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.

No comments: