Three Treatises school ［三論宗］ (Chin San-lun-tsung; Sanron-shū): A school based on three treatises—Nāgārjuna’s Treatise on the Middle Way and Treatise on the Twelve Gates, and Āryadeva’s One-Hundred-Verse Treatise. Kumārajīva translated these three treatises into Chinese in the early fifth century. Their doctrines were successively transmitted by Tao-sheng, T’an-chi, Seng-lang, Seng-ch’üan, and Fa-lang, and finally systematized by Chi-tsang (549–623), who is often regarded as the first patriarch of the Chinese Three Treatises, or San-lun, school.
The doctrines of the Three Treatises school were transmitted to Japan by three persons during the seventh and early eighth centuries: First, by the Korean priest Hyekwan, known in Japan as Ekan, who went to Japan in 625. He was a disciple of Chi-tsang. Second, by the Chinese priest Chih-tsang, known in Japan as Chizō, who also went to Japan in the seventh century. He studied the Three Treatises doctrines under Ekan at Gangō-ji temple in Nara and returned to China to further his study under Chi-tsang. On his return to Japan, he taught the Three Treatises doctrines at Hōryū-ji temple. Third, by Chizō’s disciple Dōji, who went to China in 702 and returned to Japan in 718 with the Three Treatises doctrines. He lived at Daian-ji temple in Nara. Actually, a priest named Kwallŭk (known in Japan as Kanroku) of the Korean state of Paekche had brought the Three Treatises teachings to Japan in 602, but Ekan established the theoretical foundation of the school. For this reason, Ekan is regarded as the first to formally introduce the Three Treatises doctrine to Japan. The lineage of Chizō’s disciples, carried on by Chikō and Raikō, was called the Gangō-ji branch of the Three Treatises school, and that of Dōji, the Daian-ji branch.
The Three Treatises doctrine holds that, because all phenomena appear and disappear solely by virtue of their relationship with other phenomena (dependent origination), they have no existence of their own, or self-nature, and are without substance. The school upholds Nāgārjuna’s “middle path of the eight negations” (non-birth, non-extinction, non-cessation, non-permanence, non-uniformity, non-diversity, non-coming, and non-going), and sees refutation of dualistic or one-sided views in itself as revealing the truth of the Middle Way.