Engi (縁起)


Engi in Buddhism
It is described in the section below.

Generally, the word is used to mean a sign of good or bad things happening in the future, and terms such as 'engi wo katsugu' (be superstitious), 'engi ga yoi' (sign of a good thing happening in the future) and 'engi ga warui' (sign of a bad thing happening in the future) are used. From these meanings, manners and customs such as 'enginaoshi' (to change one's luck) and 'engimono' (lucky charm) can be seen.

It is also used to mean origin and history, and it shows the histories of shrines and temples, as well as the legends of merits appearing in those shrines and temples.

Engi in Buddhism (Sanskrit: pratiitya-samutpaada; Pali: paTicca-samuppaada) is one of the fundamental ideas in Buddhism, and its meaning is the idea that everything in this world is related to the other in direct and indirect ways, changing and disappearing in the relationship. The word is an abbreviation for 'innenshoki' (fate and occurrence), 'in' (因) meaning the cause and 'en' (縁) meaning the condition.

According to Buddhist scriptures, Shaka mentioned engi as shown below.

The principle of engi which I came to embrace is deeply mysterious and subtle at the same time, and as such, it is hard to grasp and realize its true meaning for an ordinary person. It is also said that he mentioned the principle of engi (as shown below); he said that engi is a principle of nature in this world, and that he simply acknowledged it.

Engi is created neither by me nor any other person. There is a time when nyorai (a person who has attained Buddhahood) appears in this world, and there is also a time when nyorai does not appear; either phenomenon is an unchanging truth of the universe. There is only one thing to do: nyorai must seek this principle (of engi) on his/her own accord and attain enlightenment, and he/she must unravel it to the ordinary people by explicating and demonstrating.

As a famous poem to express engi, it is preached in "Jisetsu-kyo" (sutra what Shakyamuni preached by himself with nobody asking questions) as shown below.

For there is "shi" (this), there is "hi" (that), and without "shi," there cannot be "hi." When "shi" arises, "hi" also appears, and when "shi" perishes, "hi" also disappears. This shows that the existence of "hi" (that) is regulated by "shi" (this).

In engi, it can be simply stated in the two theorems, 'if there is shi, there is hi,' and 'if there is no shi, there is no hi.'
The two phrases of existence and nothingness put together is neither a rhetorical ornament nor a literary expression.
These two phrases are logically connected, and the proof of the statement, 'if shi exists, hi exists' is the statement, 'if there is no shi, there is no hi.'
As a concrete example, two phrases; 'if there is life, aging and death exist,' and 'if there is no life, aging and death don't exist' can be shown. It is because if someone is not born, he can neither age nor die.
As is seen above, the latter statement, 'if there is no shi, there is no hi' is necessary to prove and complete the former statement, 'if there is shi, there is hi.'

Initially, engi was preached by Shaka as the 12 innen (destinies) of a person's life.

As creeds developed in the latter years, Gokan Engi (a Buddhist theory of Engi; every phenomenon in this world are occurred by goin (right or wrong conduct which can be a cause of the happiness or trouble in the future) of all living things), Raya Engi (a Buddhist theory of Engi; every phenomenon in this world are occurred by arayashiki (to store consciousness, consciousness forming the base of all human existence)), Nyoraizo Engi (a Buddhist theory of Engi; every phenomenon in this world are occurred by Nyoraizo (the Buddhist nature)), fate (destiny), Rokudai Engi (Six major Buddhist theories of Engi) and so on are preached as the main principles of each creed.

Kien Sekki

Engi is sometimes interpreted as a preaching that corresponds to people's wish to be taught, or 'kien sekki.'

For example, in Kegon doctrine it's called 'Engi inbun.'
This means that even though enlightenment can't be explained in words since it transcends language and thought, in order to answer people's wish to be taught an explanation is made for this unexplainable enlightenment.

[Original Japanese]