Thursday, February 22, 2018

DaMo among the celestial realms

In honor of Chinese New Year, or Lunar New Year, which is celebrated in China and in surrounding cultures in Asia, I have created a new video examining the traditions and ancient stories regarding the important figure of Bodhidharma, known as DaMo in China, and as Daruma in Japan.

The video is called "DaMo among the celestial realms," and it explores some of the evidence that the story of DaMo -- like so many other ancient myths and sacred traditions from around the globe -- is based upon celestial metaphor and embodies the distinctive characteristics of specific constellations.

DaMo, or Bodhidharma, is credited with bringing Ch'an Buddhism to China, which became Zen Buddhism in Japan, and Seong Buddhism in Korea. His travels and adventures are described in texts dating back to at least the first half of what we call the sixth century AD (or CE) -- that is, the first half of the 500s AD. He is notable for his practice of extended meditation, sometimes for years on end. He is also notable for being credited with introducing a series of meditative movements to the monks he encountered at the Shaolin Temple -- meditative movements which became the basis for the famed martial arts of China and surrounding cultures.

Celestial aspects of the DaMo story -- especially his famous interaction with the learned monk Shen Guang (whose name DaMo later changes to Dazu Huike) -- are also discussed in my 2015 book Star Myths of the World, and how to interpret them: Volume One. As this new video shows, there are good reasons to conclude that Shen Guang corresponds to the figure of Hercules in the heavens.

Below is an image of DaMo and Shen Guang (Dazu Huike) found in a temple in Goseong, in the southeastern corner of the Korean peninsula. Note the startling correspondences between the depiction of Dazu Huike by the artist in this temple painting and the outline of the constellation Hercules as suggested by H. A. Rey -- a constellation who plays a role in countless myths around the world. The parallels are striking.

Special thanks to Dale Quarrington, whose website Dale's Korean Temple Adventures contains this image, and who gave me permission to use it in the new video. Dale's website discussing the beautiful temples of Korea and displaying numerous excellent and evocative photographs which Dale has taken in his visits to various temples is well worth exploring at length.

The above image can be found on this page of Dale's website.

Previous posts discussing artwork of mythical figures who can be shown to have likely connections to the constellation Hercules in the night sky include:

Chinese New Year is traditionally observed from the start of the first lunar month (typically beginning on the day after the second New Moon following the winter solstice, although the calculation is a little more complicated than that) until the first Full Moon of that same first lunar month. The second New Moon after winter solstice this year took place on February 15, which is why the Lunar New Year began on February 16.

The first Full Moon of that new-year lunar month is associated with the ancient tradition of the Lantern Festival. This previous post discusses the Lantern Festival and some of the ancient sacred stories surrounding the Lantern Festival, stories which can also be seen to be connected to the constellations in the night sky.

I hope you will enjoy this new video about the celestial foundations of the DaMo story -- and, Happy New Year!!