Great Construction

Divinities and Buddhas

     The maxim, “divinities and buddhas have the same root” has existed since antiquity. Concerning this expression, I would like to offer my interpretation.
     A disciple once asked Shakyamuni about the essence of Buddhism to which Shakyamuni replied, “If expressed in one word, I would say Buddhism is thusness [tathata).” Thusness is the thusness of the moon, in other words, thusness can be said to mean the light of night. Another aspect to thusness is that in ancient times, one name for India corresponded in ideograms to “Moon Clan Country.”
     One day Shakyamuni appeared rather depressed and one of his disciples asked him about his melancholy. Shakyamuni answered that he had labored all his life to teach the path but had just learned that at a certain point in the future, the teachings of the Buddha would perish, so was greatly saddened. In addition, Shakyamuni said, “At the age of seventy-two, I attained the highest level of enlightenment. Therefore, that which I have taught until now has not been complete, but what I teach from now is without error.” He then proceeded to teach what is contained in the twenty-eight chapters of the Lotus Sutra, of which the twenty-fifth chapter is “The All-Sidedness of the Bodhisattva of the Regarder of Cries of the World.” Priest Nichiren learned of this teaching and thereafter emphasized that the Lotus Sutra was the essence of Buddhist Law. He undertook with enthusiastic conviction spreading the message of the Lotus Sutra.
     Next, I would like to introduce the following interesting account. This episode relates to the true facet of the Bodhisattva Regarder of the Cries of the World. Until now, bodhisattvas, as opposed to other buddhas, have been enveloped in mystery, considered to be hidden buddhas. According to my research, bodhisattvas are what are called in Japan, divinities. They were oppressed by evil divinities and because their own persons were in danger, they left Japan unavoidably and sought refuge in India. They went to a region near the sea in southern India, and on the summit of a mountain called Potalaka, they built a villa and taught under the names “Great Teacher of the Southern Seas” and Bodhisattva Who Can Observe Freely. In this regard is mentioned in the Garland Sutra, “In the southern regions is a mountain called Potalaka. There was the Boddhisattva Who Can Observe Freely. After a time, Sudhana-svesthi-daraka, in the midst of his travels, climbed the summit of this mountain and was able to meet the Boddhisattva. On these grounds grew a bodhi tree, were flowing streams and wetlands here and there, and in the center of the grounds, on the top of a soft grassland at the Diamond Treasure Meeting was sitting cross-legged the Boddhisattva Who Can Observe Free who, surrounded by the reverence of many saints, preached sutras of great compassion and mercy.” Also mentioned, “At that time the Boddhisattva had twenty-eight attendants, including those from the high levels of the heavens such as Great Sarasvati, Mahabrahman, Sacrodevanam indrah, Golden Mahamayuri, Vaisravana, Raja Asura as well as the two brothers Diamond Narayana and Diamond Vajrapani (these are guardian deities).” Sudhana-svesthi-daraka is probably Shakyamuni.
     That the Bodhisattva is Japanese can be seen in his depictions where his hair is long and black, falling to the shoulders and his face is of Japanese type. That the main image of the Regarder of the Cries of the World in the temple at Asakusa is a gold statue 1 inch 8 tenths tall has been remarked upon since ancient times. In addition, from the crown, necklace, hand and arm jewelry, can be judged a person of distinction. The turban and the white cape suggest the clothing of disguise at the time of escape from Japan. Shakyamuni and the Tathagata Amidaba (who first held the name Bodhisattva Dharmakara) in their depictions both have wavy hair which shows that they are of Indian origin. In that connection, the Boddisattva Dharmakara promised Shakyamuni, “I will go to the West and create a Pure Land, so please send to me in the Pure Land those disciples of yours who have become buddhas. The buddhas will be able to live peacefully, in the tranquil light of the Pure Land.” As “tranquil” light is a desolate light, it probably refers to a virtuous land illuminated by the light of the moon. In these circumstances, whether Heaven Shining Great Deity as the Mahavairocana Tathagata, the female deity Augustness Young Princess Ruling (Shakyamuni said “I am transsexual.”) as the Sakya Tathagata, or Augustness Moon Counting as Amitabha Tagagata, divinities appeared in the form of buddhas in order to save the world at that time. In sacred scriptures, the divinity Five Males-three Females became the Eight Great Kings, and there is the legend that they were confined by Shakyamuni. These are divinities that changed to dragon spirits to wait for the world of Miroku, and other divinities changed into other manifestations of buddhas. All these are examples of divinities who changed to buddhas during the period of the age of night, and at the same time as does come the daylight age, these buddhas will return to their original status of divinity.
     In India, the original land of the Buddhist law, Buddhist followers number in the several hundred thousands as opposed to the overall population of three hundred fifty million persons, and the tendency is that for every year the number of followers to decrease, a sign that is already appearing in India the end of the Buddhist law. Shakyamuni’s prophecy has turned out to be on the mark, so I do believe that what also must hit the target is the prophecy that after the end of the Buddhist law will come the world of Maitreya.

Essays on Faith, page 65, September 5, 1948
    translated by cynndd