attainment of Buddhahood ［成仏］ ( jōbutsu): To become a Buddha. Several teachings concerning the attainment of Buddhahood or enlightenment are expounded on the basis of the Lotus Sutra: (1) Attaining Buddhahood in one’s present form. This means to attain Buddhahood just as one is, without discarding the body of an ordinary person. Also referred to as attaining Buddhahood as an ordinary person, this teaching was formulated by the T’ien-t’ai school on the basis of the Lotus Sutra. According to many of the sutras other than the Lotus, one can attain Buddhahood only after having discarded the body of an ordinary person, which was said to give rise to earthly desires and illusions.
In contrast, the Lotus teaches that one can attain Buddhahood in one’s present form, or as an ordinary person. This principle is often illustrated by the example of the dragon king’s daughter, who, according to the “Devadatta” (twelfth) chapter, attained Buddhahood in a single moment without changing her dragon or her female form. The concept of attaining Buddhahood in one’s present form contrasts with that of attaining Buddhahood through transformation of sex and character. The latter means, for example, that a woman must be reborn as a man in order to attain enlightenment.
(2) Attaining Buddhahood in this lifetime or in a single lifetime. This concept is in sharp contrast with the idea that one must carry out austere practices over a period of many kalpas in order to attain Buddhahood and is essentially the same as attaining Buddhahood in one’s present form.
Other teachings concerning the attainment of Buddhahood are introduced clearly in the Lotus Sutra: (1) The Buddhahood of persons of the two vehicles. In the first half of the Lotus Sutra, persons of the two vehicles—voice-hearers and cause-awakened ones—receive a prophecy from Shakyamuni Buddha that they will attain Buddhahood in future ages. This prophecy refutes the view of the provisional Mahayana teachings, which deny persons of the two vehicles the attainment of Buddhahood, for they seek only personal salvation and do not strive to save others. The Lotus Sutra says that they will practice the bodhisattva way and attain Buddhahood.
(2) The Buddhahood of women. In the first half of the sutra, the dragon king’s daughter attains Buddhahood, and Yashodharā, Mahāprajāpatī, and other women receive Shakyamuni’s prophecy of their future enlightenment. Almost all other sutras deny women the capacity for attaining Buddhahood and insist that they must be reborn as men in order to attain enlightenment. The Lotus, however, teaches that both women and men are equally endowed with the potential for Buddhahood, based on the teaching of the true aspect of all phenomena.
(3) The Buddhahood of evil persons. Even those who oppose and slander the correct teaching of Buddhism, such as icchantikas, or persons of incorrigible disbelief, can attain Buddhahood through a reverse relationship. That is, because they establish a connection with the correct teaching by opposing it, though they receive the negative effect, eventually they profess faith in it and attain Buddhahood. In the Lotus Sutra, this idea is illustrated by the examples of Devadatta and those who ridiculed and attacked Bodhisattva Never Disparaging. See also Buddhahood.
(4) The Buddhahood of plants. Also, the Buddhahood of insentient beings. See enlightenment of plants.