Analysis of the Vessantara Jataka and the Miao Shan Essay

Published: 2020-04-22 15:06:56
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* Describe when the ritual takes place. Does it respond to some particular event? It is held at specific time of year? Is it held on a regular basis? Is it performed only when needed? * What causes a group of people to hold or sponsor this ritual? -most commonly used in Tibet as a rite for turning away demons -lay people will ask a monk or lama to perform or advert a future danger * Describe the sequence of events in the ritual.

* Describe the visual scene of the ritual. What are the colors and textures? Are there pieces of visual art used? What to the participants look like? Are there ritual objects involved?

-Buddha surrounds himself with the representation of 4 demons to at each side, statue of Buddha in middle (offerings in front), effigy facing buddha, back to effigy. * Is the entire group included in each event? Are there major and minor aspects of the ritual? It is held over many days? Only a few hours: held for a few hours, depending on the speed of the lama. -lama performing the rite (may or may no be a monk)

-lama visualizes himself as Buddha seated in the middle of four demons. Lama(Buddha) host the demons, then agent who enters into a contract and then as their conqueror. -visualizes a body of persons : avalokitesvara on right, 8 bodhisattvas + 8 monks on left. -then visualizes goddess prajnaparamita (perfection of wisdom)at heart seated on a moon disk -imagines moon disk in center of heart, then the letters of the heart sutra -the letters of the sutra radiate both light and their own sound, serving as offerings to the Buddhas and bodhisattva:

alleviate and purify the sufferings and purify all those gathered for thr performance of the rite as the lama contemplates the meaning of emptiness -when recited the sutra standard offerings are made: ablution, flowers, incense, lamps, perfume, food, and music. -moistend image w/ water : 4 demons, 4 formless reams, and dissolve into their molded images. They are invisible, for them to be placated(soothed), they must be made physical and brought into physical presence. Dough images: enter and animate -demons all turn east , turned way from the Buddha by the power of the heart sutra so they face toward the effigy


* Describe the sounds of the ritual. Is there music? Chanting? If so what words are sung or chanted? Is it loud? Or quiet? -chanting/repitition of the heart sutra, probably quiet,  * Does the ritual involve food or drink? If so, who prepares it and how? Who consumes it and when? no * Describe the actions of the participants. What different groups of people are involved? Is there one person in charge of the ritual?

The lama(monk or not) Where does each person stand or sit? lama in the middle, retinues at all directions. Are there specific gestures they must perform? Do they dance? Do they move from one place to another? places objects differently throughout the rite, must get up at end to take offerings and images to a safe distance, * Can you imagine the scents, the temperature or the embodied feelings that the ritual creates? Try to describe them. Incense, dark, flowered, many decorations, feeling of safety and danger at the same time *

Symbolic Action:

* What symbols are used in the ritual? effigy-demons. What do the actions and the objects symbolize? effigy is dressed in garment from patron, faced toward to Buddha, back to lama(devotion)-effigy stands as both a substitute and a protector for the patron, acting as his surrogate before the demons¦.demons : colors, red, black , yellow, white * Are objects or actions used to represent other things or abstract ideas? * Is the ritual based on a myth or a story? If so, does it recreate it faithfully or are there important differences?

Are supernatural beings expected to take part in the ritual? Are special arrangements made for their participation? YES as listed above¦ -first places Buddha statue in the center of a white cloth with offerings in front -to the east: seven images of dough stamped with the impression of the divine demon mara(form of white human on white horse with flowers in right hand(the flowers of desire that Mara shoots)noose in left hand -south: 7 images of demon



Social Hierarchies:

* Who is in charge of the ritual? Lama/Buddha as his surrogate Who has the authority to conduct the ritual? Lama (monk or not) * How do different social groups act as part of the ritual? Do men and women have different roles? Do younger people and older people have different roles? Buddha-lama-effigy-patron * Who gains social status from the ritual?

* Does the ritual change the social status of some of the participants? Is it a rite of passage? * Does the ritual directly reflect the current social hierarchies? Or does it invert or reverse these hierarchies? Do participants get to pretend that they are part of a different social class or gender during the ritual?

Moods and Motivations:

* How does the ritual seek to change the participants? Protect them from future sufferings, provides more insight into meditation * How should they think, feel or act differently after experiencing the ritual? They should feel a sense of hope and protection/barrier from future harm. * Does the ritual seek to have practical outcomes (health, safety, prosperity)? Social outcomes (a change in status)? Emotional outcomes (feelings)? Philosophical outcomes (wisdom, insight)? -perfection of wisdom until one attains the final moment of meditation before the achievement of budhahood, this rite constitutes as an amaxing method of exorcism * What are the means the ritual use to try to create this change?

Luna Kandalaft
Tutorial #2
The Heart Sutra for Turning Away Demons

One of the most famous Buddhism texts, the Heart Sutra, is commonly known for its concise representation of the perfection of wisdom, the understanding when Buddhahood is realised. It is focused on the essence of the Buddhas wisdom thus giving it great power. Used for many rituals, it is most commonly used in Tibet for turning away demons. This rite is usually performed by a lama or monk in request of a lay person. The lama performing the ritual will make a devotion to remove a present issue or to advert forthcoming endangerment.

The ritual is held for few hours depending on the speed of the lama performing it. It begins with the Lama placing a statue of the Buddha on a white cloth, representing purity, with arranged offerings in front of it. He is sitting surrounded by objects representing each four demons. Each representation is placed south, east, west and north around the Buddha with an effigy, dough statue, with the back to the lama in face of the Buddha. This position presents the effigy as a substitute and a protector of the patron, acting as his surrogate before the demons. The effigy plays as an important part due to its representation of the patron.

The patron must spit and breathe on the effigy that is dressed in a garment from the clothing of the patron. Soon after, the ritual is focused on the meditation of the Lama. Visualisation of himself as Buddha (plays as host to demons), he then becomes surrounded by retinue, then visualises the goddess Prajanparamia surrounded by bodhisattvas and buddhas. He imagines a moon disc at the center of the heart, and to conclude, imagines the letters of the Heart sutra standing around the edge of the moon disc around the edge of the moon disc at the goddesss heart. The letters serve as offerings to the buddhas and bodhisattvas radiating light and sound, for them to alleviate the sufferings and purify all gathered for the performance of the rite.

Many symbols representing demons are displayed in the ritual. To the east of the Lama, seven images of dough stamped with the impression of Mara, in the form of a white human on a white horse, flowers in the right hand (flowers of desire) and a noose in his left. To the south is placed seven images of the Demon of Afflictions, presented by a yellow human on a yellow horse. To west is seven images of the demon of Aggregates in the form of a red human on a red horse. To the North is placed seven images of the demon who is the Lord of Death presented by a black human on a black horse. The demons represent the four formless realms.

During the rite the Lama visualises himself as the Buddha seated in the presence of four demons. He thus plays the role of the host to the demons. Furthermore, he moistens the images and offerings and invites the four demons to come from their dwellings and dissolve into their molded images. The dough images of each demon constitutes as a way for them to enter and animate into the ritual.

The lama then repeats the Heart Sutra, after a set of nine times he claps and turns one of the seven demons. Four demons are then turned away from the Buddha by the power of the Heart Sutra facing outward toward the effigy of the patron. The demons play the most importance because of the purpose of the ritual. Therefore the demons are represented to fulfill the goal of the ritual.

The main objective of the ritual to turn away demons is to rid whoever asked for the casting of harm and future evil. This will protect them from future suffering and provide them closer knowledge towards enlightenment. Further in the ritual, the lama makes standard offerings of ablution, flowers, incense, lamps, perfume, food, and music, all while reciting the Heart sutra followed by praises to Sakyamuni and Prajnaparamita, the Buddha and the goddess of perfection of wisdom, representing devotion and realisation.

Throughout the rite, the lama is primarily reciting the Heart Sutra continuously. The rite ends with the images and offerings being placed at a distance depending on the reason for the ritual and a blessing. The smell of incense, flowers and dark room come to visualisations, due to the offerings made, and the presence of demons. The visualisation of emptiness is continuously emphasised, the lama focuses on emptiness on himself, the Buddha, and the patron (effigy).

A sense of hope and protection is felt by all participants of the ritual after it has taken place; they now feel barriers from future harm. The text concludes with By coming under the power of the four in this existence, one is bereft Of happiness and tormented by millions of sufferings. Until one attains the vajra-like Samadhi, this rite is an amazing method of exorcism. Providing comprehension that the ritual consist as a development of the knowledge of meditation and achievement of Buddhahood.

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