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Provisional teachings

From Chinese Buddhist Encyclopedia
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provisional teachings
権教 (Jpn gon-kyo )

    The teachings that Shakyamuni Buddha expounded as expedient means to lead people to the true teaching. According to T'ient'ai's doctrine, all the teachings expounded before the Lotus Sutra. The provisional teachings reveal only partial aspects of the truth that the Buddha attained, while the true teaching expounds the truth in its entirety. T'ient'ai (538-597) states in Great Concentration and Insight, "'Provisional' means a temporary expedient, which is to be employed temporarily and then discarded. 'True' means a true teaching; it is the ultimate goal to be reached." From the viewpoint of T'ient'ai's classification of the Buddha's teachings into five periods, the provisional teachings correspond to the teachings of the first four periods—the Flower Garland, Agama, Correct and Equal, and Wisdom periods—and the true teaching, to the Lotus Sutra. Provisional teachings, which include Hinayana and provisional Mahayana, were set forth in accord with the people's capacity as a means to lead them to the true teaching of the Lotus Sutra, in which the Buddha directly reveals his enlightenment. Although various Buddhist schools in China divided Shakyamuni's teachings into two categories—provisional and true—what constituted each of these differed according to that school's system of classification. The Dharma Characteristics (Chin Fa-hsiang; Jpn Hosso) school regarded the one vehicle teaching of the Lotus Sutra as a provisional teaching and the three vehicle teaching as the true teaching, while the T'ient'ai school regarded the three vehicle teaching as provisional and the one vehicle teaching as true.

Source

www.sgilibrary.org