In the esoteric sects of Buddhism (see Japanese Buddhism, Buddhism) such as the Shingon (see Shingon sect), the deities of Shinto (see Shinto entries), the kami (see Kami), are manifestations of the Absolute Buddha, the Dainichi Nyorai (see Dainichi). The theory behind this concept is called honji suijaku. The process by which Shinto deities were assimilated into Buddhism as bodhisattvas (see Bodhisattva), or bosatsu, that is, future Buddhas ( nyorai), and then as avatars ( gongen) or temporary manifestations on earth of Buddhas, was gradual until by the Middle Ages, Shinto kami became, in effect, Buddhist kami (see individual bosatsu and nyorai, for example, Shaka, Amida, Miroku, Yakushi, Kannon, Jizo).
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