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Guest Juniper Blue

An Gender Neutral Bhodisattva on the Alter

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Guest Juniper Blue

Hi All,

I have been volunteering at a Zen Monastery (of the Chan tradition). Today, I was helping to polish the main alter where three large Statues stand. The volunteer who was with me is also new to formal practice and asked me who the statues beside the Buddha were. On the right there is a Guan Yin , who is genderally described as the bodhisattva of compassion, and is generally depicted in a feminine form. On the left there was a Bodhisattva which neither of us recognized and so we asked the Shifu (Teacher) about this. Our Shifu explained that the second Bodhisattva was neither male or female (and that ultimately, there is no gender because consiousness has no gender and we are our consiousness, not our bodies)... she went on to say that the Bodhisattva was called "Earth Treasure" and that this Bodhisattva vowed to not achieve Buddahood until all hells were emptied.

I went on to read on-line about both Guan Yin and Ksitigarbha ( Earth Treasure) these Bodhisattvas are depicted differently in vairous traditions. I saw one post where Guan Yin was described as being male ( yet had a female body) and several sites where Ksitigarbha was called "he" and one where the pronoun "she" was used. One site said that these Bodhisattvas were considered twins. There were many diffenrt eporceptions of these Bodhisattvas and many contadicted one another... or at least appeared to. It was clear that the more I looked the more varations I would find and so, I decided to let it go and stick with my Shifu's explanation ( which I prefer.)

So .. at least at my little Temple ... the main alter has a clearly gender neutral Bodhisattva ad the teaching is that we are utimately gender neutral in regard to our consiousness. The body, our gender, and our physical appearance does not seem to matter at the Temple that I attend.

(It is interesting though because there are seperate areas to sit for men and women and we have different cabinets for our shoes, as well.) I was told that is is because there is often sexual attraction between the opposite sexes and that we therefore sit seperately to reduce the potential for distractions during our practice.

I resisted the urge to ask if I should then sit in the middle ... (probably a good choice. )

Anyway .... I just wanted to share this conversation.

Bes to All,

JB

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Guest

Bows to you...

Yours in the dharma,

Megan

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Guest Juniper Blue

Bows back to you my dear Dharma freind. :friends:

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