The teachings of Esoteric Buddhism, (J:mikkyo), also referred to as Tantric Buddhism,flourished in India from the sixth to the tenth centuries, spreading to other countries in Asia. Shingon Mikkyo, is a school of Esoteric Buddhism brought to Japan and codified by Kobo Daishi Kukai(774-835)in the ninth century. The particular lineage that found its way to Japan came via China in 806 A.D. with Kukai who was named the eighth Patriarch of the tradition by Master Hui-Kou(J:Keika; 746-805), the seventh Patriarch.

Throughout its nearly 1200 year history in Japan, Shingon Mikkyo has been passed from master to disciple, remaining an unbroken living lineage. A wide variety of meditaion practices exist within the tradition, mystical in nature, dedicated to achieving Enlightenment, (J:sokushin jobutsu), referred to as "becoming a Buddha in this very body", in this lifetime for the benefit of all beings. The teachings are not viewed simply as theory but as religious experience. All focus on realizing unity with the universal energy of the macrocosmos, the Dharmakaya, that is personified as Dainichi Nyorai, the Unversal Buddha ans his numerous manifestations of Buddhas, Bodhisattvas, and other deities who convey important aspects of the teachings.

Shingon Mikkyo posits radical view of non-duality of the Budda and all phenomenon in the unverse which is made up of six elements, earth, water, fire, air, space and consciousness. The manifesting conditioned phenomena of form, color, movement, and sound are utilized ritually to convey the teachings of the essential unity of Buddha and all phenomenon.

The primary scriptures on which the Shingon teachings are based are the Dainichi-Kyo (Sk:Mahavairocana sutra) and the Kongocho-Gyo (Sk:Vajrasekhara sutra). A dual mandala system based on these sutras incorporate not only Buddhist deities but Brahman and Hindu deities as well, typifying the all-embracing nature of the mind-enlighttement of the Buddha. The Wisdom teachings of the Kongocho-Gyo, represented graphically in the Kongo-kai Mandala, are seen as inseparable from the Compassion teachings of the Dainichi-Kyo represented in the Taizo-kai Mandala. Enlightenment is a realization of the inseparability of wisdom and compassion.

Innate Buddha nature and enlightenment remain unrealized because of the delusion of separation produced by the ego and karmic afflictions resulting from actions in past and present lives. Through cultivating the Three Mysteries (Mystic Practices) of Body, Word and Mind, it is possible to discover one's innate enlightened nature by connecting with these three aspects as they exist on the cosmic level of the Buddha Dainichi Nyorai. Practices of Body: meditation postures and mudra (symbolic hand gestures); practices of Word: repetition of sacred mantra and dharani; and practices of Mind: meditative concentration and cultivation of faith. provide means for entering a state of non-duality with the universe, achieving enlightenment and attaining Buddhahood in this very body.

Through the practice of the Three Mysteries attaining enlightenment in the Shingon view is not seen just as a product of one's own effort, self power (J:jiriki), or simply bestowed by some other power(J:tariki), but as a mutual empowerment based on three powers or sources. The metric produced by the individual's practice of the Three Mysteries; the "grace" or response of the Vuddha's power called kaji, and the power of the Dharmic Universe, the Dharmakaya. Uniting them is the vow that whatever merit gained will be dedicated to others.

For Buddhists in the Mahayana traditions the attainment of enlightenment is for the benefit of all sentient beings. Consequently in the Shingon view enlightenment occurs with the grace or transference of the Buddah's power, and it follows that there are responses to that transference of power that occur in the material and spiritual realms. The Dainichi-Kyo (Sk: Mahavairocana sutra) and the Dainichi-Kyo-Sho(Sk: Commentary on the Mahavairocana Sutra) explore the nature, dynamic and qualities of the Buddha's enlightenment and the resulting kaji manifesting on the paths of attainment. One of the attributes of kaji is the power to heal illness and it is the workings of kaji in this respect that are the subject of this book by the Venerable Ryuko Oda.

Born in 1914 in Aomori Prefecture in Northern Japan, the Venerable Oda became a priest at the age of 20 and spent six years in training at Mt. Koya, the monastic headquarters of the Koyasan School of Shingon Esoteric Buddhism. Founding Seiryu-ji temple in Aomori and Shingon-in temple in Tokyo he was certified as a Dento Dai Ajari ( Grand Master ) in 1974 and in 1991 attained the rank of Archbishop, the highest in the tradition. His vison and insight has lead him to help thousands, as a spiritual master of kaji, teacher, and author of numerous books. Despite the loftiness of the subjects matter, his writing is accessible, and speaks directly of the challenges all human beings face and of the realizations that are possible through faith, practice and unceasing effort.

Kaji: Empowerment and Healing in Esoteric Buddhism, conveys Venerable Oda's vison as a twentieth century Japanese Buddhist path master, providing a basic introduction to the Buddhist path from the perspective of Japanese Shingon Esotericism and the world of kaji. It speaks of joy, and the birth of compassion and altruism that can provide relief from suffering and illness in a variety of ways, through spiritual practice, educatinal reform and the acceptance of true personal responsibility in addrssing the ever-growing ills of society at large. Finally, there are comments by Japanese physicians who have personally experienced the healing power effected by kaji, and a practice text used by laypersons who receive kaji from the Shingon Buddhist masters qualified to perform it. Kaji: Empowerment and Healing in Esoteric Buddhism provides the reader a glimpse of Venerable Ryuko Oda's spiritual vison, one that promises to benefit many here in the West as well.
Kinkeizan Shinjo-in Mitsumonkai Publishing
7-8 Wakaba 2 Chome Shinjuku-ku, Tokyo 160-0011, Japan
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