Through its long history, Tendai has gained many varied practices. What follows is a brief summary of some of these practices.
Meditation in Tendai is based on Ven. Chih-i’s teachings, known as Maka Shikan 摩訶止観. It is considered the core of Tendai practice. There are also many other meditation practices that utilise visualisations, mantras and contemplations.
Method of Tendai Sitting Meditation
Esoteric Practice and Rituals
Esoteric Practice, or mikkyo, unite body, speech and mind through the use of mudra, mantra and visualisations. Tendai mikkyo (taimitsu) can only be practiced by ordained priests under guidance from a teacher.
There are also many ritual elements that can be practiced by anyone under guidance. A structured daily practice is a ritual in itself and can be incredibly beneficial for personal development to better serve sentient beings.
Devotional Practice is often over looked in the West and is considered ‘too religious’ or ‘cultural baggage’. However, devotional practice can be very beneficial in helping to develop gratitude, calmness, humbleness and happiness. These practices should not be over looked.
If we are to attain enlightenment in the present moment, every moment needs to be practice. Whilst we are cleaning, cooking or gardening, learning to stay present and focused will turn work into beneficial Buddhist practice.
Study goes hand in hand with practice and is another incredibly important part of the puzzle. In studying the teachings we get a clearer idea of what we are doing and why. Study can open new areas of practice and practice can illuminate your study.
The above practices are only just a few and there are also many other practices that are done in Japan that have yet to find their way over to the west.