Great Concentration and Insight ［摩訶止観］ (Chin Mo-ho-chih-kuan; Maka-shikan): Also known as Great Calming and Contemplation. One of T’ien-t’ai’s three major works, the others being The Profound Meaning of the Lotus Sutra and The Words and Phrases of the Lotus Sutra. “Concentration” means focusing one’s mind on one point without any distractions, and “insight” means seeing all things as they are—having perception that penetrates the ultimate reality, or true aspect, of all phenomena. This work is a compilation of lectures delivered by T’ien-t’ai at Yü-ch’üan-ssu temple in Ching-chou of China in 594. Chang-an, T’ien-t’ai’s disciple who compiled this work, wrote in his introduction to it, “Great Concentration and Insight reveals the teaching that T’ien-t’ai Chih-che himself practiced in the depths of his being.” This work clarifies the principle of three thousand realms in a single moment of life based on the Lotus Sutra and elucidates the method of practice for observing one’s mind in order to realize this principle within oneself.
In contrast with Profound Meaning and Words and Phrases, Chang-an’s compilations of T’ien-t’ai’s theoretical explanation of the Lotus Sutra, Great Concentration and Insight reveals T’ien-t’ai’s enlightenment to the essence of the sutra and the practice by which this enlightenment can be obtained. Great Concentration and Insight consists of ten chapters in ten volumes; among these Miao-lo, the sixth patriarch of the T’ien-t’ai school, as well as Chang-an and other scholars regard the seventh chapter, titled “Correct Meditation,” as the core of the work that clarifies the practice of concentration and insight. It describes ten objects of meditation and ten corresponding meditations as the ultimate way to realize “the region of the unfathomable,” or the principle of three thousand realms in a single moment of life. The relationship between the mind or life and all phenomena is explained through the “threefold contemplation in a single mind.” The sixth chapter, titled “Preparatory Practices,” prepares one for the practice of the ten meditations on the ten objects by describing twenty-five preparatory exercises. These aim to enable one to regulate one’s daily life through the observance of precepts, appropriate food and clothing, and controlling of the body and mind. See also ten meditations; ten objects.