Beginner Buddhist Part Nine: Buddhist Deities

I’ve been pretty busy these past weeks, but I am happy to report that I have finally finished making a video on Buddhist deities:

This is not a complete overview, but shows a lot of the major Buddhist deities, their origins and why they are an integral part of Buddhism. I had some editing problems toward the end, but hopefully it doesn’t prevent people from learning something useful.

And as stated in the previous post, plus the video, I intend to do another video in Japan (it won’t be published until after I get back of course… no video-editing tools) of Buddhist temples there, etiquette, etc.


Author: Doug

A fellow who dwells upon the Pale Blue Dot who spends his days obsessing over things like Buddhism, KPop music, foreign languages, BSD UNIX and science fiction.

4 thoughts on “Beginner Buddhist Part Nine: Buddhist Deities”

  1. I’m really looking forward to seeing your next installment on this series. I’ve been practicing for almost a year and I never had the benefit of “Beginner Buddhist” videos — looking back at my own experiences, I have to imagine these could really help someone get started on the path if they’re just a little lost in the nuances like I was.

    Thank you, and be well, friend.


    1. Hi Hickersonia, and thank you.

      That’s exactly why I made these videos. I learned a lot about Buddhism through my wife and Japanese culture, and I realized that there was a huge gap between what’s taught in English language books and Buddhist culture as we whole.

      It’s not that one is right and the other is wrong, but this gap made it hard for regular Buddhists in a non-Buddhist culture to practice. Buddhist books in Western culture focus too much on abstract difficult subjects and don’t spend enough time on practical issues, it feels like.

      Anyhow, glad it’s proving useful. Hope you enjoy the next one. πŸ™‚


  2. Speaking of Avalokitesvara, there are 33 forms, of which the 1000-armed form is one. Another common one is Sho-Kannon. Sho is translated as holy, but I think it can also mean upright, and this one is portrayed standing up straight, often holding a lotus bud and/or a vessel containing enlightenment (or something like that). This is the one enshrined in the famous Sensoji temple in Asakusa, Tokyo. Rather than go over the rest of the 33 (which would require lots of googling for me!) I would like to relate one story (from China, I think) about Avalokitesvara. One time, some fishermen netted a fish that was not really a fish, actually it was the son, in fish form, of the undersea Dragon King. The Dragon King did not want his son to die, so he asked Avalokitesvara to intervene with the fishermen. The fishermen refused to surrender the fish–part of their harvest, after all. Avalokitesvara transformed into a woman, who was able to persuade the fishermen to release the Dragon Prince. In gratitude, the Dragon King gave Avalokitesvara the ‘wish-fulfilling jewel’–in Buddhism, the ‘wish’ is to end suffering and gain enlightenment. So the Dragon of the sea became a supporter of Buddhism, and dragons are seen frequently in Avalokitesvara-related images and temples. Since the dragon represents water (there are dragons for the other elements as well), you will often see dragons in the hand-washing fountain in a temple. This is one story about how Avalokitesvara came to be portrayed as both male and female–there may be others.


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