(Kobo Daishi)


Principle Of Attaining Buddhahood With The Present Body

Translated by Hisao Inagaki


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(1) First line

I explain: "The six elements" are the five elements and consciousness. The Great Sun Sutra says,

I have realized the original unproducedness,
Gone beyond the path of words,
Attained liberation from various faults,
Freed myself from causes and conditions,
And realized that voidness is like space.

This is the significance (of the six elements). A seed-mantra says, 'A VI RA HUM KHAM HUM." The letter "A" signifying to original unproducedness of all dharmas represents the earth element. The letter "VA" signifying transcending verbal expositions represents the water element. Purity and non-defilement are referred to buy the letter "RA", which represents the fire element. That causal karmas are not to be grasped is implied by the letter "HA" which represents the wind element. "Like space" is implied by the letter "KHA", which represents the space element. "I have realized" indicates the consciousness element.

The word "識" (shiki, consciousness) is used in the causal state, and "智" (chi, wisdom) in the resultant state. Since "智" (chi) is "覺" (kaku, realization), ("我覺", gakaku, "I have realized" indicates consciousness element). Sanskrit "buddha" and "bodhi" are derivatives of the same word (budh). "Buddha" is translated as "覺" (kaku), and "bodhi" as "智" (chi). Therefore, "samyaksambodhi" used in various sutras was formerly translated as "遍知" (henchi, universally knowing)and later as "等覺" (togaku, equal enlightenment), for "覺" (kaku) and "知" (chi) have the same meaning. This sutra refers to consciousness as "覺" in accordance with the superior sense of the term. The only difference is whether it refers to the state of cause or that of result, the original or the derivative state. The verse of this sutra makes this statement with reference to the five Buddhas' Samadhis.

Again, the Diamond Peak Sutra says,

All dharmas are originally unproduced;
Their substance is beyond verbal descriptions,
Pure and without defilement;
Though there are causes and karmas, they are like space.

This verse has the same (context) as the one in the Mahavairocana Sutra.

"All dharmas" refer to all mental dharmas. The number of mind-kings and mental functions is immeasurable; hence, "all". "Mind" and "consciousness" are different words with the same meaning. For this reason, Vasubandhu and others established the principle of Consciousness-Only based on (the theory) that the Three Worlds are merely (manifestations of) Mind. The explanation of the rest (of the verse) is the same as above.

Again, the Mahavairocana Sutra says,

I am in agreement with the mind-state,
Attaining freedom in reaching anywhere
And permeating universally various
Animate and inanimate beings.
The letter 'A' refers to the primordial life.
The letter 'VA' refers to water.
The letter 'RA' refers to fire.
The letter 'HUM' refers to wind.
The letter 'KHA' is the same as space.

In the first line of the passage of this sutra, namely, "I am in agreement with the mind-state," "mind" refers to consciousness-wisdom. The last five lines refer to the five elements. The middle three lines explain the unrestricted function and the quality of unhinderedness of the six elements. The Prajnaparamita Sutras, the Bracelet Sutra, etc., also expound the principle of the six elements.

These six elements produce the four kinds of Dharmakaya and the three kinds of worlds, such as all Buddhas, all sentient beings and receptacle-worlds. Hence, the Bhagavat Mahavairocana sets forth a verse on the arising of Tathagata and says,

(The six elements) produce various conformable shapes Of dharmas and dharma-aspects,
Buddhas, Shravakas,
World-saving Pratyekabuddhas,
Hosts of valiant Bodhisattvas,
And the Most Honored Man as Well.
Sentient beings and receptacle-worlds
Are produced in succession.
Dharmas which arise, dwell, and so on (i.e., change and perish),
Are thus produced perpetually.

What meaning does this verse reveal? It reveals that the six elements produce the four kinds of Dharmakaya, (four kinds of) Mandalas, and three kinds of worlds. "Dharmas" refer to mental dharmas, and "dharma-aspects" refer to material dharmas. Also, "dharmas" is a general term, whereas "dharma-aspects" refer to distinctive aspects (of dharmas). Hence, the following lines say that Buddhas, Shravakas, Pratyekabuddhas, Bodhisattvas, sentient beings and receptacle-worlds are produced in succession. Also, "dharmas" refer to the Dharma Mandala; "dharma-aspects" refer to the Samaya Mandala Bodies; form "Buddhas" to "sentient beings" are the Maha Mandala Bodies; and "receptacle-worlds" refer to the lands on which they rest. "Receptacle-worlds" is a general term for the Samaya Mandala. Also, "Buddhas", "Bodhisattvas" and (sages of) the Two Vehicles refer to the world of Wisdom-Enlightenment; "sentient beings" refer to the world of sentient beings; and "receptacle-worlds" refer to the world of receptacle. Also, the producing agents are the six elements; "various conformable forms" are the produced dharmas, namely, the four kinds of Dharmakaya and the three kinds of worlds.

Therefore, it says next, "O Lord of Mystery, in laying out a Mandala, there are (proper) positions, seed-letters, and Samaya-signs of the Sacred Ones. You should listen carefully. I will now explain." Then he sets forth a verse and says,

The Mantra-practitioner should first
Place a Mandala-platform in his own body.
From the feet to the navel,
Form a great Vajra-layer.
From there to the heart,
Imagine a water-layer.
A fire-layer is above the water-layer;
A wind-layer is above the fire-layer.

I explain: "Vajra-layer" refers to the letter "A"; the letter "A" represents earth. Water, fire, and wind are to be known from the passage. "Mandala-platform" refers to the space (element). "Mantra-practitioner" implies the mind element. "Sacred One" in the prose is a Maha Mandala Body; "seed-letter" is a Dharma Mandala Body; "Samaya-sign" is a Samaya Mandala Body; each of the three Bodies comprises a Karma Mandala Body. Detailed explanations are given extensively in the sutras. They are to be known from the passages (of the sutras).

Again, it is said, "The Bhagavat Mahavairocana says, 'O Vajrapani, the minds of various Tathagatas bring forth actions, as in sports and dancing, displaying various forms extensively. They embrace the four elements, dwelling in the mind-king, and are identical with space. They produce great results, both visible and invisible, and produce various ranks of all Shravakas, Pratyekabuddhas and Bodhisattvas'."

What meaning does this passage reveal? It reveals that the six elements produce all things. How do we know? the reason is as follows: "mind-king" refers to the consciousness element; "embrace the four elements" indicates the four elements; "identical with space" refers to the space element. These six elements are producing agents. "Visible and invisible (results)" refer to the Worlds of Desire and Form and the World of Non-form, respectively. The rest are as shown in the passage. They are the produced dharmas.

Thus the passages of the sutras all treat the six elements as the producing agents, and the four kinds of Dharmakaya and the three kinds of worlds as the produced (dharmas). Though the produced dharmas, extending from Dharmakaya to the lower six realms, have the distinctions of fine and gross, great and small, they do not go beyond the six elements. For this reason, the Buddha expounds the six elements to be the essential substance of Dharmadhhatu.

In various exoteric teachings the four elements, etc., are treated as insentient things; whereas, the esoteric teaching expounds that they are the Samaya Bodies of the Tathagata. The four elements, etc., are not separate from the mind element. Though mind and matter are different, their essential nature is the same. Matter is mind, and mind is matter; they are mutually unhindered and unobstructed. Wisdom is identical with object, and object with Wisdom; Wisdom is identical with object, and object with Wisdom, Wisdom is identical with Principle, and Principle with Wisdom; they are unhindered and free. Though there are two kinds of things, producing and produced, they are (in reality) entirely beyond active-passive distinctions. What creation is there in the Principle of Naturalness? Words, such as producing and produced, are all mystic symbols. Don't cling to the ordinary, superficial meanings and engage in various idle discussions.

The body thus made of the six elements which are the essential substance of Dharmadhatu, is unhindered and unobstructed, (with the elements) mutually penetrating and harmonizing with each other, everlasting and immutable, and equally dwelling in Reality-End (bhutakoti). Therefore, the verse says,

"The six elements are mutually unhindered, everlasting and in

harmony (with Reality)."

"Unhindered" means "freely penetrating". "Everlasting" means "immovable", "indestructible", etc. "Yoga" (in harmony) is translated as "相應" (soo, agreeing, uniting). Mutual agreement and penetration are the meaning of "即" (soku, of "即身" sokushin).

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(2) Second line

Concerning the line, "The four kinds of Mandalas are not separate from each other," the Great Sun Sutra says, "All Tathagatas have (three kinds of) Mystic Bodies, namely, letter, sign, and figure."

"Letter" refers to the Dharma Mandala. "sign" refers to various ensigns, namely, Samaya Mandala. "Figure" is a body endowed with the marks and characteristics of excellence, namely, Maha Mandala. Each of these three bodies has specific postures and act-signs; this is called Karma Mandala. These are the four kinds of Mandalas.

According to the exposition of the Diamond Peak Sutra, the four kinds of Mandalas are as follows:

Firstly, Maha Mandala: it refers to each Buddha or Bodhisattva's body endowed with the marks and characteristics of excellence. A painting of his figure is also called Maha Mandala. It also refers to the main Honored One with whom (a practitioner) attains unity through the Five-Aspect (Meditation for Attaining the Buddha's Body). It is also called Maha Wisdom-Seal.

Secondly, Samaya Mandala: it refers to things held in the hands, such as ensigns, swords, wheels, jewels, vajras, and lotus flowers. It is also a painting of such things It also refers to a Mudra which takes its shape from the "diamond bonds" formed by joining the two palms. It is also called Samaya Wisdom-Seal.

Thirdly, Dharma Mandala: It refers to the seed-Mantra of one's Honored One; namely, the seed-letter written in the position of each (deity). It also refers to all the Samadhis of Dharmakaya and the words and meanings of all the sutras. It is also called Dharma Wisdom-Seal.

Fourthly, Karma Mandala: it refers to various postures and act-signs of Buddhas, Bodhisattvas, etc., and also cast and clay images. It is also called Karma Wisdom-Seal.

The four kinds of Mandalas and four kinds of Wisdom-Seals are immeasurable. Each of them is as immense as space. That is not separate from this; this is not separate from that; it is just as space and light are mutually unhindered and unobstructed. Hence, it is said, "The four kinds of Mandalas are not separate from each other." "Not separate" is the meaning of "即" (soku).

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(3) Third line

"Empowerment and responding in the Three Mystic Practices quickly reveal (the Three Bodies of Buddha)" is to be explained. "The Three Mystic Practices" are: firstly, Bodily Mystic Practice, secondly, Oral Mystic Practice, and thirdly, Mental Mystic Practice. The Dharmakaya Buddha's51 Three Mystic Practices are so profound and subtle that even Bodhisattvas of the Equal Bodhi and the tenth bhumi cannot perceive them; hence, "Mystic". Each Honored One equally possesses the Three Mystic Practices, numerous as the particles of the universe; one gives empowerment to another, and another responds to one. So it is with the Three Mystic Practices of sentient beings. Hence, it is said, "empowerment and responding in the Three Mystic Practices." If a Mantra-practitioner, after discerning this significance, holds his hands in the Mudra, recites the Mantra with his mouth, and settles his mind on the Samadhi, he will quickly attain the Great Shiddhi through the mutual correspondence and agreement of the Three Mystic Practices.

For this reason, a sutra says,

These three mystic letters (i.e. OM, BHUM,and KHAM)
Of Mahavairocana Buddha,
Each contains immeasurable (significances).
If a man impresses his heart with (Mahavairocana's) sea and
mystic letters,
He will realize the (Great, Perfect) Mirror Wisdom
And quickly obtain the Bodhi-Mind
And the Adamantine Body.
If he impresses his forehead with them, it should be known,
He will realize the Wisdom of Equality
And quickly obtain the body of the Stage of Sprinkling (abhisheka),
With a mass of merits adorning his body.
If he impresses his mouth with the mystic words,
He will realize the Wisdom of Excellent Discernment,
Thereby turning the Wheel of Dharma,
And obtain the body of Buddha's wisdom.
If he impresses his head with the recitation of the mystic letters,
He will realize the Wisdom of Accomplishing Metamorphoses
And produce the Buddha's transformed bodies,
Thereby taming the beings difficult to tame.
If he impresses his whole body
With the seal and mystic letters,
He will realize the Wisdom of Essential Substance of Dharmadhatu,
The space body of Dharmadhatu
Of Mahavairocana Buddha.

It is also said, "Entering the meditation of Dharmakaya-Suchness, one realizes the equality, like space, of the perceiving subject and the object perceived. If a man practices it exclusively and without interruption, he will enter the first bhumi in this life and acquire instantly the provision of merit and wisdom to be accumulated during the period of one asamkhya kalpa. Owing to the empowerment of many Tathagatas, he will soon reach the tenth bhumi, the stage of Equal Bodhi and (finally) that of Supreme Bodhi, thus attaining Sarvajna (All-Wisdom), equality of self and others, and the same Dharmakaya as all the Tathagatas'. He will then benefit infinite sentient beings always with the unconditioned great compassion, thereby fulfilling the great task of the Buddha."

Again it is said, "If (a practitioner) avails himself of the teaching arising out of the inwardly realized wisdom of self-enlightenment expounded by the Self-Enjoyment Body of Mahavairocana Buddha and also avails himself of the wisdom of the Enjoyment Body for Others' Sake of Vajrasattva in the state of the great Samantabhadra, he will meet a Mandala Acarya and be able to enter the Mandala. That is to say, he will acquire the Karma (for abiding by the precepts) and, as (the Acarya) conjures up Vajrasattva in Samantabhadra Samadhi, Vajrasattva will enter his body. Owing to the divine power of empowerment, he will instantly attain immeasurable Samayas and Dharani-gates. (The Acarya) transforms with the wonderful Dharma his disciple's seeds of innate self-attachment. The disciple will immediately acquire in his body the merit and wisdom to be accumulated during the period of one great asamkhya kalpa, whereat he will be considered to have been born into the Buddha's family. He has been born from the mind of all the Tathagatas, from the Buddhas' mouth, from the Buddhas' Dharma, and from the teaching of Dharma, and has acquired the treasure of Dharma. The treasure of Dharma refers to the teaching of (awakening) Bodhi-Mind through the Three Mystic Practices." [This shows the benefit which a practitioner gains from his Acarya's performance of the method of empowerment and responding when he receives the precept of Bodhi-Mind for the first time.] "By just looking at the Mandala, he produces the pure faith in a moment. As he sees it with joyful mind, the seeds of Vajradhatu are planted in his Alaya-consciousness." [This passage shows the benefit he gains on seeing various Honored Ones in the Mandala-assembly for the first time.] "He fully receives a Vajra name as he is commissioned with the task (of succeeding to the Buddha's place) at the ceremony of Sprinkling. After this he obtains the vast, profound, and inconceivable teaching, whereby he transcends (the results of) the Two Vehicles and ten bhumis. If a man fixes his thought on and practices this teaching of the five mystic Yogas of great Vajrasattva uninterruptedly, throughout the four periods of a day, whether walking, standing, sitting, or lying down, then he will remove all attachment to self and things in the realm of visible, audible and perceptible objects, thereby attaining equality (of all things), and he will realize the first bhumi in the present life and advance gradually (in the Bodhisattva' stages). Owing to the practice of the five mystic (Yogas), he will not be tainted in Samsara or attached to Nirvana. He will widely benefit (beings of) the five states of existence in the boundless Samsara. Displaying tens of billions of incarnate bodies, he will wander freely in various states of existence and bring sentient beings to perfection, enabling them to attain the rank of Vajrasattva." [This shows the inconceivable benefit of the teaching which one gains when practicing in accordance with the prescribed rite.]

Again, it is said, "With the Three Mystic Adamantine Practices as the contributing condition," one realizes the resultant stage of Vairocana's Three Bodies."

Such sutras as quoted above all expound this teaching of the Samadhi with quick efficacy based on the inconceivable supernatural powers. If a man practices diligently, day and night, in agreement with the prescribed rite, he will obtain with the present body the five supernatural powers. If he practices on and on, he will advance and enter the Buddha's stage without abandoning the present body. Detailed explanations are given in the sutras.

For this reason, it is said, "Empowerment and responding in the Three Mystic Practices quickly reveal (the Three Bodies of Buddha)." "加持" (kaji, empowerment and responding) indicates the Tathagata's great compassion and a sentient being's faith. "加" (ka, empowerment) means that the sun of Buddha is reflected in the mind-water of sentient being. "持" (ji, holding, responding) means that the mind-water of the practitioner perceives the sun of Buddha. If the practitioner meditates on this principle well, he will quickly reveal and realize the original Three Bodies with the present body through the correspondence of the Three Mystic Practices. Hence, it is said "quickly reveal". The meaning of ("即”soku of) "即身" (sokushin, identical or present body) is the same as that of the secular words "即時" (sokuji, instantly) and "即日" (sokujitsu, on the same day).

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(4) Fourth line

"Manifold relationships like Indra's net are shown as 'with the present body'" shows with a metaphor that the Three Mystic Practices, numerous as the particles of the universe, of various Honored Ones are perfectly fused and unhindered. "帝網" (taimo, Indra's net) means Indra's net of jewels. "身" (shin, body) refers to one's own body, Buddha's body, and sentient beings' bodies; these are called "body". Also there are four kinds of bodies; namely, self-nature, enjoyment, transformed, and homogeneous (bodies) are referred to as "body". Also there are three kinds (of bodies): letter, mudra, and figure. These bodies are in manifold relationships and are like a lamp and its images in the mirrors, penetrating each other. That body is this body; this body is that body. Buddha's body is sentient beings' bodies; sentient beings' bodies are Buddha's body. They are not-identical and identical, not-distinct and distinct.

Therefore, the Mantra of three equals and unhinderedness reads, "ASAME TRISAME SAMAYE SVAHA". The first word means "unequal"; the next one means "three equals"; and the following one means "three equalities". "Three" refers to Buddha, Dharma, and Sangha. Also it refers to body, word, and mind; also mind, Buddha, and sentient beings. These three things are equal with each other, constituting oneness. They are one but innumerable, innumerable but one. And yet they are not in disorder. Hence, it is said, "Manifold relationships like Indra's net are shown as 'with the present body'."

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(5) Fifth to eighth lines

Concerning the line, "One spontaneously possesses All-Wisdom", the Great Sun Sutra says,

I am the primordial being of all,
Called 'the Support of the World';
I expound the Dharma unparalleled;
I am from the beginning tranquil and unsurpassed.

"I" is the word referring to the Bhagavat Mahavairocana himself. "All" means innumerable (things). "Primordial being" means the original forefather who has realized from the beginning and spontaneously all the dharmas which are thus unrestricted. The Tathagata's Dharmakaya and the Dharma-nature of sentient beings possess this principle of original tranquillity. But since sentient beings do not realize and know this, Buddha expounds this principle and enlightens them.

Again, it is said,

One who seeks various causes and effects, such a fool does not know the Mantra and the characteristics of the Mantra. For what reason?
Since it is expounded that a cause is not the agent (of the effect ),
The effect is unproduced.
Since the cause is void,
How can there be an effect?
One should know that the effect of the Mantra
Is entirely separated from causes and effects.

The significance of the spontaneous possession (of All-Wisdom) is equally revealed by the verses quoted above, that is, "I have realized the original unproducedness;... Freed myself from causes and conditions" and "All dharmas are originally unproduced;... Though there are causes and karmas, they are like space."

Also, the Diamond Peak Sutra says, "The kinsmen produced from the Self-nature, the sixteen great Bodhisattvas such as Vajrapani, and so forth, each brings forth five hundred million kotis of subtle Dharmakayas, Adamant (Bodies)."

Passages such as this have the same import.

"Spontaneously" shows that all dharmas are naturally as they are. "具足" (gusoku, possess) has the meaning of "accomplish" and "without deficiency". "薩般若" (sappanya, All-Wisdom) is Sanskrit. An older word "薩云" (satsuun) ia a corrupted abridgement. If spelt in full, it is "薩羅婆枳嬢?" (satsurabakijona, sarvajnana),which is translated as "一切智智" (issaichichi, all-knowing wisdom). With regard to "一切智智", "智" (chi), means "discernment" and "discretion". Each and every Buddha possesses five wisdoms, thirty-seven wisdoms, and wisdoms as numerous even as the particles of the universe.

The next two lines reveal this significance. In showing the quality of "discernment", the word "智" (chi, wisdom) is used. In showing (the meaning of) "collectively arising", it is called "心" (mind). To show (the meaning of) "rule and holding" we have the word "法門" (homon, dharma-gate), No word (of the above three) is separate from personality. such personalities are more numerous than the particles of the universe. Hence, it is called "一切智智" (issaichichi, all-knowing wisdoms). The use of the appellation is different from that of exoteric teachings in which one (all-knowing) wisdom is set against all (objects). "Mind-kings" refer to the wisdom of essential substance of Dharmadhatu, etc. "Mental functions" refer to the many-included-in-one consciousness.

"Each embodying the Five Wisdoms" shows that each mind-king and each mental function has these (five wisdoms). "Boundless wisdom" means exalted, extensive, and innumerable (wisdoms).

"Because it functions like a clean mirror, it is called Reality-Enlightenment Wisdom," gives the reason. For what reason are all Buddhas called "覺智" (kakuchi, Enlightenment-wisdom)? The answer is: Just as all the forms are reflected in a clean mirror on a high stand, so it is with the Tathagata's Mind-mirror. The clean mirror of Mind hangs high on the top of Dharmadhatu, being serene and shining of all without perversion of mistake. What Buddha does not possess such a clean mirror? Hence, it is said, "Because it functions like a clean mirror, it is called Reality-Enlightenment Wisdom."

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