Artist's Stmt on Spirit's Journey, p1

Most Japanese consider themselves both Shinto and Buddhist at different times and places. They are said to be born Shinto and die Buddhist. Shinto rituals are traditional at birth, marriage, and festivals. Buddhism is practiced at solemn events like funerals. Shinto worshipers are moved by awe and reverence rather than piety, ethics, or doctrine. Mythological spirits (kami) are believed to inhabit rocks, trees, and animals and are both revered and feared. Rituals, like purification rites, are ways of communicating with kami. Buddhism is based upon the verbal discourses of the historical Buddha, the Indian prince Siddhartha Gautama. He believed that all life involves suffering that is caused by attachment, desire, and ignorance. Release from suffering can be attained (Nirvana). Mahayana Buddhism was imported into Japan from China and Korea. It teaches that especially enlightened saints, known as bodhisattvas (Bosatsu in Japanese), are capable of attaining release from the round of birth and death, but chose to remain incarnations of Buddha (Nyorai in Japanese) in order to assist other beings. The best known Buddha, Amida, is the protector of the human race and revered by “Pure Land” Buddhists. Kannon Bosatsu, one of Amida’s two companions is an especially revered bodhisattva that appears in seven forms. She embodies compassion. Her task is to listen to the prayers of those in difficulty and assist them in achieving liberation. Another much loved bodhisattva is Jizo Bosatsu, recognizable as a monk with a six-ringed staff in his hand. He is the patron of travelers and appears along roadsides. He is also the protector of children, and his statues are often adorned with caps, red bibs, and toys. Zen Buddhism, in contrast to Mahayana Buddhism, shuns scripture and doctrine and emphasizes self-discipline and meditation (zazen). Zen has inspired the arts of calligraphy, painting (sumi-e) poetry (haiku), garden design, flower arrangement (Ikebana), and the tea ceremony.