Cover of The Essentials of the Eight Traditions and The Candle of the Latter Dharma
BDK America
Publish Date: 
Leo M. Pruden; Robert Rhodes


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This volume brings together two influential extra-canonical works,The Essentials of the Eight Traditions and The Candle of the Latter Dharma.

Two influential works outside the canon



The Essentials of the Eight Traditions

Essentials of the Eight Traditions gives a concise account of the history and doctrines of the eight principal Buddhist schools in existence in Japan at the time of composition (1268 C.E.). Thus the text includes the six schools which were introduced to Japan during the Nara Period and the two schools introduced by Saichō and Kūkai during the Heian Period. This work may thus be described as an introduction to Japanese Buddhism. Fascicle 1 contains a preface and accounts of the Kusha, Jōjitsu and Discipline Schools, and Fascicle 2 deals with the Hossō, Sanron, Tendai, Kegon and Shingon Schools, followed by brief comments on the Zen and Pure Land Schools. The work takes the format of questions and answers, discussing such subjects as the name, basic scriptures, lines of transmission, and doctrines of each school. Since a brief history of the transmission of Buddhism from India via China to Japan is also included, it provides a useful exposition of Japanese Buddhism.

Jp. Hasshūkōyō (八宗綱要), composed by Gyōnen. 2 fascicles.


The Candle of the Latter Dharma

There is within Buddhism the idea that following Śākyamuni’s death the practice of his true teachings will gradually be neglected, passing through the three periods of “True Law,” “Imitative Law” and “Last Law.” In The Candle of the Latter Dharma, also known as Treatise on the Lamp for the Latter Days of the Law, the author asserts that since the latter days of the Law are fast approaching, non-observance of the monastic precepts does not necessarily result in disqualification as a monk.

This work is thus a criticism of the strict adherence by the Buddhist schools based in Nara to the rules of the Hīnayāna tradition regulating monastic ordination. This way of thinking won ready favour within the new Buddhist schools of the Kamakura Period, and many religious leaders of this period quote this work in their own writings to justify the state of monks in the latter days of the Law. Thus one can say that this work exerted considerable influence upon the attitude towards monastic discipline in later Japanese Buddhism. While traditionally ascribed to Saichō, authorship of the text remains in dispute.

Jp. Mappō tōmyō ki (末法燈明記), attributed to Saichō. 1 fascicle.

Table of Contents

A Message on the Publication of the English Tripiṭaka     NUMATA Yehan     v
 Editorial Foreword     HANAYAMA Shōyū     vii
Publisher’s Foreword     Philip Yampolsky     ix

The Essentials of the Eight Traditions Gyōnen 1-153

Translator’s Introduction     Leo M. Pruden     1
Preface 7
Chapter I The Kusha Tradition 19
Chapter II The Jōjitsu Tradition 31
Chapter III The Ritsu Tradition 35
Chapter IV The Hossō Tradition 55
Chapter V The Sanron Tradition 75
Chapter VI The Tendai Tradition 85
Chapter VII The Kegon Tradition 99
Chapter VIII The Shingon Tradition 111
Chapter IX The Zen and Jōdo Traditions 117
Glossary 121
A List of the Texts Mentioned in the Work 135
Index 143

The Candle of the Latter Dharma Saichō 1-28

         [Web Editor's Note: In this volume, pagination for each selection begins afresh and is numbered independently.]

Translator’s Introduction     Robert Rhodes     1
The Candle of the Latter Dharma  5
Glossary  21
Selected Bibliography  23
A List of the Texts Quoted in the Work  25
Index  27

A List of the Volumes of the BDK English Tripiṭaka