SOAS University of London

Centre for the Study of Japanese Religions

Tiantai Zhiyi's Notion of Sakyamuni Buddha: Understanding the Buddha as a Father

Tamura Kanji (Risshô University/Harvard University)

Date: 7 February 2014Time: 5:00 PM

Finishes: 7 February 2014Time: 6:30 PM

Venue: Russell Square: College Buildings Room: G51

Type of Event: Lecture


Many religious traditions regard the absolute being as a father and human beings as his children. To research how this parent-child relation is applied to the relation that the absolute being establishes with the believer offers a window on the essence of a tradition as a whole. In this presentation, I examine the father-child relationship between the Buddha Sakyamuni and human beings according to the thought of Tiantai Zhiyi (538-597), the well-known Chinese scholar-monk who classified and summarized various sutras and treatises that were translated into Chinese. I shall focus, in particular, on his interpretation of the Lotus Sutra. In comparison to other scriptures, the Lotus Sutra relies heavily on a paternal view of Sakyamuni. For Zhiyi, the "Parable of the Rich Man and Poor Child " in the Lotus Sutra stands at the root of the relation of Sakyamuni and all sentient beings. Zhiyi presents such elements of Buddhist doctrine as Buddha-nature, Buddha-seed, and Buddha's response as essential factors to posit this relation.


Kanji Tamura is an Associate Professor in the Faculty of Buddhist Studies at Rissho University, Tokyo, and currently a Visiting Scholar at the Reischauer Institute of Japanese Studies, Harvard University. His research focuses on the history of Lotus Sutra Buddhism, in particular Tiantai interpretations and Nichiren's thought. He is also interested in the history of the Nichiren school. He has widely published on these topics in Japanese and English. He also is the author of a translation of the Kanjin honzonsho and a Dictionary of Sermons based on Posthumous Names.

Organiser: CSJR

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