dharma protectors in Zen?

dharma protectors in Zen?

Postby tomamundsen » Wed Mar 09, 2011 11:05 pm

I visited the San Francisco Zen Center this past weekend, because I happened to be in there area. I noticed what looked like a dharma protector in the Buddha hall. Here is the best image I could find on the Web - http://www.flickr.com/photos/renshin/18 ... otostream/ (The figure in question is on the right.)

Does anyone know anything about the use of dharma protectors in Zen? I thought this was solely a Vajrayana thing. (Albeit, I have seen thangkas and other tantric type stuff at other Zen centers. But this was in a rather conspicuous place to be just a little nick-nack.)
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Re: dharma protectors in Zen?

Postby Inge » Wed Mar 09, 2011 11:22 pm

I remember having seen in some of the publications from Buddhist Text Translation Society a picture of Dharma protector Wei Tuo Bodhisattva.

Some information can be found here:
http://www.cttbusa.org/wei_tuo_bodhisattva/weituo.asp
http://www.cttbusa.org/chye_lan/chyelan.asp
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Re: dharma protectors in Zen?

Postby tomamundsen » Wed Mar 09, 2011 11:31 pm

Inge wrote:I remember having seen in some of the publications from Buddhist Text Translation Society a picture of Dharma protector Wei Tuo Bodhisattva.

Some information can be found here:
http://www.cttbusa.org/wei_tuo_bodhisattva/weituo.asp
http://www.cttbusa.org/chye_lan/chyelan.asp

Oh, cool! I've never heard any mention of Dharma Protectors before in Chan/Zen. But that definitely proves it. I wonder if the CTTB people actually recite those prayers...
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Re: dharma protectors in Zen?

Postby Astus » Thu Mar 10, 2011 12:00 am

The topic Practice and Faith was intended exactly for this aspect of Zen.
"There is no such thing as the real mind. Ridding yourself of delusion: that's the real mind."
(Sheng-yen: Getting the Buddha Mind, p 73)

"Neither cultivation nor seated meditation — this is the pure Chan of Tathagata."
(Mazu Daoyi, X1321p3b23; tr. Jinhua Jia)

“Don’t rashly seek the true Buddha;
True Buddha can’t be found.
Does marvelous nature and spirit
Need tempering or refinement?
Mind is this mind carefree;
This face, the face at birth."

(Nanyue Mingzan: Enjoying the Way, tr. Jeff Shore; T2076p461b24-26)
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Re: dharma protectors in Zen?

Postby tomamundsen » Thu Mar 10, 2011 12:06 am

Astus wrote:The topic Practice and Faith was intended exactly for this aspect of Zen.

Feel free to merge the threads if you want. :group:
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Re: dharma protectors in Zen?

Postby Jikan » Thu Mar 10, 2011 1:51 am

for the specifically Japanese context, this may be useful.

http://www.onmarkproductions.com/html/12-devas.shtml

I think the image you refer to is likely of Bishamonten.
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Re: dharma protectors in Zen?

Postby Tatsuo » Thu Mar 10, 2011 10:03 am

I think this represents a Myō-ō. Either Gundari Myō-ō or Kongō Yaksha Myō-ō. But they do seem to have a Amida statue as well, which is very uncommon in Sōtō-shū. Whereas I've never seen a Amida Statue in a Zen temple before, Myō-ō statues are not necessarily uncommon in "exoteric" temples (like Statues of Fudō Myō-ō in temples of Jodo-shū (Eikan-dō Zenrin-ji) or Rinzai-shū (Kinkaku-ji)).
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Re: dharma protectors in Zen?

Postby meindzai » Thu Mar 10, 2011 3:12 pm

There is some stuff recited about Protectors of the Dharma at Zen Mountain Monastery in New York on a daily basis. There is also some shrine of a temple guardian outside the zendo in the hallway, and if I remember correctly there was something recited about once a week, where we'd all actually go into the hallway. It is the kind of thing I didn't really question much as it just seemed to fit with the ebb and flow of practice there.

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Re: dharma protectors in Zen?

Postby Indrajala » Thu Mar 10, 2011 4:17 pm

tomamundsen wrote:I visited the San Francisco Zen Center this past weekend, because I happened to be in there area. I noticed what looked like a dharma protector in the Buddha hall. Here is the best image I could find on the Web - http://www.flickr.com/photos/renshin/18 ... otostream/ (The figure in question is on the right.)

Does anyone know anything about the use of dharma protectors in Zen? I thought this was solely a Vajrayana thing. (Albeit, I have seen thangkas and other tantric type stuff at other Zen centers. But this was in a rather conspicuous place to be just a little nick-nack.)


Dharma protectors are, or at least were, universal in Japanese Buddhism. Most old temples will have larger figures representing dharma guardians at the main gates of a temple. This might serve an aesthetic purpose nowadays, but historically devotees and monks would have made offerings and prayed for protection from such guardians. This was still probably done earnestly until the 1960s or so. I think nowadays they're just there for decoration as far as most Japanese Buddhists are concerned.

In Chinese temples likewise you will find an array of guardians at the front gate and at times flanking the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas at the main shrine. That goes for Chan, too.
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Re: dharma protectors in Zen?

Postby plwk » Thu Mar 10, 2011 4:48 pm

I remember having seen in some of the publications from Buddhist Text Translation Society a picture of Dharma protector Wei Tuo Bodhisattva.
Some information can be found here:
http://www.cttbusa.org/wei_tuo_bodhisattva/weituo.asp
http://www.cttbusa.org/chye_lan/chyelan.asp

Oh, cool! I've never heard any mention of Dharma Protectors before in Chan/Zen. But that definitely proves it. I wonder if the CTTB people actually recite those prayers...
Ch'an is part of the vast Chinese Mahayana Tradition, of which CTTB, in the lineage of Guiyang/Weiyang School of Ch'an belongs to and of course they do recite it as it is part of the Chinese Mahayana morning/evening liturgies and it's all in their chanting CDs/handbook as well. I have been following their local chapter in my country since 1998. Below are samples from my worn out copy of their chanting book...see sample pic below
Image
Wei Tuo/Skanda Bodhisattva is honored in the liturgical Chinese Mahayana Morning Office where towards the ending of the morning chants, his name and title are chanted thrice with Dharani of Sri Devi (From Golden Light Sutra) and ends with a short praise. E.g here is from their translation:
Namo Dharma Guardian Wei Tuo Venerated Deva Bodhisattva (Recited thrice)
Dharani of Sri Devi (recited thrice with handbell ringing - refer here )
Sung Praise to Skanda:
Wei Tuo, Master Warrior of the Devas,
Transformation-Body Bodhisattva,
Vast and Deep Your Mighty Vows,
To Cherish and Guard the Buddha's Teaching,
Your Vajra Sword Can Quell the Demon Armies,
Merit, Virtue All Beyond Compare,
Now we pray You will be Guardian of our Minds,
Namo Universal Eye Bodhisattva Mahasattva!
Maha Prajna Paramita!
He is commemorated on every 3rd Day of the Sixth Chinese Lunar Month.

Jie Lan/Sangharama Bodhisattva is honored in the liturgical Chinese Mahayana Evening Office where towards the ending of the evening chants, his name and title are chanted thrice with the Great Compassion Dharani and ends with a short praise. In CTTB, this part is not utilised in the evening liturgy but on the Upavasatha Days of the New/Full Moon Days during the meal offering ceremony. E.g here is from their translation:
Homage to the Holy Assembly of Temple Guarding Bodhisattvas (recited thrice)
Great Compassion Dharani (recited once - refer here )
Sung Praise to Jie Lan
Lord Jie Lan,
With Awesome Powers, Brings harmony to the Temple,
Respectfully He receives the Buddha's Commands,
And with sincerity protects and upholds the City of the Dharma King,
He acts as a barricade and sentry,
So that the Way Place is forever peaceful
Homage to the Bodhisattva Mahasattva Who Protects the Dharma Treasury
Maha Prajna Paramita!
He is commemorated on the 13th Day of the 5th Chinese Lunar Month.
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Re: dharma protectors in Zen?

Postby tomamundsen » Thu Mar 10, 2011 5:23 pm

Tatsuo wrote:I think this represents a Myō-ō. Either Gundari Myō-ō or Kongō Yaksha Myō-ō. But they do seem to have a Amida statue as well, which is very uncommon in Sōtō-shū. Whereas I've never seen a Amida Statue in a Zen temple before, Myō-ō statues are not necessarily uncommon in "exoteric" temples (like Statues of Fudō Myō-ō in temples of Jodo-shū (Eikan-dō Zenrin-ji) or Rinzai-shū (Kinkaku-ji)).

Actually, the first Zen center (Soto-shu) I studied at used an Amida statue as the central altar figure.
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Re: dharma protectors in Zen?

Postby Blue Garuda » Thu Mar 10, 2011 6:58 pm

Inge wrote:I remember having seen in some of the publications from Buddhist Text Translation Society a picture of Dharma protector Wei Tuo Bodhisattva.

Some information can be found here:
http://www.cttbusa.org/wei_tuo_bodhisattva/weituo.asp
http://www.cttbusa.org/chye_lan/chyelan.asp



In the excitement about all the others, even TB people sometimes forget Vajrapani's role as a Protector of great power.
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Re: dharma protectors in Zen?

Postby Tatsuo » Thu Mar 10, 2011 10:54 pm

tomamundsen wrote:
Tatsuo wrote:I think this represents a Myo-o. Either Gundari Myo-o or Kongo Yaksha Myo-o. But they do seem to have a Amida statue as well, which is very uncommon in Soto-shu. Whereas I've never seen a Amida Statue in a Zen temple before, Myo-o statues are not necessarily uncommon in "exoteric" temples (like Statues of Fudo Myo-o in temples of Jodo-shu (Eikan-do Zenrin-ji) or Rinzai-shu (Kinkaku-ji)).

Actually, the first Zen center (Soto-shu) I studied at used an Amida statue as the central altar figure.


I just looked up the main images of large Soto temples in Japan and most temples have Kannon as their main image, followed by Shaka Nyorai, but there are in fact some temples, that do have (beside other main images) Miroku, Jizo and Amida - Eheiji for example has Shaka Nyorai, Amida, and Miroku as main images, but that is the only temple I found having a Amida statue. I guess this combination derives from the grouping of the Buddhas of the past, present and future and does not have a doctrinal foundation. So there may be Amida statues in Zen temples, but there are few temples with Amida as main image. Soto-shu states on it's website, that most of their temples have Shaka Nyorai as main image.
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Re: dharma protectors in Zen?

Postby gnegirl » Fri Mar 11, 2011 12:41 am

I remember a protector-looking thankga in the Soen temple i went to years ago.
"Things are not what they appear to be: nor are they otherwise." --Surangama Sutra

Phenomenon, vast as space, dharmata is your base, arising and falling like ocean tide cycles, why do i cling to your illusion of unceasing changlessness?
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