The Non-Dual Nature of Hon Sha Ze Sho Nen

Frans StieneArticles, English 8 Comments

The Non-Dual Nature of Hon Sha Ze Sho Nen

The Non-Dual Nature of Hon Sha Ze Sho Nen

Within Okuden Reiki level II, we learn the symbol/mantra Hon Sha Ze Sho Nen 本者是正念.

Literally this mantra translates as; “My original nature is a correct thought”. Or in a direct way we can say it means; “I am right mind” or “I am right mindfulness”.

The “I am” in this case is not the ego “I” but our True Self, our original nature. 

When we look into this translation, we can ask ourselves what is this “right” or “correct” thought? To find the answer we need to look into the fundamental essence of our original nature, our True Self. The essence of our original nature is non-duality; thus, the thought which comes forth from this state of mind is a non-dual thought. 

In his recently published book, “Zen Chants – Thirthy-Five Essential Texts with Commentary,” noted Japanese calligrapher and translator of Buddhist texts Kazuaki Tanahashi states that 正 sho represents non-duality. Therefore, we can also translate Hon Sha Ze Sho Nen 本者是正念 as “my original nature is a non-dual thought”, or “I am non-dual thought”.

Interestingly, this doesn’t point to distance healing at all. In fact it points towards the opposite of distance healing, as distance implies a dualistic state of mind. So we are not doing distance healing; rather, we simply realize our non-dual nature with everything and set our intent in that space while we rest our mind in the brightness of our non-dual state of mind. But that is easier said than done. Therefore, we can only really remember this non-dual state of mind of our original nature – our True Self – if we meditate daily on the symbols and mantras. It is through these kinds of meditations that we discover the deeper layers of Mikao Usui’s teachings.

All of this makes perfect sense as first and foremost, the system of Reiki is a spiritual practice. Thus, it helps the practitioner to reach a state of mind of non-duality.

In fact Hon Sha Ze Sho Nen 本者是正念 has a close relation with the Tendai Hongaku teachings 天台本覚思想.

Hongaku is the original state of enlightenment. Hongaku means that everything is enlightened already, everything has a non-dual nature. Or in other words, everything is the great bright light already; we just have forgotten this.

“Komyo (the light [of the Buddha], emphasizes the notion that there is no place between heaven and earth that Buddha-nature, and therefore original enlightenment, does not permeate.” – The Bodymind Experience in Japanese Buddhism – A Phenomenological Study of Kukai and Dogen by David Edward Shaner 

Thus, we can say that Hon Sha Ze Sho Nen is a signpost for helping us to rediscover our own original great bright light of non-duality: our True Self. 

Mikao Usui pointed this out by teaching some of his serious Shinpiden students the Dai Kômyô, the Shinpiden Reiki III symbol/mantra.

“Komyo exists in me and I exist in Komyo.” – Note from a student of Mikao Usui, supplied by Hirsohi Doi.

The more we start to explore Mikao Usui’s teachings from a traditional Japanese perspective, rather than a modern Japanese perspective, the more we start to really see what Mikao Usui was trying to teach his students, a deep spiritual practice. And in this practice we can, over time, rediscover our original nature of non-duality.

Comments 8

  1. Avatar of Jackie Morant
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  2. Avatar of Faye Newfield

    Hi Frans,
    I am a member of the Soka Gakkai International. In our daily gongyo, we chant a chapter in the Lotus Sutra. Hon sha se shonen is in our first prayer we chant. It means that everyone has the Buddha nature e.g., we have the possibility to become enlightened in this lifetime. Some of the concepts that you discussed in your post bring to mind our daily prayer. Thanks for sharing about nondual reality. If you are interested there are numerous resources posted on SGI-USA website. Thank you.

    1. Avatar of Frans Stiene Post
  3. Avatar of Alex Edgar

    Wow wow wow – i am so grateful for this. It really gives me historical and philosophical insight into the hon sha ze sho nen symbol and rings true.

    Okuden Reiki sounds like such a wonderful lineage. I hope one day to study it.

    Thank you!

  4. Avatar of Alex Edgar

    Yes – just sitting down to write about this very symbol – it is interesting and complicated teasing out the teachings I received, common usage and the original pronunciation, usage and meaning.

    They are all related, yet not the same. Now to stay focussed and not to get bogged down in all the tiny details! <3

    And I keep coming back to your teachings in particular. Thank you!

    1. Avatar of Frans Stiene
  5. Avatar of Sally Carmichael

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