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Buddhism

Feng Shui is not a religion, which has much more power than Feng Shui. Buddhism is one of the most popular religions with thousand years of history. Let’s explore some key figures and their stories in Buddhism (focusing on Esoteric Buddhism).


Five Buddha

Buddha or Nyorai (如來)is a person who has attained Buddhahood.

The Buddha – the Center 釋迦牟尼


Gautama Buddha, also known as Shakyamuni (釋迦牟尼, or 大日如來) or simply the Buddha, is the founder of Buddhism. He is believed to have lived and taught mostly in the eastern part of the Indian subcontinent sometime between the sixth and fourth centuries BCE.

Gautama is the primary figure in Buddhism and accounts of his life, discourses, and monastic rules are believed by Buddhists to have been summarized after his death and memorized by his followers. Various collections of teachings attributed to him were passed down by oral tradition and first committed to writing about 400 years later.

Medicine Buddha – the East 藥師佛


Bhaiṣajyaguru (東方藥師佛), is the buddha of healing and medicine. Commonly referred to as the “Medicine Buddha”,which is in charge of the east direction. If wood is your lucky element, this Buddha can help you immensely.

Buddha of Immeasurable Life and Light – the West 阿彌陀佛


Amitābha (阿彌陀佛,即無量光佛) is the principal buddha in Pure Land Buddhism, a branch of East Asian Buddhism. Amitābha possesses infinite merits resulting from good deeds over countless past lives. Amitābha is also called “The Buddha of Immeasurable Life and Light”, which is in charge of the west direction. If metal is your lucky element, this Buddha can help you immensely.

Buddha of Treasure – the South 寶生佛


Ratna-sambhava (寶生佛) is the south direction buddha which is in charge of treasure. This Buddha seats on top of a horse because horse represents treasure. If fire is your lucky element, this Buddha can help you immensely.

Buddha of Wisdom – the North 不空成就佛


Amogha-siddhiIf(不空成就佛) is in charge of the north direction. This Buddha has great wisdom. If your lucky element is water, this Buddha can help you immensely.


Eight Bodhisattvas (Protectors of Buddha 菩薩)

Bodhisattva is a lay person who is undergoing religious training with the objective of attaining Buddhahood.

Buddha on an Elephant 普賢菩薩


Samantabhadra (普賢菩薩), is associated with practice and meditation.

Avalokiteśvara – Protector of Amitābha Buddha 觀世音菩薩


Avalokiteśvara (觀世音菩薩)embodies the compassion of all Buddhas. This Bodhisattva is variably depicted and described and is portrayed in different cultures as either female or male. In Chinese Buddhism, Avalokiteśvara has become the somewhat different female figure Guanyin.

Avalokiteśvara is one of the more widely revered bodhisattvas and is the one of the two guards (together with Mahāsthāmaprāpta (大勢至菩薩) for Amitābha (阿彌陀佛), creating the western three Buddha. If your lucky element is metal, Avalokiteśvara can help you immensely.

Mahāsthāmaprāpta – Protector of Amitābha Buddha 大勢至菩薩


Mahāsthāmaprāpta represents the power of wisdom, often depicted in a trinity with Amitābha (阿彌陀佛) and Avalokiteśvara (Guanyin, 觀世音菩薩), especially in Pure Land Buddhism. His name literally means “arrival of the great strength”.

In Chinese Buddhism, he is usually portrayed as a woman, with a likeness similar to Avalokiteśvara. He is also one of the Japanese Thirteen Buddhas in Shingon. If your lucky element is metal, Mahāsthāmaprāpta can help you immensely.

Mañjuśrī 文殊菩薩


Mañjuśrī is a bodhisattva associated with transcendent wisdom. His name means “Gentle Glory”.

Ākāśagarbha 虛空藏菩薩


Ākāśagarbha ( 虛空藏菩薩) is a bodhisattva who is associated with the great element of space.

Ksitigarbha 地藏(王)菩薩


Ksitigarbha (地藏) is a bodhisattva primarily revered in East Asian Buddhism and usually depicted as a Buddhist monk. His name may be translated as “Earth Treasury”, “Earth Store”, “Earth Matrix”, or “Earth Womb”.

Ksitigarbha is known for his vow to take responsibility for the instruction of all beings in the six worlds between the death of Gautama Buddha and the rise of Maitreya, as well as his vow not to achieve Buddhahood until all hells are emptied. He is therefore often regarded as the bodhisattva of hell-beings, as well as the guardian of children and patron deity of deceased children and aborted fetuses in Japanese culture, where he is known as Jizō or Ojizō-sama.

Usually depicted as a monk with a halo around his shaved head, he carries a staff to force open the gates of hell and a wish-fulfilling jewel to light up the darkness.

Maitreya 彌勒菩薩


Maitreya is regarded as a future Buddha of this world in Buddhist eschatology.

According to Buddhist tradition, Maitreya is a bodhisattva who will appear on Earth in the future, achieve complete enlightenment, and teach the pure dharma. According to scriptures, Maitreya will be a successor to the present Buddha (Śākyamuni Buddha 大日如來).

Sarvanivāraṇaviṣkambhin 除蓋障菩薩


Sarvanivāraṇaviṣkambhin (除蓋障菩薩 or 凈諸業障菩薩) is a bodhisattva revered in Mahāyāna Buddhism (means Great Vehicle).

Marici – Goddess of Light 摩利支天菩薩


Marici in China is worshiped as both a Buddhist and Taoist deity. She is highly revered in Esoteric Buddhism. Most often, she is depicted with three eyes in each of her four faces; with four arms on each side of her body. Two of her hands are held together, and the other six hold a sun, moon, bell, golden seal, bow, and halberd. She is either standing/sitting on top of a lotus or pig, or on a Lotus on top of seven pigs. She is celebrated on the 9th day of the 9th lunar month. Among Chinese Buddhists, she is worshiped as the goddess of light and as the guardian of all nations, whom she protects from the fury of war.

In Taoism, Doumu remains a popular deity and is often referred to as Queen of Heaven (Chinese: 天后) and is widely worshiped as the Goddess of Beidou (the Chinese equivalent of Ursa Major except that it also includes 2 “attendant” stars). She is also revered as the mother of the Nine Emperor Gods who are represented by the nine stars in the Beidou constellation. Legend has it that one spring day a queen went to bath in a pond. Upon entering she suddenly felt “moved” and nine lotus buds rose from the pond. Each of these lotus buds opened to reveal a star which then became the Beidou constellation.


Many Forms of Avalokiteśvara 多種觀音

Cundi – Goddess of the Seventy Million 準提觀音


Cundi, a buddha or bodhisattva, appears with eighteen arms on a lotus and is referred to as “Goddess of the Seventy Million”.

Cundi is revered in East Asian esoteric Buddhism. In China, she is known as 準提菩薩 “Cundi Bodhisattva” or 準提佛母 “Cundi Buddha-Mother”, while in Japan she is known as Juntei Kannon 准胝観音 “Cundi Avalokiteśvara”

In late imperial China, early traditions of Tangmi were still thriving in Buddhist communities. In these communities, the esoteric practices of Cundi were extremely popular among both the populace and the elite.

Cintamani Wheel Avalokiteśvara 如意輪觀音


One form of Avalokiteśvara, with variance of different numbers of arms (2, 4,6,8,10,12). The most common is with six arms. This Avalokiteśvara holds a wheel and jewelry, with the power to remove the pain and sins of the believers, in charge of the sky road among the six roads of removing the public sins.

Thousand-armed Avalokiteśvara 千手觀音

Child Offering Avalokiteśvara 送子觀音


It is the Avalokiteśvara with Chinese folk story background. It was said to be the story of the 3nd princess of the Chuo King in the Chun’Qiao Dynasty. She refused to marry and was executed by her father. She has the power to give woman a child and she is one of the widely worshiped gods in China.


Five Top Wisdom Kings, 明王

Wisdom King is an envoy of the Buddha sent to fight evil. He usually has a large number of arms, eyes, or heads and looks weird and frightening.

The Immovable One – Acala 不動明王


He is classed among the Wisdom Kings and preeminent among the Five Wisdom Kings of the Womb Realm. Accordingly, his figure occupies an important hierarchical position in the pictorial diagramatic Mandala of the Two Realms.He is the wrathful manifestation of Buddha Mahavairocana (大日如來).

His face is expressive of extreme wrath, wrinkle-browed,left eye squinted or looking askance, lower teeth biting down the upper lip. He has the physique of a corpulent (round-bellied) child. He bears a straight sword in his right hand, and a lariat or noose in his left hand. He is engulfed in flame, and seated on a huge rock base.

The Conqueror of The Three Planes – Trailokyavijaya 降三世明王


He is the wrathful manifestation of Buddha Akshobhya (阿閦如來). He is the King of knowledge having conquered the three worlds, one of the five kings of knowledge of Buddhism. His mission is to protect the eastern part of the world.

In general, the three worlds represent the world of desire, the world of form and the formless world; some interpret this king of knowledge is called so because he wants to defeat the supreme leader of the three worlds. The most logical explanation reveals that the three worlds denote the three poisons: greed, hatred and ignorance, three trends that humans can not conquer during the past, present and future that the king hoped to help people eliminate.

The Dispenser of Heavenly Nectar – Kuṇḍali 軍荼利明王


He is the wrathful manifestation of Buddha Ratnasambhava 寶生如来佛. He is one of the five major Wisdom Kings in Buddhism. He is the dispenser of Amrita, the celestial nectar of immortality.

The Defeater of Death – Vajrabhairava 大威德明王


He is the wrathful manifestation of Buddha Amitābha 阿彌陀佛. He is one of the five major Wisdom Kings in Buddhism.In Japanese esoteric teachings, he is pictured with six faces, legs and arms holding various weapons while sitting on a white ox.

The Devourer of Demons – Vajrayaksa 金剛夜叉明王


He is the wrathful manifestation of of Buddha Amoghasiddhi 不空成就如來. He is one of the five major Wisdom Kings in Buddhism.


Other Major Wisdom Kings 其他主要明王

The Wisdom King of Love – Rāgarāja 愛染明王


Rāgarāja is known to transform worldly lust into spiritual awakening. He is portrayed as a red-skinned man with a fearsome appearance and flaming wild hair that represents suppressed lust and passion. There is usually a lion’s head on top of his head in his hair. There are two, four or six armed incarnations of him but the six-armed one is the most common. In Japan, he is regarded as a god of union between man and woman. He has the power to stop any war.

The Wisdom King of Peacock – Mahamayuri 孔雀明王


Mahamayuri is a peaceful personification, in contrast to the wrathful attitudes of male personifications of the Wisdom Kings. Mahamayuri had the power to protect devotees from poisoning, either physical or spiritual.

The Wisdom King of Horse Head – Hayagriva 馬頭明王


He is the wrathful manifestation of Avalokiteśvara 觀世音菩薩. Thus, another name for him is Horse Head Avalokiteśvara (馬頭觀音). He can help protect traffic safety. It is auspicious to have him in the car.


Protector Gods of Buddhism 佛教守護神

Three Faces God of Wealth- Mahākāla 三面大黑天


He is a combination of the three gods together: the front is Mahākāla 大黑天 (who is in charge of wealth), the left is Bishamonten 毘沙門天(who is in charge of war and bravery), the right is Benzaiten 弁財天 (who is in charge of wisdom).

God of Hugging Elephant Head – Vinayaka 歡喜天


Vinayaka originated from Hindu and is responsible for removing obstacles. It is said to be the manifestation of Shakyamuni 大日如來or Avalokiteśvara 觀世音菩薩. In Japan, it is regarded as the protector god for Buddhism, which can bring in luck and happiness.

Its figure is elephant”s head and human’s body, either standing alone or double bodies holding each other. This figure is very rare in this own right. It symbolizes the warmest hug and happiness between man and woman.

Goddess of Beauty, Fortune, and Prosperity – Lakshmi吉祥天


Goddess Kishijoten of Japan corresponds to Lakshmi. Kishijoten is the goddess of beauty, fortune, and prosperity. Kishijoten is considered the sister of the deity Bishamon 毘沙門. In ancient and medieval Japan, Kishijoten was the goddess worshiped for luck and prosperity, particularly on behalf of children. Kishijoten was also the guardian goddess of Geishas. While Bishamon and Kishijoten are found in ancient Chinese and Japanese Buddhist literature, their roots have been traced to deities in Hinduism.


Four Heavenly Kings

King Who Hears Everything 多聞天王 / 毗沙門天


This is the chief of the four kings and protector of the north. He is the ruler of rain. His symbolic weapons are the umbrella or pagoda. Wearing heavy armor and carrying the umbrella in his right hand, he is often associated with the ancient Indian God of wealth. Associated with the color yellow or green.

King Who Causes to Grow 增長天王 / 留博叉天


King of the south and one who causes good growth of roots. He is the ruler of the wind. His symbolic weapon is the sword which he carries in his right hand to protect the Dharma and the southern continent. Associated with the color blue.

King Who Upholds the Realm 持國天王 / 多羅咤天


King of the east and God of music. His symbolic weapon is the pipa (stringed instrument). He is harmonious and compassionate and protects all beings. Uses his music to convert others to Buddhism. Associated with the color white.

King Who Sees All 廣目天王 / 毗琉璃天


King of the west and one who sees all. His symbolic weapon is a snake or red cord that is representative of a dragon. As the eye in the sky, he sees people who do not believe in Buddhism and converts them. His ancient name means he who has broad objectives. Associated with the color red.


Seven Lucky Gods

God of Wealth- Mahākāla 大黑天


He is depicted in a number of variations, each with distinctly different qualities and aspects. Mahākāla (known as Daikokuten 大黑天) enjoys an exalted position as a household deity in Japan, as he is one of the Seven Lucky Gods in Japanese folklore. Mahākāla’s association with wealth and prosperity gave rise to a strange custom known as Fuku-nusubi. This custom started with the belief that one who stole divine figures (gods and goddesses) was assured of good fortune, if not caught in the act of stealing. In the course of time, stealing of divine images became so common a practice in Japan that the Toshi-no-ichi or the ‘year-end-market’ held in the Asakusa Kannon temple became the main venue of the sale and disposal of such images by the fortune-seekers. Many small stalls were opened where articles including images of Mahakala were sold on the eve of New Year celebrations.

The Japanese also use the symbol of Mahākāla as a monogram. The traditional pilgrims climbing the holy Mount Ontake wear tenugui on white Japanese scarves with the Sanskrit seed syllable of Mahākāla.

In Japan, this deity is variously considered to be the god of wealth or of the household, particularly the kitchen. He is recognised by his wide face, smile, and a flat black hat, in stark contrast to the fierce imagery portrayed in Tibetan Buddhist art. He is often portrayed holding a golden mallet, otherwise known as a magic money mallet, and is seen seated on bales of rice, with mice nearby (mice signify plentiful food).

Goddess of knowledge, art and beauty – Benzaiten 弁財天


Benzaiten is Goddess of knowledge, art and beauty, especially music. Benzaiten is a Japanese Buddhist goddess, who originated from the Hindu goddess Saraswati. Worship of Benzaiten arrived in Japan during the 6th through 8th centuries, mainly via the Chinese translations of the Sutra of Golden Light, which has a section devoted to her. She is also mentioned in the Lotus Sutra and often depicted holding a biwa, a traditional Japanese lute, just as Saraswati holds a veena. Benzaiten is a syncretic entity with both a Buddhist and a Shinto side.

god of warriors – Bishamonten 毘沙門天


In Japan, Bishamonten (毘沙門天), or just Bishamon (毘沙門) is thought of as an armor-clad god of war or warriors and a punisher of evildoers. Bishamon is portrayed holding a spear in one hand and a small pagoda in the other hand, the latter symbolizing the divine treasure house, whose contents he both guards and gives away. In Japanese folklore, he is one of the Seven Lucky Gods. Bishamonten is originated from Vaiśravaṇa which is the name of one of the Four Heavenly Kings. He is considered the “chief” of the Four Kings and an important figure on his own in Buddhism in Japan.

Bishamon is also called Tamonten “listening to many teachings” because he is seen as the guardian of the places where the Buddha preaches. He is believed to live halfway down Mount Sumeru. He is also associated with Hachiman.

God of fishers or merchants, Ebisu 恵比壽


Ebisu is often depicted carrying a sea bream. He is one of the Seven Gods of Fortune (七福神 Shichifukujin), and the only one of the seven to originate purely from Japan without any Hindu or Chinese influence.

God of happiness, wealth and longevity – Fukurokuju 福禄壽


In Japan, Fukurokuju (福禄壽) (from Japanese fuku, “happiness”; roku, “wealth”; and ju, “longevity”) is one of the Seven Lucky Gods in Japanese mythology. It has been theorized that he is a Japanese assimilation of the Chinese Three Star Gods (Fulushou) embodied in one deity. Most related in appearance to the Chinese star god Shou, he is the God of wisdom and longevity. According to some, before attaining divinity, he was a Chinese hermit of the Song Dynasty and a reincarnation of the Taoist god Xuanwu. It is said that during his human incarnation, he was a sennin; a philosopher who could exist without eating food.

Fukurokuju probably originated from an old Chinese tale about a mythical Chinese Taoist hermit sage renowned for performing miracles in the Northern Song period (960 and 1279). In China, this hermit (also known as Jurōjin) was thought to embody the celestial powers of the south polar star. Fukurokuju was not always included in the earliest representations of the seven in Japan. He was instead replaced by Kichijōten (goddess of fortune, beauty, and merit). He is now, however, an established member of the Seven Lucky Gods.

God of Long Life – Jurōjin 壽老人


Jurōjin originated from the Chinese Taoist god, the Old Man of the South Pole. He is known as the immortal of the Northern Song dynasty (960 – 1127), and may have been a historical figure of the period. Jurōjin is identified as the personification of the Southern Polar Star. While paintings and statues of Jurōjin are considered auspicious, he never developed a following independent of the other deities Seven Gods of Fortune.

Jurōjin walks with a staff and a fan. He is depicted as an old man of slight stature, and by tradition, less than 3 shaku (approximately 90 centimetres. He is depicted with a long white beard and often a very tall, bald head. He has a scroll tied to his staff, on which is written the lifespan of all living things. The scroll is sometimes identified as a Buddhist sutra. The deer, a symbol of longevity, usually (but not always) accompanies him as a messenger, as do other long-lived animals such as the crane and the tortoise.

God of Abundance and Good Health- Hotei 布袋 和向


Hotei or Budai 布袋 is a Chinese folkloric deity. His name means “Cloth Sack,” and comes from the bag that he is conventionally depicted as carrying. He is usually identified with or seen as an incarnation of Maitreya, the future Buddha, so much so that the Budai image is one of the main forms in which Maitreya is depicted in China. He is almost always shown smiling or laughing, hence his nickname in Chinese, the Laughing Buddha (Chinese: 笑佛). In the West, the image of Budai is often mistaken for Gautama Buddha, and is hence called the Fat Buddha


Other Famous Gods

Guan Gong 關公


Guan Yu (died 220), courtesy name Yunchang, was a general serving under the warlord Liu Bei in the late Eastern Han dynasty. He played a significant role in the civil war that led to the collapse of the dynasty and the establishment of the state of Shu Han – founded by Liu Bei – in the Three Kingdoms period. He is not a Buddha, nor a bodhisattva.

Guan Yu was deified as early as the Sui dynasty and is still worshipped by many Chinese people today. He is a figure in Chinese folk religion, popular Confucianism, Taoism, and Chinese Buddhism, and small shrines to Guan are almost ubiquitous in traditional Chinese shops and restaurants. Guan is respected as an epitome of loyalty and righteousness. He is often reverently called Guan Gong.