Shakyamuni Buddha (Jp. Shakamuni butsu, Shakuson)
Shakyamuni is the historical Buddha who gained Enlightenment and created the teachings of Buddhism in India in the 6th century B.C. Throughout the history of Pure Land Buddhism, people have become confused and sometimes angered at the apparent contradiction of Pure land teachings in emphasizing Amida Buddha over Shakyamuni Buddha. The Doctrine of the "three bodies" (sanjin), however, clarifies their relationship. The "three bodies", also called the "three properties" or the "three enlightened properties", are the three kinds of form that a Buddha may manifest as: the Dharma Body (Skt. Dharmakaya, Jp. hosshin) is the form in which a Buddha transcends physical being and is identical with the undifferentiated unity of being or Suchness (Skt. Tathata, Jp. shinnyo); the Bliss or Reward Body (Skt. sambhogakaya, Jp. hojin) is an ethereal Body obtained as the "reward" for having completed the Bodhisattva practice of aiding other beings to end their Suffering and having penetrated the depth of Wisdom; and the Manifested Body (skt. nirmanakaya, Jp. ojin) is the physical form in which The Buddha appears in this world in order to guide Sentient beings. In Pure Land Buddhism, it is considered that the historical Buddha, Shakyamuni, is nirmanakaya. Honen believed that Amida is sambhogakaya. Therefore, Pure Land Buddhism does not denigrate the tradition of Shakyamuni's teachings, but rather accesses those same teachings on the cosmic level. It is felt that since Shakyamuni is no longer present in the physical world, we must access this same potential for an end to Suffering through the atemporal and all embracing guidance of Amida.