Saturday, June 12, 2010

"Buddha remains" unveiled in east China temple

This bit, which is summarized in the title and in this Xinhua article,  was treated as an event of major importance on CCTV-9.  From Xinhua:

NANJING, June 12 (Xinhua) -- Chinese Buddhist monks and archaeologists revealed what they believed to be top part of the skull of Sakyamuni, the founder of Buddhism, Saturday morning in east China's Jiangsu Province.
The object, taken out for the first time around 9 a.m. from a miniature gold coffin nestled inside a silver one, was part of Buddha's parietal bone, said Master Chuan Yin, president of the Buddhist Association of China, after attending the worshipping ceremony held in Qixia Temple in Nanjing, capital of Jiangsu Province.
The bone, irregular and light brown, looked like a small rock. "It is full of cell-like cavities, just like a honeycomb," said Hua Guorong, deputy head of Nanjing City Museum.
"Our findings conform with the descriptions of the parietal bone in historical records," said Master Xue Cheng, vice president of the association, adding the bone was hugely sacred for Buddhists.
Besides Sakyamuni's remains, ten sacred pieces of remains of other Buddhas were also found in another gold and silver mini-coffin.
All the relics had been enshrined at Qixia Temple by 108 eminent Buddhist monks from the Chinese mainland, Macao and Taiwan. The relics would be open to believers at the temple for one month, Hua said.

 Now I've got a few quick points on this:

  • I tend to be skeptical that these remains are actually related to Shakyamuni Buddha, but...
  • As with any other form of the Buddha,  it is a reflection of the minds that brought it forth.
  • It was evidence from the prominence of this TV show that China really, really, wants to show that they approve of Buddhist practices in their country; as I noted in a comment on Barbara's Buddhism blog, their "background" information could have been written by Karen Armstrong.  But
  • In terms of Buddhist practice, it's nice but it's not like, you know, actually doing it.
  • There are equivalent ceremonies in the Zen tradition; there is a chant in the chant-book in the DBZ tradition that would be applied just for this purpose.  I never knew what it was for, but now I know.
  • I should say though, that I'm not going to accept anyone's narrative on such issues as true or false simply because it is someone's  "official" narrative.
That's all for today folks.

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