Thu

24

Oct

2013

Ten Directions

Today I would like to explain the word, ”Jippo(十方)” which literally means “ten directions.” 

 

"Ji" or "Ju" (十)means ten and "Po" or "Hou"(方) means directions.  

 

Jippo (十方)or ten directions is very popular phrase in Buddhist sutras, which indicates “every and all directions.”  I guess you are familiar with this “Jippo” if you chant Jodoshu Otsutome book.  

 

For example,

Isshin kyorai Jippo Hokai Jojubu......meaning,

"Reverently I adore the Buddhas who always dwell in the ten directions of the universe."

 

Ishhin Kyorai Jippo Hokai Jojuho.....meaning,                                 "Reverently I adore the Dharma which always dwell in the ten directions of the universe."

 

Isshin kyorai Jippo Hokai Jojuso.......meaning,

"Reverently I adore the Sangha which always dwell in the ten directions of the universe."

 

 

Then what is ten directions? 

 

First, I believe you can easily guess four directions which is called “Shihou(四方)” in Japanese.

They are;

North(北)

South(南)

East (東)

West(西).  

 

This is the very basic four directions and universal.   However, I knew the orders of four directions were not universal when I studied cross-cultural comparison.

 

In English, as you know,  it is said as

“North, South, East and West.”

 

In China and Japan, four directions are listed as

"East, West, South and North."

 

In Buddhist sutras, they are listed as

"East, South, West and North."

 

There is another word “Roppo(六方)” meaning “Six directions.”   Roppo(六方)means these four directions plus Above/Up (Heaven) and Below/Down (Earth.)

 

Then other four directions are called “Shi-I(四維)” as

 

East-South 東南…..South-East (English)

West-South 西南…. South-West(English)

West-North 西北…..North-West (English)

East-North 東北…….North-East (English)

 

So Jippo or actual ten directions are "Shihou (four directions)+Shii(other four directions)+ Up+Down."    They are;

 

  1. East 東
  2. South 南
  3. West 西
  4. North 北
  5. Up  上
  6. Down 下
  7. East-South  東南
  8. West-South 西南
  9. West-North 西北
  10. East-North   東北

 

In Buddhism, there are countless Buddha lands in ten directions of the universe.  For non-Buddhists, it may be hard to believe Buddha lands in the universe.....However, I believe countless Buddha lands are maybe like countless suns and their solar systems in the universe.    It's really amazing the scale of Buddhism is as vast as universe! 

 

By the way, in Japan, there used to be a belief that the word “NEWS” stands for;

 

N…North

 

E….East

 

W…West

 

S….South

 

"News" was said to be “information from four directions of North, East, West, and South.”   Though it sounded true but it was not.   “News” is the plural form of “new” which means “something new information.” 

 

 

 

 

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