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Traditional Schools of Buddhism teaches about a GOD named "Yama?"

LeonBasinLeonBasin Veteran
edited January 2012 in Advanced Ideas
This is something I read and supposedly, some traditional schools of Buddhism teach about a GOD called "Yama?" He supposedly presides over "Hell." He seems to judge the dead based on their deeds. Anyone heard of this or read about it? I don't have the exact link, just something I skimmed while reading different random things online.

Thanks,
Leon

Comments

  • Apparently the Hindu-deity was simply adopted by other religions.
    Paste and copy. Add some elements of your own and voila: a new religion is born.
  • A holy man was told that if he meditated for the next 50 years, he would achieve enlightenment. The holy man meditated in a cave for 49 years, 11 months and 29 days, until he was interrupted by two thieves who broke in with a stolen bull. After beheading the bull in front of the hermit, they ignored his requests to be spared for but a few minutes, and beheaded him as well. In his near-enlightened fury, this holy man became Yama, the god of Death, took the bull's head for his own, and killed the two thieves, drinking their blood from cups made of their skulls. Still enraged, Yama decided to kill everyone in Tibet. The people of Tibet, fearing for their lives, prayed to the bodhisattva Mañjuśrī, who took up their cause. He transformed himself into Yamāntaka, similar to Yama but ten times more powerful and horrific. In their battle, everywhere Yama turned, he found infinite versions of himself. Mañjuśrī as Yamāntaka defeated Yama, and turned him into a protector of Buddhism. He is generally considered a wrathful deity.

    Most Buddhist cosmologies assign Yama to a role as bureaucratic judge, who looks at your karma and assigns you to the proper destination. Even Buddhists need to scare people with a boogyman, it seems. Of course, Tibetan Buddhists are the masters of filling their cosmology with a pantheon of demons.

    I think it's just that the monks wanted something more exciting to paint on their walls than blissful Buddhas smiling at you.
  • JeffreyJeffrey Veteran
    edited January 2012
    God in buddhism is not a creator god. I think deva is a better translation. Devas are still in samsara.
  • Apparently the Hindu-deity was simply adopted by other religions.
    Paste and copy. Add some elements of your own and voila: a new religion is born.
    Goodness! That seems to be a main trend nowadays! Borrow, misinterpret and add your own stuff and then you come up with a new religion.
  • Note: "Yama" isn't common to all traditional schools of Buddhism. Only to a certain corner of the Mahayana. Let's not generalize.
  • seeker242seeker242 Zen Florida, USA Veteran
    Mahayana Buddhism has a large number of deities and they have been around for quite some time. Tibetan tradition has a large number of them. Chinese and Japanese traditions also have a significant number. I would bet the total number to be somewhere in the hundreds.
  • Yama is common to Zen also. Master Lugi said that if you misunderstand the dharma you will have to pay Lord Yama for each grain of rice you have eaten. That is in Thich Nhat Hanh's text about Master Lugi.
  • @Dakini Yama is found in Theravada also.
  • federicafederica seeker of the clear blue sky Somewhere in the UK, Central-Southern.... Moderator
    I think he's lovely.
    I make sure I have tea with him as often as I can.
    I am very familiar with him and I don't find him at all scary.
    I'm conscious that no matter where I am, he's never far away....
  • *master Linji
  • Mahayana Buddhism has a large number of deities and they have been around for quite some time. Tibetan tradition has a large number of them. Chinese and Japanese traditions also have a significant number. I would bet the total number to be somewhere in the hundreds.
    This is interesting! What do these GODs mean? Hmm. I am a bit confused about all these GODS?
  • Yama is common to Zen also. Master Lugi said that if you misunderstand the dharma you will have to pay Lord Yama for each grain of rice you have eaten. That is in Thich Nhat Hanh's text about Master Lugi.
    In Zen? Is there a link resources/links to back this up?
  • Leon, it is in Thich Nhat Hanh's book about Master Linji. I don't know if it is online.
  • "Although the gods are allotted a very long, happy life as a reward for previous good deeds, it is precisely this happiness that constitutes the primary hindrance on their path to liberation, since because of it they cannot recognize the truth of suffering." (Typical statement)

    Some translators use "celestial beings" or "heavenly beings" instead of the word God. I just love those mythic Eastern folk tales of the Jade court and I have a statue of Monkey in my collection.
  • Leon, it is in Thich Nhat Hanh's book about Master Linji. I don't know if it is online.
    Oh, okay! Thank you!
  • SattvaPaulSattvaPaul Europe Veteran
    edited January 2012
    Perhaps we as Western Buddhists could enlist the help of some gods that are to do with learning and educate ourselves about whet they truly are, namely manifestations of archetypes embedded in the unconsious. As such, they are far from irrelevant. Or we may simply see them as cultural inventions. They don't mind. :rolleyes:
  • seeker242seeker242 Zen Florida, USA Veteran
    Mahayana Buddhism has a large number of deities and they have been around for quite some time. Tibetan tradition has a large number of them. Chinese and Japanese traditions also have a significant number. I would bet the total number to be somewhere in the hundreds.


    This is interesting! What do these GODs mean? Hmm. I am a bit confused about all these GODS?
    Many of them are embodiments of particular Buddha qualities. For example, the statue in my picture is of Avalokiteśvara, an enlightened being who is a manifestation of all Buddhas' compassion. He is known as the 'Buddha of Compassion'. He/she means unconditional love and compassion for all beings.

    Another one, Manjusri, the Prince of Wisdom confers mastery of the Dharma—retentive memory, mental perfection and eloquence. In his right hand he holds the sword of truth upward to cut through ignorance. The manifestation of all the Buddhas' wisdom. So Manjusri means great wisdom

    It would probably be helpful if you were to stop thinking of them as "GODS" and simply refer to them as "enlightened beings" or "other Buddhas" as they have nothing to do with the western idea of god. :)
  • Mahayana Buddhism has a large number of deities and they have been around for quite some time. Tibetan tradition has a large number of them. Chinese and Japanese traditions also have a significant number. I would bet the total number to be somewhere in the hundreds.


    This is interesting! What do these GODs mean? Hmm. I am a bit confused about all these GODS?


    Many of them are embodiments of particular Buddha qualities. For example, the statue in my picture is of Avalokiteśvara, an enlightened being who is a manifestation of all Buddhas' compassion. He is known as the 'Buddha of Compassion'. He/she means unconditional love and compassion for all beings.

    Another one, Manjusri, the Prince of Wisdom confers mastery of the Dharma—retentive memory, mental perfection and eloquence. In his right hand he holds the sword of truth upward to cut through ignorance. The manifestation of all the Buddhas' wisdom. So Manjusri means great wisdom

    It would probably be helpful if you were to stop thinking of them as "GODS" and simply refer to them as "enlightened beings" or "other Buddhas" as they have nothing to do with the western idea of god. :)
    Right that makes sense! Thank you!
    I was thinking that this reminds me of Hinduism. I understand that Buddhism came originated from Hinduism. So that makes sense. Yes... I see that these beings are not God's perse, but they are highly spiritual beings who were just like us and have developed themselves to become more...
  • edited February 2012
    Yes the mention of Yama appears as a supposed Chinese mythical god (small g not capital G).
    Yama is the gaurdian of the dead who greets the newly dead. This comes more from traditional religious mythology and religious tradition, I believe.
    One of the stories is that at birth Yama provides each person with a pair of cheap straw sandals, telling them that after birth they must seek the true Dharma, and the sandals are to be used for that journey.
    Then after they die they are met by Yama who demands an accounting from them by demonstrating their knowledge of the Dharma. If they can show good knowledge of the Dharma he agrees that they made good use of his straw sandals, and they are not required to pay for those sandals.
    If on the other hand, they can not show good knowledge of the Dharma then they are required to pay a heavy price for those cheap straw sandals.
    But really, the story is used as a teaching story to spur students on to study the Buddhist teachings...it's not intended to be taken litterly.
  • Goodness! That seems to be a main trend nowadays! Borrow, misinterpret and add your own stuff and then you come up with a new religion.
    Yes, it's called "New Age"

    Spiny

    :p
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