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Sunday, July 12, 2015

TENDAI AND THE ZO TWINS

At our Thursday sitting we were discussing our favourite twins, Jizo and Kokuzo. Jizo (Earth Storehouse) represents the Six Realms of Material Being, and, as expressed in the Sutra of Earthstore Bodhisattva, his promise is to travel through all six realms until all beings are liberated. Kokuzo, The Realm of Infinite Possibilities, represents potentiality, that which is yet to be manifested. These two have been part of our learning and practice for years and in their relationship we can see the fundamental philosophical stance of Tendai - the Way of Harmony.

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Mizuko Jizo

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Kokuzo
 
Tendai as expounded by both Chi-ih and Saicho proposes that we can understand our experience through three perspectives - the conventional (the world is just as we see it, nothing more), the absolute (the world as we experience it is just illusory) and the harmonious reconciliation of these two views. Like wise, Jizo is the world as we see it and Kokuzo is the yet-to-be world, and their twin-ship illustrates how these apparent opposites can be related.
Interestingly too is the adoption of each of these by different Japanese sects. The Pure Land (Jodo) sect which emphasizes a personal and devotional relationship practice views Jizo as a manifestation of Amida. Anyone who experiences the Japanese landscape will of course encounter Jizo, with his red hats and scarves, in innumerable sites around temples and even in secular sites. Both Jizo (as the guardian of death) and Amitabha (as the Lord of the Western or Sunset Land) emphasize the sun setting in the west. On the other hand, Shingon, the predominantly esoteric tradition which holds that Buddhas are beyond any human experience except through symbolic means incorporates Kokuzo. He is associated with the East and the rising sun and morning star.

Yours in the Dharma,                          
Innen, doshu
om namo amida butsu


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