Tag Archives: Japan

Kuan Yin Oracle

The Oracle of Kwan Yin
From Judika Illles [Edited]

The root of ‘divination’ is in the divine. Once upon a time, in the ancient world, it was not unusual to find divinatory services offered at temples and shrines. In other words, to put it plainly, you could expect to find some sort of fortune-teller within those sacred premises. Many journeyed to shrines to pay tribute to the resident sacred being, but also to receive advice and have their fortunes told. Oracles provide the voice of the divine.

Kwan Yin (Kuan Yin, Quan Yin, Quan Am, and Kannon) ranks among the most beloved of all sacred beings. Depending on perspective, she may be considered a goddess, a bodhisattva, a saint, or any combination of those categories. Some perceive Kwan Yin to be the Shekhina.

Adored by Buddhists, Taoists, goddess devotees, shrines and temples dedicated to Kwan Yin are found throughout East Asia and wherever Chinese people have traveled or settled. Continue reading

Kuan Yin

About Kwan Yin

Known as The Goddess of Mercy, Gentle Protector, Bodhisattva of Compassion, even the savior of seamen and fishermen, she holds many titles.

The spelling of her name varies – Kwan Yin, Kuan Yin, Quan Yin, Guanshiyin, Guanyin, Kwannon, Gwun Yam, Gun Yam, Kannon and more – but it is not so much the arrangement of letters as it is the effect that her spoken name produces on those with a Buddhist background, similar to a reaction in the West when one is speaking of the Virgin Mary. In both cases, it invokes the feeling of compassion and unconditional love. Indeed, her force is compared to Mother Mary in the West, Green Tara in the Tibetan culture, the Virgin of Guadeloupe in Mexico, and many other ancient goddesses, the matriarchy of old. You might call her the Buddhist Madonna, or, as She calls Herself, “The Mother of all Buddhas”.

By her own words, she is a complex energy presence. Thus, when asked her about her incarnations as “Kwan Yin,” this involves many persons that have embodied and reflected this energy in their lives on earth, as far as we can understand. According to Sucheta’s channelings, the closest association of Kwan Yin being linked to a person energetically in recent times is Miao Shan, an ancient Chinese princess who was known for her great compassion. Here is a quote from Kwan Yin about this: Continue reading

On Shingon

Acalanatha, the wrathful manifestation of Mahavairocana, and the principal deity invoked during the goma ritual.

Shingon Buddhism

Shingon Buddhism (真言宗 Shingon-shū) is one of the mainstream major schools of Buddhism in Japan and one of the few surviving Vajrayana lineages in East Asia, originally spread from India to China through traveling monks such as Vajrabodhi and Amoghavajra. Known in Chinese as the Tangmi, these Esoteric teachings would later flourish in Japan under the auspices of a Buddhist monk named Kūkai (空海), who traveled to Tang China to acquire and request transmission of the esoteric teachings. For that reason, it is often called Japanese Esoteric Buddhism, or Orthodox Esoteric Buddhism.

The word “Shingon” is the Japanese reading of Chinese: 真言 Zhēnyán “True Words”, which in turn is the Chinese translation of the Sanskrit word “mantra” (मन्त्र). Continue reading

Japanese Torii

The famous torii at Itsukushima Shrine, a Ryōbu-style torii.

Torii

A torii (鳥居?, lit. bird abode) is a traditional Japanese gate most commonly found at the entrance of or within a Shinto shrine, where it symbolically marks the transition from the profane to the sacred. The presence of a torii at the entrance is usually the simplest way to identify Shinto shrines, and a small torii icon represents them on Japanese road maps. They are a common sight at Japanese Buddhist temples too, where they stand at the entrance of the temple’s own shrine, called chinjusha (鎮守社?, tutelary god shrine) and are usually very small.

Their first appearance in Japan can be reliably pinpointed to at least the mid-Heian period, because they are mentioned in a text written in 922. The oldest existing stone torii was built in the 12th century and belongs to a Hachiman Shrine in Yamagata prefecture. The oldest wooden torii is a ryōbu torii at Kubō Continue reading

Way of the Kami

Japanese Religions
Chapter 3 The Way of the Kami: Shinto Then and Now

[Ise Shrine]

Let us begin at the heart of Shinto. The Ise shrine, which has been called the National Cathedral of Japan, is not located in the center of a capital ancient or modern, like St. Peter’s in Rome. Its plain wooden buildings, rustic and unpretentious by most standards, dominate a lonely site near the Pacific Ocean some 225 miles south of Tokyo, 50 from Nagoya, and not much farther from Kyoto and Nara.

Like ancient Japanese dwellings and granaries, Ise’s edifices are set off the ground on posts, the roofs are thatched, and the timber unpainted, save for gold tips on the roof beams. They are surrounded by four wooden palisades, which block easy viewing and access. Once again, the sacred in Japan, Continue reading

Shinto Deities

KURODA TOSHIO
Shinto in the History of Japanese Religion
Translated by JAMES C . DOBBINS and SUZANNE GAY

II. The Significance of Shinto Deities in the Ancient Period

In the previous section the word Shinto was analyzed to show how it was used and what it meant in ancient times. Now it is necessary to consider the institutional significance and place of kami in Japan during that period, especially as evidenced in the jingiryõ laws and in Shinto-Buddhist syncreticism.

The jingiryõ is a set of laws of ancient Japan which instituted ceremonies to the kami. Needless to say, these laws include only those rites which had state sponsorship, but they nonetheless represent a fair sampling of the ceremonies current at that time. In brief the jingiryõ laws cover the following topics: Continue reading

Sharing Shinto

KURODA TOSHIO
Shinto in the History of Japanese Religion
Translated by JAMES C . DOBBINS and SUZANNE GAY

I. Shinto in the Nihon shoki

The word Shinto is commonly taken to mean Japan’s indigenous religion and to have had that meaning from fairly early times. It is difficult, however, to find a clear-cut example of the word Shinto used in such a way in early writings. The intellectual historian Tsuda Sõkichi has studied the occurrences of the word Shinto in early Japanese literature and has divided its meaning into the following six categories:

1) “religious beliefs found in indigenous customs passed down in Japan, including superstitious beliefs”; 2) “the authority, power, activity, or deeds of a kami, the status of kami, being a kami, or the kami itself”; 3) concepts and teachings concerning kami; 4) Continue reading