This Altar began in 1997, when I brought the center piece back from Hawaii after experiencing my first Hawaii Playshop with Arthur Hull. During the Playshop, an altar was made, that gave each of the participants a place to pray, relax, and talk, each of the participants contributed to the altar, and a sacred place was created! Later before our departure, we had all gone to the Aloha Bowl to buy souvenirs, Arthur and I stumbled across this both with many porcelain statues, and we both marveled that if we had so many hands while we played our drums and percussion. So I purchased it, and carried it on my lap all the way from Hawaii.
After much research, I soon found that this was a Chinese version of the Bodhisattva Kannon!
"If many hundreds of thousands of thousands of billions of living beings hear the name of World-Voice Perceiver Bodhisattva and call his name with all their hearts when they are under various sufferings, World-Voice-Perceiver Bodhisattva will immediately perceive their voices, and cause them to emancipate themselves from the sufferings."
It says to call his name with all their hearts. It is not enough to utter the name or the Sacred Title of the Lotus Sutra with your mouth only. It requires calling his name or chanting the Odaimoku with your mouth, mind and body (i.e., three actions). Buddhism talks about the relationship of mind and matter. When you chant the name of Kannon with your mouth, you may imagine his compassionate face and his power in your mind, and then you will feel better, just as when you look at a mirror and laugh, you will feel happy. When you become happy, your suffering will disappear. Why is Kannon able to perceive your suffering immediately? It is because you are a Kannon Bodhisattva. To chant his name or to chant the Odaimoku is to attain oneness with Kannon or the Eternal Buddha Sakyamuni. This realization could not be attained without ones heart.
"Those who keep the name of this World-Voice-Perceiver Bodhisattva will not be burned will be able to take ground when they are washed by an inundation all crew will be saved from the attacks the sword or stick raised against him will suddenly break asunder those devils will not able even to see him those things in which he is bound up will break asunder, and he will be saved you will be saved from the attacks of these bandits.
"How does he (the World-Voice-Perceiver Bodhisattva) expound the Dharma to the living beings? What expedients does he employ?"
Truth is one, but there are many different ways to explain the truth. A good teacher at a school knows how to teach smart kids, slow-leaning kids, and lazy kids in his class. He must use different method to teach them. The World-Voice-Perceiver Bodhisattva expounds the Dharma, but he uses his different approaches for different levels of understanding; they are expedients. The Bodhisattva takes 33 different shapes for ordinary people to make it easy for them to approach him and makes their wishes become reality; then he expounds the Dharma. He takes the shapes of a Buddha, a king, a god, a great general, a rich man, a householder, a prime minister, a wife, a dragon, a man of pure faith, a boy, a girl, a nonhuman being, and so on. We have different colors of skin, different cultures, different levels of education, different beliefs, different social status, different occupations, and so forth, but we are all the same human beings. A leader must understand peoples feelings and desires. That is why this Bodhisattva transforms himself into other shape of living beings. Kannon Bodhisattva is not only the statues standing at temples, but in reality he appears as shapes of many different people as mentioned above. It is because when we pray hard or call his name with all our heart, energy (Chi or Ki) develops. That energy harmonizes with someone else who has the same energy or extra energy. Then he or she appears to save you as an embodiment of Kannon. There are many different statues of Kannon Bodhisattva, having one face, three faces, eleven faces, two arms, six arms, one thousand arms etc. Each face is different, and each arm holds different symbolic objects because each person has different desires to be fulfilled. Many people stay at the level of fulfillment of their desires, but the Bodhisattvas real intention is to expound Dharma. Nichiren Shu has many expedients such as kito blessing, ofudas and omamori amulets, and also enshrines many different deities. They are all expedients to lead people to be saved. But we must not forget to learn and to practice a higher level of Buddhism to attain Buddhahood.
Endless-Intent Bodhisattva said to the Buddha, World Honored One! Now
I will make an offering to the World-Voice-Perceiver Bodhisattva."
The Endless-Intent Bodhisattva was so impressed by what he heard about the World-Voice-Perceiver Bodhisattva that he wanted to make him an offering. He took a necklace of many gems from his neck and tried to give it to the Kannon Bodhisattva, who would not accept it. Thereupon Buddha Sakyamuni told him to receive it out of his compassion toward the Endless-Intent Bodhisattva. Although Kannon received it, he divided the necklace into two parts and offered one part of it to Sakyamuni Buddha and the other to the stupa of Many-Treasures Buddha. The reason he did not accept the offering was that he was very humble and that he thought he was not worthy to receive an offering from others. He believed all his power of saving others came from the Buddhas; therefore, he divided the necklace into two and gave one part of it to Sakyamuni Buddha and offered the other half to the stupa of Many Treasures Buddha. Remember, the door of the stupa of the Many-Treasures Buddha was closed at the
end of chapter 22 of the Lotus Sutra.
Information obtained from http://lotus.nichirenshu.org/lotus/lectures/lotus_25.htm
So to this day, my prayers and offerings from myself, and others, come to rest, be heard, and shared with the world, as I strive to become a better person, sharing my greatest gift-SHARING!