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Five flavors

From Chinese Buddhist Encyclopedia
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five flavors

(五味) (Jpn go-mi )

Also, five tastes. The flavors of fresh milk, cream, curdled milk, butter, and ghee—the five stages in the process by which milk is made into ghee, or the finest clarified butter. In the Mahaparinirvana Sutra, Shakyamuni says, "Good man, milk comes from the cow, cream is made from milk, curdled milk is made from cream, butter is made from curdled milk, and ghee is made from butter. Ghee is the finest of all. One who eats it will be cured of all illnesses, just as if all kinds of medicinal properties were contained in it." T'ient'ai (538-597) used these five flavors as a metaphor for his doctrine of the five periods. The "five periods" is a classification of Shakyamuni's entire body of teachings according to the order in which T'ient'ai believed they were expounded. They are the Flower Garland period, the Agama period, the Correct and Equal period, the Wisdom period, and the Lotus and Nirvana period. T'ient'ai compared this process by which Shakyamuni instructed his disciples and elevated their understanding to the process of converting milk into ghee.

Source

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