Shinbutsu Shugo & Ryobu Shinto/Honji Suijaku
Origins of Nichiren as True Buddha
Updated 01-05-2006

Free Image Hosting at www.ImageShack.usKokugaku or Reverse Honji Suijaku: The Japanese Nativist theory that the Shinto gods and Japanese Rulers or Saints & Sages are True or Original; while the Vedic Buddhas, Bodhisattvas, Arhats, Heavenly beings, etc., of Buddhism, are merely provisional or transient.
“Ryobu (dual) Shinto refers to the interpretation of local Japanese deities which is associated with Shingon esoteric Buddhism, and the practices which flowed from that interpretation. Ryobu Shinto held that the sun-deity Amaterasu enshrined at Ise was the manifestation of the esoteric dharmakaya Buddha Dainichi (Great Sun), the central Buddha of Shingon. According to this interpretation the status of the native kami was raised from local folk deities and ancestral spirits to manifestations of Buddhas and bodhisattvas, different but potentially equal to the most revered objects of worship in Shingon.” — See Ryobu Shinto
The Shingon Tradition teaches that it was the Dharmakaya Buddha, the Tathagata Mahavairocana, not Shakyamuni, who taught the Mikkyo teachings. Also, the Japanese Shingon tradition had identified Mahavairochana {Dainichi}, as the Buddha of the Life Span of the Tathagatha Chapter {Nyorai Juryohon} of the Lotus Sutra.
This thought was very sophisticated. It began in the 8th C. Then, during the Hieian Era, some elements within the Mikkyo traditions of the Tendai, Shingon, and Jimon-Tendai schools began identifying the shinto kami/jin as local manifestations of Buddhist Divinities. Most important was the identification of Tensho Daijin (Amaterasu Omikami) with Mahavairochana Tathagata {Dainichi Nyorai}.
Next, during the Kamakura Era, the Shinto Kami came to be viewed as true, actual, or original {Hon}, while the Buddhist divinities were viewed as transient, reflections, manifestations, or traces {Shaku/jaku]. In other words, Tensho Daijin became the True Dharma Body of the Buddha, and Dainichi became a manifestation of Tensho Daijin.I call this “Reverse” or “Kokugaku” {Japanese Nativism/Nationalism} Honji-Suijaku. Kokugaku is a belief system rooted in implicit notions of Japanese racial & cultural superiority.
This was most likely the esoteric theology that Nichiren was trained in at Seichoji Kiyosumidera, the Tojo-village Ise {Tensho Daijin} shrine at Awa, and Tsurugaoka Hachimanguji at Kamakura. And this helps clarify the contradiction between his seemingly public hostility toward Shingon and his own implicit Hokke Shinto Esotericism.
In this connection, it is maybe important to realize that Nichiren often used the term Shingon as a general synonym for Mikkyo, as opposed to referencing the specific Shingon Shu at Koyasan. This appears to be typical of the way Shingon was/is used in general conversation. Mikkyō;; literally “secret teachings”, often translated as “esoteric Buddhism”) is a Japanese term that refers to the esoteric Vajrayana practices of the Shingon Buddhist school and the related practices that make up part of the Tendai school.
Dr. J. Stone, in Secret Transmissions in the Hokkeshu refers to Nichiren’s version as “Hokke Shinto.” The Shinto Deities would be emanations of the Eternal Shakyamuni of the Lifespan Chapter: “We have already mentioned that some sections of these transmission texts deal with individual figures whose names are inscribed on the mandala. Among these figures are the kami Hachiman and Tensho Daijin, who represented for Nichiren the deities of Japan. The specific transmissions dealing with these two figures represent one aspect of the specifically Nichiren Buddhist appropriations of kami that would come to be called “Hokke Shinto.” While not nearly as developed as those of Ryobu Shinto or Sanno Shinto, these transmissions attempt, using the kanjin-style hermeneutical techniques of word play and association by resemblance, to identify kami with the sacred sites and persons of the Hokkeshu.”
See Also: Hokke Shinto
The Honmon Shoshu version of Hokke Shinto appears to be influenced by a “Reverse” or “Kokugaku” {Japanese Nativism/Nationalism} Honji-Suijaku: “Dainichi Nyorai (Great Sun Tathagata) in the context of the Kankenki, is not the provisional Vairochana (Birushana) per se preached by the Shingon Sect. The Dainichi Nyorai of the Kankenki is the alternate name for Oohi-rume-no-muchi. That is to say, the full title of Dainichi Nyorai is Amaterasu-oohi-rume-no-muchi-daijin which is shortened to Tensho Daijin; the Sun God. Tensho is the alternate pronunciation of Amaterasu, meaning, Heavenly Radiance¡± whose symbol is the Sun with 16 rays.”
Nichiren as Honbutsu appears be based on Kokugaku Honji-Suijaku: “The Nichi¡ of Nichiren is the same as Dai (Nichi) Nyorai. Nichi means Sun. Calling Himself “Nichiren” is meant to show the direct link from Amaterasu-oohi-rume-no-muchi to Himself. In other words, Amaterasu-oohi-rume-no-muchi is the prior form of Nichiren. From Amaterasu-oohi-rume-no-muchi-daijin(ie. Tensho Daijin) to Nichiren, the transmission of Myou-hou-ren-ge-kyou is represented by the Sacred Jewel; the Divine Seal of An-Deingiru¡, the Sky God of Tenjiku.” – ibid
In Secret Transmissions in the Hokke Shu, from Original Enlightenment and the Transformation of Medieval Japanese Buddhism, Dr. Jacquie Stone wrote: “ Equations of specific Buddhist and Shinto deities often involve claims about the legitimacy and authority of particular institutions. Here the authority of the Sun Goddess and the throne are assimilated to the Hokkeshu via the person of Nichiren, carrying an implicit challenge to the authority of other religious traditions, such as Sanno Shinto of Mt. Hiei, which also identifies Sakyamuni with the Sun Goddess enshrined at Ise, or the esoteric traditions of both Tendai and Shingon that equated Dainichi with the Sun Goddess. The identification of Nichiren with the Sun Goddess is especially pronounced in transmissions of the Fuji school, which exalt the status of Nichiren to that of the original Buddha.”
Meanwhile, there was an effort in Japan to segregate Shinto from Buddhism: “After the Meiji Imperial Restoration of 1868, the Emperor restored the sovereignty, and the new government institutionalized Shinto as the official state religion while implementing restrictive policies against Buddhism.” — See: Shinto
“The new government after the Meiji Restoration, however, purged Shinto of Buddhist elements, or ordered to clearly segregate Buddhism from Shinto, making the latter as the state religion.” — See: Tsurugaoka Hachimangu Shrine
Thus we have the Taisekiji version of Nichiren as True Buddha, which is lacking in in overt Shinto elements, yet is implicitly Shinto in origin. It appears that Honmon Shoshu may represent an older 15th C. tradition that possibly went undergroud well before the Meiji Purges.
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Born in 1222 in Awa province, Nichiren was said by his later followers to be of aristocratic parentage, though he pointed to fishing as his father’s profession. His village was an estate of the Ise Shrine, and Nichiren believed that it was the home of Amaterasu, the sun goddess. ” See NICHIREN
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2006-01-06 05:25:14