A Tribute to Manjusri

By Jozan


I have been contemplating my most recent drawing for a while now. Manjushri, the Bodhisattva of Prajna (wisdom) rides his lion onto a battlefield of clouds in the void of space, wielding his double-edged sword, with the earth and moon in view far below. To me at this point in my spiritual evolution, Manjushri has much symbolic significance.


See, our own truest battles are fought in the mind. As a prisoner of my own habits and erroneous patterns of thought, word, and deed, I have endured much pain and sadness…as have most of us, so in this we can all relate. Sometimes things tend to get really dark. Yet light remains, even as life goes on.


Thankfully we have our practice of Zen to help clarify what is and is not of ultimate importance in our lives. We may all have different circumstances and ways of dealing with the world, but one thing is certain: we all have the seed of enlightenment buried deep within our being under all those layers of conditioning we have unconsciously adopted since birth. The truth is we are so much more than we could ever imagine. This is good news to me!


In the Manjushri drawing, the field of battle is the mind itself. Thoughts are clouds in the infinite emptiness of Pure Mind. Manjushri, in traditional pictures, rides a lion to remind us that this inner battle takes much courage and often a fierce determination to bring down our prey, our troublesome ego. He wields his double-edged sword of truth, the same sword we ourselves can use to cut the bond of attachments: greed, anger, ignorance, and most of all, fear. This sword is our own awareness, which precedes, surrounds, and is the very empty-fullness inn which our thinking occurs. Meditation practice allows this awareness to become more apparent until one day the clouds vanish and all that remains is what has always been there: the pure wisdom of an enlightened mind. Do not allow the darkness to lead you away from your true self. Gather your mental energy and use it as a sword to cut through any persistent negative thought. It’s not easy to break old habits but it’s well worth it. Your light is meant to shine brightly.

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