With the influx of a large amount of Buddhist scriptures, the various sects of Indian Buddhism came into contact with Chinese national culture. After a long period of absorption and digestion, they achieved creative development. The period from the late sixth century to the middle of the ninth century during the Sui and Tang dynasties was the peak period of Chinese Buddhism, during which there were new developments in thought and theory and various sects emerged, presenting a scene of colorful diversity.
In the past, there were many sects of Buddhism in China, but currently, the most popular ones are the Eight Schools. The first is the Faxing School, also known as the Sanlun School. The second is the Faxiang School, also known as the Yogacara School. The third is the Tiantai School. The fourth is the Xianshou School, also known as the Huayan School. The fifth is the Chan School. The sixth is the Pure Land School. The seventh is the Vinaya School. The eighth is the Vajrayana School, also known as the Mantra School. These are the commonly known Eight Schools of Buddhism, which are characterized by their teachings on nature, appearance, platform, virtuousness, meditation, purity, precepts, and Vajrayana practices.
1, Faxing School (Madhyamaka School):
This school is mainly based on the study and transmission of the “Madhyamaka Shastra,” “Shatasahasrika Prajnaparamita,” and “Dvadashamukha Shastra” translated by Kumarajiva, and it is called the Madhyamaka School because it was established based on the three “Shastra” of the Madhyamaka School. Its doctrine takes the two truths of ultimate and conventional as the general outline and the realization of the middle way reality as the ultimate goal.
The “truth” in the two truths refers to the meaning of reality. The ultimate truth is called the truth of the nature of things, while the conventional truth is called the truth of dependent origination. According to the conventional truth, things exist, but according to the ultimate truth, all dharmas are empty. Therefore, the two truths are also called the truth of emptiness and the truth of existence. Form is emptiness, emptiness is form, form and emptiness are not separate, and the two truths are not separate, which is the middle way, also called the reality of all dharmas. This school focuses on the aspect of the true emptiness of reality, revealing that all worldly and dualistic phenomena, such as dependent origination, the five aggregates, and the twelve sense bases, are ultimately illusory and unreal. By completely eliminating delusion, it establishes the view of the middle way, which aims to achieve unobstructed liberation. This school is actually a direct successor to the Madhyamaka philosophy of Nagarjuna and Chandrakirti in India.
2, Faxiang School (Yogacara School):
The Yogacara School was founded by Indian masters Maitreya, Asanga, and Vasubandhu. It is mainly based on the classic works such as the “Mahayana-samgraha,” “Yogacara-bhumi-shastra,” and “Abhidharma-kosa” and was established based on the “Yogacara-bhumi-shastra,” which was personally taught by Maitreya and compiled by Asanga, making it known as the Yogacara School. Chinese master Xuanzang translated and integrated the tenets of this school into the “Abhidharma-kosa,” so it is also called the Faxiang-Wei-shi School or the Cien School. Its doctrine takes the five natures and three self-natures, as well as the eight consciousnesses and two non-self-natures, as the general outline and the transformation of consciousness into wisdom as its ultimate goal.
“五法” refers to the five categories of phenomena: name, form, discrimination, right understanding, and suchness. “三自性” refers to the three aspects of nature: the nature that is grasped through pervasive fixation, the nature that arises dependent on others, and the nature that is perfectly complete. “八识” refers to the eight consciousnesses: eye consciousness, ear consciousness, nose consciousness, tongue consciousness, body consciousness, mental consciousness, the seventh consciousness (manas), and the eighth consciousness (alaya). “二无我” refers to the two types of selflessness: the selflessness of persons and the selflessness of phenomena.
The five categories of phenomena summarize all phenomena in the world and beyond, with “name” and “form” referring to the fact that all conditioned phenomena have names and characteristics. “Discrimination” refers to the subjective ability of individuals to differentiate and recognize things. “Right understanding” refers to the pure and clear wisdom of enlightened beings, free from all defilements. “Suchness” refers to the true nature of reality as perceived by the wisdom of things as they really are. The five categories of phenomena encompass all phenomena, both impure and pure, subjective and objective.
The three aspects of nature are the three fundamental characteristics of all things: the pervasive fixation on characteristics and marks, the dependent arising of all phenomena, and the ultimate completeness and perfection of all things. These three aspects describe the nature of all phenomena and are thus called the three aspects of nature.
The eight consciousnesses are the eight types of awareness that sentient beings possess, which include the five senses, the mind, and two higher levels of consciousness. These eight consciousnesses are involved in the process of cognition and understanding of the world.
The two types of selflessness refer to the fact that neither individuals nor phenomena have an inherent, permanent, and independent self. This concept of selflessness is a key feature of Buddhist philosophy and is the basis for the practice of insight meditation, which aims to eliminate all forms of attachment, craving, and suffering.
This system of philosophy provides a deep analysis of the nature of phenomena, clarifies the relationship between mind and reality, and aims to develop insight and wisdom through the practice of meditation. It was established by the Indian Buddhist scholar Asanga and was transmitted to China by the famous translator Xuanzang.
3. Tiantai School
This school is based on the translations by Kumārajīva of the Lotus Sutra, the Treatise on the Great Perfection of Wisdom, and the Madhyamaka Śāstra, among other Indian and Chinese ideas, and reorganized them into a systematic philosophical system. It is named Tiantai School because its founder, Zhiyi, lived on Mount Tiantai in Zhejiang Province. Its doctrine is based on the Five Periods and Eight Teachings, with One Mind and Threefold Contemplation, and the Threefold Truth being the central ideas.
This school divides the Buddha’s teachings into five different periods, called the Five Periods of Teaching, namely the Flower Garland, Agama, Vaipulya, Prajñāpāramitā, and the Lotus Sutra Nirvana periods. These five periods are named after the sutras that represent them. This school also classifies Buddhism into four different levels of understanding: the Exoteric Teaching, Common Teaching, Special Teaching, and Perfect Teaching, which are collectively known as the “Four Teachings of Transformation.” The Exoteric Teaching corresponds to the Hīnayāna teachings, while the Common Teaching includes both Hīnayāna and Mahāyāna. The Special Teaching refers to the Pure Mahāyāna teachings that distinguish between different phenomena, while the Perfect Teaching represents the complete and perfect teaching of Mahāyāna. These four teachings are organized in order of increasing depth of understanding, namely Exoteric, Common, Special, and Perfect.
Additionally, this school divides the Buddha’s teachings into four different kinds of transformation based on their expedience: Sudden, Gradual, Secret, and Indeterminate. These are collectively known as the “Four Teachings of Transformation and Conduct.”
The Threefold Contemplation is the method of meditation, which is based on the contemplation of emptiness, falseness, and the Middle Way. These threefold contemplations can be attained in one’s mind, called the One Mind and Threefold Contemplation. The Threefold Truths are the Absolute Truth, the Conventional Truth, and the Middle Way Truth, called the Threefold Truths. Although these Threefold Truths appear to be different, they are fundamentally one and the same. This is why they are called the Threefold Truths in Harmony. The One Mind and Threefold Contemplation and the Threefold Truths in Harmony are the doctrines of the Perfect Teaching, which demonstrate that all phenomena are in harmony, and that the principles of things are harmonious. Tiantai School regards itself as the Perfect Teaching, while the other schools are classified as the first three teachings. By summarizing the ideas of various schools and refining Buddhist teachings, this school has developed a sophisticated theory of Mahāyāna Buddhism, showcasing China’s unique approach to Mahāyāna thought.
4. Patriarchal School (also known as the Huayan School)
This school is based on the study and exposition of the Avatamsaka Sutra, and represents a systematic philosophical system that emerged from the development of previous schools (such as the Sanlun, Tiantai, Cien, Dilun, and Shilun schools). The founder of this school was the great master Xianshou (also known as Facang) in the late seventh century, hence the name Xianshou School, also known as the Huayan School. The central ideas of this school are the five teachings, the six dharmas, the ten mysteries, and the three perspectives.
The five teachings are: (1) the small teaching, which is the Shravaka school of the Hinayana; (2) the beginning teaching, which is the basic teachings of Mahayana; (3) the final teaching, which is the ultimate teachings of Mahayana; (4) the immediate teaching, which is the sudden enlightenment teaching of Mahayana; and (5) the complete teaching, which is the perfect, all-encompassing teachings. This school divides Buddhism into five different teachings, with the addition of the immediate teaching compared to the Tiantai school, hence the name “five teachings.”
The six dharmas are: (1) the general dharma, (2) the specific dharma, (3) the identical dharma, (4) the different dharma, (5) the perfected dharma, and (6) the imperfect dharma. These six dharmas are manifested in all phenomena, as well as in individual phenomena, and are interrelated, mutually supportive, and non-obstructive, revealing the principle of dependent origination.
The ten mysteries are: (1) the gate of simultaneous completeness and correspondence, (2) the gate of the Indra’s net realm, (3) the gate of secret hiddenness and revealedness, (4) the gate of subtle conformity and establishment, (5) the gate of ten generations and diverse creations, (6) the gate of pure and mixed treasures with virtues, (7) the gate of one and many, conformity and diversity, (8) the gate of the identity of phenomena and spontaneous occurrence, (9) the gate of the mind’s transformation towards goodness, and (10) the gate of explaining phenomena through their expressions. These ten mysteries demonstrate the Avatamsaka’s teachings on the pure and mixed, one and many, and three times without obstruction, with completeness and interrelatedness.
The three perspectives are: (1) the view of true emptiness and absolute appearance, (2) the view of the unobstructed relationship between phenomena and principle, and (3) the view of the all-pervading inclusiveness. The six dharmas, ten mysteries, and three perspectives elucidate the Avatamsaka’s teachings on the principle of dependent origination, the unobstructedness of phenomena and principle, and the all-encompassing wisdom. Although the idea of the infinite and all-encompassing realm originated from the Avatamsaka Sutra, it was uniquely developed in China, and its teachings on dependent origination and non-obstruction significantly contributed to the development of Mahayana Buddhism in China.
5: Chan Buddhism (Zen)
Chan, also known as Dhyana in Sanskrit, is shortened from Chan-na, which means “meditation” or “contemplation” in Chinese. It refers to the practice of concentration and contemplation in a state of stillness, also known as Chan-ding. The goal is to attain insight into one’s true nature by focusing the mind on a single object of contemplation. This practice is called Chan, and hence the name Chan Buddhism. There are various types of Chan, such as the Chan of the Hearers, the Chan of the Bodhisattvas, the Gradual Chan, and the Sudden Enlightenment Chan. In China, there is a Chan school known as the “transmission outside the scriptures,” which is not based on the gradual practice of meditation, but on the direct realization of one’s true nature. According to tradition, this Chan was transmitted by Bodhidharma from India in the early sixth century. It is said that this school emphasizes the direct transmission of mind-to-mind without relying on written teachings, hence its name “transmission outside the scriptures.” However, the founder Bodhidharma used the Lankavatara Sutra as a criterion of mind-to-mind transmission in his Four Volumes of Teachings, which he passed on to his successor, Huike. Later, Hongren and Huineng taught people to recite the Diamond Sutra. Thus, the Lankavatara and Diamond Sutras became the basis of this school’s teachings, and the Platform Sutra of the Sixth Patriarch and many “recorded sayings” were produced later.
Chan Buddhism flourished in China. In the eighth century, it split into two schools, the Northern and Southern. The Northern School, led by Shenxiu (about 606-706), advocated gradual cultivation and enjoyed great popularity for a time, but soon declined. The Southern School, led by Huineng (638-713), emphasized sudden enlightenment and was later revered as the Sixth Patriarch. The Southern School produced many Chan masters from the Tang to the Song dynasties, and during this period of three to four hundred years, it was divided into five families and seven branches, indicating its prosperous scene. This school, like the Pure Land School, has always been the most widely propagated sect in China.
Among the disciples of the Southern School’s Sixth Patriarch Huineng, there were two major branches: Nanyue Huairang (667-744) and Qingyuan Xingsi (?-740). These two branches were further divided into five schools and seven branches. From Nanyue, one branch was called the Wuyang School, which later became the Linji School. From Qingyuan Xingsi, three branches were established: the Caodong School, the Yunmen School, and the Fayan School. These two branches were divided into five schools. Later, two branches, Huanglong and Yangqi, emerged from the Linji School, and the previous five schools became the Seven Branches, all of which flourished for a while, but some disappeared after a period of time. In later times, only the Linji and Caodong Schools of Chan Buddhism continued to be transmitted, and the Linji School was particularly prosperous. All the descendants of Chan Buddhism in modern times are the descendants of the Linji and Caodong Schools.
During the process of practicing meditation in Buddhism, there are some methods for adjusting the body and breath and practicing sitting in stillness, which can strengthen the body, prolong life, and prevent illness. However, this is not the purpose of Buddhist meditation. The purpose of practicing Buddhist insight meditation (including various schools of practice) is to focus the mind, investigate the truth, and develop wisdom, to see the nature of the Dharma and attain liberation. This is what is called “clearly seeing the mind and nature” and attaining freedom. As for sitting in stillness, it is only a form or foundation of meditation practice. The benefits of health and longevity that may arise are merely by-products of practicing insight meditation, and Buddhism does not specifically advocate these as goals. However, people who are new to sitting in stillness must understand these basic methods of adjusting the body and breath in order to maintain a healthy state of body and mind, avoid the occurrence of meditation sickness, and ensure the smooth progress of practicing insight meditation.
6. Pure Land Buddhism
This school advocates the practice of observing and chanting the name of Amitabha Buddha, and seeking rebirth in the Western Pure Land, as expounded in the Infinite Life Sutra and other scriptures, hence the name Pure Land Buddhism. This school divides the Buddha’s teachings into two paths: the difficult path and the easy path. The difficult path emphasizes the practice of the Six Paramitas and the Ten Thousand Practices through the observance of precepts, concentration, and wisdom, and requires the practitioner to undergo three Asankhya kalpas. The easy path emphasizes the practice of single-mindedly chanting the name of Amitabha Buddha with sincere and unwavering faith, relying on the power of Amitabha Buddha’s vows at the moment of death, and achieving rebirth in the Western Pure Land without retrogression.
The characteristic of this school is its simplicity and ease of practice, which can be easily accepted by the general public. One does not necessarily have to be well-versed in Buddhist scriptures or study the teachings of the various schools, nor does one have to sit in meditation. One can simply chant “Namo Amitabha Buddha” with faith and devotion, whether standing, walking, sitting, or lying down. As long as one’s faith and vow are strong and unwavering, one can attain rebirth in the Pure Land at the end of one’s life. Of course, one should also observe precepts, recite sutras, and perform acts of kindness and charity to support one’s practice. Due to the simplicity of this method, it is the most easily accessible to the general public. Scholars of other schools also often practice this method, and therefore the Pure Land School is particularly widespread in China.
7. Vinaya School
The Vinaya School is primarily dedicated to studying and researching Buddhist precepts. Due to the prevalence of this school, Chinese monks still place great importance on the precepts of the monastic disciples in their study of the three disciplines of morality, meditation, and wisdom in Mahayana Buddhism.
There are two types of precepts, the precepts for the hearers and the precepts for the bodhisattvas. The Vinaya School, as referred to here, is established based on the “Four Part Vinaya” of the Haimavata school by the Dharmaguptaka Vinaya masters of the Zhongnan Mountains. Based on the nature and content of the precepts, there are the five precepts, the ten precepts, and the full ordination precepts. The five precepts are the precepts that are observed by both lay and monastic Buddhist disciples, while the ten precepts and full ordination precepts are the precepts that are observed by monastic disciples. These have been described earlier and will not be repeated here. The Vinaya texts of each school not only include precepts and their causal conditions, but also include a larger part of the monastic community’s regulations, various disciplinary procedures (for conducting meetings), monastic rules, ordination procedures, rules for dwelling, rules for achieving enlightenment, rules for clothing and food, and detailed regulations for daily life. Due to changes in the times and differences in environments, many of the regulations have already become obsolete. The bodhisattva precepts include the precepts for lay bodhisattvas and those for monastic bodhisattvas. The precepts for monastic bodhisattvas, such as those in the “Brahma Net Sutra,” consist of ten major precepts and forty-eight minor precepts. The precepts for lay bodhisattvas, such as those in the “Upasaka Precepts Sutra,” consist of six major precepts and twenty-eight minor precepts. The bodhisattva precepts are summarized into the Threefold Pure Precepts, which are three categories: the precepts of upholding the precepts and rules, the precepts of practicing good deeds, and the precepts of benefiting all sentient beings. Since Chinese Buddhism is primarily Mahayana, the bodhisattva precepts are briefly mentioned here as well.
Although the Four Part Vinaya belongs to the Theravada school of precepts, its meaning and interpretation can be applied to Mahayana Buddhism. From ancient times, it has been said that “the Theravada school is compatible with Mahayana Buddhism.” China was a stronghold of Mahayana Buddhism, and thus interpreted the Vinaya in accordance with the teachings of Mahayana Buddhism. By doing so, the precepts of the Theravada school were incorporated into the Mahayana precepts, and the precepts for monastic bodhisattvas were included in the Threefold Pure Precepts.
Precepts are based on the precepts for the hearers. The four root precepts of not killing, stealing, engaging in sexual misconduct, and lying are observed by both the Theravada and Mahayana schools. In the study of the Vinaya, it is most important to be able to distinguish between permission, prohibition, observance, and violation. In the monastic precepts, certain behaviors are not allowed to be violated, but under certain circumstances, permission may be granted. This is called permission. For behaviors that are generally not allowed to be violated, this is called prohibition. For certain behaviors where one is unsure whether one is observing or violating the precepts, it is necessary to study the Vinaya. Vinaya masters determine the boundaries between permission, prohibition.
8. Vajrayana Buddhism (Mantra Buddhism)
In the eighth century, the Vajrayana Buddhism of India was introduced to China by Shennuwei, Jingangzhi, Bukong, and others, and then developed into the practice and transmission of the Mantra Buddhism. This sect established the three secret yogas based on the Mahavairocana Sutra and the Vajrasekhara Sutra, focusing on practice and observing the precepts, and worshipping the deity of one’s choice as the object of attainment or as a model. This sect is called the Mantra Buddhism because of its secret and mysterious practices, which cannot be arbitrarily taught or displayed to others without initiation.
The chosen deity is called the “principal deity,” which is the one that the scholar most admires and respects, such as a Buddha, a bodhisattva, or a divine king, serving as an object of study and attainment. To achieve all the merits and wisdom of the principal deity, one must practice the three secret yogas. The three secrets refer to the three activities of body, speech, and mind, which correspond to the three aspects of yoga practice. When practicing, the practitioner must assume the posture of the principal deity, use hand gestures and seals, recite the deity’s mantra, and visualize the deity or its seed syllable, so that the practitioner’s three activities correspond to the three secrets of the principal deity. This is called yoga practice. If this practice is successful, one can attain the same embodiment as the principal deity. There are many esoteric practices in this sect, and this is just one example. The highest theory of this sect is still based on the emptiness of the nature of dharma, which is called the “non-origination” of the “a” syllable.
9. Other Sects outside of the Eight
Apart from the eight sects, there are also the Vaibhasika sect, which is based on the Abhidharma-kosa-bhasya-sastra, and the Sautrantika sect, which is based on the sutras. Both are Hinayana sects and were not popular after the Tang Dynasty. Adding these two sects to the eight sects would make it ten sects. In addition, there are the Nirvana School, which promotes the Nirvana Sutra, the Satyasiddhi School, which specializes in the Mahayana-sraddhotpada-sastra, and the Dasabhumika School, which specializes in the Dasabhumika-sutra. These schools were once flourishing, but they lost their transmission or merged into other sects over time.
10. The Transmission and Transformation of Various Schools
The development of various schools of Buddhism is uneven, and their development and changes are also different. Some schools were widely spread when they first emerged, but gradually declined later, such as the Sanlun School. This school was vigorously promoted by Xinghuang Fa Lang and Jiaxiang Jizang during the Chen, Sui, and early Tang dynasties, and it was almost widespread throughout the country during that time, but gradually declined thereafter. Some schools were not widely spread at first but became very popular later, such as the Tiantai School. This school, after Tiantai Zhi and Zhang Ancheng Zong, was only spread in the southeast of Zhejiang province, and its teachers’ lineage has continued for hundreds of years. Over a hundred years later, it was revitalized by Zhanran of Jingxi, and then it was called Zhongxing (middle revival). Some schools have always been developing and spreading without ever declining, such as the Chan School. Many of the great achievers of this school lived in the mountains and forests, relying little on society and not needing too many scriptures. Therefore, although it was affected by the persecution of Emperor Wuzong of Tang during the Huichang era (845), it was not greatly affected and has been passed down and developed greatly. Some schools have been revived after disappearing. Many schools were like this before the persecution of the Huichang era. Compared with each other, although they have different ups and downs, they were all popular at the same time. After Emperor Wuzong of Tang’s persecution in the late 9th century, all the Buddhist scriptures and statues were destroyed, and most of the schools’ annotations and classics were lost. In the 10th century, the writings of the Tiantai School were brought back from Korea, and some of the classics of the Xianshou School were also restored. The Tiantai and Xianshou schools were revived again. Many works of Madhyamaka, Yoga, and Tantra spread outside the country. In the late Qing Dynasty, the annotations and classics of the Xin and Xiang schools were returned to China from Japan. For more than half a century, all eight of the above-mentioned schools have been studied and discussed, and there are signs of revival. Looking at the history of all schools, the Sui and Tang dynasties were the time when each school rose and flourished, and after the persecution of the Huichang era, except for the Chan School, it was the era of the decline of all schools. The later revival of the Tiantai and Xianshou schools and the booming development of the Chan School was the era of the revival of Buddhism, but it was not as prosperous as the early and middle Tang dynasties. Since the Yuan Dynasty, Tibetan Buddhism has been introduced into the interior of China and has been respected by the court, but it has not been popular among the people. At this time, the Buddhism that had existed in Han China was not as prosperous as during the Song Dynasty. During the Qing Dynasty, Han Buddhism did not have any special characteristics and could only maintain its original remnants.
遍计所执 (biàn jì suǒ zhí) – One of the three natures of all phenomena according to the Yogacara (Faxiang) school of Buddhism, which is characterized as the grasping at things as being truly existent, based on a false concept of “self” and “other”.
一心三观 (yī xīn sān guān) – A teaching of the Tiantai school of Buddhism that describes three types of truth – emptiness, provisional existence, and the middle way – which are said to be inseparable and interdependent.
教外别传 (jiào wài bié chuán) – A term used in Chan Buddhism to describe the transmission of teachings directly from a master to a disciple without relying on written texts.
渐修 (jiàn xiū) – The gradual cultivation of spiritual practice, which involves a progressive approach to developing insight and wisdom.
顿悟 (dùn wù) – The sudden realization of enlightenment, often associated with the Chan and Zen schools of Buddhism.
沩仰宗 (wéi yǎng zōng) – One of the five major schools of Chan Buddhism in China, founded by Lingyou and Huiji in the 9th century.
临济宗 (lín jì zōng) – One of the five major schools of Chan Buddhism in China, founded by Yixuan in the 9th century.
曹洞宗 (cáo dòng zōng) – One of the five major schools of Chan Buddhism in China, founded by Dongshan Liangjie and Caoshan Benji in the 9th century.
云门宗 (yún mén zōng) – One of the five major schools of Chan Buddhism in China, founded by Wenyan in the 9th century.
法眼宗 (fǎ yǎn zōng) – One of the five major schools of Chan Buddhism in China, founded by Fayan Wenyi in the 9th century.
观佛 (guān fó) – The practice of visualizing or contemplating the Buddha, which is a common form of meditation in many Buddhist traditions.
阿僧祇劫 (ā sēng qí jié) – A term used in Mahayana Buddhism to describe an immeasurably long period of time, which is said to be equivalent to countless kalpas.
南无阿弥陀佛 (nán wú ē mí tuó fó) – A common mantra in the Pure Land tradition of Buddhism, which is used to invoke the name of Amitabha Buddha and express devotion to him.
五戒 (wǔ jiè) – The Five Precepts, which are a set of ethical guidelines that are observed by Buddhist laypeople. The precepts include not killing, not stealing, not engaging in sexual misconduct, not lying, and not consuming alcohol or drugs.
The Ten Precepts – Do not kill, do not steal, do not commit adultery, do not lie, do not drink alcohol, do not adorn oneself with flowers and fragrance, do not watch or listen to dance and music, do not sleep on high and wide beds, do not eat at inappropriate times, and do not acquire money, gold, silver, or precious treasures through wrongful means.
Complete Precepts – The complete and perfect precepts are the 250 precepts for bhikkhus and the 348 precepts for bhikkhunis.
Main Deity – Refers to the primary deity relied upon in the practice of the Buddha’s path, which has existed since beginningless time and is the most excellent and revered in the world. It can also refer to a particular and principal deity among many statues in a hall or temple, which is worshipped as the main deity. It is also distinguished from the attendants and close followers who represent the merits of the main deity and surround the central deity, which are also known as the central deity.
Empowerment – In esoteric Buddhism, there is an empowerment method known as the “Empowerment of Blessing with Great Compassion,” where the blessing of great compassion is poured over the head of the initiate, symbolizing the highest attainment of Buddhahood. This is said to perfect the merits of the practitioner and there are various methods for it.