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Thread: Iconography - what does the Soto Zen Buddha look like?

  1. #1
    Senior Member kirkmc's Avatar
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    Iconography - what does the Soto Zen Buddha look like?

    Seeing the thread about Amitabha, I wondered what type of Buddha is considered to be the Soto Zen Buddha? Is it just Shakyamuni, or is there a different one? (I know there's no "official" Buddha for the Soto team, but I think you understand my question...)

    Kirk

  2. #2

    Re: Iconography - what does the Soto Zen Buddha look like?

    If you google Soto Zen Buddha, you'll get:



    or



    or



    Sooooo. I imagine we take a very broad perspective on Buddha's image. :mrgreen:

  3. #3

    Re: Iconography - what does the Soto Zen Buddha look like?

    I say that the "Soto Zen Buddha" can be seen if you look in the mirror ... or at the sky ... or a blade of grass ...

    ... but here is the "official" answer from the "Head Office" ...

    http://www.sotozen-net.or.jp/kokusai/fr ... 2_3_02.htm

    PS - The above photos from Erik are 2 Amidas and 1 other guy ...

  4. #4
    Senior Member kirkmc's Avatar
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    Re: Iconography - what does the Soto Zen Buddha look like?

    Thanks, Jundo, I didn't think the first two were Shakyamunis.

    Kirk

  5. #5

    Re: Iconography - what does the Soto Zen Buddha look like?


  6. #6

    Re: Iconography - what does the Soto Zen Buddha look like?

    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo
    ... but here is the "official" answer from the "Head Office" ...

    http://www.sotozen-net.or.jp/kokusai/fr ... 2_3_02.htm

    PS - The above photos from Erik are 2 Amidas and 1 other guy ...
    So this is the "official" version??:


  7. #7

    Re: Iconography - what does the Soto Zen Buddha look like?

    It is very interesting that we have to wonder what the soto zen buddha looks like; that just goes to show how the buddha is not an icon (or maybe some dumb ass believed the koan and killed the guy).

    Manjushri, on the other hand, is more likely to be found wielding his wise machete on soto zen altars.

    So here are two question: why does Avalokiteshvara (or Kannon, or Tenzin Gyatso) not receive the same kind of attention? And what is with the link from the powers that be stating that we "pray" to the (in)action figures?

    Gassho

  8. #8

    Re: Iconography - what does the Soto Zen Buddha look like?

    I always saw it as a practice reminder. As long as it has guy sitting in Zazen posture, it's good enough.

    G,W

  9. #9

    Re: Iconography - what does the Soto Zen Buddha look like?

    And that's my point. Most of them funky Sak's have a mudra not like our "cosmic" (talk about ridiculous names) mudra. And the more often seen Manjusris ain't even in zazen posture, what with their cool saber in one hand and the latest edition of the three pillars of zen in the other (is the bodhisattva of Wisdom about to cut the damn book in half? Seems like the right thing to do)

  10. #10

    Re: Iconography - what does the Soto Zen Buddha look like?

    I thought the mudra we used was called "The gesture of reality." Cosmic mudra sounds kind of cool though.

    G,W

  11. #11

    Re: Iconography - what does the Soto Zen Buddha look like?

    Quote Originally Posted by Alberto
    It is very interesting that we have to wonder what the soto zen buddha looks like; that just goes to show how the buddha is not an icon (or maybe some dumb ass believed the koan and killed the guy).

    Manjushri, on the other hand, is more likely to be found wielding his wise machete on soto zen altars.

    So here are two question: why does Avalokiteshvara (or Kannon, or Tenzin Gyatso) not receive the same kind of attention? And what is with the link from the powers that be stating that we "pray" to the (in)action figures?

    Gassho
    Good questions! Here's a stab at some good answers ...

    Please recall that, as opposed to the cool, hip, down-to-earth 8) version of Soto Zen I present, that the Soto Sect in Japan is an ancient church going back about 800 years (and then further back into China and India). It was one Buddhist sect among all the Buddhist sects and (although it was less into icons and hocus-pocus than many other Buddhist sects) also did what everyone else did ... namely, wear funny hats, mumble funny chants, decorate the place with all manner of shiny statues and the like.

    Now, I used to really RESIST that, and I wanted my 'Zen' even more "down-to-earth", namely, no statues of Buddhas and Boddhisattvas for me. I thought that they were as fictional as the "Seven Dwarfs" or "Santa Claus". However, I have since come to appreciate these different Buddhist characters as representing real aspects of the human condition. I still tend to see them as "symbols", but I appreciate what they stand for more. I wrote this about Kannon:

    Today I was asked about the image of '1000 Arm Kannon' thst appeared with the netcast. I think everyone knows, but just in case: The Bodhisattva Kannon stands for Compassion and Mercy, as central to our Buddhist Practice as Wisdom. With her 1000 arms, she is said to reach out to alleviate suffering wherever found.

    Do I really believe that '1000 Arm Kannon' exists? Well, wherever in the world there is an act of mercy, and wherever each of us reaches out with our two arms to someone to lend a hand, I believe that Compassion exists right there. When we bring our human hearts of Compassion into the universe, the universe contains Compassion. In that way, I believe that Kannon is real (at least, as a symbol) when we make Compassion real by what we do.

    But I also believe that Santa Claus exists in much the same way, as the spirit of giving (I mean, I REALLY DO believe that Santa exists in that way).

    Now, whether that is a "projection of mind" or something "external" to us in the universe. That may be kind of a 'chicken or the egg' argument. Dogen was of the view that mind/body/universe were not divisible that way, and "inside" "outside" are matters of perspective.

    And if there is literally a Kannon with 1000 arms, I will fetch wood and chop water, and if not, fetch chop and wood water.
    By the way, I should have mentioned that the central figure in the Sodo Zazen Hall itself is usually Manjusri astride a Lion ...

    http://www.aucklandzen.org.nz/images/zendo003.jpg

    Interestingly, in the main hall for ceremonies, there is usually no statue of anything on the Altar.

    When I do ceremonies, I usually grab anything that strikes my heart ... As a personal Practice, often when I lead a ceremony or sitting for a group, I replace the Buddha statue on the altar with whatever comes to mind ... sometimes a car tire, a dirty diaper, a trash can, a flower, a rock. Other times, I just bow to the stature that is there. Once, after the war started, I replaced the statue with 3 photos ... Mother Theresa, George Bush and Osama bin Laden. That really upset some folks in the group.

    But, you know, what isn't the Buddha? And for me, if you think I degradate the Buddha by replacing him(her) with a trash can, or that I raise up the trash can in praise, you miss the point I think.

    Now, as to your question about Kannon, no, she is usually all around the place in a Zen temple. Very popular figure.

    And what about the use of the word "pray" ... well, I will say it is a poor translation. But, then again, people actually talk to Kannon and such just like Westerners might call on "Mother Mary". So, is it a bad translation for what many people do? Perhaps it is not.

    Gassho, Jundo

  12. #12
    Senior Member kirkmc's Avatar
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    Re: Iconography - what does the Soto Zen Buddha look like?

    I think I'm going to go out and find a nice meditating rock to put where I sit... We have a really cool kind of marble in the area where I live, and the quarries are open - you can grab small stones from them.

    Kirk

  13. #13

    Re: Iconography - what does the Soto Zen Buddha look like?

    Quote Originally Posted by kirkmc
    Seeing the thread about Amitabha, I wondered what type of Buddha is considered to be the Soto Zen Buddha? Is it just Shakyamuni, or is there a different one? (I know there's no "official" Buddha for the Soto team, but I think you understand my question...)

    Kirk
    Hey Kirk!

    Take a mirror in your hand and look
    but remember if you see buddha on the road, Kill him!

    Take care

    Gassho

    Jarkko

  14. #14

    Re: Iconography - what does the Soto Zen Buddha look like?

    Jundo,

    When I do ceremonies, I usually grab anything that strikes my heart ... As a personal Practice, often when I lead a ceremony or sitting for a group, I replace the Buddha statue on the altar with whatever comes to mind ... sometimes a car tire, a dirty diaper, a trash can, a flower, a rock.
    I think this is a helpful practice. I've taken to it myself.

    Gassho,

    justin

  15. #15

    Re: Iconography - what does the Soto Zen Buddha look like?

    I remember reading somewhere that Thich Nhat Hahn often asked to see the Buddhas of each country he visited. They are all so different, even if they are representations of the same type of Buddha. He felt that the Buddha representation reflected their culture in some way. Of course, when he came to the West, he was confused since we do not have a Buddha that represents our culture. I've always thought that the Buddha statue is a reminder that a real human became enlightened and we each have the possibility within us to do the same. That is why the various statues often have features of the culture that they are in.

    What do you think a western Buddha would look like? How about a female Buddha (I guess Kannon might be a representation of that.)

    Anyway, Jundo's point is a good one. The Buddha is in everything so what you put on the altar depends upon what you need for your practice.

    Gassho,

    Linda

  16. #16
    Senior Member kirkmc's Avatar
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    Re: Iconography - what does the Soto Zen Buddha look like?

    Quote Originally Posted by lindabeekeeper

    What do you think a western Buddha would look like?
    An American Buddha might look like Lou Costello...

    Kirk

  17. #17

    Re: Iconography - what does the Soto Zen Buddha look like?

    Hi Linda,

    Quote Originally Posted by lindabeekeeper
    What do you think a western Buddha would look like?


    Quote Originally Posted by lindabeekeeper
    How about a female Buddha (I guess Kannon might be a representation of that.)




    Gassho
    Ken

  18. #18

    Re: Iconography - what does the Soto Zen Buddha look like?

    What do you think a western Buddha would look like?
    Keanu Reeves.


    G,W

  19. #19

    Re: Iconography - what does the Soto Zen Buddha look like?

    When I went to a Tibetan Shrine room some of the statues had little padded sleeping bags. They looked so comfy and snug, like their mum had just tucked them in Outside the shrine room some of the Buddhas had been made little hats out of foil jam tart cases!

    And there's a Buddha statue in Vietnam wearing spectacles - I'm afraid I can't find a picture on the net - but it's funny how you have to do a double take because of the specs.

    Gassho Louise

  20. #20
    Senior Member Kent's Avatar
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    Re: Iconography - what does the Soto Zen Buddha look like?

    Will, not Keanu Reeves, but Christopher Reeves

  21. #21

    Re: Iconography - what does the Soto Zen Buddha look like?

    Quote Originally Posted by will
    What do you think a western Buddha would look like?
    Keanu Reeves.
    G,W
    "Whoa..... I'm enlightened" :mrgreen:


  22. #22

    Re: Iconography - what does the Soto Zen Buddha look like?

    "Whoa..... I'm enlightened"
    Excelllllent!



    G,W

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