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The Intergrated Features of Zhiyi's Repentance Rituals and an Exploration of Their Modern Application




天台懺法 智顗 懺悔 禪觀 當代應用

Parallel abstracts

In this article, we focus the attention on the repentance rituals compiled by Zhiyi (智顗) to discuss the ways he broadened and deepened the Mahāyāna repentance practices and therefore enhanced their worth for Buddhist cultivation. On the basis of this study, the issue of how the Tientai repentance rituals could be adapted to the needs of modern social culture is explored. The original purpose of Mahāyāna repentance practices is to release karmic effects of wrong doings to promote the bodhisattva cultivation. However, it is also quite prone to the pursuit of worldly benefits. During the Southern and Northern Dynasties, repentance practices became popular, but there was no case could be found about the combination of repentance ritual and meditation. Zhiyi had once studied under Huikuang (慧曠) and Huisi (慧思) and had gained a deep religious experience from practicing repentance, and he integrated the methods of repentance and meditation to form a quite worthy and creative model for Buddhist practice. In this integrated model, the practices of precept, concentration and wisdom all become the methods of releasing unwholesome karmic effects. The distinctive features of Tientai repentance rituals include: promoting the repentance rituals to become meditation methods, proceeding to the repentance through truth (理懺) based on the repentance through rituals (事懺), integrating a variety of practice methods to cope with different obstacles, setting demanding standards to bring best desired result, and presenting detailed guidance based on personal religious experiences. With regards to the modern application of Tientai repentance rituals, some points are suggested: the demanding standards and the time period need to be properly relaxed; the rituals and methods should be simplified but without excessively reducing the positive results; the texts of repentance ritual and Tientai theories are expounded in ordinary time, and the participants are asked to practice meditation in advance; lastly, it should be considered that the results of repentance practice could be harmonized with the daily life.