Kanji for Muryoko

'Infinite Light'

Journal of Shin Buddhism

Harold Stewart

Mahasthamaprapta Bodhisattva

Enough has already been said on the subject of Avalokiteshvara but a few words on his counterpartner, Daiseishi, may not go amiss, since he is less well known, at least in the West. His name in Sanskrit, Mahasthamaprapta Bodhisattva, signifies that he is the possessor of great authority and power, delegated no doubt from the Other Power of Amida's Vows, since Daiseishi embodies Amida's Wisdom, just as Kannon does his Compassion. According to the Amitayur-dhyana-sutra, Seishi therefore possesses the power to break the bonds of those born in the Three Worlds of Suffering: the unfortunate realms of the animals, the hungry ghosts, and the inhabitants of the hells.

Whereas in the front of his head-dress Kannon usually displays a small standing image of Amida, from whom he emanates, the iconography of Seishi's coiffure and coronet is more esoteric. His long hair is gathered up and passed through a gold ring, to pour over in a fountain on the crown of his head. Thus it provides a corporeal symbol for the Axis Mundi in the human microcosm, which passes through the body as the spinal column, and also for the path by which the being at death emerges through the suture of Brahma in the crown of the skull and rises posthumously up the Axis to the higher states of Consciousness.

Concealed in Seishi's head-dress, behind his diadem but before his ushnisha, stands a kanro-byo, or nectar-vase, of gold containing the amrta, or elixir of immortality. Seishi is sometimes given the epithet Son of the Moon, and this establishes his relationship to Candra, the Hindu moon-god, who also dispenses the soma, or nectar of deathlessness, from his lunar cup. On the completion of the Ascending Realization, when Kundalini, the Serpent Power, rises from the muladhara chakra, or lowest centre, to the sahashrara-padma, or Thousand-Petalled Lotus at the crown of the head, the amrta spills over and flows down again to the Heart-centre, or anahata-cakra, in the bliss of Descending Realization. The overflowing of the kanro, or elixir, from Seishi's vase forms the Mahayana counterpart of this and provides the joy felt by the Bodhisattva on making his Vow to return to this world to rescue all sentient beings.

Reflections on the Dharma - Harold Stewart

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