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SAICHō (最澄, September 15, 767 – June 26, 822) was a Japanese Buddhist monk credited with founding the Tendai
Tendai
school of Buddhism based on the Chinese Tiantai school he was exposed to during his trip to Tang China
China
beginning in 804. He founded the temple and headquarters of Tendai
Tendai
at Enryaku-ji on Mount Hiei near Kyoto
Kyoto
. He is also said to have been the first to bring tea to Japan. After his death, he was awarded the posthumous title of DENGYō DAISHI (伝教大師).

CONTENTS

* 1 Life

* 1.1 Early life * 1.2 Trip to China
China
* 1.3 Founding of Tendai
Tendai
* 1.4 Decline and Death

* 2 Relationship with Kūkai * 3 Exoteric syncretic tradition versus esotericism * 4 See also * 5 References * 6 Further reading * 7 External links

LIFE

EARLY LIFE

Saichō
Saichō
was born in the year 766 in the city of Ōmi, in present Shiga Prefecture , with the given name of Hirono. According to family tradition, Saichō's ancestors were descendants of emperors of Eastern Han China
China
; however, no positive evidence exists for this claim. The region where Saichō
Saichō
was born did have a large Chinese immigrant population, so Saichō
Saichō
likely did have Chinese ancestry.

During Saichō's time, the Buddhist temples in Japan were officially organized into a national network known as the provincial temple system, and at the age of 13, Saichō
Saichō
became a disciple of one Gyōhyō (722–797, 行表). He took tonsure as a novice monk at the age of 14 and was given the ordination name "Saichō". Gyōhyō in turn was a disciple of Dao-xuan (702–760, 道璿, Dōsen in Japanese), a prominent monk from China
China
of the Tiantai school who had brought the East Mountain Teaching of Chan Buddhism , Huayan teachings and the Bodhisattva Precepts of the _Brahmajala Sutra_ to Japan in 736 and served as the "precept master" for ordination prior to the arrival of Jianzhen .

By the age of 20, he undertook the full monastic precepts at the Tōdai-ji , thus becoming a fully ordained monk in the official temple system. A few months later he abruptly retreated to Mount Hiei for an intensive study and practice of Buddhism, though the exact reason for his departure remains unknown. Shortly after his retreat, he composed his _Ganmon_ (願文, "Saichō's Prayer") which included his personal vows to:

* So long as I have not attained the stage where my six faculties are pure, I will not venture out into the world. * So long as I have not realized the absolute, I will not acquire any special skills or arts (e.g. medicine, divination, calligraphy, etc.) * So long as I have not kept all the precepts purely, I will not participate in any lay donor's Buddhist meetings. * So long as I have not attained wisdom (lit. _hannya_ 般若), I will not participate in worldly affairs unless it be to benefit others. * May any merit from my practice in the past, present and future be given not to me, but to all sentient beings so that they may attain supreme enlightenment.

In time, Saichō
Saichō
attracted other monks both on Mount Hiei, and from the Buddhist community in Nara , and a monastic community developed on Mount Hiei, which eventually became Enryaku-ji . Saichō
Saichō
was said to have carved an image of the Bhaiṣajyaguru and enshrined it. Additionally, he lit a lamp of oil before the Buddha and prayed that the lamp would never be extinguished. This lamp is now known as the _Fumetsu no Hōtō_ (不滅の法灯, "Inextinguishable Dharma
Dharma
Lamp") and has remained lit for 1200 years.

The capital of Japan was moved from Nara to Nagaoka-kyō in 784, and then to Kyoto
Kyoto
in 795. Because Mount Hiei was coincidentally located to the northeast of Kyoto, a direction considered dangerous according to Chinese geomancy , Saichō's presence on the mountain was thought to protect the new capital and brought him to the attention of the court. Saichō
Saichō
and his community on Mount Hiei also started to correspond and exchange ceremonies with the established communities in Nara, in addition to the monks at the Court, further enhancing his prestige.

One of Saichō's earliest supporters in the Court was Wake no Hiroyo, who invited Saichō
Saichō
to give lectures at Takaosan-ji along with fourteen other eminent monks. Saichō
Saichō
was not the first to be invited, indicating that he was still relatively unknown in the Court, but rising in prominence.

TRIP TO CHINA

The success of the Takaosanji lectures, plus Saichō's association with Wake no Hiroyo soon caught the attention of Emperor Kanmu who consulted with Saichō
Saichō
about propagating his Buddhist teachings further, and to help bridge the traditional rivalry between the East Asian Yogācāra and East Asian Mādhyamaka schools.

The emperor granted a petition by Saichō
Saichō
to journey to China
China
to further study Tiantai doctrine in China
China
and bring back more texts. Saichō
Saichō
was expected to only remain in China
China
for a short time however.

Saichō
Saichō
could read Chinese but was unable to speak it at all, thus he was allowed to bring a trusted disciple along named Gishin (義眞), who apparently could speak Chinese. Gishin would later become one of the head monks of the Tendai
Tendai
order after Saichō.

Saichō
Saichō
was part of the four-ship diplomatic mission to Tang China
China
in 803. The ships were forced to turn back due to heavy winds, where they spent some time at Dazaifu, Fukuoka . During this time, Saichō
Saichō
likely met another passenger named Kūkai , who was sent to China
China
on a similar mission though he was expected to stay much longer.

When the ships set sail again, two sank during a heavy storm, but Saichō's ship arrived at the port of Ningbo , then known as Mingzhou (Chinese : 明州; pinyin : _Míngzhōu_), in northern Zhejiang
Zhejiang
in 804. Shortly after arrival, permission was granted for Saichō
Saichō
and his party to travel to Tiantai Mountain and he was introduced to the seventh Patriarch of Tiantai , Daosui (Chinese : 道邃; pinyin : _Dàosuì_), who became his primary teacher during his time in China. Daosui was instrumental in teaching Saichō
Saichō
about Tiantai methods of meditation, monastic discipline and orthodox teachings. Saichō remained under this instruction for approximately 135 days.

Saichō
Saichō
spent the next several months copying various Buddhist works with the intention of bringing them back to Japan with him. While some works existed in Japan already, Saichō
Saichō
felt that they suffered from copyist errors or other defects, and so he made fresh copies. Once the task was completed, Saichō
Saichō
and his party returned to Ningbo, but the ship was harbored in Fuzhou at the time, and would not return for six weeks.

During this time, Saichō
Saichō
went to Yuezhou (越州, modern-day Shaoxing ) and sought out texts and information on Vajrayana (Esoteric) Buddhism. The Tiantai school originally only utilized "mixed" (_zōmitsu_ (雑密)) ceremonial practices, but over time esoteric Buddhism
Buddhism
took on a greater role. By the time Saichō
Saichō
had arrived in China, a number of Tiantai Buddhist centers provided esoteric training, and both Saichō
Saichō
and Gishin received initiation at a temple in Yue Prefecture . However, it's unclear what transmission or transmissions(s) they received. Some evidence suggests that Saichō did not receive the dual (_ryōbu_ (兩部) transmissions of the Diamond Realm and the Womb Realm . Instead, it is thought he may have only received the Diamond Realm transmission, but the evidence is not conclusive one way or the other.

Finally, on the tenth day of the fifth month of 805, Saichō
Saichō
and his party returned to Ningbo and after compiling further bibliographies, boarded the ship back for Japan and arrived in Tsushima on the fifth day of the sixth month. Although Saichō
Saichō
had only stayed in China
China
for a total of eight months, his return was eagerly awaited by the court in Kyoto.

FOUNDING OF TENDAI

On his return from China, Saichō
Saichō
worked hard to win recognition from the court and "in the first month of 806, Saichō’s Tendai
Tendai
Lotus school (_Tendai-hokke-shū_ 天台法華宗) won official recognition when the court of the ailing emperor Kanmu issued another edict, this one permitting two annual ordinands (_nenbundosha_) for Saichō's new school on Mount Hiei. This edict states that, following Saichō's request, the ordinands would be divided between two curricula: the _shanagō_ course, centering on the study of the Mahavairocana Sūtra (this was the Mikkyō curriculum, shana being the abbreviation for Birushana, the Japanese transliteration of Vairocana), and the shikangō course, based on the study of the _Mo-ho chih-kuan_, the seminal work of the T'ien-t'ai patriarch Chih-i 智顗 (538–597) (this was the Tendai
Tendai
curriculum, _shikan_ being the Japanese reading of Chih-i's central practice of _chih-kuan_ ) (_Kenkairon engi_, DZ 1, pp. 294–296). Thus from its very inception the Tendai
Tendai
Lotus school was equally based on Mikkyō and T'ien-t'ai. It was as a subdivision of Saichō's new school that Mikkyō first received the official acknowledgment of the imperial court and became a proper subject of study in Japanese Buddhism.

n 813 Saichō
Saichō
composed the _Ehyō tendaishū_ (DZ 1, pp. 343–366), which argues that the principal Buddhist masters of China
China
and Korea all relied on T'ien-t'ai doctrine in composing their own works. By identifying numerous references to and quotes from T'ien-t'ai treatises in the works of Chi-tsang 吉蔵 of the San-lun 三論 school, Chih-chou of the Fa-hsiang 法相 school, Fa-tsang of the Huayen 華嚴 school, I-hsing of Mikkyō , and other prominent teachers, Saichō
Saichō
asserted that T'ien-t'ai formed the foundation for all major Buddhist schools in East Asia.

Before Saichō, all monastic ordinations took place at Tōdai-ji temple under the ancient Vinaya code, but Saichō
Saichō
intended to found his school as a strictly Mahayana institution and ordain monks using the Bodhisattva Precepts only. Despite intense opposition from the traditional Buddhist schools in Nara , his request was granted by Emperor Saga in 822, several days after his death. This was the fruit of years of effort and a formal debate.

DECLINE AND DEATH

By 822, Saichō
Saichō
petitioned the court to allow the monks at Mount Hiei to ordain under the Bodhisattva Precepts rather than the traditional ordination system of the _prātimokṣa _, arguing that his community would be a purely Mahayana , not Hinayana one. This was met with strong protest by the Buddhist establishment who supported the _kokubunji_ system, and lodged a protest. Saichō
Saichō
composed the _Kenkairon_ (顕戒論, "A Clarification of the Precepts"), which stressed the significance of the Bodhisattva
Bodhisattva
Precepts, but his request was still rejected until 7 days after his death at the age of 56.

RELATIONSHIP WITH KūKAI

Saichō
Saichō
traveled to China
China
along with a number of other young monks, one of whom was named Kūkai . Saichō
Saichō
befriended him during his trip to China
China
who traveled with him going and coming. This turned out to be pivotal to the future development of Buddhism.

During the last month of his stay on Chinese soil, while awaiting the arrival of his ship at the port city of Ming-chou, Saichō
Saichō
traveled to Yüeh-chou to collect additional Buddhist texts. At Lung-hsing ssu 龍興寺 Saichō
Saichō
chanced to meet the priest Shun-hsiao"

, and likewise returned with esoteric (tantric ) Buddhist texts. Saichō
Saichō
was entranced with the new material and wanted to learn more. On the trip back he found that Kukai had studied these teachings in depth and had an entire library of vajrayana materials. This friendship would influence the future of Tendai.

Saichō
Saichō
最澄 and Kūkai 空海 are renowned as the founders, respectively, of the Japanese Tendai
Tendai
and Shingon schools, both of which grew into influential institutions of continuing importance even today. The two figures cooperated, moreover, in an effort to transplant the seed of esoteric Buddhism
Buddhism
(mikkyō) to the cultural soil of Japan. Saichō, for example, prepared the way for Kūkai—still largely unrecognized after his return from T’ang China—to perform the Mikkyō initiation ritual of _abhiṣeka_ (_kanjō_ 灌頂) for the high priests of the Nara Buddhist establishment and the dignitaries of the imperial" Heian court .

It was Saichō
Saichō
who performed the _abhiṣeka_, or initiatory ritual, for the court.

Saichō
Saichō
also endorsed the court’s bequest to Kūkai of the mountain temple of Takaosan-ji northwest of Kyoto
Kyoto
as the first center for Kūkai’s Shingon Buddhism . Kūkai, in turn, responded to Saichō’s wish to incorporate Mikkyō into the eclectic system of Tendai
Tendai
by training Saichō
Saichō
and his disciples in the esoteric Buddhist rituals and by lending Saichō
Saichō
various Mikkyō texts that he had brought with him from China."

EXOTERIC SYNCRETIC TRADITION VERSUS ESOTERICISM

Part of a series on

BUDDHISM IN JAPAN

Schools

* Jōjitsu * Hosso * Sanron * Kegon * Ritsu * Kusha * Tendai
Tendai
* Shingon * Pure Land * Zen
Zen
* Nichiren
Nichiren

Founders

* Saichō * Kūkai * Hōnen * Shinran * Dōgen * Eisai * Ingen * Nichiren
Nichiren

Sacred texts

* Avataṃsaka Sūtra * Lotus Sūtra * Prajñāpāramitā * Heart Sūtra * Infinite Life Sūtra * Mahāvairocana Sūtra * Vajraśekhara Sūtra

* Glossary of Japanese Buddhism

* v * t * e

Thus esoteric Buddhism
Buddhism
became an important aspect of the Tendai school, which was primarily focused on the Lotus Sutra . Paul Groner states,

Chinese T'ien-t'ai had been a syncretistic tradition, particularly at the T'ien-t'ai Yu-ch'uan monastery. Chinese monks had been interested in Ch'an and Esoteric Buddhism
Buddhism
as well as in the Ssu-fen la and Fan wang precepts. Saichō
Saichō
inherited this tradition, but developed certain aspects of it in innovative ways. For example, Saichō
Saichō
considered Esoteric Buddhism
Buddhism
to be essentially the same as Tendai
Tendai
(enmitsu itchi) and thus awarded Esoteric Buddhism
Buddhism
a more central place in the Tendai tradition than it had been given by most Chinese monks. Like Kūkai, Saichō
Saichō
emphasized the importance of striving for enlightenment as an immediate goal to be attained in this existence (_sokushin-jōbutsu_).

Tendai
Tendai
and Esoteric practices, he felt, provided a direct path (_jikidō_) to enlightenment, whereas the teachings of the Nara schools required aeons to bring the practitioner to enlightenment.

However,

During the years that Saichō
Saichō
studied Esoteric Buddhism
Buddhism
(from 805–815), more than half of the Tendai
Tendai
yearly ordinands left Mount Hiei. Many of them defected to the Hosso school ; others departed in order to study Esoteric Buddhism
Buddhism
with Kūkai or to support their ailing mothers. It became clear that if Tendai
Tendai
were to survive, Saichō
Saichō
would have to retain many more of his students on Mount Hiei.

Moreover, Saichō
Saichō
began to realize that his own idea of "enmitsu itchi" was not exactly shared by the esoteric Shingon school, and especially its founder Kūkai (Kōbō Daishi).

Ryuichi Abe writes,

hat makes the relationship between Saichō
Saichō
and Kūkai decisive in Japanese Buddhist history is not so much their cooperation as the manner in which it came to an end. Their alliance began to deteriorate when Saichō, after receiving abhiseka from Kūkai, hurried back to Mount Hiei, where the work of laying the foundation of the new Tendai school awaited him. Saichō
Saichō
continued to study and copy Mikkyō texts borrowed from Kūkai, but despite Kūkai’s repeated requests he did not return to Takaosan-ji to resume his studies. Their rapport finally terminated when Kūkai harshly condemned Saichō’s approach to Mikkyō as a transgression of the esoteric precept of samaya , and Saichō
Saichō
retorted by denouncing Kūkai’s manner of instruction

Thus it was Mikkyō that brought Saichō
Saichō
and Kūkai together; it was also Mikkyō that drove them apart. The break between Saichō
Saichō
and Kūkai left a long-lasting legacy in the Tendai
Tendai
and Shingon schools, whose complex relationship, constantly oscillating between affiliation and rivalry, shaped the contours of Buddhist history in the Heian period.

During the last five or six years of his life, Saicho strove to secure the place of Tendai
Tendai
within Japanese Buddhism, and in the process composed almost all of his major works.

In 816, Saichō
Saichō
added a new introduction to the work. This introduction chides Sanron, Hossō, and Kegon—the leading schools of Nara Buddhism—for ignoring the influence of T'ien-t'ai on the works of their Chinese patriarchs, but its criticism of Shingon stands out: "The esoteric Shingon Buddhist, the newcomer, went so far as to deny the validity of transmission through writing (hitsuju Ù4)" (DZ 3, p. 344). In this comment Saichō
Saichō
denounced Kūkai and Shingon for their approach to Buddhism
Buddhism
and religious study."

Saichō's late life criticisms were ignored by his own leading disciples, and the Tendai
Tendai
would continue to teach Mikkyō and Shikangō (_śamatha-vipaśyanā_). Saichō's public condemnation of Kūkai would later form the seeds for some of the criticisms leveled by the founder of the Nichiren
Nichiren
Sect, Nichiren, who would cite that work in his own debates.

Saichō
Saichō
was also an author. He wrote a number of texts, the main ones include:

* _Shōgon Jikkyō_ (照権実鏡) (817) * _Sange Gakushō Shiki_ (山家学生式) (818–819) * _Shugo Kokkai Shō_ (守護国界章) (818) * _Kenkairon_ (顕戒論) (820)

SEE ALSO

* Tendai
Tendai
* Annen (monk) * Ennin

REFERENCES

* ^ _A_ _B_ _C_ _D_ " Tendai
Tendai
Homepage: Dengyo Daishi\'s Life and Teachings". Retrieved 10 December 2012. * ^ _A_ _B_ _C_ _D_ _E_ _F_ _G_ Groner, Paul (2000). _Saicho: The Establishment of the Japanese Tendai
Tendai
School_. University of Hawaii Press. pp. 17–37. ISBN 0824823710 . * ^ Buswell, Robert Jr ; Lopez, Donald S. Jr. , eds. (2013). _Princeton Dictionary of Buddhism_. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press. p. 737. ISBN 9780691157863 . * ^ "The Soka Gakkai Dictionary of Buddhism: Gyohyo". * ^ "The Soka Gakkai Dictionary of Buddhism: Tao-Hsien". Retrieved 10 December 2012. * ^ _A_ _B_ _C_ _D_ Groner, Paul (2000). _Saicho : The Establishment of the Japanese Tendai
Tendai
School_. University of Hawaii Press. pp. 38–64. ISBN 0824823710 . * ^ _A_ _B_ _C_ _D_ _E_ _F_ _G_ _H_ Abe Ryūichi: Saichō
Saichō
and Kūkai: A conflict of interpretations. Japanese Journal of Religious Studies Vol: 22/1–2, pp. 103–137, 1995. PDF * ^ Abe, Ryuichi (1999). _The Weaving of Mantra: Kukai and the Construction of Esoteric Buddhist Discourse_. Columbia University Press. pp. 40–44, 50–52. ISBN 0-231-11286-6 . * ^ "The Soka Gakkai Dictionary of Buddhism: Saicho". Retrieved 10 December 2012. * ^ Groner, Paul (1989). "The Lotus Sutra and Saicho's Interpretation of the Realization of Buddhahood with This Very Body". In Tanabe, George J.; Tanabe, Willa Jane (ed.). The Lotus Sutra in Japanese Culture. Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press. ISBN 0-8248-1198-4 . pp. 61–62 * ^ _A_ _B_ _C_ Groner, Paul. "Short History of Dengyo Daishi" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2006-05-03. * ^ Gosho http://www.sgilibrary.org/view.php?page=565

FURTHER READING

* Pruden, Leo; Rhodes, Robert; trans. (1994). _The Essentials of the Eight Traditions and The Candle of the Latter Dharma_, Berkeley, CA: Numata Center for Buddhist Translation and Research. ISBN 0-9625618-7-8

EXTERNAL LINKS

* Saichō\'s Monastic Reforms

* v * t * e

Japanese Buddhist pantheon

Buddhas
Buddhas
(Nyorai-bu)

* Vairocana
Vairocana
(Dainichi Nyorai) * Amoghasiddhi
Amoghasiddhi
(Fukujoju Nyorai) * Amitābha (Amida Nyorai) * Akshobhya (Ashuku Nyorai) * Ratnasambhava
Ratnasambhava
(Hossho Nyorai) * Shakyamuni (Shaka Nyorai) * Bhaisajyaguru (Yakushi Nyorai)

Bodhisattvas
Bodhisattvas
(Bosatsu-bu)