Kuan Yin

April 12, 2010

I was looking at a thread on some fora I frequent, asking about experiences with patron and matron gods and goddesses. I really like this thread, because people typically just post about whoever/whatever they are feeling pulled to, and it is a good resource on how people venerate and what they offer and so on. Today I came upon a post from someone saying they feel a very strong connection to Kuan Yin. She posted, along with her words, a link to this article: Kuan Yin: My Buddhist Patron Saint.

Kuan Yin is depicted in art, or approached by an individual worshipper, as either male or female. She can appear in many different forms, depending on the worshipper’s needs. The vast majority visualize her as female. So Kuan Yin is female by popular demand.

Her name means “Hearer Of The Cries Of The World.”

Hearer Of The Cries Of The World. This resonates with me, as well, particularly due to my own huge need to serve the world via healthcare and humanitarian aid. I am also interested in the gender flexibility! Apparently Kuan Yin is both male and female, or, she is sometimes seen as a female representation of a male being, or she is sometimes male, or… two halves of one coin. According to Wikipedia, Avalokiteśvara/Kuan Yin was originally depicted as the Buddha when he was still a prince, and therefore wears chest-revealing clothing and may even sport a moustache. However in China, Guanyin is usually depicted as a woman. Additionally, some people believe that Guanyin is both man and woman (or perhaps neither). It’s a very interesting concept.

The author of this article also writes:

You make offerings to the statue – a cup of water daily, fresh flowers every week or so, and fruit, particularly oranges and bananas. You leave a light burning near her at night — you don’t let her sit in the dark. You can meditate on her by reciting her mantras before the statue, and pray to her in your own words. Even if you don’t literally believe in her, the prayers tend to be answered, often very quickly.

along with that I find these mantras very… well, I don’t want to say nice, so I’ll say useful, but I’m feeling a little deeper word than that:

Kuan Yin is worshipped with the following mantras:

Namo Kuan Shi Yin P’u Sa (pronounced Nah-moh Kwahn Shee Yeen Poo Sah):
All Hail To Kuan Yin Bodhisattva!

This mantra is used to salute Kuan Yin at the beginning of a period of worship, and to say goodbye to her at the end (for this purpose, vibrate it slowly, three times). It may also be chanted rapidly over and over for a period of time — like fifteen minutes — while focusing mentally on a goal or desire you wish Kuan Yin to help you achieve.

~

Hri (pronounced “Hree”)

This is Kuan Yin’s “Bija” mantra, and is considered untranslatable. It is a syllable to be vibrated as long as the breath allows, and is supposed to capture in sound the pure essence of Kuan Yin. You use it to identify yourself with her, in hopes of gradually becoming more like her. You chant it and think of nothing, purely focusing on making the sound itself without intellectualizing about it. Try it for five or ten minutes, gently bringing your mind back to the sound itself whenever thought arises.

There is an online Kuan Yin Oracle that provides translations of poems and so on.

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March 3, 2010

Thousands of candles can be lighted from a single candle,
and the life of the candle will not be shortened.
Happiness never decreases by being shared.

Buddha

I am presently reading “Awakening the Buddha Within” by Lama Surya Das. The following are excerpts I find meaningful and wish to remember… I will be adding to this post as I read.

The path, as always, begins beneath your feet with the first step you take. Where do you stand right now? This is where we begin. pg. 21

In all my future lives,
May I never fall under the influence of evil companions;
May I never harm even a single hair of any living being
May I never be deprived of the sublime light of Dharma

Traditional Tibetan Prayer

The sacred and the mundane are inseparable. Your life is your path. Your disappointments are part of your path; your joys are your path; your dry cleaning, your dry cleaner are on your path; ditto your credit card payments. It’s not helpful to wait until you have more time for meditation or contemplation, because it may never happen. p. 46

Spirituality is a matter of self-discovery, rather than of becoming something else. p. 48

Acknowledge that enlightenment is a real possibility. p. 54

The Lotus Sutra

February 16, 2010

Before I attend a service or class, I like to do a little background research. The following is what I have read from the website of Rissho Kosei Kai, regarding the Lotus Sutra — this is the sutra that is chanted during services at the Dharma Center here.

The Sutra of the Lotus Flower of the Wonderful Dharma, popularly known as the Lotus Sutra, is revered by millions of Buddhists as containing the core and culmination of the Buddha’s teaching. Together with the two shorter sutras that traditionally accompany it, Innumerable Meanings and Meditation on the Bodhisattva Universal Virtue, it is one of the most important scriptures of Mahayana Buddhism and indeed one of the major documents of world religion.

The Lotus Sutra consists of a series of sermons delivered by the Buddha toward the end of his 45-year teaching ministry before a great multitude of disciples and countless others. The setting and scope are cosmic, but the sermons themselves, presented in both prose and verse, are replete with parables and graphic anecdotes.

At the heart of the sutra are three major concepts of Mahayana Buddhism:

  1. All sentient beings can attain perfect enlightenment – that is, buddhahood – and nothing less than this is the appropriate final goal of believers;
  2. The Buddha is eternal, having existed from the infinite past and appearing in many forms throughout the ages to guide and succor beings through the teaching of the Wonderful Dharma; and
  3. The noblest form of Buddhist practice is the way of the bodhisattvas, those who devote themselves to attaining enlightenment not only for themselves but for all sentient beings.

The Sutra of Innumerable Meanings records the sermon preached by the Buddha to a host of bodhisattvas immediately preceding the delivery of the Lotus Sutra. Constituting an introduction to the central sutra, the shorter scripture is traditionally known as the “opening sutra.” The Sutra of Meditation on the Bodhisattva Universal Virtue, supposed to have been delivered following the Lotus Sutra, establishes the way of repentance as the practice of the spirit of the Lotus Sutra. Being an epilogue to the main scripture, it is called the “closing sutra,” while because of its theme it is also known as the “sutra of repentance.”

Rissho Kosei-kai has embraced the philosophy and ideals in the Lotus Sutra and the teachings that are basic to the whole of Buddhism:

  • The Four Noble Truths
  • The Twelve Causes
  • The Three Seals of the Dharma
  • The Eightfold Path
  • The Six Perfections

That is because, through study and actual practice of the Buddha’s teachings, Founder Nikkyo Niwano realized that the basic teachings of Buddhism and the profound philosophy and high ideals of the Lotus Sutra are the complementary halves of a single truth. In short, in the Lotus Sutra, philosophy, ideals, and the practical teachings of Buddhism are perfectly integrated.

Further, Rissho Kosei-kai believes that the integral essence of the Lotus Sutra is so universal and practical that it is in fact common to all the world’s religions and is relevant for people everywhere. Because the Lotus Sutra is a scripture that can lead all humankind from division to unity, from discord to harmony, from conflict to peace, Rissho Kosei-kai reveres it as the basic scripture in which to have faith.

Rissho Kosei Kai – Introduction to the Lotus Sutra

I have already studied many aspects of Buddhism, but I think I will go over them again — things like the Eightfold Path and the Four Noble Truths are pretty “basic” to Buddhism, but they are very deep concepts, which require a lot of thought. I’ll probably “discuss” them with myself here pretty soon.

beginning.

February 16, 2010

Most recently I have visited the Dharma Center here. It’s a Buddhist center in the Rissho Kosei Kai tradition. I went to visit because of my need for more learning on the subjects of meditation and how to quiet the mind. They offer chanting services and meditation classes, which I am looking forward to attending — at least to try it out.

Here is what the Rissho Kosei Kai organization website has to say about them:

Rissho Kosei-kai is a worldwide Buddhist organization founded in Japan in 1938 by Nikkyo Niwano and Myoko Naganuma. It combines the wisdom of both the Lotus Sutra and the foundational teachings of Shakyamuni Buddha. Its purpose is to bring these transformative teachings to the modern world.

The Lotus Sutra is a teaching of human respect, both the study and practice of a spiritual path that develops human potential, and a way of living that seeks peace for all people. By studying, understanding, integrating, and practicing the teachings, human beings can gradually approach a state of mind free from delusions, thereby enriching their own lives and those of others around them. Because everything is interconnected, when people devote themselves to benefitting all beings through harmony, they create awareness and develop a better world. This is the ideal for practitioners of the Lotus Sutra.