Homepage Banner

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,

    "One speedily attained Great Awakening
    in the very body born of mother and father."

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