Buddha [[recitation.*

BTTS References: FAS Ch26 II 113-114; WM 16-19, 70-77; RH 230-231; VBS

  1. 12

(March, 1971) 32ff; VBS

  1. 185, 186 ”Pure Land Dharma Door,” Oct.-Nov. 1985.
five_types_of_buddhist_study_and_practice.txt · Last modified: 2018/02/26 18:11 (external edit)