Buddha of limitless joy ［自受用身］ ( jijuyūshin): Buddha of limitless joy is broader in meaning than Buddha of self-enjoyment, which is another translation of jijuyūshin. (1) T’ien-t’ai (538–597) identified the Buddha of limitless joy with the Buddha revealed in the essential teaching (latter half) of the Lotus Sutra, whom he defined as the Buddha originally endowed with the three bodies—the Dharma body, the reward body, and the manifested body. Here, these three bodies are regarded as the three integral aspects of a single Buddha, i.e., the fundamental truth or Law to which he is enlightened (the Dharma body), the wisdom to realize it (the reward body), and the merciful actions to help people attain Buddhahood (the manifested body). See also Buddha of beginningless time.
(2) Dengyō (767–822), the founder of the Japanese Tendai school, is quoted in Nichiren’s Real Aspect of the Gohonzon as having stated, “A single moment of life comprising the three thousand realms is itself the Buddha of limitless joy; this Buddha has forsaken august appearances” (832). Dengyō identified the true identity of the Buddha of limitless joy as a single moment of life in which all three thousand realms exist. This is Dengyō’s description of the same Buddha T’ien-t’ai mentioned.
(3) Nichiren (1222–1282) identified the doctrine of three thousand realms in a single moment of life as the Law of Nam-myoho-renge-kyo that he realized within his own life. In other words, Nichiren established two concepts of three thousand realms in a single moment of life; one is T’ien-t’ai’s and the other, his own. In his Treatment of Illness, Nichiren writes: “There are two ways of perceiving the three thousand realms in a single moment of life. One is theoretical, and the other, actual. What T’ien-t’ai and Dengyō practiced was theoretical, but what I practice now is actual. Because what I practice is superior, the difficulties attending it are that much greater. The doctrine of T’ien-t’ai and Dengyō was the three thousand realms in a single moment of life of the theoretical teaching, while mine is that of the essential teaching. These two are as different as heaven is from earth” (1114–115). T’ien-t’ai established the doctrine of three thousand realms in a single moment of life based on “the true aspect of all phenomena,” the phrase from the “Expedient Means” (second) chapter of the Lotus Sutra.
On the other hand, Nichiren states in The Opening of the Eyes: “The doctrine of three thousand realms in a single moment of life is found in only one place, hidden in the depths of the ‘Life Span’ chapter of the essential teaching of the Lotus Sutra. Nāgārjuna and Vasubandhu were aware of it but did not bring it forth into the light. T’ien-t’ai Chih-che alone embraced it and kept it ever in mind” (224). Obviously what T’ien-t’ai embraced and kept ever in mind does not refer to the doctrine of three thousand realms in a single moment of life that he expounded publicly. Nichiren regarded it as Nam-myoho-renge-kyo.
Nichikan (1665–1726), the twenty-sixth chief priest of Taiseki-ji temple, who is known for his commentaries on Nichiren’s writings, interpreted Nichiren’s teaching, saying that the Buddha of the essential teaching is not the eternal Buddha but the Buddha who attained enlightenment at a fixed point in time. From this viewpoint, the Buddha of the essential teaching is not eternally endowed with the three bodies, but is rather the Buddha who advanced to the state of limitless joy through the bodhisattva way, thereby acquiring the three bodies. In contrast, Nichikan stated that the Buddha who embodies eternal life endowed with all of the Ten Worlds and the Law of Nam-myoho-renge-kyo whereby all Buddhas attained enlightenment, is originally endowed with the three bodies since time without beginning, and that that Buddha is what Nichiren called the Buddha of beginningless time. Nichikan concluded that Nichiren embodied that Buddha. See also Buddha of beginningless time; Buddha of self-enjoyment.