Sunday, November 22, 2009

Bodhisattvas: Hotei

Hotei is known to many people as the Buddha, though in our tradition we recognize Hotei as an historic monk who became known as the Laughing Buddha, and not the same historic figure known as the Buddha.

The Beckoning Cat: Based on a Japanese Folktale
Like Jizo, Hotei is associated with children, though rather than protectiveness, he is known for generosity.  Playing up that theme, I made this fun for the kids, telling them Hotei is kind of the Buddhist version of Santa Clause.

I used the book The Beckoning Cat: Based on a Japanese Folktale. In this story, a boy helps a cat, and the cat helps a boy earn money for his family while his father is sick by luring customers back to the boy's house.

Here are some images of Hotei I shared with the kids.

For a craft activity, we made bracelets with wooden beads and some colorful Hotei charms I found on Ebay (seller churchcats in case they have them again). There often are Laughing Buddha pendants or charms on Ebay, though often listed as Buddhas.

Sunday, November 08, 2009

Bodhisattvas: Jizo

Little Stone BuddhaMy posts for this year of lessons will be short, as I misplaced my digital recorder that I use to help remember my lessons and those unexpected things that happen that come in handy for future lessons.

I found this book, Little Stone Buddha, a perfect lesson for Jizo Bodhisattva, as protector of the vulnerable.  I like it so much, I gave a copy to our Dharma School Library. The little stone Buddha comes to life, and protects others from harm.  He protects these two little foxes from arrows, though to the hunters it just looks like the arrows stop.  It is easy to adapt the lesson to various lessons in Buddhism.

The book ends with the little foxes sitting still as statues next to the Buddha. People left offerings for the foxes as well as the Buddha.  For a craft activity, I used that image, creating a gray scale image for the kids to color.  I prepared for the class by cutting out that image of the altar, with strips to the side that could link together, allowing it to stand up.  I intended this to be an altar of sorts, but the kids rapidly turned it into a small crown.  I also taught the kids how to draw a small Jizo, something they could include with their image.  It's simple, an upside-down U, topped with a circle for the head, dots for eyes, curved dash for mouth, optional button nose, and optional diagonal curved line down the U to indicate a robe.  The kids really liked this, some of them drawing many Jizos to go along with their Stone Buddha and Foxes.

For each Bodhisattva lesson, I searched around for images of that Bodhisattva to show as I told the kids about that Bodhisattva.  I would keep it simple, choosing one aspect of the Bodhisattva, maybe two, to emphasize and attach a lesson to. Here are some image samples I shared with the kids. 

If I were teaching the grade school girls, I would go more into all the aspects.  Tween girls often love lists and categorizations.  They would especially like knowing how each Bodhisattva is unique from the other.  For these younger ones, the moral lessons are simple: kindness, compassion, wisdom, protectiveness...all moral qualities they can understand and relate to.