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Introduction to Buiddhism
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Manjushri

Manjushri

Mantra: Om wagi s(h)ware mum or Om ah rapa tsana dhi (chana)
Classification: Historical Personage and Primordial Buddha, Revealer of Kalachakra Teachings (Wheel Of Time Teachings), Bestowed 1st Kalachakra Initiation to Chilupa/Kalachakrapada.

    Manjushri, often referred to as the Bodhisattva of  divine wisdom or transcendent wisdom, plays a major role in the spiritual path to enlightenment.  Manjushri is the considered to be one of the oldest and most important Bodhisattvas.  To most Buddhists, Manjushri exemplifies the characteristics of intelligence, memory, and wisdom. He is described as being a boy of approximately 16 years of age, this is to convey the idea that wisdom is not in itself experience or age.  Wisdom is using the characteristics of Manjushri to see or become enlightened, in a sense, to  the correct view or action. 

Bodhisattvas

     Bodhisattvas are people which have obtained enlightenment, insight into reality, but still remain in the physical world.  The Bodhisattvas remain in the physical world for one reason, to help guide people in the quest for enlightenment.  What bodhisattva translates into is enlightened being, or one who is destined to become a buddha.  To become a buddha, the person undergoes a bodhisattva path which you must exhibit unending compassion, named karuna.  The person also makes a bodhisattva vow which states that he or she will finally be liberated after everyone else has achieved bodhi, or enlightenment. Most bodhisattva's are depicted as having very stretched out or elongated ears and earlobes.  They are also depicted as having a rectangular shaped patch of hair on their foreheads, called urna. 

Physical Description

    In most paintings, Manjushri is depicted to be a young prince (estimated to be about 16 years old) with one head and two arms.  In the right arm he holds a sword that is either spattered with blood or has a  flaming tip.  In his left hand he holds a lotus flower which is opened to a passage of the dharma pertaining to wisdom. He often times is draped in precious necklaces, chains, and stones.  On his head, he has a crown which is almost always seen as showing his great power.  He also usually has his hands positioned in front of his heart, which many believe is to be a teaching position. 

The Sword    

    This double-edged sword, sometimes referred to as the sword of wisdom, is believed to be used to cut through delusion and ignorance and allows wisdom to shine through and show the correct view or beneficial action that must be taken by someone on the spiritual path to enlightenment.  The sword itself is a symbol to show that his wisdom, divine wisdom, in itself is a sharp and dangerous as a sword, and the one who understands it's power is truly an enlightened will.

The Lotus

    In his left hand he holds the stem of a blue utpula lotus blossom.  If you follow the lotus up it holds in it's grasp a volume of the Prajna-paramita sutra or book.  In some pictures the book is open to a passage that deals with the realization and true understanding of wisdom.  Some believe that the book represents the idea that one may help rid himself or herself of ignorance by increasing his or her knowledge or intelligence.

 

Interesting Facts

* Regarded as the first divine teacher of the Buddhist doctrine

* He is also known as Jampel

* First appeared in the 1st Century

* Was originally the spokesman for the historical Buddha Sakyamuni

* Appears at the moment of enlightenment

* Wisdom is sometimes considered the mother of all Buddhas because it is considered one of the most        important characteristics of ones self

* The first day of the year is dedicated to Manjushri

* Considered as God of many areas of life by different sects they include:

        (a) Agriculture

        (b) Celestial Architect

        (c) Science

        (d) Wisdom

        (e) Intelligence

* He is often depicted riding a lion.  This is believed to symbolize his strength.

* Manjushri's mantra is:

         OM WAGI SHORI MUM - This translates into Lord of speech, Mum

Kalachakra Connection

Controversy

The Kalachakra Tantra has occasionally been a source of controversy in the west because the text contains passages which may be interpreted as demonizing Islam. This is principally because it contains the prophecy of a holy war between Buddhists and so-called "barbarians" (Skt. mleccha). One passage of the Kalachakra (Shri Kalachakra I. 161) reads, "The Chakravartin shall come out at the end of the age, from the city the gods fashioned on Mount Kailasa. He shall smite the barbarians in battle with his own four-division army, on the entire surface of the earth."

Though the Kalachakra prophesies a future religious war, this appears in conflict with the vows of Mahayana and Theravada Buddhist teachings that prohibit violence. According to Alexander Berzin, the Kalachakra is not advocating violence against people but rather against inner mental and emotional aggression that results in intolerance, hatred, violence and war. Fifteenth century Gelug commentor Kaydrubjey interprets "holy war" symbolically, teaching that it mainly refers to the inner battle of the religious practitioner against inner demonic and barbarian tendencies. This is the solution to violence, since according to the Kalachakra the outer conditions depend on the inner condition of the mindstreams of beings. Viewed that way, the prophesied war takes place in the mind and emotions. It depicts the transformation of the archaic mentality of violence in the name of religion and ideology into sublime moral power, insight and spiritual wisdom.[9]

Tantric iconography including sharp weapons, shields, and corpses similarly appears in conflict with those tenets of non-violence but instead represent the transmutation of aggression into a method for overcoming illusion and ego. Both Kalachakra and his dharmapala protector Vajravega hold a sword and shield in their paired second right and left hands. This is an expression of the Buddha's triumph over the attack of Mara and his protection of all sentient beings.[10] Symbolism researcher Robert Beer writes the following about tantric iconography of weapons and mentions the charnel ground:

 

Many of these weapons and implements have their origins in the wrathful arena of the battlefield and the funereal realm of the charnal grounds. As primal images of destruction, slaughter, sacrifice, and necromancy these weapons were wrested from the hands of the evil and turned - as symbols - against the ultimate root of evil, the self-cherishing conceptual identity that gives rise to the five poisons of ignorance, desire, hatred, pride, and jealousy. In the hands of siddhas, dakinis, wrathful and semi-wrathful yidam deities, protective deities or dharmapalas these implements became pure symbols, weapons of transformation, and an expression of the deities' wrathful compassion which mercilessly destroys the manifold illusions of the inflated human ego.[11]

This prophecy could also be understood to refer in part to the Islamic incursions into central Asia and India which deliberately destroyed the Buddhist religion in those regions. The prophecy includes detailed descriptions of the future invaders as well as suggested (non-violent) ways for the Buddhist teachings to survive these onslaughts.[12][13]

One interpretation of Buddhist teachings that portray military conflict - such as elements of the Kalachakra Tantra and the Gesar Epic - is that they may be taught for the sake of those who possess a karmic tendency towards militancy, for the purpose of taming their minds.[who?] The passages of the Kalachakra that address religious warfare can be viewed as teachings to turn away from any religious justification of war and violence, and to embrace the precepts of love and compassion.

Another portion of the Kalachakra teachings describes women in a very negative way. In his teaching of the Kalachakra in Illinois in 1999, the Dalai Lama even paused in his rendition of the teachings to almost apologize for the seeming harshness of the text regarding women and noted that this part was directed to monks who should avoid women. Further controversy, especially in the West, centers on the sexual dimension of the teachings and the graphic representation of the united couple in Kalachakra paintings. The ecstatic state of sexual union is an elementary part of the Kalachakra practice but all are warned against this actual practice because base human factors can so easily enter what should be a pure practice.

 

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