Tag Archives: Naga

Buddhism’s Black Holes

The title for this blog-series is in reference to Bernard Faure’s excellent article, Buddhism’s Black Holes: From Ontology to Hauntology. In actuality it all has to do with the nature of Buddhist Icons and Relics, which also will be the main thrust of this series. Faure’s special focus in his article concerns the “practice of inserting miscellaneous things (relics or śārīra, fragments of stone and crystal, cloth viscera, texts, written incantations, list of donors, coins, etc.) inside Buddhist statues, known in Korea as bokjang 腹蔵.” He begins by relating certain doubts concerning this kind of ritual, as particularly expressed by another scholar in the field, Robert Sharf. Sharf argues, in his review of Helmut Brinker’s book on icons and relics, that this has much to do with “western projections”—that its mere conjecture on what is otherwise simply ethnographic practices that has very little to do with some mystic significance. He writes: “I sense that there is something almost voyeuristic or prurient in our fascination with relics… It may be a little more than yet another projection of contemporary needs and concerns onto the complex ink blot that is Buddhism. Except that this time, instead of projecting our own rationality as did the previous generation of scholars, we now project our irrationality.” Faure counters this with, “Even if they were, why would their interest have to be “voyeuristic or prurient,” and what kind of dark purposes would they be projecting? Why would scholarly fascination, say, with “Storehouse consciousness” (ālaya-vijjñāna) or any other doctrinal topic fare any better in that respect?” Indeed, Faure further expresses his disagreement with Sharf: read more

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Is the Loch-Ness Monster a Naga?

Back in 2014 Britain’s first Lama, Lama Gelongmo Zangmo, created a media sensation when she proclaimed that Scotland’s good ol’ Nessie was in actuality a Naga, as found in both Hinduism and Buddhism. read more

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The Days of Hermits, Scoundrels, and a Dragon Princess

Chapter 12 is the quintessential text in Buddhism conveying the all-encompassing ascendancy of Buddha-nature. It reveals that regardless of one’s moral stature, sexual identity, or karmic-predispositions, the potential-seed of Buddhahood is indigenous to all sentient beings. The “awakening” to one’s Buddha-nature is fully developed in this Chapter known as “Devadatta” that is essentially comprised of two segments—the first concerning a notorious man and the second involving a young female, both of whom secured their own realization of Buddhahood. It opens with the Buddha describing one of his previous existences when he was a discontented king who sought the doctrine of truth. He made it be known that he would become anyone’s servant who could reveal this Buddha-gnosis. A lowly hermit approaches him and conveys the importance of the Lotus Sutra. The king subsequently becomes the hermit’s personal-servant during which time he becomes enlightened to the teachings of the Sutra. The Buddha reveals that this hermit was non-other than Devadatta in a previous incarnation. Devadatta’s reputation was less than spectacular: read more

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Year of the Black Naga

Traditionally, we have entered into the Year of the Black Water Snake. Looked at from an astrological perspective, the snake falls under the Element of Water; although combined with the snake’s fiery energy can yield conflict. There have been numerous disasters occurring during this sign, like the attack of the World Trade Center in 2001 and the Stock Market Crash of 1929. Although contemplated from the mystical vantage point the full import shifts considerably. In the older annals of Indian Buddhism, the Naga was the symbol of Wisdom, much like the Dragon.The Nagas were the ancient protectors of the Dharma. In the Lankavatara Sutra, we find the Palace of the Sea Serpents (nagas) figuring as the opening scenario from which the Tathagata emerges and begins to expound the Buddhadharma. Earlier on, when Śākyamuni attained awakening at Bodhgayā, the Naga King became the first sentient being to receive the Buddhadharma. In this sense, the Naga is considered as a sign of the renewal of life, helping to perpetuate and protect the living teachings of the Tathagata. Śākyamuni was also sheltered from a violent wind and rainstorm—created during his struggle with Mara—by the protective coils of the Naga King. The following passages from the International Journal of Buddhist Thought and Culture (Hye-young Tcho: The Dragon in the Buddhist Korean Temples) further elaborates on the full import of the Nagas: read more

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