The Soka Gakkai Dictionary of Buddhism
attainment of Buddhahood[成仏] ( Jpn jobutsu )
To become a Buddha. Several principles concerning the attainment of Buddhahood or enlightenment have been expounded on the basis of the sutras: (1) Attaining Buddhahood in one's present form. This means to attain Buddhahood just as one is, without discarding the body of a common mortal. Also referred to as attaining Buddhahood as a common mortal, this principle was formulated by the T'ient'ai school on the basis of the Lotus Sutra. According to many of the teachings other than the Lotus Sutra, one can attain Buddhahood only after having discarded the body of a common mortal that gives rise to earthly desires and illusions.In contrast, the Lotus Sutra 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 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 contradicts the idea that one must practice over a period of many kalpas in order to attain Buddhahood. This concept is essentially the same as attaining Buddhahood in one's present form. Other principles concern the attainment of Buddhahood by certain categories of people and derive from the Lotus Sutra per se: (1) Attainment of Buddhahood by 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) Attainment of Buddhahood by women. In the first half of the sutra, the dragon king's daughter attains Buddhahood, and Yashodhara, Mahaprajapati, and other women receive Shakyamuni's prophecy of their future enlightenment. Almost all sutras deny women the capacity for attaining Buddhahood and insist that they must be reborn as men in order to attain enlightenment. The Lotus Sutra, 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) Attainment of Buddhahood by 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.