Buddhism & Shinto
Original Ground & Manifest Traces


The beginning of the development of theories of shinbutsu shugo (correspondence of kami and buddhas) can be seen in the Nihon ryoiki (full title: Nihonkoku genpo zen’aku ryoiki, Miraculous Stories of Karmic Retribution of Good and Evil in Japan) by the monk Kyokai, in which it is said that around the seventh century the ancestor of the governor of Mitani county in Bingo Province (the eastern part of modern-day Hiroshima Prefecture) built the temple Mitaniji for all kami. In the Nara period (710-794), the Kehi Jinguji of the Reiki era (715-6), the Wakasahiko Shinganji of the Yoro period (717-24) and other jinguji (Buddhist temples attached to shrines) were built in shrines throughout the country, and sutras were read before the kami. Behind the establishment of jinguji at that time was the theory that kami were lost and suffering sentient beings who were in need of liberation through the power of the Buddhist teachings. From around the end of the Nara period, documents such as the senmyo (imperial edicts) of empress Shotoku (r. 764-70) promoted the view that kami were tutelary deities (see goho) of the Buddhist teachings. This theory followed the example of India where indigenous deities or deva were adopted by Buddhism as tutelaries. While the theory that kami were in need of salvation spread in the provinces, the theory of kami as guardian deities can be considered the combinatory theory promoted at the imperial court. ...

Beginning in the Heian period ... shrines began appearing as part of a system called miyadera (shrine-temple complex) in which the administration of a shrine and temple would be unified, and shrines were placed under the management of shaso (Buddhist monks attendant at kami shrines; also see kengyo, betto). ... Shugendo appeared as a combination of Buddhism with ancient forms of religious practice focused on mountains. It is said to have originated in the Nara period with the mountain ascetic En no Ozunu of Mount Katsuragi. In the beginning it is thought to have been a magic-focused religion with a strong coloring of Daoism, while it was later carried on by Nara and Heian monks of esoteric Buddhism. In the Heian period, Shugendo sacred sites were created nationwide, beginning with Katsuragi, Yoshino, and Kumano. ...
The theory known as honji suijaku developed in the Heian period and later became the keystone of combinatory kami-buddha religion. Honji suijaku refers to a theory regarding the relationship of kami and buddhas that builds on the Tendai school’s theory of hon-jaku-nimon (honmon or “original gate” and shakumon or “provisional gate”), according to which the Nyorai juryobon (The [Eternal] Life of the Thus-Come One, Chapter Sixteen) chapter of the Lotus Sutra teaches the contrast [of] a meta-historical eternal Shakyamuni with the historical Shakyamuni of the first half of the Lotus Sutra. According to this theory, the Japanese kami are understood as provisional manifestations of buddhas, appearing in temporal forms in order to save sentient beings in Japan. In short, kami were considered the suijaku (provisional manifestation or “manifest trace”) of buddhas, while buddhas were the honji (“original ground”) of the kami. Unlike the kami-buddha combinatory theories of the Nara period, the honji suijaku theory went so far as to identify kami and buddhas with each other, rendering them indivisible. (Encycopedia of Shinto: Shinto and Buddhism)

Butsudan (仏壇) & Kamidana (神棚)

The Separation of Shinto and Buddhism

The Shingon Fire Ritual (Goma)

New Year’s Rituals at Tsubaki Grand Shrine

Oesterle 299.561 N42b