Four flavors and three teachings
four flavors and three teachings
四味三教 (Jpn shimi-sankyo )
According to T'ient'ai's doctrine, the entire body of Shakyamuni Buddha's teachings preached prior to the Lotus Sutra, or the Buddha's provisional teachings. The "four flavors" refers to the first four of the five flavors—fresh milk, cream, curdled milk, butter, and ghee (the finest clarified butter). T'ient'ai (538-597) used the five flavors as a metaphor for the teachings of the five periods—the Flower Garland, Agama, Correct and Equal, Wisdom, and Lotus and Nirvana periods. Thus he compared the process by which Shakyamuni instructed his disciples and gradually developed their capacity to that of converting milk into ghee. The three teachings are the first three of the four teachings of doctrine, a classification by T'ient'ai of Shakyamuni's teachings according to their content, which are the Tripitaka, connecting, specific, and perfect teachings. The perfect teaching, which is not included in the three teachings, refers to that revealed in the Lotus Sutra.
See also five periods; four teachings of doctrine.