Thursday, September 30, 2010

Sumadera Temple : Six Jizō

Six Jizō, this time from Sumadera temple - these fellows work to ease the suffering and shorten the sentence of those serving time in hell, to deliver the faithful into Amida’s western paradise (where inhabitants are no longer trapped in the six states of desire and karmic rebirth). Jizō is a Bodhisattva, one who achieves enlightenment but postpones Buddhahood until all can be saved. In particular, the six Jizō represent the six realms of existence (and each can be recognized by certain mudras and objects within their possession):
  1. Beings in Hell (Jigokudō 地獄道). The lowest and worst realm, wracked by torture and characterized by aggression.
  2. Hungry Ghosts (Gakidō 餓鬼道). The realm of hungry spirits; characterized by great craving and eternal starvation.
  3. Animals (Chikushōdō 畜生道). The realm of animals and livestock, characterized by servitude.
  4. Asura (Ashuradō 阿修羅道). The realm of anger, jealousy, and constant war. Asura are powerful, fierce and quarrelsome demigods and, like humans, are partly good and partly evil.
  5. Humans (Nindō 人道 ). The human realm where enlightenment is within their grasp, yet most are blinded and consumed by their desires.
  6. Deva (Tendō 天道). The realm of heavenly beings filled with pleasure. Deva posses godlike powers and most live in delightful happiness and splendor for countless ages. However, their powers blind them to the world of suffering, to which they also belong. Some believe that because their pleasure is greatest, so too is their misery.