Keshin (化身)

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Palzang Jangchub
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Keshin (化身)

Post by Palzang Jangchub » Sun Feb 05, 2017 1:34 am

Coming from a Tibetan practical background, I'm curious about how keshin (化身) are understood in Shingon.

Am I right to think that they are roughly equivalent to the concept of tulkus (nirmanakayas), human incarnations of certain buddhas/bodhisatvas? Would that make the Dalai Lama a keshin?

Are there any recognized human keshin in Shingon?
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"The Sutras, Tantras, and Philosophical Scriptures are great in number. However life is short, and intelligence is limited, so it's hard to cover them completely. You may know a lot, but if you don't put it into practice, it's like dying of thirst on the shore of a great lake. Likewise, a common corpse is found in the bed of a great scholar." ~ Karma Chagme

དྲིན་ཆེན་རྩ་བའི་བླ་མ་སྐྱབས་རྗེ་མགར་ཆེན་ཁྲི་སྤྲུལ་རིན་པོ་ཆེ་ཁྱེད་མཁྱེན་ནོ།།
རྗེ་བཙུན་བླ་མ་མཁས་གྲུབ་ཀརྨ་ཆགས་མེད་མཁྱེན་ནོ། ཀརྨ་པ་མཁྱེན་ནོཿ

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eijo
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Re: Keshin (化身)

Post by eijo » Sun Feb 05, 2017 5:56 am

Yes, keshin (化身) is a translation of nirmāṇakāya, and may also be expressed as 應化身 (ōkeshin) or 變化身 (hengeshin), etc. Śākyamuni is of course the preeminent nirmāṇakāya.

Skt. nirmāṇakāya is translated into Tibetan as sprul sku (tulku). The idea of living emanations in Tibetan Buddhism is also expressed in Sino-Japanese as 活佛 (katsubutsu), which is a recent term apparently coined specifically for that purpose. However, the Dalai Lama is typically called in modern Japanese a keshin of Avalokiteśvara. For example:

ダライ・ラマは、観音菩薩(千手千眼十一面観音)の化身とされている (https://ja.wikipedia.org/wiki/%E8%A6%B3 ... 9%E8%96%A9)

観音菩薩の化身たるダライ・ラマ(https://ja.wikipedia.org/wiki/%E3%83%80 ... 9%E3%83%9E)

The idea is not unknown in Shingon, but hasn’t been deployed for a very long time. For example, Shōbō (832–909, 聖寶) was thought to be the emanation (keshin) of Cintāmaṇicakra, a form of Avalokiteśvara. There have been other examples, all many centuries old, but these emanations were not passed down from generation to generation so to speak. In other words they seem to have been seen as a one time or unique phenomenon. This is likely due in some part to deference to past masters, among other reasons.

The idea of the various Japanese gods (kami) each being the keshin or suijaku (垂迹) of a specific buddha or bodhisattva (honji, 本地) is very much more common in Japanese Buddhism and is called honji suijaku (本地垂迹, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Honji_suijaku). See also ryōbu shintō (https://fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ry%C5%8Dbu_shint%C5%8D, no English page).

Matylda
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Re: Keshin (化身)

Post by Matylda » Thu Feb 23, 2017 2:00 pm

eijo wrote:Yes, keshin (化身) is a translation of nirmāṇakāya, and may also be expressed as 應化身 (ōkeshin) or 變化身 (hengeshin), etc. Śākyamuni is of course the preeminent nirmāṇakāya.

Skt. nirmāṇakāya is translated into Tibetan as sprul sku (tulku). The idea of living emanations in Tibetan Buddhism is also expressed in Sino-Japanese as 活佛 (katsubutsu), which is a recent term apparently coined specifically for that purpose. However, the Dalai Lama is typically called in modern Japanese a keshin of Avalokiteśvara. For example:

ダライ・ラマは、観音菩薩(千手千眼十一面観音)の化身とされている (https://ja.wikipedia.org/wiki/%E8%A6%B3 ... 9%E8%96%A9)

観音菩薩の化身たるダライ・ラマ(https://ja.wikipedia.org/wiki/%E3%83%80 ... 9%E3%83%9E)

The idea is not unknown in Shingon, but hasn’t been deployed for a very long time. For example, Shōbō (832–909, 聖寶) was thought to be the emanation (keshin) of Cintāmaṇicakra, a form of Avalokiteśvara. There have been other examples, all many centuries old, but these emanations were not passed down from generation to generation so to speak. In other words they seem to have been seen as a one time or unique phenomenon. This is likely due in some part to deference to past masters, among other reasons.

The idea of the various Japanese gods (kami) each being the keshin or suijaku (垂迹) of a specific buddha or bodhisattva (honji, 本地) is very much more common in Japanese Buddhism and is called honji suijaku (本地垂迹, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Honji_suijaku). See also ryōbu shintō (https://fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ry%C5%8Dbu_shint%C5%8D, no English page).

By the way, not only shingon had this particular approach to nirmanakaya of particular teachers.. Also in zen tradition it happend in the past or present.. I knew a teacher. zen master who was considered to be keshin of Jizo Bosatsu, or Kshitigarbha Bodhisattva, anyway very popular in Japan.. If we look into some illustrious biographies of zen masters. Moreover it also concerns other traditions which prevail in Japan beside shingon and zen including jodo, shinshu and so on. However it never developed the way it did in Tibet with all tulku system. In Japan it looks more like 'spontaneous' appearencess of nirmanakaya, which come to exist in Japanese Buddhism due to the system, but rather is based on personal realization and exceptional achievment.. so to speak such 'nirmanakaya' has to show some particular properties.

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