Guanyin-centric practice

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Sko
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Guanyin-centric practice

Post by Sko » Sun Jul 14, 2019 6:27 pm

Hey y’all. I find myself more and more devoted to Guanyin (or whichever romanized monicker you know her by) the longer I practice. I’m not entirely sure why; perhaps there’s something to be said for the power behind her ubiquitous compassion, or the role her merits have played in my life and others’ lives around me. Or maybe it’s just because I prefer female iconography over male iconography. That’s something to unpack on its own entirely.

I’ve been practicing on and off for a number of years now, however my brain problems make it difficult for me to feel comfortable in anything other than solitary practice. I’m not attached to any sangha in my area and frankly I’ve been too nervous to venture out and discover what a daily buddhist practice may look like, so I don’t exactly have the interpersonal resources for guidance on how to curate my daily practice according to my beliefs and needs. What I do know is that I want to see have more of Her in my life.

I’ve read some of the literature that Guanyincitta provides, however I’m not a fan of what the organization roots its practice in. It’s been helpful in showing me what is an effective itinerary for buddhist recitations and their uses, but I’m too uneducated to distinguish fact from fiction.

For example, it’s suggested to recite the Great Compassion Mantra, Heart Sutra, Eighty-Eight Buddhas Great Repentance, and Cundi Dharani a certain number of times a day. I vaguely recognize this as a common practice, but what I would like to know is if they have it right. Do these recitations specifically invoke Her merits, or is this a basic practice that must be supplemented if I were to have a specific Bodhisattva in mind? Is it even possible to have a Guanyin-centric practice?

As an aside, in my research I’ve also found it difficult to find practices specific to Her that don’t syncretize pagan-ish Goddess worship with a slap-dash smattering of Buddhish prayers. I am interested in Goddess worship, however I don’t want to disrespect Her name by appropriating practices willy-nilly, regardless of doctrinal or cultural cohesion. Not to say non-Buddhist prayers to Guanyin rub me the wrong way, they just kind of fall flat in my ear as for the invocation of her powers.

If you have any advice on or experiences with worshipping Guanyin as a central or essential practice, I’m all ears. I’m also, obviously, in need of some education about what kind of daily recitations to practice normally anyway.

I’m grateful for your time and energy in considering my inquiry.

FiveSkandhas
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Re: Guanyin-centric practice

Post by FiveSkandhas » Mon Jul 15, 2019 1:12 am

Sensoji, the oldest temple in Tokyo, split from the Tendai sect and now calls itself the Sho-Kanzeon sect. The central Honzon is a hidden statue of Sho-Kannon-sama.

Their theology is hard to find resources on but is definitely Kannon-centric. In Japan at least there is also a difference between “shu” (宗), or sect, and “Shinko” (信仰),which might be translated as “faith” or “devotion” to a specific being. So there at least, you could opt for a specific sect devoted to Kannon-sama, or you could choose Kannon-centric devotionalism under other rubrics.

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well wisher
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Re: Guanyin-centric practice

Post by well wisher » Mon Jul 15, 2019 3:05 am

Guanyin Bodhisattva is popular for good reasons, as compassion is very central to the teachings of Buddhism.
As for specific practices My own father (and previously my grandma who had passed away), bows to home Altar with a Guan yin wooden statue, when they wake up each morning.
As for practices, there are many forms like you mentioned, including Guanyin name recital, compassionate sutra recitals, etc. One of the starter practice is to focus reading the Sutra while trying to avoid wandering thoughts, focus on the words one by one without trying to skip or going too fast, at a comfortable pace. Perseverance and diligence is key, and the more often you practice, the great the beneficial effects will be.
As for my own experiences, I do feel more focused and with less worried after repeated recitals of Guayin names or Sutra, it truly works in a profound way. My father (and maybe even several Buddhist monks) has said that Guanyin Bodhisattva is one of the Bodhisattva with the closest connection to our current human world, Earth / Saha world.

It is not really paganish if you do not think it is, and it is actually accepted as mainstream practice in many eastern Asia countries.
Also I recommend that you take note about Buddhism's notion of non-duality, including notions about gender.
Yes, many regards Guanyin like a Goddess, but historically there has been androgynous statues of Guanyin, even male versions too. But in the end, gender is trivial (not too important) in higher realms of realizations, when gone beyond the notions of duality.
Also if you didn't know already, Avalokiteśvara is the Sanskrit name of the Guanyin Boddhisattav. It is worthwhile to search up the internet and learn about it as well.

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Sko
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Re: Guanyin-centric practice

Post by Sko » Mon Jul 15, 2019 6:42 am

FiveSkandhas wrote:
Mon Jul 15, 2019 1:12 am
Sensoji, the oldest temple in Tokyo, split from the Tendai sect and now calls itself the Sho-Kanzeon sect. The central Honzon is a hidden statue of Sho-Kannon-sama.

Their theology is hard to find resources on but is definitely Kannon-centric. In Japan at least there is also a difference between “shu” (宗), or sect, and “Shinko” (信仰),which might be translated as “faith” or “devotion” to a specific being. So there at least, you could opt for a specific sect devoted to Kannon-sama, or you could choose Kannon-centric devotionalism under other rubrics.
I really appreciate this incredibly niche yet relevant information! I wouldn’t’ve learned of this otherwise, so your direction has been very helpful. Thank you very much.
well wisher wrote:
Mon Jul 15, 2019 3:05 am
As for specific practices My own father (and previously my grandma who had passed away), bows to home Altar with a Guan yin wooden statue, when they wake up each morning.
As for practices, there are many forms like you mentioned, including Guanyin name recital, compassionate sutra recitals, etc. One of the starter practice is to focus reading the Sutra while trying to avoid wandering thoughts, focus on the words one by one without trying to skip or going too fast, at a comfortable pace. Perseverance and diligence is key, and the more often you practice, the great the beneficial effects will be.
Thank you for sharing your familial experiences with me! Do you have any specific sutras in mind that would be beneficial for my daily practice? As someone who reads fast, far too often skips ahead, and reads out of order due to ADHD I can only imagine how I might benefit from this.
well wisher wrote:
Mon Jul 15, 2019 3:05 am
It is not really paganish if you do not think it is, and it is actually accepted as mainstream practice in many eastern Asia countries.
I find it hard for myself, as someone whose heritage derives exclusively from “western” countries, to be able to distinguish culturally authentic and mainstream practices of various eastern Asian cultures from people like me who have only a basic understanding of the theogical and cultural role She plays.
well wisher wrote:
Mon Jul 15, 2019 3:05 am
Also I recommend that you take note about Buddhism's notion of non-duality, including notions about gender.
Yes, many regards Guanyin like a Goddess, but historically there has been androgynous statues of Guanyin, even male versions too. But in the end, gender is trivial (not too important) in higher realms of realizations, when gone beyond the notions of duality.
I appreciate the reminder, although I feel it’s worthwhile to remain politically engaged in things that may only exist “conventionally”. Centering women in my life is a political choice. In my experience, to act only according to śūnyatā is to remain complicit and ignorant of the historical contexts which bring many structural sufferings to fruition, suffering which may not be cured only by inter- or intra-personal transcendental wisdom.

The working class are still exploited regardless of our suffering of it, women as a class are still suppressed with male violence and domination, and regardless of the ultimate reality of it white supremacy is still a scourge that needs to be struck from the earth. Similarly, despite however much gender may be empty, I will still remain a lesbian. These choices are arbitrary, they force me to remain in a suffering mindset, but I can’t aid the pursuit of the cessation of the suffering of all living beings by choosing to ignore the very much “real” (conventional or ultimate) experiences they have.

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rory
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Re: Guanyin-centric practice

Post by rory » Mon Jul 15, 2019 7:58 pm

Gassho Sko;
I hear you, being a lesbian and I have a big devotion to Guanyin/Kannon-sama too ( I follow Japanese tradition). A great practice is to recite ch.25 of the Lotus Sutra which is all about Guanyin:
"Good man, if any of the limitless hundreds of thousands of myriads of kotis of living beings who are undergoing all kinds of suffering hear of Guanshiyin Bodhisattva and recite his name single-mindedly, Guanshiyin Bodhisattva will immediately hear their voices and rescue them.

"World Honored One, how does Guanshiyin Bodhisattva roam through this Saha world? How does he speak the Dharma for living beings? How does he carry out this work with the power of expedients?"

"If they must be saved by someone in the body of the wife of an Elder, of a layman, of a minister of state, or of a Brahman, he will manifest in a wife's body and speak Dharma for them.

"If they must be saved by someone in the body of a pure youth or a pure maiden, he will manifest in the body of a pure youth or pure maiden and speak Dharma for them.
http://www.buddhistdoor.com/OldWeb/reso ... otus25.htm

As you see, in the Sutra Guanyin/Kannon takes any form to help all beings, so it's no surprise that the female form is famous all over East Asia! And that's great.
Why not set up a statue, scroll, picture of Guanyin/Kannon:
and try this:
chant ch. 25 (english is fine)
chant Guanyin's/Kannon's name
transfer of merit
Then pray to be born in Guanyin's/Kannon's pure land.
gassho
Rory
Namu Kanzeon Bosatsu
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
https://www.tendai-usa.org/

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FromTheEarth
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Re: Guanyin-centric practice

Post by FromTheEarth » Tue Jul 16, 2019 6:02 pm

As others have made great contributions, I just would like to clarify some matters regarding the original post.

Firstly, to my knowledge, the organization Guanyincitta and its leader are quite controversial. It seems you are aware of this. The recitation set or whatever, however, is not their unique invention. Though the content may vary a bit, Chinese lay Buddhists have done such recitations for hundreds of years. Normally the purpose of doing such recitations seems to be to dedicate merits to the deceased ancestors. Lu, the leader, simply appropriated it.
Apart from the traditional practices, I find such set somehow understandable. The Great Compassion Mantra, the Heart Sutra are all Guanyin/Avalokiteshvara-centric. Cundi is sometimes regarded as a manifestation of Guanyin. The 88 Buddhas, despite its prima facie irrelevance, consists of 53 Buddhas and 35 Buddhas, and there is much to say about it. Basically, all Chinese monastics chant this repentance ritual on a daily basis. Tibetans do 100,000 prostrations toward the 35 Buddhas. Allegedly, ancient Indian Mahayana practitioners practice the 35 Buddhas multiple times a day. They pick up the text for good reasons: this text includes all essential factors for repentance and also Samantabhadra's vows, a great summary of Mahayana practice. Although Guanyin is not directly present there, it is a strongly recommended, independent practice for all Mahayana Buddhists -- either you'd prefer the Chinese 88 version or the Tibetan 35 version.

So, back to your questions. No, there is no doctrinal reasons stating why you have to do the recitations this way. Neither is it believed that such recitations specifically invoke her merits. But, at least chanting Great Compassion Mantra and the Heart Sutra are completely Guanyin/Avalokiteshvara-centric.

Secondly, there are many options regarding what you'd like to call a Guanyin/Avalokiteshvara-centric daily practice. Though it would be ideal that you have it well-structured: starting with generic things like prostrations, offering, three refugees, repentance, and vows; then the Guanyin-related practice; and conclude with merit dedication etc.

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PadmaVonSamba
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Re: Guanyin-centric practice

Post by PadmaVonSamba » Fri Aug 02, 2019 12:06 am

Guan Yin in the Chinese name of Avalokiteshvara, The Bodhisattva who embodies infinite compassion for all beings.
Tibetan Buddhism has many practices which are specifically visualization practices of Guan Yin (Tib: Chenrezig)
Because of the many miracle stories associated with Guan Yin, there are many practices that are basically asking for favors,
and I think, because Guan Yin is also worshiped in many Taoist temples, people pray to her for good fortune, male offspring, and so on.
A lama told me that if one feels a strong connection to Avalokiteshvara, to continue to use Guan Yin (or whatever form) as your focus of meditation.
HH Dalai Lama is believed to be a manifestation of Avalokiteshvara.

You should definitely read the book
Bodhisattva Of Compassion
by John Blofeld

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smcj
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Re: Guanyin-centric practice

Post by smcj » Fri Aug 02, 2019 1:39 am

You should definitely read the book
Bodhisattva Of Compassion
by John Blofeld
One of my favorites!
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