The Ten Worlds of Tiantai Zhiyi within Atiśa’s Stages of the Path.

The Tiantai master Zhiyi (智顗, 538-597 CE) is famous for popularizing the Buddhist cosmological concept of the ten worlds (十界, shijie) while the Indian Buddhist paṇḍita  from Bengal, Atiśa Dīpaṃkaraśrījñāna (982-1054 CE), is celebrated for his stages of the path (lam rim) system. The ten worlds of Zhiyi are constituted by six realms (六道) and four noble ways (四聖). Atiśa’s system, onthe other hand, articulates a series of stages of realizations made by three types of spiritual individuals, those of small, medium, and superior spiritual capacity. This paper compares how the ten worlds as conceived by Zhiyi are related to Atiśa’s Buddhist cosmology as found in his Stages of the Path (byang chub lam gyi rim  pa). The paper also examines the points of difference between the two Buddhist cosmologies to illustrate important distinctions between these select examples of Indian Buddhist and East Asia Buddhist soteriology.
Dr. James B. Apple

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