Meet 8 School Pillars of Genuine Chinese Buddhism

Almost all schools and sects of Chinese Buddhism formed in the Sui and Tang dynasties. This period was the peak of the development of Buddhism. At that time, there were many sects of Buddhism, not only the eight sects now mentioned, but after Tang Wuzong destroyed the Buddha, most sects except the Pure Land Sect of Zen They have all disappeared, and it was not until modern times that they came back from Japan, forming the eight major sects today.

The eight major schools are:

  1. Sanlunzong, also known as Xingzong Dharma,
  2. Yoga school also known as Faxiangzong,
  3. Tiantai school the fourth
  4. Xian School also known as Huayan,
  5. Chan School (predecessor of Japanese Zen),
  6. Pure Land School
  7. Lüzong School
  8. Tantra, also known as Shingon School.

This is the eight sects that are commonly referred to as sex, physiognomy, tai, virtuousness, Zen, purity, law, and tantra.

Lun Zong

The establishment of Ji Zang in the Sui Dynasty was mainly based on the study of the Madhyamaka, the Twelve Doors, and the Bailuns translated by Kumarajiva, so it was called the “Sanlunzong”.

This school is the inheritance of the Indian Madhyamaka school in the Han region. The main theory is the emptiness of dependent origin, that is, the belief that all dharmas in the world are derived from many factors and conditions, and are formed by a combination of many factors and conditions. It is called dependent origination. Nothing is an independent and unchanging entity. This is called non-self-nature, that is, sexual emptiness. So it is also called “Fa Xing Zong”.


Also known as Fa Xiangzong, the famous monk Xuanzang introduced it from India. After Xuanzang returned to China, he translated the Scriptures of the Yoga Cycle, organized and combined them, and wrote the book “Cheng Wei Shi Lun”, which is the core classic of this school, so it is also called “We Shi Zong”. The philosophy of the Yoga School in China is very complicated and difficult to understand, and only a few scholars can master it. Therefore, the Yoga School has not been spread for long and there will be no successors, the real system is closed from Westerners.

Tiantai School

“Tiantai School” is the earliest sect founded by Chinese Buddhism, named after its founder, Zhi Wei, who lived in Tiantai Mountain, Zhejiang. Its teaching is mainly based on the “Miao Dharma Lotus Sutra”, so it is also called “Dharma Huazong”. The main ideas of this school are reality and meditation. The theory is explained by reality and practice is guided by meditation.

Hua Yanzong

This school is called “Huayan School” because it is based on “Huayan Sutra”. It is also called “Xian Shou Zong” because of the actual founder Dharma Zang’s name “Xian Shou Zong”. The main teaching is the Dharma Dependent Origination. It is believed that when there are all dharmas in the universe, the existence of actions and non-actions, and the origin of the color center, they adhere to each other.


Because it advocates the practice of meditation, it is named “Chan Buddhism”. This school advocates that the nature of the mind is pure, the nature of the Buddha is inherently present, and that one can become a Buddha by seeing one’s nature. The main classics include “Langa Sutra”, “Diamond Sutra”, “Six Patriarch Altar Sutra”.

With the spread and development of Chan Buddhism, it was divided into “Five and Seven Schools”: Weiyang School, Linji School, Caodong School, Yunmen School, and Fayan School. Zen Buddhism is a sect with Chinese characteristics, with a wide spread and great influence. Bodhidharma founded Zen in Shaolin Temple, which is the common ancestor of all schools of Zen in my country.

Pure Land Buddhism

This school specializes in the Pure Land Method of Amitabha Buddha, hence the name “Pure Land School”. Because the method of practice is simple and easy to implement, it is widely popular in Han, and other schools of Chinese Buddhism often also practice the Pure Land method. The main classics include “The Sutra of Infinite Life”, “The Sutra of Viewing Infinite Life”, “Amitabha Sutra” and the “Law of Resurrection” by the world’s relatives, which is called the Three Sutras and One Theory.


This school is named because of its emphasis on studying and preaching the precepts. The main content is the “Four-part Law” in the Five Laws, and it is also called the Four-Part Law School. Jianzhen in the Tang Dynasty succeeded Lüzong to Japan.


It is generally believed that the Tantric Buddhism in the Han area was introduced into China by Shan Wuwei, Vajra and Bukong during the Kaiyuan period of the Tang Dynasty, and created Chinese Tantra. The classics of Tantric Buddhism are mainly “The Great Nikkei” and “Vajra Sutra”. Tantric Buddhism is also called Shingon Buddhism because it focuses on the recitation of mantras.

After Buddhism was introduced into China, there was no school view at first, but the content system of learning was different. Later, due to the gradual prosperity of translation career, the large number of translations of Buddhist scriptures, and the classification of Buddhism, numerous sects emerged. These eight major sects all belong to the category of Mahayana Buddhism, and the Hinayana Buddhism sects that once appeared in history have no inheritance.

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