San-mitsu: The Three Secrets
The potential for enlightenment is present in everyone. All bodies are the bodies of the Enlightened. All voices are the voices of the Enlightened. All thoughts are the thoughts of the Enlightened. The mind, voice and body of the spiritual adept aren't any different from that of the Buddha, the Christ, Krishna, or any other enlightened being. When you begin to strip away the illusions you're attached to, what is revealed underneath is enlightenment. Enlightenment then is the process of thinking, speaking and acting like an enlightened being. An enlightened being doesn't live their life constantly reacting to things that occur in his or her little sphere of the universe. Those who are always reacting are always unstable, and never have any real power over their own lives. Conversely, those who act with the proper perspective are well ordered, effective and powerful people in their own sphere of life. Of course, this takes practice.
The great Buddhist teacher Kobo Daishi said, "Form mudras with your hands, recite mantras with your mouths, and dwell in meditation with your minds." The serious spiritual student will discover these three tools will unleash the Buddha nature within, impacting their environment. Such training isn't for the dabbler. It requires serious commitment.
Mudras express the intention of the mind by consciously identifying the spiritual student with the universe in which he or she lives, becoming the living symbol of that universe. In other words, if the enlightened are one with the universe, you exist within them. If you're one with the universe, then the enlightened are also within you. There is no separation in fact, only in illusion. This is the esoteric form of the body level of spiritual training; doing what an enlightened person does.
Mantras invoke sacred ideas and impact the consciousness. They work on three levels: sound, visual written characters, and their symbolic meaning. By focusing on a mantra we are speaking into existence certain esoteric truths that are normally hidden from the senses. This has the effect of awakening us to truths on a deeper level than just the intellectual. This is the esoteric form of the speech level of spiritual training; speaking as an enlightened person does.
Meditation, on the exoteric platform, works to calm the mind. Usually this is where the neophyte stops, thinking they've achieved a significant level of spiritual advancement. In truth, this is only a basic foundation for the esoteric form of meditation, which is far more advanced. The power of the mind permeates all things in the universe, beginning with the mind of Kami-sama, down to the mind of every single human being alive. All have had an influence on the fabric of reality. Understanding how our mind does this, and harnessing it for the highest good is the thinking level of spiritual training; we think as an enlightened person thinks.
What we're talking about practicing here is the depths of what Siddhartha Gautama and all of the great spiritual teachers taught. It is the alignment of mind, body and soul with divine truth and divine purpose. When we do gassho, whether it be in front of a Kamidana, Butsudan, altar, or another person, or serve someone selflessly, we're embodying Shin-mitsu (the secret of action). Whether we recite mantras or teach spiritual discourses, or simply speak words of comfort and compassion to those in need, we're embodying Ku-mitsu (the secret of speech). And when we meditate, contemplate Kami-sama, Jesus, the Buddha, pray to Kami-sama, or simply share spiritual truths with others, we embody I-mitsu (the secret of the mind). By living these San-mitsu, we literally become the embodiment of the Buddha, the Christ, and even of Kami-sama. This is referred to as Sokushin Jobutsu (becoming an Enlightened One in this life).