popular deities of chinese buddhism (illustrated)

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  • E-mail: bdea@buddhanet.netWeb site: www.buddhanet.net

    Buddha Dharma Education Association Inc.

    Popular Deitiesin Chinese Buddhism (Illustrated)

    http://www.buddhanet.net/email.htmhttp://www.buddhanet.net

  • In early 1979 the author encountered an unusual spiritual experi-ence which changed his life and put him onto the Buddhist path. For weeks he had fervently prayed to the Blessed Virgin Mary and to Sai Baba for a miraculous cure as his younger brother was stricken with cancer and slowly withering away. Heaven responded to his cries and Kuan Yin Pusa came into his life most unexpectedly. Kuan Yin not only promised that his brother would live but would also be blessed with a son the following year and it was so! e author was also asked to establish a place of worship so that many others could also enjoy Her bless-ings in the future. us, the Kuan Yin Contemplative Order was founded in the same year and Kuan Yin has indeed given Her blessings to a great number of people who went there to worship Her.

    Over the years the Kuan Yin Contemplative Order (KYCO) had been blessed with the visits of numerous world-renowned Buddhist Dharma Masters who gave teachings there. It was then that the author realised that many who called themselves Buddhists had only a very vague idea of what Buddhism is. is led him to produce this book with the sincere objective of inducing such people to spend more time in Dharma study. With a comprehensive description of each of the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas of the popular Chinese Pantheon, the inclusion of the many colourful illustrations and the basic teachings of the Buddha which all Buddhists should know, it is hoped that this unique book will make Dharma-reading pleasurable. For the sake of avoiding undue publicity he has chosen to use his Buddhist name as the author of this book.

  • opular eitiesof

    hinese uddhismby

    uan ing

    uan in ontemplative rderalaysia

  • v

    o my father and mother

    the kindest persons that have ever known.

  • v

    reface

    is elementary book on Chinese Buddhism and its more popu-larly worshipped Deities, has been written for the benefit of Buddhists amongst the Chinese community. I refer to them as Buddhists in italics because they do not have a clear idea of their faith. eir spiritual practices have been reduced to mere super-stitious beliefs and blind faith due to lack of doctrinal knowledge and opportunities to meet with Dharma teachers.

    It is amazing to find Buddhists who do not know what their religion stands for. Some do not even know who the Buddha is or whether He is the same Buddha who was born in India, or what is meant by Refuge-taking. Just by offering incense to the Heavenly Gods and to the Ancestral Tablets does not qualify them to be Buddhists as it is not a Buddhist practice at all. In or-der for them to find comfort and meaning in their religious pur-suits they must, first of all, have a clear idea of what Buddhism is and what constitutes its practice. It is also important that they are able to distinguish the differences between Buddhas, Bodhi-sattvas and Gods, otherwise the term deity would have to be used to describe them. is explains why the title of this book has been changed from e Buddhas and Bodhisattvas of Chinese Buddhism to the Popular Deities of Chinese Buddhism.

    e picture of the popular Chinese Pantheon of Deities gave me the inspiration to write a book which offers the opportunity to

  • vi vii

    give an explanation on the meanings and differences between the various classes of divine beings that exist in Buddhism. I have the chosen the same picture for the cover design with the hope that its familarity with the average Buddhist will induce them to read it so as to gain a basic knowledge of their religion. Apart from giving a general outline of Buddhism and its entry into China, I have also attempted to provide brief accounts on the important doctrines that the Buddha has taught, prayers that one may recite to the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas, how to become a Buddhist, and a number of interesting articles that are related to Chinese Buddhism.

    is is indeed a book of love love for the Greatly Compas-sionate Kuan Shih Yin who came so suddenly into my life in 1979 and bringing so much meaning to it. It is also written for the benefit and sustenance of our insignificant Kuan Yin Con-templative Order which has been blessed with the visits of so many wonderful Dharma teachers and friends. Finally, my very grateful thanks to my brother Nelson Wong, who is my spiritual benefactor, and my wife for her great patience with me during my nightly struggles to bring forth this book.

    K M

  • vi vii

    ontentsPreface .......................................................................................................................................................... ivAn Introduction to Buddhism ......................................................................................... 11

    art eities of hinese uddhism

    C IA Typical Chinese Monastery ......................................................................................... 21

    C IIChinese Buddhist Images ................................................................................................... 24

    C IIIe Chinese Buddhist Pantheon .................................................................................. 27Description of e Chinese Pantheon .................................................................. 27

    C IVChinese Buddhists Festive Days .................................................................................. 31

    C Ve Buddha ........................................................................................................................................... 33Who is e Buddha? ................................................................................................................. 33e Great Enlightenment ..................................................................................................... 36e Great Decease ....................................................................................................................... 40Prayers to the Buddha Sakyamuni ............................................................................. 43

    C VIAmitabha Buddha Namo O-Mi-To Fwo ............................................ 46Who is Amitabha? ....................................................................................................................... 46Method of Prayer-Recitation ........................................................................................... 48Pure Land Buddhism ................................................................................................................ 50Description of the Pure Land .......................................................................................... 52Amitabha Buddhas Festive Day ................................................................................... 58Ta-Shih-Chi Pusa ....................................................................................................................... 60

  • viii ix

    C VIIYao Shih Fwo Bhaisajyaguru Buddha .......................................................... 63

    C VIIIKuan Shih Yin Pusa Avalokitesvara Bodhisattva ......................... 71e Miao Shan Legend .......................................................................................................... 88Miao Shan Kuan Forms ........................................................................................................ 91Kuan Yin Festivals ....................................................................................................................... 92e Heart Sutra ............................................................................................................................... 95e Dharani of Great Compassion .......................................................................... 97e Mantra of Avalokitesvara ..................................................................................... 100A Prayer to Kuan Shih Yin Pusa ............................................................................ 102

    C IXWen-Shu-Shih-Li Pusa Manjusri Bodhisattva ............................. 106Manjusri in China ..................................................................................................................... 110

    C XPu Hsien Pusa Samantabhadra Bodhisattva .................................... 115

    C XITi Tsang Pusa Ksitigarbha Bodhisattva ............................................... 122Description of Ti Tsang Pusa .................................................................................... 124

    C XIIMi-Lo-Fwo Maitreya Buddha .......................................................................... 132

    C XIIIKuan Ti e Protector of Buddhism ......................................................... 139

    C XIVWei-To Pusa .................................................................................................................................... 149

    C XVTa-Mo BodhidharmaPartiarch of Zen Buddhism ........................................................................................... 152

  • viii ix

    C XVIVajrayana Tibetan Buddhism .............................................................................. 158Guru Padmasambhava ......................................................................................................... 159

    art uddhist eachingsC XVIIWhat e Buddha Taught ............................................................................................... 165e Four Noble Truths .......................................................................