For my 42nd post, I will introduce myself which has been long overdue.
I am ethnically Chinese but identify more as Cantonese as I do not speak Mandarin (nor can I really read Chinese). Since I was a small kid, I frequently visited Chinese Pure Land (and then Chan) temples in Manhattan's Chinatown by Mott and Canal Streets with my grandparents. The temple visits were to beseech Kuan Yin to aid my brother who was afflicted with asthma. But my first introduction was the 1986 CCTV television adaptation of Journey to West, which told of the exploits of Tang monk Xuanzhang and the Monkey King Sun Wukong, in Cantonese, though my mom and dad also read me from some of the picture books beforehand. The show introduced me to aforementioned Kuan Yin and a mysterious and somewhat "different" figure whom the Monkey King cannot escape from the palm of (who was in fact Shakyamuni Buddha).
With that said Japanese culture has long been an influence on my life. At 3-4 years old, I remember watching Voltron: Defenders of the Universe (GoLion) and later a Cantonese dub of Doraemon, By age 6 maybe, I saw my first kaiju movie, Godzilla's Revenge (All Monsters Attack). A year or so afterwards, I saw the most amazing spectacle on my television screen: having discovered Pro Wrestling at age 4, there was nobody on the WWF whom I can identify with but then around 1989 on WCW, the amazing aerial assault of the Great Muta (Keiji Mutoh) caught my imagination. In time, my parents purchased my first video game console, the Nintendo Entertainment System with Super Mario Brothers (and Duck Hunt I guess). With video games, came the monthly magazines such as Electronic Gaming Monthly which introduced me to the first three anime I knew about in ways that were innovative compared to the droll programing on my TV: Ranma 1/2, Dragon Ball Z, Pretty Soldier Sailor Moon. I have been hooked onto the genre since then. In High School, I got sick of watching stuff like Scott Hall electrocuting Bill Goldberg on my television set, played some No Mercy on my Nintendo 64, and learned about a more athletic, innovative Pro Wrestling in Japan (Puroresu) where guys like my childhood hero Muta roamed. In college, a great warrior named Kazushi Sakuraba defended said Pro Wrestling and defeated the Gracie Jiu-jitsu family single-highhandedly at the time in the then-growing sport of Mixed Martial Arts and thus cementing my longstanding love with Japanese Kakutougi (combat sports). Where is this story going - why to Japanese Buddhism of course.
Going back to the subject of anime, it seemed odd to me when I watched my first few series that the "Zen" priests on the shows seemed so "unzenlike" due to the fact that the American education system only teaches about Zen as a Mahayana school in Social Studies courses. Also, I thought Pure Land Buddhism was a Chinese aberration in the Buddhist world with its conservative dictates (which I did not know were actually influences by Neo-Confucianism and not part of the core teachings). Despite the current political conditions between China and Japan, I can't help but continue to like what I like. Maybe I am just too attached to it.
I have since visited numerous Buddhist temples throughout New York State. They include:
- The New York Buddhist Church (Jodo Shinshu)
- Wat Buddha Thai Thavorn Vanaram (Thai Maha Nikaya)
- IBPS New York (Fo Guang Shan)
I think I even visited a big Chinese one upstate when I was on a summer vacation. In addition, Trongsa Fortress monks of the Drukpa school have bestowed me with their public dances around Manhattan a few years back.
My major goal on here is to learn as much as possible on the Ten Schools of Chinese Buddhism and Thirteen Schools of Japanese Buddhism as scholars have classified them as such:
Ten Schools of Chinese Buddhism-
07) Vinaya School
10) Pure Land
Thirteen Schools of Japanese Buddhism-
01) Hosso Shu
02) Kegon Shu
06) Yuzu Nembetsu Shu
07) Jodo Shu
08) Rinzai Zen
09) Jodo Shinshu
10) Soto Zen
13) Obaku Zen
In the future, when I return to Guangdong/Macau/Hong Kong vicinity on vacation I hope to visit numerous temples. It would be helpful if someone could tell me of a site (in English, though I can wing some Spanish) which is a tour guide of holy Buddhist places in the region as that would be awesome.