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Honjisuijaku

Honjisuijaku (Jap., ‘original substance manifests traces’). Principle whereby Buddhism is reconciled with Shinto. In its original form, it stated that the kami and gods or goddesses of Japan are avatars of Vairocana. From the Middle Ages until the Meiji Restoration (1868), honjisuijaku was extensive. On occasion, Shinto asserted itself as the senior partner—e.g. after the kamikaze had driven off the Mongol invasions of 1274 and 1281; or again, in the composition of the Five Classics at about the same time, which are mainly about the history of the Ise shrine, but which also give an account of Shinto philosophy and ethics (leading to Ise Shinto). The Five Classics were used by adherents of ‘Primordial Shinto’ (Yuiitsu Shinto) in the 15th cent. to reverse the relationship. Thus Yoshida Kanetomo (1435–1511; see YOSHIDA FAMILY) interpreted honjisuijaku as meaning that the Japanese gods were the original substance and the Buddha and bodhisattvas the manifest traces.

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