asian-spirituality

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The Thousand Hand Bodhisattva Dance

Performed by China Disabled People’s Performing Art Troupe, the Thousand Hand dance is a portrayal of Guan Yin (Chinese: 觀音菩薩), an East Asian spiritual figure of mercy, the Goddess of Mercy, and a bodhisattva associated with compassion.

The thousand hands represent Guan Yin’s many abilities to render assistance. There are a thousand eyes on these hands which give her great powers to observe the world.  Guan Yin also has many faces so she can become who people need her to be, not necessarily herself, because her help is given in a way that is literally selfless.

All members of the dance troupe are hearing impaired.

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The Majority-Christian Asian Nation (and some other interesting things about the Philippines)

Its been a while since I did a facts list…here we go:

  1. The Philippines has the highest rate of discovery of new animal species with 16 new species of mammals discovered just in the last 10 years.
  2. The world’s largest pearl was discovered by a Filipino diver in the Palawan Sea in 1934. Known as the “Pearl of Lao Tzu,” or “Pearl of Allah,” it is worth around US$40 million, and is believed to be 600 years old.
  3. The Philippines is the only country in the world whose flag is hoisted upside down when the country is at war.
  4. The yo-yo had its beginnings as an ancient Filipino studded hunting weapon attached to a 20-foot rope. 
  5. There are between 120 and 175 individual languages spoken in the Philippines, 171 of which are living while the other four no longer have any known speakers.
  6. Both University of Santo Tomas in Manila, founded in 1611, and the University of San Carlos in Cebu City, founded in 1595, are older than Harvard University (which was only founded in 1636)

Quick note: there are actually two majority-Christian nations in Asia, and both are in Oceania! One is the Philippines, and the other is East Timor.

flickr

Black Gate by ScottSimPhotography
Via Flickr:
A dark, wet day in an ancient forest in Kyoto, Japan. ● Sony a6000 ● Rokinon/Samyang 12mm f2.0 All rights reserved. Please do not use any of my pictures without prior permission.

paulinepark.com
Transgender Identities & Spiritual Traditions in Asia & the Pacific: Lessons for LGBT/Queer APIs | Pauline Park
Presentation at the Pacific School of Religion Chapel, Berkeley, 2 April 2013. This presentation mentions specific identities that stem primarily from "pre-modern" East Asia, Southeast Asia, and some of the Pacific Islands.
By HPA, misbah

To begin with, while it is true that contemporary LGBT identities are of recent vintage, it is equally true that there were people in every pre-modern Asian or Pacific Islander society who were like us in important respects and whom we would call lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgendered. The last are what I would call ‘proto-transgenderal’ — a term I coined to describe those whom we might consider transgendered in centuries long before the term ‘transgender’ came into common usage…

The important point is that we as LGBT/queer APIs must known the history of our predecessors in order to counter the narrative of LGBT and queer as foreign, white, Western, and even specifically North American; only in doing so can we reinsert ourselves in the governing narratives of our countries, cultures and communities of origin. That is an important lesson for queer APIs; as I say, it is not that we should necessarily identify with the paksu mudang or the bissu or the hijra; rather, that examining such figures, we as queer APIs can re-envision ourselves in the light of such figures as both API and LGBT/queer. In other words, examining such proto-transgenderal shamanic figures from pre-modern Asian and Pacific Islander cultures can help those of us who are queer APIs to engage in identity formation in a way that avoids the binary opposition of LGBT = white/API = non-LGBT; it enables us to re-envision ourselves as queer and API by pointing to predecessors in our cultures of origin.

But the implications are not merely for individual identity formation but also for community construction; pointing to proto-transgenderal figures and images can enhance the sense of community among contemporary queer APIs and especially transgendered APIs; examination of such figures and images can even have implications for political action by challenging and disarming the false discourse of reactionary elements in the Asia/Pacific region today and in API immigrant communities that attempt to label LGBT identities as false and foreign, the fabrication of white, Western and even specifically American influence.