The Teachings of the Mahavairocana Sutra
Shingon Buddhism takes the seven chapters of the Mahavairocana
Sutra (Dainichi-kyo) as the basic sutra for propagation, and has
spread the belief in it to people. Its fundamental doctrine is
explained in the "Chapter on the Stages of the Mind" in the first
chapter. At the beginning of that chapter, it says,
Human beings have the complete virtues of the Buddha in their
own minds, and this mind that bears the virtues of the Buddha
is called the mind that aspires to realize enlightenment. This
is the first thing that must be understood.
The doctrines of Shingon Buddhism and the teachings of Kobo Daishi
can be said to begin and end with the aspiration for the realization
of enlightenment. The Mahavairocana Sutra is a sutra that explains
the virtues of Mahavairocana Buddha, who is the source of life,
and those virtues of the Buddha are expressed in the Sanskrit
letter "A" (), which is pronounced "Ah". This letter A is the mind that aspires
to be enlightened, and knowing one's own mind is to know one's
own aspiration for the realization of enlightenment.
Kobo Daishi also said,
The process by which one develops a single drop of the aspiration
for the realization of enlightenment and becomes a buddha in this
body is explained in the Mahavairocana Sutra in three phrases.
The three phrases are as follows.
1.Make the aspiration for realizing enlightenment the cause;
2.Make great compassion the foundation of your actions; and
3.Perfect skillful means.
These phrases indicate the process for becoming a buddha in this
body, and also clarify the content of that enlightenment.
First of all, raising the aspiration for the realization of enlightenment
is the starting point for becoming a buddha. Next, it says that
it is to be nurtured by taking action only through the Buddha?s
ample compassion. Safeguarded by that compassion, we can move
toward our objectives in all things, and even the attainment of
enlightenment is through the power of the Buddha?s great compassion.
The third phrase speaks of skillful means as the objective of
perfection, and skillful means here refers to the skillful means
for benefiting others. These three phrases explain that we must
thoroughly engage in the Bodhisattva practice of contributing
to the welfare and benefit of the world until the end of our lives.
When we contemplate our own minds, bodies, and lives, we see that
the doctrinal teachings of Shingon Buddhism from the beginning
to the end explain the centrality of the aspiration for the realization
of enlightenment and the unity of ourselves with the Buddha, and
we come to understand the teaching of nonduality in which human
beings are equal with and not distinct from the Buddha.
What the belief in "be kind to all life," means is that we know
the dignity of our own lives, and can discover in our own existences
the realization of enlightenment and the lifeforce of the Buddha.
©1998,1999 Shingon Buddhist International Institute