“He is a buddha, a sun, and a kinsman,
Completely pure and renowned in the world.
He knows the nature of all dharmas,
Belongs to the peak of existence, and is not sullied.
(Manjusri Mulakalpa, 14.10)
This sermon strikes me in the early twilight hours approaching the (Vernal) Equinox. This time is a point of great transition for many cultures for many reasons, but I think one of the most poignant associations are those of “freshness” and “newness”. Truly, the verdant greens of nature exuberant the truth that the vast field of potential is nowhere but right beneath our own feet. And this is where we focus today…
In my readings in the Manjusri Mulakalpa, I came across this descriptor of a great being- a Jedi archetype if you will. If anyone isn’t familiar with Sri Manju, it is sufficient to know that he is considered to be one of a pair of beings (Bodhisattvas) that represent the polarity of Bodhi, Enlightenment, or Buddhahood- specifically the “discernment of wisdom”. Further, like the discursive nature of the mind, he is shown brandishing a sword to illustrate this very concept.
His partner is the notable Avalokitesvara, who symbolizes the embodiment of compassion and skillful means. This pair can be seen accompanying Shakyamuni (or by themselves) throughout the various stages in religious development of Buddhist art and ritual. These changes reflect the growing roles and spaces afforded to these beings and the concepts they symbolize as time goes on. A notable example of this hypostasis is that of Fudo-Myo, or Acalanatha, of the Shingon tradition in Japan.
What I find most interesting is his role of “patron protector deity of the mantric/ esoteric tradition” and how this was inherited from Mt. Wudang- stomping grounds of the famous Shaolin monks. The martial, or wrathful aspect of Reality (or Bodhi) fascinates me as a descriptor of the crude, overt, or aggressive aspect of Awakening. With the flaming sword of Wisdom, he very much looks like a Jedi with their lightsaber in hand. Reflecting on this, it opens my frame of reference to considerations I may not have always held so intently, like:
“Even Buddhism has a tumultuous history: what is the role does resistance, offense, or even violence have upon one’s spiritual path? What is ‘doing’ this? What is being protected? By what authority does this momentum move?”
Or you could get weird and fantastic and ask:
“Who (or what) would serve as a “Jedi equivalent” to such an idea or station?”
Of course, these answers are detailed by scholars daily in various forms of litera, but the point of asking these questions is not to find a “one size fits all” answer. No, the point is to get one to take them up for oneself, assert the space of potential, and ask them for oneself.
And this is where the quote comes into play. Having had the great hero Manju in my mindstream for sometime, I myself am pondering these questions, and along comes this answer, or descriptor, from one of the earliest books dedicated to him.
In it, Manjusri is described as a “Buddha, the Sun, and a kinsman”. What a beautiful focal point this brings us to. Here, he transcends the spiritual, natural, and social realms and points to something all three can perceive, know, and feel.
But what is this point that all sensibilities of all times can converge upon? Is it the Mystic Center spoken of by the ancient Jedi of legend?
I entreat you to sit with me; let the edges of who you are reach out into the Three Realms, and ask yourself,
“What is this?”