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The Chinese Buddhist Schools and Teaching

Lu-Tsung school

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The Lu-tsung school is the school of discipline. These disciplinary rules were given by the Buddha to deter members of the monastic community (Sangha) from inappropriate behavior in the future. As the Buddhist Sangha developed, specific rules and rites were enacted that differ in Buddhist monasteries depending upon time and place. The rules by which the monks are judged and the punishments that should be assessed are found in the Vinaya tests (Vinaya literally means "That Which Leads").

In funding this school in China, Tao-Hsuan(596-667) wished to emphasis that in Buddhism the observance of the monastic rules is an essential part of practice. He also stressed the importance of the correct performance of ordination and in his monastery he firmly established the formalities for the consecration of a monk. Tao-Hsuan further addressed that although Vinaya is of Hinayana origin it was also regarded as authoritative by the Mahayana, therefore the Vinaya practice itself should be able to cover the entire teachings of the Buddha. Two Mahayana sutras were commented by him with the intention of integrating Vinaya's Hinayana standpoints into a broader scope, these two sutras are:

    • The Brahman Net (Chinese, Fan-Wan) Sutra: addresses the disciplinary rules for Mahayana Bodhisattva-Sangha.
    • Treatise of the Accomplishment of the Yogi Masters (Chinese, Wie-Jia-She-De-Lun): defines 4 severe rules and 40 light rules for Bodhisattva.

According to Tao-Hsuan's comments, practicing the Five Precepts and the Eight Precepts (see below) is the only way to ensure the rebirth in the human realm and the heavenly realm and the bhikkhus' and bhikkhunis' rules are the only path to the ultimate enlightenment.

The Five Precepts:

I undertake the precept to refrain from

      1. Destroying living creatures.
      2. Taking that which is not given.
      3. Sexual misconduct.
      4. Incorrect speech.
      5. Intoxicating drinks and drugs which lead to carelessness.

The Eight Precepts:

I undertake the precept to refrain from

      1. destroying living creatures.
      2. taking that which is not given.
      3. sexual activity.
      4. incorrect speech.
      5. intoxicating drinks and drugs which lead to carelessness.
      6. eating at the forbidden time (i.e., after noon).
      7. dancing, singing, music, going to see entertainments, wearing garlands, using perfumes, and beautifying the body with cosmetics.
      8. lying on a high or luxurious sleeping place.

During the time when Tao-Hsuan constructing the theoretical structure of this school, he visited Hsuan-tsang's (600-664) sutra translation institute at Chun-an very often and adopted the model of Buddha's teaching from Fa-hsiang school to address the Vinaya teaching. He defined three types of "Disciplinary Body" and assigned them to Fa-hsiang school's "three periods of teaching" as the core subjects taught by the Buddha during the different periods. Each period is a section of teaching that satisfied various audiences in different circumstance, and the Disciplinary Bodies associated with these periods are:

    1. The Existence (Agamas) Teaching: The subject of material forms or appearances (rupa-dharma) is the Disciplinary Body.
    2. The Emptiness (Prajnaparamita) Teaching: The subject of non-material forms and non-mental dharmas are the Disciplinary Body.
    3. The Middle Way (Avatamsaka) Teaching: The subject of mental dharmas (cittadharma) is the Disciplinary Body.

Although there were a lot of outstanding masters studied and practiced this school, it has been blended with other Buddhist lineage as part of the general monastery rules after Tang dynasty. Rituals were once exclusive to the school became part of the activities in other Buddhist communities. This trend eventually prevents the school to survive as an independent system.



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