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Taimitsu: The Esoteric Buddhism Of The Tendai School

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Chapter Summary

Taimitsu i.e., the esoteric Buddhism of the Tendai lineages, is one of the two major streams of esoteric Buddhism developed in Japan, the other being the better-known Shingon school. The term "Taimitsu" and its matching term "Tōmitsu" are documented only in the fourteenth-century Genkō shakusho, composed in 1322 by the Tōfukuji monk Kokan Shiren. The depiction of Taimitsu as the tantric practices of the school founded by Saichō headquartered at Enryakuji is ambiguous in historical terms, affected as it is by the focus on origins and reflecting the contemporary situation of a centralized Tendai school. The establishment of Taimitsu as a distinct interpretation of esoteric Buddhism occurred only after Saichō. Among the diverse besson liturgies, some more than others epitomize the dynamics of ritual legitimization in Taimitsu: those constructed as the most important and secret liturgies of the Tendai school.

Keywords: Japanese esoteric Buddhism; Saichō; Taimitsu; Tendai school



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