Becoming A Buddha In This Very Life: Sokushin Jobutsu
The word "soku" means to cling to, to adhere to, to become one
with another object. Sokushin Jobutsu means that one becomes a
Buddha with one?s present physical body. The unique feature
of this Shingon Teaching is that one does not become a Buddha
only in his mind, nor does one become a Buddha after one has died.
It means one is able to attain perfection of all of the qualities
of a Buddha while one is yet living in his present physical body.
An essay on the Bodhicitta (Bodaishin-ron) says,
According to the Shingon Tradition, all things in this universe
both physical matter, mind and mental states are made up of
some six primary elements. These six primary elements are: earth
(the principle of solidity), water (moisture), fire (energy),
wind (movement), space (the state of being unobstructed), and
consciousness (the six ways of knowing objects). Buddha as well
as ordinary human beings are made up of these six elements, and
in this sense both Buddha and human beings are basically and
in essence identical. When we realize this truth, then our actions,
our words, and our thoughts will undergo an experience of faith
which will cause them to be correct and purify their surroundings.
This living, physical body will be able to achieve Buddhahood.
It was with this Truth that Kobo Daishi divided the condition
of the physical attainment of Buddhahood into three stages.
These are the three types of Sokushin Jobutsu.
1. We are all Buddhas in Principle (Rigu no Jobutsu)
All creatures have received the great spirit of Mahavairocana
by reason of their being born in this world as human beings.
However, most humans do not realize this and therefore, they believe
that they are ordinary, unenlightened creatures. When these people
listen and understand the Shingon Teachings; they, then, come
to realize that they are basically Buddhas, and with this experience,
they attain the sphere of self awakening.
2. We become Buddhas through Empowerment (Kaji no Jobutsu)
A person now realizes that he is basically a Buddha, a fully
awakened being, but he must do something in order to manifest
or to practice this enlightenment in his daily life. The first
step to this actualization lies in practicing the teachings.
The devotee now strives to make his actions, his words, and his
thoughts, one with the Three Mysteries of the Buddha. In his
religious practice, the devotee is supported by the power of the
Buddha, by his inherent state of enlightenment working itself
to the surface of his experience: this is seen by the devotee
as a force coming upon him from the outside, from the Buddhas,
a power gained through his religious cultivation. This is what
is called ?empowerment,? that is the giving of power to someone
else. In this state, the devotee experiences the fact that the
Buddha and himself have become oneness.
3. The Manifestation of Buddhahood (Kentoku no Jobutsu).
When the devotee has reached perfection in his cultivation of
religious practice in the Three Mysteries, which purify his body,
his speech, and his mind, the great spirit of Mahavairocana will
then suddenly and clearly break forth and reveal the devotee as
a fully awakened Buddha. At this point the ordinary person who
has been working and cultivating in this manner, will be seen
as a fully awakened Buddha, and he will come to be respected as
a Buddha by others. Sakyamuni Buddha and Kobo Daishi were such
persons who actualized this underlying state of enlightenment
in their own life and are respected by a great number of people.
When we too have come to realize that we possess these attributes,
at the time of birth, we experience the Buddha-nature which is
the potentiality for our becoming Buddha, whose actions, speech
and thoughts, have been totally purified, then, it only remains
for us to cultivate a life of faith.
©1998,1999 Shingon Buddhist International Institute