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The Esoterically Adorned Buddha's Land (Mitsugon Kokudo)

If a person strives to heighten his religious consciousness to a stage where his actions, words and thoughts are viewed as one with the body, speech and mind of the Buddhas, then he has already become a Buddha. The society in which such a devotee lives now becomes a Pure Land. He lives in a Pure Land in this world. A Pure Land that he does not need to die in order to see. A Pure Land here and now and not limited to being in a future state. A Pure Land is a land in which a Buddha lives, and in the Shingon Tradition, this Pure Land now inhabited by a fully realized Shingon Devotee, is called the Esoterically Adorned Buddha?s Land (Mitsugon Kokudo).

The word Mitsugon means that this Pure Land is decorated or adorned with the Three Mysteries. Such a Pure Land is brightly shining, and in this Land there are no crimes, no fighting, and no artificial or phony behavior. There is no anger, no hatred, no envy, no sadness and no suffering. It is a world that is filled with peace and happiness. If all beings in this world were to become Buddhas, then such a pleasant Pure Land would appear before all our eyes. Therefore, in order to help create such an ideal society, we must work to have other people realize their innate Buddhahood at the very same time, as we are striving to become Buddhas ourselves.

In terms of how we might express this in today's terms, we can speak of human development and the actual formation of buddhahood, or personality development and the actualization of the buddha nature that is already within us as we live in the real world.

After practicing religious disciplines for six years, Sakyamuni attained enlightenment under the Bodhi tree in Buddhagaya at the age of thirty-five and was honored as the Buddha, the awakened one. Kobo Daishi, having engaged in religious practices in his youth for ten years, crossed the ocean to T'ang China, where he received the Esoteric teaching from Master Hui-kuo, the Seventh Patriarch of Shingon Esoteric Buddhism, and was granted the honorary name of Henjo Kongo, Universally Resplendent and Adamantine. He was thirty-two years old when he attained the stage of becoming a buddha.

Sakyamuni and Kobo Daishi attained enlightenment while living their own lives to the fullest within the very center of human affairs. In this way, the original teaching of Buddhism is one of actually realizing a great compassion and the true wisdom of the Buddha within an active and vibrant human life. This involves becoming a buddha in this body by practicing the way of the Buddha while we remain active in our own lives. It gives a powerful explanation about developing into a buddha who lives in the actual world. The reason why Kobo Daishi wrote "The Meaning of Becoming a Buddha in This Body" is because Shingon Buddhism takes its basic doctrine to be this idea of becoming a buddha in this body. In this work, Kobo Daishi says,

    "The six symbolic elements interpenetrate
    without obstruction and are in eternal union.
    They are not apart from any of the Four Mandalas.
    Through practice of three-secrets empowerment,
    they manifest immediately.
    The universal web is what we call this body.
    All things are natuarally endowed with Bodhisattva wisdom transcending the essential mind, the subsidiary minds [limited aspects of mind],
    and the objects of the senses.
    Each of the Five Wisdoms is endowed with unlimited wisdom.
    Since it is the power of the perfect mirror,
    this is true enlightened wisdom."

This means that each of our individual lives are in a nondual relationship of being one with the expansive life of the Buddha, which is called the Six Great-Elements; with the activities and.form of the Buddha, which is called the Four Mandalas; and with the Buddha's body, speech, and mind, which are called the Three Mysteries. Kobo Daishi taught this path for becoming a buddha, saying,

    "By forming mudras with your hands,
    reciting mantras with your mouth,
    and dwelling in deep meditation with your mind,
    your will receive the grace of being in harmony
    with the body, mouth, and mind of the Buddha,
    and will quickly attain enlightenment and become a buddha."

©1998,1999 Shingon Buddhist International Institute