Thursday, January 28, 2010

Bodhisattvas: Fugen

The Wisdom of the Crows and Other Buddhist TalesI don't think I've mentioned I chose to use the Japanese form of the name for the Bodhisattvas, even though the adults in my sangha now use the Sanskrit names in our services.  I was thinking it would be much easier for the kids in my group to say and remember these shorter names. 

Fugen is the Bodhisattva of Loving Action.  I have a vague memory that I was mulling over this lesson right up until the last evening.  I'd been looking over my various books with collections of Buddhist stories and folk tales, and decided upon one, when I came across this one.  Of course I knew of the story of Angulimala, but who would think of this as an example of loving action?  Of course what I remembered was the necklace of fingers, created from all the victims of Angulimala.  What I didn't remember, but what jumped out at me during this reading, as found in The Wisdom of the Crows and Other Buddhist Tales, was how Angulimala accepted the karma that came to him from others when he became a follower of the Buddha.  I didn't recall learning before how he specifically helped women while giving birth.  Aha, I thought.  Whereas previously he had been most unloving, and took away life, now he did what he could that was most loving, and helped life. Who better than a former cutthroat thief could understand how wounds worked, and how to keep someone alive? It turned out to be a great story to demonstrate the loving action of Fugen. (Sometimes the best lessons turn out to be these last minute brainstorms.)

I'm betting all the kids remember is the necklace of fingers.  One Dharma School mom thanked me for using this story.  It was the perfect sort of story for her kinetic, attention-scattered, run-around boy. 

For a craft activity, I had the kids draw with light-colored crayons, and water-paint over the crayon, as I did with this lesson.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Bodhisattvas: Kanzeon

Zen Ties I recall the kids getting very involved with this lesson.  First I had the kids help me define compassion.  At this age they already have ideas about what it is.  Here are images of Kanzeon I shared with them. As I read through the book Zen Ties, I had the kids help me find the moments where someone was showing compassion to someone else.  Among the songs we sang was the Metta Round"Even as a mother protects with her life Her child, her only child So with a boundless heart Should one cherish all living beings." I should point out that I don't actually attempt to sing this as a round, but only as a simple song.

A few years back, I got a bunch of refrigerator magnets at SCRAP. I printed up some stickers to color, and used up the last of these magnets for this project. 

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Bodhisattvas: Manjusri

The Coconut Monk
I used the book The Coconut Monk to demonstrate the wisdom of Manjusri.  This is an exquisite story that works for a wide range of ages. Here are images of Manjusri I shared with the kids.

For a craft activity, I used foam door hangers like these, and created stickers of Manjusri the kids could add, among other doodads.  In this first year of a new age range, I haven't been thinking of taking photos, so I don't have an image to share of this craft.  If I do find a sample from the class in my chaotic storage area, I'll share here.