Diamond World Mandala
Womb World Mandala

 
 
 
Broadly speaking, the Diamond World mandala represents reality in the buddha realm, the world of the unconditioned, the real, the universal, and the absolute.  The Womb World mandala represents reality as it is revealed in the world of the conditioned, the individual, the particular, and the relative.  Each mandala is fully meaningful, however, only when paired with the other.
     The mandala of the Two Worlds is found in Shingon temples and monasteries and is also found in Tendai settings that emphasize Esoteric teachings.  For public ceremonies, the two mandalas are hung facing one another on the western (Diamond World) and eastern (Womb World) walls of the main sanctuary, with the central altar between them.  Smaller square altar platforms representing horizontal mandalas are set up in front of each two-dimensional mandala.  These platforms are covered with ritual implements such as vajras and vajra bells, with offerings such as flowers and candles, and with bowls and dishes for water and incense.  The mandalas are also used in various initiation rites known as kanjo (S. abhiseka).  For the critical first initiation, both monks and laypeople are led blindfolded into a sanctuary in which one of the two mandalas has been laid out on a low altar.  The initiates are given flowers or sprigs (usually of anise) to throw.  The sacred figure on whom a sprig lands is designated the personal deity with whom that particular devotee will now begin the practice of realizing the unity of body, speech and mind.  A tradition going back to the time of Kukai holds that when Kukai underwent his initiation guided by Huiguo, his flower landed on none other than the central, primordial buddha, Mahavairocana/Dainichi.  [Japanese Mandalas, 37]

In [the Womb World] mandala, all kinds of Buddhas and deities are lined up together.  If we ask if only the very magnificent Buddhas are lined together, the answer is no.  Only the cosmic Buddha Dainichi Nyorai [a.k.a. Mahavairocana] in the center is one hundred percent perfect.  Many of the others surrounding it are deities from Indian folk religion.  On the very outer edges, a lot of snakes and demons have been included.  Now each one of them is an offshoot of Dainichi Nyorai.  Each has some kind of special characteristic, and each can become a Buddha by means of that special characteristic.  What we find here is a logic by which even something that is ninety-nine percent bad has a hundred percent value by virtue of the one percent of the special characteristic it has.…Therefore there is no such thing as leaving behind something that is ninety-nine percent bad.  Because they have a special characteristic in the amount of one percent, they are seen as an offshoot of the one hundred percent that is Dainichi Nyorai.  Such a world is woven into the mandala.  It is a way of thinking in which everything is embraced and every single special characteristic is nourished.  [Japanese Mandalas, 58]


 

Diamond World Mandala


 
 
 

Womb World Mandala