Belief in Kannon (Documentary)

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Belief in Kannon (Documentary)

Postby Losal Samten » Tue Sep 13, 2016 1:49 pm

This is a film from the Core Kyoto series made by NHK which examines the beliefs, practices and culture surrounding the Goddess of Mercy Kannon in Japan.

Kannon, known as Kuan Yin in China, and Avalokiteshvara in India, is a popular Bodhisattva who is believed to listen to people’s pleas and come to their help whenever she is called upon.

The film describes the history and introduction of Kannon worship, the sūtra connected with her cult, and looks at some of the beautiful art works she has inspired in the temples around Kyoto.

We also see the recently revived 33-Kannon statue pilgrimage, visiting some of the most important temples in Kyoto, and hear from some of the leading priests associated with the worship.


phpBB [video]
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Re: Belief in Kannon (Documentary)

Postby Queequeg » Wed Sep 14, 2016 4:07 am

Cool.

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Re: Belief in Kannon (Documentary)

Postby Luke » Wed Oct 12, 2016 12:42 am

The temples and statues shown in the documentary are very pretty, but to me this video just underscored the huge divide between Asian lay Buddhists who mostly just do devotional practices such as the man in the video did and western lay Buddhists who mostly value meditation and philosophy over simple devotional practices.

Do any Buddhist sutras talk about the value of making pilgrimages to many different statues and temples of a Buddhist deity?
Or is all of this mainly just a type of Asian folk belief which isn't supported by any teachings from any sutra?

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Re: Belief in Kannon (Documentary)

Postby AlexMcLeod » Wed Oct 12, 2016 12:58 am

Luke wrote:Do any Buddhist sutras talk about the value of making pilgrimages to many different statues and temples of a Buddhist deity?
Or is all of this mainly just a type of Asian folk belief which isn't supported by any teachings from any sutra?

Speaking as a westerner that has trained extensively in refining the body's energy in order to improve the mind, if I have the chance to visit a statue of Kuan Shi Yin Pu Sa or the Buddha, I do.

Not because of some obscure value to making pilgrimages, but because I can directly feel the influence the statue's presence has on myself, both body, energy field and mind.
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Re: Belief in Kannon (Documentary)

Postby Fortyeightvows » Wed Oct 12, 2016 1:07 am

Luke wrote:this video just underscored the huge divide between Asian lay Buddhists who mostly just do devotional practices such as the man in the video did and western lay Buddhists who mostly value meditation and philosophy over simple devotional practices.

These are generalizations.

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Re: Belief in Kannon (Documentary)

Postby Admin_PC » Wed Oct 12, 2016 2:29 am

Luke wrote:Do any Buddhist sutras talk about the value of making pilgrimages to many different statues and temples of a Buddhist deity?
Or is all of this mainly just a type of Asian folk belief which isn't supported by any teachings from any sutra?

Tons of sutras talk about paying homage and making offerings. The Lotus Sutra talks about paying homage before a stupa, the Medicine Buddha Sutra talks about making offerings to a sutra, making offerings to countless Buddhas shows up in the Pure Land sutras, etc. There were pilgrimage spots in ancient India, including Lumbini and the Great Stupa of Sanchi. There were also giant statues in ancient India, mentioned in Faxian's travelog, and still seen fairly recently as in the case of the Bamiyan Buddhas.

I think what this points out is that western Buddhists don't quite yet understand the ideas behind these offerings & making pilgrimage.
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Re: Belief in Kannon (Documentary)

Postby Queequeg » Wed Oct 12, 2016 4:17 am

Luke wrote:The temples and statues shown in the documentary are very pretty, but to me this video just underscored the huge divide between Asian lay Buddhists who mostly just do devotional practices such as the man in the video did and western lay Buddhists who mostly value meditation and philosophy over simple devotional practices.

Do any Buddhist sutras talk about the value of making pilgrimages to many different statues and temples of a Buddhist deity?
Or is all of this mainly just a type of Asian folk belief which isn't supported by any teachings from any sutra?

Mahaparinibbana Sutta (the Nikaya, not the Mahayana) includes the Buddha's instructions to divide his relics and build stupas at major crossroads, which along with the places of his birth, awakening, first turning, and parinirvana can be pilgrimage sites to inspire the assembly.

If you've never done pilgrimage, it might be worth your while. Doesn't have to be in Asia. For instance, major Western cities have enough Buddhist temples that you could probably string together a walking route to visit several in a day. Maintain mindfulness of Buddha while walking. You might be surprised at the effect.

Different tradition but check out the movie The Way.
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Re: Belief in Kannon (Documentary)

Postby amanitamusc » Wed Oct 12, 2016 7:33 am

Queequeg wrote:
Luke wrote:The temples and statues shown in the documentary are very pretty, but to me this video just underscored the huge divide between Asian lay Buddhists who mostly just do devotional practices such as the man in the video did and western lay Buddhists who mostly value meditation and philosophy over simple devotional practices.

Do any Buddhist sutras talk about the value of making pilgrimages to many different statues and temples of a Buddhist deity?
Or is all of this mainly just a type of Asian folk belief which isn't supported by any teachings from any sutra?

Mahaparinibbana Sutta (the Nikaya, not the Mahayana) includes the Buddha's instructions to divide his relics and build stupas at major crossroads, which along with the places of his birth, awakening, first turning, and parinirvana can be pilgrimage sites to inspire the assembly.

If you've never done pilgrimage, it might be worth your while. Doesn't have to be in Asia. For instance, major Western cities have enough Buddhist temples that you could probably string together a walking route to visit several in a day. Maintain mindfulness of Buddha while walking. You might be surprised at the effect.

Different tradition but check out the movie The Way.


Another tradition from Thoreau called Walking. His pilgramage was nature .

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Re: Belief in Kannon (Documentary)

Postby Kim O'Hara » Wed Oct 12, 2016 8:56 am

Nice video - thanks for posting. There are a few odd word-choices in the voice-over, particularly 'God' for Kannon, but I guess they were trying to find the closest term a non-Buddhist non-Japanese person might recognise.

As for pilgrimages ... Catholics have been doing them for a thousand years and I don't recall them being advocated in the Bible. People are still doing the Camino de Santiago http://santiago-compostela.net and you have to believe they take it very seriously. You don't walk 500 miles on a whim!
So pilgrimages obviously meet a widely-felt need, whether they have scriptural foundations or not.

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Re: Belief in Kannon (Documentary)

Postby Coëmgenu » Wed Oct 12, 2016 11:25 am

Fortyeightvows wrote:
Luke wrote:this video just underscored the huge divide between Asian lay Buddhists who mostly just do devotional practices such as the man in the video did and western lay Buddhists who mostly value meditation and philosophy over simple devotional practices.

These are generalizations.
This is a common stereotype in the West that has its origins in Protestant anti-Catholic polemic that has traditionally dominated the imperial cultures of Britain and America, and been exported throughout the world. This is how a Protestant accuses as Catholic of having no faith: "they just bow to statues, their faith isn't based in the bible/sutras". It is always interesting too see it when it suddenly pops up in Buddhism, occasionally accompanied by the latent text-centric notion that the sutras=the dharma, which is a holdover from Reformation hermeneutics concerning the Bible.
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Re: Belief in Kannon (Documentary)

Postby Luke » Wed Oct 12, 2016 3:05 pm

Fortyeightvows wrote:
Luke wrote:this video just underscored the huge divide between Asian lay Buddhists who mostly just do devotional practices such as the man in the video did and western lay Buddhists who mostly value meditation and philosophy over simple devotional practices.

These are generalizations.

Yes, they are, but they are also very real trends.
The majority of westerners are interested in the Buddhist traditions which focus on meditation (Tibetan, Zen, and Vipassana). Those westerners who practice more "devotional" forms of Buddhism, such as Pure Land or Nichiren, are still in the minority.

Admin_PC wrote:Tons of sutras talk about paying homage and making offerings. The Lotus Sutra talks about paying homage before a stupa, the Medicine Buddha Sutra talks about making offerings to a sutra, making offerings to countless Buddhas shows up in the Pure Land sutras, etc. There were pilgrimage spots in ancient India, including Lumbini and the Great Stupa of Sanchi. There were also giant statues in ancient India, mentioned in Faxian's travelog, and still seen fairly recently as in the case of the Bamiyan Buddhas.

Thanks for the info! :) :namaste:

Admin_PC wrote:I think what this points out is that western Buddhists don't quite yet understand the ideas behind these offerings & making pilgrimage.

Yes, I think this is very true. I am trying to learn more, but I am not there yet. I am most definitely not a "Stephen Batchelor"-style anti-traditional, anti-supernatural Buddhist, but I still am going through my own process of sorting out sense from nonsense.

Queequeg wrote:Mahaparinibbana Sutta (the Nikaya, not the Mahayana) includes the Buddha's instructions to divide his relics and build stupas at major crossroads, which along with the places of his birth, awakening, first turning, and parinirvana can be pilgrimage sites to inspire the assembly.

Ah, interesting.

Queequeg wrote:If you've never done pilgrimage, it might be worth your while. Doesn't have to be in Asia. For instance, major Western cities have enough Buddhist temples that you could probably string together a walking route to visit several in a day. Maintain mindfulness of Buddha while walking. You might be surprised at the effect.

I have done a pilgrimage once in China, but so many obstacles came up during the trip (I got a bit sick, other people in my group got sick, I was annoyed with some people in my tour group, there were some big problems/setbacks during the trip, etc.) that I wasn't able to fully focus on and enjoy the holy sites we visited. Someday I should go on another pilgrimage either alone or with just 1 or 2 Buddhist friends, which might make things easier.

Kim O'Hara wrote:As for pilgrimages ... Catholics have been doing them for a thousand years and I don't recall them being advocated in the Bible. People are still doing the Camino de Santiago http://santiago-compostela.net and you have to believe they take it very seriously. You don't walk 500 miles on a whim!
So pilgrimages obviously meet a widely-felt need, whether they have scriptural foundations or not.

Animal sacrifices have also been practiced by many different religions in many different cultures, so they also met a widely-felt need! :P lol

I don't find the fact that many Catholics do an activity as good evidence that the activity is sensible! XD lol

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Re: Belief in Kannon (Documentary)

Postby Luke » Wed Oct 12, 2016 3:08 pm

Coëmgenu wrote:This is a common stereotype in the West that has its origins in Protestant anti-Catholic polemic that has traditionally dominated the imperial cultures of Britain and America, and been exported throughout the world. This is how a Protestant accuses as Catholic of having no faith: "they just bow to statues, their faith isn't based in the bible/sutras". It is always interesting too see it when it suddenly pops up in Buddhism, occasionally accompanied by the latent text-centric notion that the sutras=the dharma, which is a holdover from Reformation hermeneutics concerning the Bible.

You make an interesting point; however, for most of my life, I tried so hard to avoid western history courses and read so much about Asian history on my own that I didn't even know what the Reformation was until about 2 years ago! xd hehe

I may have indirectly been influenced by some of the things you mentioned while growing up in the U.S., but if so, it was never conscious on my part.

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Re: Belief in Kannon (Documentary)

Postby Sentient Light » Wed Oct 12, 2016 6:56 pm

Luke wrote:Yes, they are, but they are also very real trends.
The majority of westerners are interested in the Buddhist traditions which focus on meditation (Tibetan, Zen, and Vipassana). Those westerners who practice more "devotional" forms of Buddhism, such as Pure Land or Nichiren, are still in the minority.


But one thing is that all those traditons: Tibetan, Zen, Theravada... they *do* have devotional components that are a core part of the practice, even if it gets glossed over to westerners. There are even Pali scriptures that encourage giving offerings to hungry ghosts and yakshas, and this is generally still practiced in all Theravadin-dominant nations today. However, because the purpose of giving offerings is difficult to explain to westerners in an agreeable way, it gets stripped out.

This is also why there is a perception that certain practices are "devotional" while certain practices are "meditation." That's a ridiculous dichotomy if one understands the dharma and why certain the practices are encouraged in the sutras--it is all about the mind and cultivating the mind toward certain tendencies. The giving of offerings, for instance, is more about cultivating a mind of benevolence than an actual literal benefit from the giving itself. The Ksitigarbha Sutra states that when we give offerings to ghosts, that the dead receive only one-seventh of the merit of that offering. Most of the merit of any benevolent action is more about merit for one's own mind. It is about harnessing the power of karma and the way that results manifest within the mind in order to transform the mind toward a more wholesome and benevolent state.

These practices are present in all Buddhism, all traditions. Any view of a lack of "devotional practices" within certain traditions is one stemmed directly from misconceptions.
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Re: Belief in Kannon (Documentary)

Postby Queequeg » Wed Oct 12, 2016 7:35 pm

Luke wrote:I have done a pilgrimage once in China, but so many obstacles came up during the trip (I got a bit sick, other people in my group got sick, I was annoyed with some people in my tour group, there were some big problems/setbacks during the trip, etc.) that I wasn't able to fully focus on and enjoy the holy sites we visited. Someday I should go on another pilgrimage either alone or with just 1 or 2 Buddhist friends, which might make things easier.


Obstacles and hardships are implicitly part of the deal. These are opportunities to demonstrate effort and devotion. Pilgrimage aint supposed to be a relaxing trip to the spa. It may not even be inspiring. The trip might even be awful.

The idea behind pilgrimage is that from the moment you set out, all thoughts, words, and deeds are offerings. In my experience, ideally, what you get in return is the the experience of being out of your daily routine, out of your familiar comfort zones, out of your habits, and this is where the real you starts to come out. Ideally, by the time you reach the final pilgrimage site, you're too exhausted to keep up pretensions and maintain vanities. You are stripped down and exposed before the Buddha you traveled to see. Often, the final offering is anticlimactic. Light some incense, recite some liturgy. Time to head home.
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Re: Belief in Kannon (Documentary)

Postby Queequeg » Wed Oct 12, 2016 7:37 pm

Sentient Light wrote:This is also why there is a perception that certain practices are "devotional" while certain practices are "meditation." That's a ridiculous dichotomy if one understands the dharma and why certain the practices are encouraged in the sutras--it is all about the mind and cultivating the mind toward certain tendencies. The giving of offerings, for instance, is more about cultivating a mind of benevolence than an actual literal benefit from the giving itself. The Ksitigarbha Sutra states that when we give offerings to ghosts, that the dead receive only one-seventh of the merit of that offering. Most of the merit of any benevolent action is more about merit for one's own mind. It is about harnessing the power of karma and the way that results manifest within the mind in order to transform the mind toward a more wholesome and benevolent state.

Well said.
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Re: Belief in Kannon (Documentary)

Postby Luke » Wed Oct 12, 2016 10:20 pm

Sentient Light wrote:But one thing is that all those traditons: Tibetan, Zen, Theravada... they *do* have devotional components that are a core part of the practice, even if it gets glossed over to westerners. There are even Pali scriptures that encourage giving offerings to hungry ghosts and yakshas, and this is generally still practiced in all Theravadin-dominant nations today.

Yes, I agree that they each have devotional components. Those practices are great and I am not against any of them.


Sentient Light wrote:It is about harnessing the power of karma and the way that results manifest within the mind in order to transform the mind toward a more wholesome and benevolent state.

That's interesting, and I will have to think more about that.

I will refine my thoughts a bit: I am not against devotional practices, but I guess I just feel somewhat annoyed with the Asian Buddhists who only do devotional practices and who have no interest in meditation or Buddhist philosophy. The Japanese man in the video who had done this pilgrimage many times perhaps is very kind and has a pure heart, but what really annoys me are those Asian Buddhists who just go to temples to pray for money and worldly things, which seems to me to have nothing at all to do with Buddhism!

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Re: Belief in Kannon (Documentary)

Postby Queequeg » Wed Oct 12, 2016 10:30 pm

Luke wrote:I will refine my thoughts a bit: I am not against devotional practices, but I guess I just feel somewhat annoyed with the Asian Buddhists who only do devotional practices and who have no interest in meditation or Buddhist philosophy. The Japanese man in the video who had done this pilgrimage many times perhaps is very kind and has a pure heart, but what really annoys me are those Asian Buddhists who just go to temples to pray for money and worldly things, which seems to me to have nothing at all to do with Buddhism!


Funny. Westerners who get all judgy about what Buddhism actually is annoy me. :shrug:

Actually, not really. The thought is too taxing. Like getting worked up over a blow fly.

:rolling:

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Re: Belief in Kannon (Documentary)

Postby Kim O'Hara » Wed Oct 12, 2016 11:01 pm

Luke wrote:I will refine my thoughts a bit: I am not against devotional practices, but I guess I just feel somewhat annoyed with the Asian Buddhists who only do devotional practices and who have no interest in meditation or Buddhist philosophy. The Japanese man in the video who had done this pilgrimage many times perhaps is very kind and has a pure heart, but what really annoys me are those Asian Buddhists who just go to temples to pray for money and worldly things, which seems to me to have nothing at all to do with Buddhism!

Does their practice directly affect yours? Of course not.
You might find it worthwhile to think about just why you you find them 'annoying'.

:thinking:
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Re: Belief in Kannon (Documentary)

Postby Admin_PC » Wed Oct 12, 2016 11:13 pm

Luke wrote:I will refine my thoughts a bit: I am not against devotional practices, but I guess I just feel somewhat annoyed with the Asian Buddhists who only do devotional practices and who have no interest in meditation or Buddhist philosophy.

No offense, but I think the fact that you still see a dichotomy between the two shows very clearly that you haven't quite "got it" yet. The devotional practices are a form of meditation, particularly Buddhānussaṭi (Skt. Buddhanusmrti), Dhammānussati (Skt. Dharmanusmrti), and Saṅghānussati (Skt. Sanghanusmrti) - all 3 of which are taught in all forms of Buddhism. The devotional practices are all also based on Right View & used to convey it (sometimes as an expression of skillful means), which is the entire point of studying the philosophy.
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Re: Belief in Kannon (Documentary)

Postby rory » Sun Oct 16, 2016 4:46 am

Luke wrote:
I will refine my thoughts a bit: I am not against devotional practices, but I guess I just feel somewhat annoyed with the Asian Buddhists who only do devotional practices and who have no interest in meditation or Buddhist philosophy.


Listen I totally get what you are saying as I believed and said the very same things for approx 15 years (I was a Buddhist at 16) then facing up to the hard truth that I wasn't getting anywhere and worrying about my birth I entered the Pure Land gate and went to a Jodo Shinshu temple. I then immersed myself in reading the classic Pure Land works by Chih-I and Ou-Yi and ones written by modern Vietnamese monks such as Buddhism of Wisdom and Faiththat were made available from the YMBA. Was I humbled realizing how wrong and arrogant I had been.

One more thing the idea that we Buddhists shouldn't pray for worldly benefits is terribly Christian, it's not found in Buddhist culture, I suggest you read the excellent book : Practically Religious University of Hawa'ii Press, Tanabe, Reader
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Chih-I:
The Tai-ching states "the women in the realms of Mara, Sakra and Brahma all neither abandoned ( their old) bodies nor received (new) bodies. They all received buddhahood with their current bodies (genshin)" Thus these verses state that the dharma nature is like a great ocean. No right or wrong is preached (within it) Ordinary people and sages are equal, without superiority or inferiority
Paul, Groner "The Lotus Sutra in Japanese Culture"eds. Tanabe p. 58


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