Pilgrimage

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Ji Gong: An Eccentric Buddhist Monk that Became a Taoist Wealth God

Published Marso 19, 2012 by jptan2012

Today, allow me to share with you another powerful, though not very famous, wealth god called Ji Gong or Che Kong (濟公). Also spelled as Ji Kong or Che Gong.

Ji Gong is known as the ‘Legendary Monk with a Magical Fan’. This is because he is usually portrayed as having a fan and sometimes with a bottle of wine.

I entitled this post as – JI GONG: AN ECCENTRIC BUDDHIST MONK THAT BECAME A TAOIST WEALTH GOD – because Ji Gong in reality was a Buddhist monk, was expelled from his monastic life and later on became a Taoist wealth god. The irony here, is that he’s not considered as a Buddha or a Bodhisattva in Buddhism, and it was only after the Taoist has adopted Ji Gong as a deity did the Buddhist started including him in their Koans.

(A Koan, for lack of a better description, is like a form of Sutra. It’s a fundamental part of the history and lore of Zen Buddhism and it consists of stories, dialogues, questions and statements, the meaning of which are said to be understandable through intuition or lateral thinking. )

Ji Gong was born to a famous and rich family during China’s Southern Song Dynasty. His father is a highly respected ‘businessman’ and military advisor. Ji Kong, the only son, and whose real name is Li Xiuyuan (李修元), came late in the family. His parents were actually told by a respected Feng Shui consultant that they don’t have descendant’s luck and that they will never have any children. This cause great sadness to both his parents, and considered this as one of their greatest misfortune. Since they are a religious couple they decided to make sure that they would go on various pilgrimage to different temples to ask for child.

Like most Chinese then and now, they don’t really make any distinction between Buddhism and Taoism and they would visit temples from both religions even if they were really Taoist.

It is said that in one of their pilgrimage to a Buddhist temple, they entered the hall of the 500 Arhats. Whereby the image of one of the Arhat, Mahakasyapa, fell off from the altar. It was taken as a sign that at that moment Mahakasyapa’s energy or spirit left ‘his’ image.

Not long after that, Ji Kong’s mom found out she was pregnant. They remembered the incident in the temple and believed that the baby in her womb was a gift from the Buddhas. They even began to think, that what she was carrying in her womb is the reincarnation of the Arhat Mahakasyapa!

At the age of 18, Li Xiuyuan decided to go to Hangzhou (a province in China), to enter the monastic life at the famous temple called Ling Yin Temple. After several years of studying Buddhism, he was finally ordained as a Buddhist monk and named Dao Ji Chan Shi. He was then normally called Dao Ji, thus this has become another common name of Ji Kong.

His monastic life proved to be short but memorable. Being born from a very rich family, he’s used to eating meat and drinking wine, and he was unable to give this up when he became a monk. Furthermore, he started showing some eccentricity and it is believed that he is slightly mad. However, they all agree that he is kind hearted and generous. Nevertheless, because Zen Buddhists strictly prohibits eating of meat and drinking of wine, they really didn’t have much choice but to expel him from the monastery.

After being expelled from his monastic life, Dao Ji or Ji Kong never really bothered to search for another monastery that can adopt him. He just roam on the streets and is often thought of as beggar monk, because he really didn’t gave up his Buddhist robes either.

His eccentricity continued to manifest on the streets, but so his kindness and compassionate heart. It is said, the even he looks poor he never really begged for money, and it is often a wonder as to where he gets money for food. Some say that it could be part of his inheritance, but if it were from his inheritance, it’s a mystery were he kept his wealth.

However, after a while, Dao Ji or Ji Kong started to manifest another eccentricity. Since he has a compassionate heart, he would often approach beggars on the streets and other poor families. He would listen to them, crack a joke, then murmur a prayer, after which he’ll use his fan to fan them a little. Soon after these incidents the recipient of his kindness and weird ritual will come to a good fortune. He thus earned a reputation for being a Buddhist magician, which, in turn earned him the title Ji Gong Huoto, which means the Living Buddha Ji Gong. Ji is derived from his Buddhist name Dao Ji, Gong, is a respect for a powerful elderly, and Huoto literally means living Buddha.

At his old age, Ji Kong was adopted by another monastery. This is where he passed away on the 14th day of the 5th Lunar month. Right after his death, Taoist immediately adopted him as their deity, and it is said the he continuously manifest his compassionate and magical powers to every one who keeps his image and go to him.

His image is usually pictured as a monk in rugged clothing, holding a bottle of wine and a ‘magical’ fan. He is always shown with a smiling face, because he has a very happy nature. Although, he is usually pictured wearing a hat with the word Fo, which means ‘Buddha’, Buddhist never really considered him as Buddha or a Bodhisattva. However, seeing how much he is revered in Taoism, Buddhist did include him in their Koans, some sub-sects even considers him as an Arhat.

This is a jade Ji Gong pendant. It’s very similar to the one that I have.

Having an image of Ji Kong at home, and wearing his image as a pendant is a sure way to continuously tap into his blessings of wealth.

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Signs or Omens of a Bad Travel Luck

Published Marso 14, 2012 by jptan2012

It’s summer once again here in the Philippines and it’s vacation time for most of us, this means a lot of us will be traveling again, either by plane, ship or car. Boracay, Panglao, Palawan, Puerto Galera are some of the tourist spots here in the Philippines that’s going to be swarmed with local tourists. Flights to Caticlan and Bohol are again to be full, and the roads to Batangas is again going to be congested. Not to mention, Baguio is going to be crowded! Tagaytay is again going to experience power shortages because the number of tourists who flocks there every summer is so many that they are unable to continuously provide the high electricity consumption brought out be vacationers.

It’s easy to get really excited to travel, but you should be careful, because every year we hear about stories that what was supposedly fun vacation became horror or sad stories. Usually, if we just pay attention to what’s happening we are actually given some signs of danger.

I’ve been lucky enough to be able to travel a lot, either for business or leisure, and because of that I always make sure that I watch out for ‘signs’ that a specific trip may be affected by bad energy. I started paying more attention to these signs or omens because the last time I ignored a sign my father had a major stroke and passed away in China.

A month or two before my parent’s annual trip to China, my father’s passport went missing. They looked for it everywhere but it proved to be futile and they never found it, they had to rush a new passport for him. When my father got his new passport, my mother then lost her passport. However, this time they found it soon after. By this time, I already told my mom that maybe they shouldn’t push through with the trip because it seems like a sign that they shouldn’t be taking this trip. They’ve never lost their passports and for two passports to go missing seems like to be a sure sign.

When they got their passport, my parents went to get their visas. However, they had encountered another problem. I again reiterated my thought that maybe they shouldn’t push through with the trip. My mother was already having second thoughts, but this is their annual trip to China, and more than leisure it’s a pilgrimage to the biggest Kuan Yin in the world.

Although familiar with Feng Shui, I hadn’t really taken up any formal training then, also I’m not yet familiar with the different Taoist and Buddhist oracles at that time. My mom then decided to consult a Taoist priest who supposedly can go into trance and channel the spirit of a Taoist deity. The response of this Taoist priest is that it’s safe for my parents to take the trip.

My father had a stroke and died in China in that trip. Because of this I always make sure that I shall never ignore a bad travel luck sign or omen.

If you’re going on a trip, do make sure that you don’t ignore these omens or signs that you might have bad travel luck. The following are just some of the signs but please note that this is not complete and omens may vary from one person to another, but these are some of the most common signs.

First: Missing Essential Travel Paraphernalia

If you’re missing essential travel paraphernalia such as your passport, a visa application form, or your travel bag, it may be a sign that you shouldn’t be making that trip. If possible, postpone that trip, if not, go to a temple or a church and ask for protection. On the day of your trip wear a Sun Wukong and/or a Kalachakra Pendant.

Second: Running Into a Limping Dog or a Limping Cat

Running into a limping dog or cat on your way to the airport is a sure sign that something bad might happen when you arrive in your point of destination. . It is better to cancel the trip or postpone it. If you’re unable to cancel it get a rock or sea salt and throw it behind your back. The act of throwing the salt behind you creates a celestial barrier between you and the bad luck. Carry a small pack sea or rock salt with you the entire duration of the trip.

Third: Dreaming of a Monster, Bad Spirits, Wild and/or Fierce Animal

If you dream of a monster, bad spirit or spirits, and/or scary fierce wild animals a few days or on the eve of the trip, you have to cancel your trip. It’s a sure sign that something bad will happen. In fact, it may even cause death.

When I was about eight years old, I lost a cousin because his brother and parents ignored this warning. Before I move forward with the story, I just want to clarify; that what happened is n one’s fault. They simply don’t know how to interpret a warning.

Anyway, my cousins and their parents were invited by a business partner to go to their rest house for a short vacation. On the eve of their trip, the eldest son, F, dreamed of a beautiful spirit woman chasing him. She wants F to go with him. Still within the dream, F refused to go with the spirit woman. This angered the spirit woman and said if he refused to go with her, she’ll just ask one of F’s siblings to join her.

The following day, R, one of F’s brothers shared with one of their sister that he dreamt of a beautiful but bad spirit woman riding with them in the car. This really didn’t bother R and the sister. However, when it was time to leave, R, fell from a short flight of stairs, and had a very minor injury. Nothing that can’t be treated with your ordinary home antiseptic, however, R felt uncomfortable and decided not to join them. However, their mom got angry and said it’s embarrassing if he won’t be joining them because their business partner is expecting the whole family to go.

Her mom won the argument and everybody went to the vacation as planned. That same afternoon they had a dipped in the swimming pool of the business partner’s pool. The deepest part of the swimming pool is 5 feet deep, and R, who was 19 at that time, was around 5’5. My aunt and uncle, their business partner, the children of their business partner, my cousins, some of their maids, the family drivers of both family who were tasked to look after the swimming ‘children’ are all either in the pool or around the pool area. R, who knows how to swim, drowned and nobody noticed him. No cry for help, no struggle. He drowned at the middle part of the pool, which is about 4.5 feet deep.

They don’t know what happened. They don’t understand why nobody noticed him, because all in all they were about 20 of them in the pool or in the area around the pool!

When his parents consulted a Taoist priest about the incident, they were told that a spirit caused the accident. This is when F remembered his dream and the sister remembered what R told her.

If you happen to have a similar dream, even if it’s not as vivid as that of my cousin’s, I suggest you cancel your trip. If this is not possible do go to a church or a temple. You can also wear a Sun Wukong or A Chung Kwei (also spelled as Chong Kwei or Zhung Kwei). More about Chung Kwei on my future post. A Kalachakra Pendant will also help.

Fourth: A Minor Car Accident, a Flat Tire, and a Funeral

If on your way to the airport or to your destination, and if you had a minor accident, a flat tire, or you run into a funeral procession, that simply means that you have to be careful when you arrived in your destination. The minor accident, the flat tire, or the funeral only means that whatever danger or bad luck has been averted already, so do drop a small amount of money on the road.  This is like paying back the good luck that you just got from the aborted bad luck. To understand these further do read my previous blog about funerals. Nevertheless, it still pays to be very careful.

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