Jijang – Jizo, the Earth-womb Bodhisattva

One of the popular Bodhisattvas in Korea and Japan is Jijang, or Jizo (Ksitigarbha, in Sanskrit.) Often he is portrayed as the Bodhisattva who saves beings in hell, or who helps extend short lives. In Japan, he’s often thought of as the Bodhisattva who looks after children or fetuses who’ve passed away.

But there’s an interesting thing about his name that I’ve only recently noticed:  The first character, “ji”(地), means earth, and the second, “jang”(藏) means to conceal. While this is often translated as “Earth-womb,” “Earth-store,” or “Earth-treasury,” this can also be read as “concealed by earth”.  Sound familiar?  (“Only covered by dirt” is a common reference to the inherent, enlightened essence that we are each endowed with.)

That which is only “concealed by earth” can save us from hell, can bring the lives that make up our body into harmony, and can help even those who have passed away.

Jijang Bosal
Jijang Bosal
Jijang Bosal

what’s keeping me busy

What Marcus said in his post yesterday was true, life with a young, growing family is busy!

Chong Go Sunim once asked me if having children has been good for my practice. My immediate response was, “No!” in the sense that Fina used to run circles around me, like I was a pagoda, yelling, “Woo woo woo woo!” every time I tried to sit, but I knew what he was getting at. There’s a lot less room for “me” in “my” life, and that’s as valuable as anything I’d learn sitting.

The side effect, though, is that I’m hesitant to write about practice when I’m not practicing very well myself.

Until I regain a balance, I thought I’d share a few photos of what’s been keeping me busy these days. What’s been lost in meditation minutes (and sleep!) is being made up for with Love, and there’s nothing wrong with that.

I hope they make you smile! ^_^

waking up to gratitude


I can hardly believe that no one has posted to this blog for two months. But life is busy. Chong Go Sunim handles so much at the Seonwon. Joe and Joseph have families to look after. I’ve no idea what Jabu is doing, Carl works hard. As do I.  Things change. Isn’t that pretty fundamental?

Plus, I wonder, what is left to say? I’ve just looked over the archives and liked what I saw! But how many times can one say it? How many ways can one say it in?

A colleague at work shared something of just that with me today. He told me about the Red Pine he was reading and asked me “aren’t you surprised at me, a Taoist, reading these Buddhist books?” “Ah, but it’s all the same” I said. “Exactly” he replied. “And the more I practice, the more I see it. The difficulty is putting it into words”.

Wake up, wake up!
You have slept millions and millions of years.
Why not wake up this morning?

That’s from Kabir, using his words. Quoted by Brother David Steindl-Rast in the introdution to “Gratefulness: the Heart of Prayer”, in which he writes “… everything is gratuitous, everything is a gift. The degree to which we are awake to this truth is the measure of our gratefulness. And gratefulness is the measure of our aliveness.”

There are so many ways to say this. Stephen Mitchell, in his version of Psalm 17, writes “let me, when I awaken,/see nothing but the light of your face.” Awakening is to see the world as it truly is, as the face of God (if you stumble on this word, pick another, call it the face of Love or Juingong or Interconnectedness).  But already I’m lost, trying to write about that which is impossible to describe.

All I know is that the flowers on my little balcony are bursting with life and energy. I know that regardless of all the pain in this poor suffering world, I feel such gratitude for their purity and beauty. Barry at Ox Herding knows me well and, like all good teachers, he teaches for the student’s needs:  “I suggest getting down on our hands and knees in the dirt, bowing to whatever benevolent deity provides such extraordinary beauty!”

And talking of waking up to aliveness, here’s Kosho Uchiyama putting it into his words: “Aslong as we wake up and live life as universal self, we work in the direction where all things are alive.  And since everything we encounter is our life, with the attitude or spirit that our whole self is taking care of its own life we aim at giving life to all things, all situations, all people, all worlds.”

So many ways to say it. So many ways to express our gratitude for this glorious world and this glorious life. “Inherently life is one. Inherently, life is Buddha.” (Seon Master Daehaeng Sunim).