Fudo and Death

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Miroku Raigo zu 弥勒来迎図

The Phenomenon of Invoking Fudō
for Pure Land Rebirth in Image and Text

by Karen Mack

Invoking the esoteric Buddhist deity Fudō for rebirth is a lesser known aspect in the development of Pure Land worship. Fudō was invoked by reciting his incantation as a deathbed practice to attain proper mindfulness at death allowing rebirth into the Pure Land, particularly Miroku's Heaven, from the late Heian into the Kamakura period.

The association of Fudō and Miroku's Heaven extends back to the Tendai monk Sōō (ninth century), and invoking Fudō for rebirth was practiced by such notables as Emperor Shirakawa and the Kegon monk Myōe. Fudō was incorporated into Miroku Raigō paintings from the end of the twelfth century into the fourteenth century, probably as a last recourse by the traditional schools of Buddhism to the rising popularity of Amida worship and easy access to Amida's Pure Land through the nenbutsu.


Fudō appears in Miroku Raigō paintings because he was associated with rebirth in Miroku's Tosotsu heaven since the time of Sōō. With the proliferation of accounts of invoking Fudō for rebirth in Miroku's Heaven, the association of Fudō and Miroku's Heaven grew ever closer. Fudō's efficacy in attaining rebirth in Miroku's Heaven was to eliminate the hindrances to rebirth and provide the prerequisites. The doctrinal source for this efficacy is found in the Hachimei darani kyō. This efficacy was important in Japan because of a widespread belief from the tenth century, not specific to any particular religious school, that maintaining proper mindfulness at the moment of death was crucial for successful rebirth.

The eclecticism of these beliefs is evidenced by the Miroku Raigō itself. The incorporation of Fudō and the Katsuragawa waterfall that is said to lead straight to Miroku's Heaven attest to the influence of the Tendai school and ascetic practices 314 Japanese Journal of Religious Studies 33/2 (2006) originated by Sōō. The incorporation of Kūkai attests to Shingon belief in Kūkai waiting in eternal samādhi on Mt. Koya for the descent of Miroku.

The stylistic iconography of the Miroku Raigō painting with the two foreground bodhisattvas holding a lotus and canopy attest to influence from paintings of Amida Raigō of approximately the same time, such as the fourteenth-century Amida and Fifteen Bodhisattvas Raigō owned by the Chion'in. The very origin of the Miroku Raigō painting ascribed to the Nara priest Jōgen attests to the esoteric influence within the Nara schools of Buddhism.

These Miroku Raigō paintings, which were generated at the end of the twelfth century and continued to be painted into the fourteenth century, were probably produced within the traditional schools of Buddhism as a last recourse to the rising popularity of the new Kamakura schools promoting Amida worship and easy access to Amida's Pure Land, which soon eclipsed the older schools in popularity. By relying on the nenbutsu to attain rebirth in the Pure Land, one no longer needed Fudō's mantra to eliminate the hindrances to rebirth and this practice of intoning Fudō's mantra for proper mindfulness at the moment of death fell out of use.

source : Karen Mack : Nanzan University ...

Sōō 相応 (831–918)
Myōe 明恵 (1173–1232)
Fudō's "Mantra of Compassionate Help" (Jikushu 慈救呪)

BCC is here


source : www1.koalanet.ne.jp/galleria2

Miroku Raigo zu 弥勒来迎図 from the Kamakura period
and Fudo Myo-O 不動明王

. Miroku Bosatsu 弥勒菩薩 .

. Myoe Shonin 明恵上人 .


- source : nishikio.net

Amida Raigo zu  阿弥陀来迎図
at temple Kuroda Mudooji 黒田無動寺 Kuroda Mudo-Ji
Kuroda Nabari, Mie 518-0734

The main statue here is Fudo Myo-O.
The temple was founded in the late Heian period.
In the Edo period it became the Regional headquarter 中本山 of the Daigo-Ha 醍醐派.

. . . hope and salvation is the underlying message of Tendai, and one recurring painted image is that of the enlightened Amida Raigo swooping down on a cloud, surrounded by attendant deities -- sometimes accompanied by a heavenly orchestra -- to pluck a deserving soul from Earth "in the blink of an eye."

. Saicho, Dengyo Daishi 伝教大師最澄 .

. Amida Raigo zu  阿弥陀来迎図 .


Mantras of Fudo Myo-O 不動明王の真言




1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Thanks for an interesting aspect of Fudo !
From Tokyo