11 September 2008

Two developments

First, if you are transgender, please participate in the following survey, conducted by the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force and National Center for Transgender Equality, with the help of Pennsylvania State University. I have sent in my response already - doing my part to ensure a better legal future for the trans community.

Second, I found a Kwan Yin statue for sale at Eastern Serenity, a vendor of Buddhist goods. What makes this particular statue (follow the link for a photo) of interest is that it is a transitional style, showing elements of the old identity as the Indian male deity Avalokitesvara, as well as those of his new identity, the Chinese female deity of Kwan Yin. The caption explains the whole reason behind the gender change as well; the Chinese Buddhists needed a way to make their traditionally male-centered religion more appealing to women, and it was done by taking Avalokitesvara, known for his limitless compassion and sacrifice for the mortal humans, and giving him the attributes (and the gender) of traditional Chinese Goddesses of agricultural fertility and human procreation. It worked wonders in China - and spread to Korea and Japan as well; in Korea in particular, Buddhism became primarily a women's religion, due to the male chauvinism of the Confucian fundamentalist government.

I have only a few days remaining until my departure for Seoul. Once I arrive in South Korea, and visit numerous Buddhist sites and temples throughout the country, I will certainly be on the lookout for a suitable Kwan Yin statue that can adorn my room. And on the flip side, I need to see Sarah, on one of her Asian assignments, shop for Kwan Yin statues - even though she identifies as a Christian. (Alternately, a coworker could buy her one as a gift.) Actually, due to many similarities between Kwan Yin and the Virgin Mary, a Christian with a Kwan Yin statue is not all that far-fetched at all; historically, in many parts of Asia, Virgin Mary statues and portraits resembled Kwan Yin, partly to avoid anti-Christian persecution.

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