Indian and Oriental Religions

Philosophy 304




"The Trinity"

The Buddha Nature

The Law - Dharma

The Human Manifestation - Gautama, Buddha and all other Buddhas and Bodhisattvas


DHYANI BUDDHAS - Contemplative Buddhas - Buddhas with Dharma-Kaya, absolute bodies. They have entered nirvana forever. Some scholars (Bradley, et. al.) say Dhyani Buddhas have no contact with man. Other Scholars (Noss, et. al.) say that Dhyani Buddhas minister to man's eternal needs while Bodhisattvas minister to man's temporal needs. There is great debate at this point, but it is clear that the majority of Buddhist laymen in Japan and other countries look to Dhyani Buddhas and especially Amitabha for aid. They are similar to the paramatman of Hinduism.

Amitabha (India), Amitayus (Sanskrit), O-mi-to (China), Amida (Korea and Japan), Daibutsu (Japan) - Masculine - His name means "measureless life." - Called the Great Buddha of Japan. When Japanese speak of "The Buddha" they usually mean Amida. He was once a Bodhisattva but became a Dhyani Buddha without entering nirvana. He is, thus, the only Dhyani Buddha not in Nirvana forever, an exception to the usual definition of Dhyani Buddhas. He rules Heaven, Sukhavati, The Pure Land. He hears the prayers of the faithful. To die while speaking in faith the name "Amitabha" assures salvation.

Vairocana (Java, China, and Japan) - Masculine - Originally an oriental Sun God, linked with Mithra (Persia), Savitar (Vedic Hinduism), Apollo (Greek) - Buddhists consider Amaterasu. (Japan) -feminine Shinto sun Goddess to be an avatar of Vairocana. Shintoists do not accept this.

Bhaisajyaguru (India, Tibet, China, and Japan) - Masculine - The Buddha of Healing


MANUSHI BUDDHAS - Human Buddhas with nirvana kaya, a body of transformation. These Buddhas have lived among men. Once a Manushi Buddha has performed his allotted task, he enters nirvana and is then beyond the power of men. Similar to the status of Lord Krishna in Hinduism except they cannot now help men.

Gautama, The Buddha or Siddhartha Gautama (India), Sakyamani (Japan), 560-487 B.C., Founder of Buddhism - The major human manifestation of the Buddha Nature. He was a Bodhisattva before he came to earth. With the exception of Japan when "The Buddha" is mentioned, Buddhists usually mean the Gautama Buddha. Hinayana also.

There are hundreds of other Manushi Buddhas differing from village but none commands universal respect in Buddhism except Gautama Buddha.

BODHISATTVAS - "Buddhas" who have not achieved full Buddhahood. Some scholars consider them to be particular types of Buddhas. Other scholars insist that they are not Buddhas at all. In any case they are postponing Dhyani Buddhahood in order to aid men to achieve nirvana. They have a Sambhoga - Haya, body of Bliss. They reside in paradise but can aid men in man's everyday affairs and in reaching nirvana. Similar to Vishnu in Hinduism.

Avalokiteshvara or the Lord Avalokita (India), Padmapani, the Lotus-handed, (India), Kuan- Yin or Kwan-Yin (China), Koan-Eum (Korea), Kwannon - pronounced Cannon - (Japan) - Masculine in India -Feminine in other countries - "The Lord Who Looks Down on this World From Above" - Goddess of Mercy - ("A Kind of Virgin Mary to Buddhist" - Lyon), ("...analogue to ... the Virgin Mary in Roman Catholicism" - Noss) - She helps woman to bear and to conceive children and she guides the faithful to Heaven, Sukhavati, The Pure Land of Amitabha. She also helps in many other practical ways differing from village to village. She has come to earth over 300 times as a human and once as a horse.

Manjusri (India), Wen-Shu or Wen-ye (China), Monju (Japan) - Masculine - Represents personified wisdom - the Buddha of Logic, Knowledge, and Meditation.

Kshitigarbha (India), Ti-Tsang (China), Jiso (Japan) - Usually masculine but he has appeared several times as a woman. - He can divide himself into six persons, one for each stage of existence - He can and does descend into Hell upon request and rescues one's ancestors form torment taking them to Heaven. In Japan he is often identified with the Shinto War God, Hachiman.

Maitreya (India), Milo-Fo (China) - Masculine - He is a God who has not yet come. Similar to Kalkin in Hinduism or the 2nd coming of Jesus in Christianity or the Messiah in Judaism. When he comes he will "usher in an earthly kingdom of prosperity, health, wisdom, and virtue." One of the two Buddhas recognized also by Hinayana Buddhism. The other is, of course, Gautama.

Samantabhadra (India, P'u-hien.) (China) - Masculine - "He who brings happiness to his followers and fosters in them his own universal Kindness" - Noss, - A Companion to Manjusri.

George Washington (The United States of America) - Masculine - First President of the United States, General of the American Army, Revolutionary War.. Bodhisattva of truth (He could not tell a lie.) , courage (Valley Forge), modesty (He refused a kingship,) freedom, democracy and human rights.. He returned in the Viet Nam War in the forces of America to be the “savior of the Vietnamese people.” Proclaimed by Priest Ong Dao Ton [or “ Man of the Way ( Tao ) of Washington, “Ton” is short for “Washington,”] (formerly Mr. Ton Van Nguyen.) a Vietnamese Buddhist, in Houston in 1985. Now temples are also located in Dallas, San Jose, CA, and Tulsa, OK. President Abraham Lincoln and The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King are also honored as rishis but not as bodhisattvas. Guru Ton urges young male members to spend a tour of duty in the United States military instead of a monastery as their obligation to the religion. Their most significant religious holiday is Presidents’ Day in February.


LAMAS ( Lamas are considered to be bodhisattvas by some scholars. Others make them a separate class of heavenly/earthly beings.)

Dali-Lama (Tibet), An individual in a series of "Human-Gods" who are ordained by the Buddha - Nature to have absolute ruling power over Tibet. The current Dali-Lama is in exile in India having fled Tibet during the invasion of the Chinese Communists. It is debatable if the Dali-Lama is to be considered a Bodhisattva on earth or if they have a unique classification themselves.

Bodhisattva =df.. “California” Zen as discussed on Morning Edition - National Public Radio - Oct. 10,2000 = A human who has been blessed in obtaining wealth in the United States and who now devotes time and/or wealth to help the members of society who are unfortunate.