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lordameth
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PostPosted: Thu Dec 23, 2010 8:52 pm    Post subject: Fugen Reply with quote
Does anyone know what attributes Fugen is most associated with?

I'd always thought s/he was a bodhisattva of wisdom, but it would appear that that's the domain of Monju.

Yet, there are those stories, such as the story of Eguchi, in which Saigyô spends the night with her and in the morning she reveals herself to be the bodhisattva of wisdom, Fugen, easily identified by the white elephant.

Have I got my stories mixed up? Is Fugen not the bodhisattva of wisdom? Or is s/he?
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PostPosted: Fri Dec 24, 2010 6:03 am    Post subject: Re: Fugen Reply with quote
lordameth wrote:
Does anyone know what attributes Fugen is most associated with?

I'd always thought s/he was a bodhisattva of wisdom, but it would appear that that's the domain of Monju.

Yet, there are those stories, such as the story of Eguchi, in which Saigyô spends the night with her and in the morning she reveals herself to be the bodhisattva of wisdom, Fugen, easily identified by the white elephant.

Have I got my stories mixed up? Is Fugen not the bodhisattva of wisdom? Or is s/he?
Hey, aren't you a grad student or something like that? I remember reading that in a post some time ago. Hopefully, Santa will bring you some research skills and if he is especially generous, some of those hard-to-get Google skills for Christmas.

But don't feel bad. I first thought Fugen was the Bodhisattva of blow fish liver. Laughing

For a serious answer to your question, check out this Shingon Buddhist site.
http://www.shingon.org/deities/jusanbutsu/fugen.html
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PostPosted: Mon Dec 27, 2010 5:29 am    Post subject: Reply with quote
Thank you for the link Rice Ball. I have added it to my favorite Buddhist links. Very Happy

Interesting, Fugen is called the Bodhisattva of Universal Beauty but Fugen is referred to as a Bodhisattva of compassion. Also, Kannon Bodhisattva, probably the most popular Buddhist deity in Shingon or Japanese Buddhism for that matter, is also called the Bodhisattva of Compassion. Of course compassion is one of the guiding principles of Buddhism.
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PostPosted: Mon Dec 27, 2010 12:26 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote
Thanks for the link, Date!

I apologize to have not lived up to your expectations of a grad student.... You know, if I had asked this question in seminar, I think it's a safe bet that no one would have said "go and research it." They would have said, "Ah, that's an interesting point. I too thought that Fugen was a bodhisattva of wisdom. After all, that's how I have always heard her described in the story of Eguchi... and there's that painting by Hokusai of a courtesan as Fugen, riding her white elephant, very clearly not Monju, bodhisattva of wisdom, who would be riding a lion."

It's all about providing other information that you do know, or simply saying that you don't know, not telling people they need to go and do research on it on our own. That's what a forum for discussion is all about. Coming together, bringing things to the table.

Now, if Fugen is indeed chiefly known as a bodhisattva of beauty, as that link would indicate, that makes the Eguchi story a little different, and quite interesting. Sure, it still has the same overall theme - that beauty and enlightenment are not exclusive, and that one can obtain enlightenment in pursuing beauty - but, really the story is about obtaining enlightenment through those activities the most devout are most opposed to: giving in to material and physical desires.

Granted, if we take wisdom and enlightenment to be more or less interchangeable, or at least closely related concepts, then any and every bodhisattva is one who brings enlightenment (i.e. wisdom). But, really, where does this bodhisattva, described by the Shingon website you provided as male, and as associated with compassion and universal beauty, mesh with the female one depicted in so many ukiyo-e works, and associated more directly with wisdom and with enlightenment through pursuit of base activities?
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PostPosted: Wed Dec 29, 2010 4:29 am    Post subject: Reply with quote
lordameth wrote:
Thanks for the link, Date!

I apologize to have not lived up to your expectations of a grad student.... You know, if I had asked this question in seminar, I think it's a safe bet that no one would have said "go and research it." They would have said, "Ah, that's an interesting point.

Ah, and what seminar would this be? A seminar on the treatment and prevention of yeast infections? A seminar composed of woosies? Rolling Eyes I am seriously trying not to judge you, but you sound like so many of the other students in grad schools that professors I correspond with are complaining about. I really don't know if you are lazy, but "lazy" is a word that I hear too many professors use to describe too many of their students in recent years. It's actually getting nauseating to keep hearing complaints about how grad students these days just seem inept at researching things on their own and then whine and complain when they are told to find/research something on their own. I guess me and my academic friends are "old school" in that it is more effective in terms or learning/retaining knowledge when one looks something up on his/her own, rather than simply take the easy way out and ask someone else the question. Recalling my years in undergrad honors seminars and grad seminars, it was best to research all that I could on my own, and then bring it to the table for discussion with my fellow students and the professor. It made the discussions more fulfilling and enlightening. I hope the message behind what I am writing isn't lost on you and others. It is not a personal attack on you, but I really think your question and how you began your response to me is symptomatic of problems at the grad student level.

Are you a student at the University of Hawaii? I'm sure this isn't related to you, but I have heard complaints about the quality of grad students in the Japanese Studies programs. Part of the problem is that there aren't lots of openings for aspiring academics in the very small world of PMJS, and this deters many good prospective students. I've also even heard that there are plenty of grants and scholarships available at UH, but one member of the faculty complained that there is a lack of students of a higher caliber applying for these, and as a result, scholarship funds are being doled out to students, who my contact bemoaned, "are not deserving of a single red cent from an academic or intellectual perspective". I got an uneasy feeling when I heard that because the University of Hawaii has an outstanding program.

On the bright side, I do need to give you credit for raising some very good questions about the gender of Fugen and the beauty vs enlightenment/wisdom topic. Perhaps somebody who is more knowledgeable about Buddhism can chime in and enlighten us all. I'm working on something else and can't really afford to get sidetracked by this topic. The website I provided the link to before has been helpful to me in the past, and I apologize if it has erroneous info on it about Fugen.
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PostPosted: Wed Dec 29, 2010 5:17 am    Post subject: Reply with quote
Oh. Ok. I apologize. I mistook that as a personal attack. My sincere apologies.

I do certainly often feel that we don't do enough researching ourselves, and that far too much emphasis is placed on arguments and theory, and not enough on solid, deep, thorough, broad knowledge.

That said, in my experience, the graduate programs in Japanese Studies at UH are plenty intense.

So intense that I often feel I'm too busy with coursework to go do research a wider range of topics. Something strikes me, and I think, oh, I could go to the library and look into that, but I really need to stay here and do these readings for this class or that class or for my thesis. I think "oh, I wonder about this Fugen thing, but I really need to finish this 100-page reading assignment on late Ming Suzhou amateur-painters, work on my paper on the Okinawan Museum, and work on my thesis on ukiyo-e prints of the Ryukyu Edo Nobori processions." I hit upon things in the course of writing a paper that could be fascinating alternative directions to investigate, but it feels like there's never time to go do that... need to focus on just getting the paper done.

The undergrad programs, on the other hand, certainly have problems - I really cannot believe how incredibly laid-back and undemanding some of these courses are.
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PostPosted: Wed Dec 29, 2010 5:29 am    Post subject: Reply with quote
Here is a rather complete article.
http://www.onmarkproductions.com/html/fugen.shtml
I didn't see where this boddhisatva is connected to Tantra as the male principle, written here, but, is important in that respect as well. John
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PostPosted: Wed Dec 29, 2010 6:24 am    Post subject: Reply with quote
shin no sen wrote:
Here is a rather complete article.
http://www.onmarkproductions.com/html/fugen.shtml
I didn't see where this boddhisatva is connected to Tantra as the male principle, written here, but, is important in that respect as well. John
John, thanks for sharing that. My take on that article is that Fugen is male, but as Fugen became a patron of women in Japan during the Heian period, I could see how Fugen could have been transformed into a female form in some artistic renditions.

And the Rice Ball's comments about the current poor state of the quality of many grad school students echo what one of my old professors wrote to me about not too long ago. And yeast infection treatments and cures? Egads! Shocked
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PostPosted: Wed Dec 29, 2010 6:37 am    Post subject: Reply with quote
Obenjo Kusanosuke wrote:
shin no sen wrote:
Here is a rather complete article.
http://www.onmarkproductions.com/html/fugen.shtml
I didn't see where this boddhisatva is connected to Tantra as the male principle, written here, but, is important in that respect as well. John
John, thanks for sharing that. My take on that article is that Fugen is male, but as Fugen became a patron of women in Japan during the Heian period, I could see how Fugen could have been transformed into a female form in some artistic renditions.


Kannon Bodhisattva was also transformed in this way as well. Kannon in China was originally in the male form but at some point, I believe after Kannon came to Japan, it was transformed into a female deity.
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PostPosted: Wed Dec 29, 2010 9:46 am    Post subject: Reply with quote
Not quite. Kannon which originated from India was originally Avalokitesvara a male boddhisatva (of compassion and mercy) and was feminised in China as Quan Yin or Kwan Yin. From China the female aspect went to Japan. The Chinese typically attribute this as both aspects (female and male) are available to this saint. It is a typical device for conflicting dogma. I heard somewhere on my travels in China that this conversion was a result of a misinterpretation of the well endowed pectorals on Indian art of this saint confusing the Chinese as to gender. Go figure. John
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PostPosted: Wed Dec 29, 2010 12:00 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote
shin no sen wrote:
Not quite. Kannon which originated from India was originally Avalokitesvara a male boddhisatva (of compassion and mercy) and was feminised in China as Quan Yin or Kwan Yin. From China the female aspect went to Japan. The Chinese typically attribute this as both aspects (female and male) are available to this saint. It is a typical device for conflicting dogma. I heard somewhere on my travels in China that this conversion was a result of a misinterpretation of the well endowed pectorals on Indian art of this saint confusing the Chinese as to gender. Go figure. John


Thank you for the clarification. I thought it had happened in China but you are right. It occurred before that.
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PostPosted: Wed Dec 29, 2010 3:53 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote
Quote:
as Fugen became a patron of women in Japan during the Heian period, I could see how Fugen could have been transformed into a female form in some artistic renditions.


Ah. Now we're getting somewhere.

That makes sense... I suppose it's really not so uncommon at all for the associations of bodhisattvas and other figures to change over time.

After all, Jizô shifted at some point from watching over travelers to watching over travelers to/within the afterlife (or certain Other realms).

Thanks for that link! I'd forgotten about that website.
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PostPosted: Thu Dec 30, 2010 7:11 am    Post subject: Reply with quote
It happened to Marishiten, too. As per David A. Hall's Marishiten: Buddhism and the Warrior Goddess, this tutelary also had origins in India and China commonly portrayed in female form; but once taken up by the Japanese, especially the buke, during the 9th to 16th centuries s/he could go either way, sometimes distinctly masculine with a full beard and mustache!

I've always found it interesting that a culture which so severely enforced gender roles for most of its history has also enjoyed a certain "fluidity" of possibilities that the West is only discovering now . . .

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PostPosted: Wed Jan 05, 2011 11:00 am    Post subject: Reply with quote
Interesting, the passage below from http://www.buddhist-artwork.com, Kannon is contradictory to other sources that state Kannon underwent transformation into a female form after arriving in China while the passage implies it occured after arriving in Japan. Of course this site may be incorrect.

Also interesting that Jizo underwent transformation from a female form to a male form.

http://www.buddhist-artwork.com/statues-buddhism/jizo-bodhisattva-bosatsu-statuary.html#background

Quote:
Sex Change
In modern Japan, Jizo and Kannon Bodhisattva (the Goddess of Mercy) are two of the most popular Buddhist saviors among the common folk. Like Jizo, Kannon is intimately associated with Amida Buddha, for the Kannon is one of Amida's principal attendants, and she often wears an effigy of Amida in her headdress. Curiously, however, both Jizo and Kannon underwent a sex change after arriving in Japan from China. The Kannon was originally male, but is now portrayed almost always as female, while Jizo was initially female, but is now portrayed almost always as male (except, perhaps, when appearing as Koyasu Jizo (Child-Giving) Jizo.

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PostPosted: Thu Jan 06, 2011 1:04 am    Post subject: Reply with quote
I have always heard that Guanyin is considered male in China (though, of course, depicted as a rather androgynous figure..), and only female in Japan.
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