Basic Terms of Shinto 神道基本用語集

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Honji-suijaku setsu
Text Theory of original reality and manifested traces. A theory of Shinto-Buddhist syncretism. (See shinbutsu shûgô.) Originally a Buddhist term used to explain the Buddha's nature as a metaphysical being (honji) and the historical figure Sakyamuni (suijaku). This theory was used in Japan to explain the relation between Shinto gods and Buddhas; the Buddhas were regarded as the honji, and the Shinto gods as their incarnations or suijaku. Theoretically, honji and suijaku are an indivisible unity and there is no question of valuing one more highly than the other; but in the early Nara period, the honji was regarded as more important than the suijaku. Gradually they both came to be regarded as one; but in the Kamakura period, Shintoists also proposed the opposite theory, that the Shinto gods were the honji and the Buddhas the suijaku. This theory was called han-honji-suijaku setsu or shinpon-butsuju setsu.