MANJUSHRI is one of the oldest Buddhist icons in existence, a Bodhisattva—a soul who has already attained full enlightenment and Buddhahood, but chooses to stay and help show the way to others rather than go on into higher realms for themselves.
The flaming sword he holds is a symbol of cutting down and destroying suffering and the root causes of suffering—not by dissolving or dissipating it, but by transmuting and transforming its existing energy into pure wisdom.
Manjushri was known for his straightforward style of teaching, “jumping right to the top,” where other Buddhas and Bodhisattvas were known to begin with the elementary teachings and work their way up to the complex teachings.
He is said to have been the teacher to seven different Buddhas, including Shakyamuni Buddha—the most well-known Buddha in this day and age. It is also said that Manjushri himself was an emanation of the primordial radiant white Buddha Vairochana, who vowed to appear throughout the Universe as a Bodhisattva of wisdom to lead beings in contemplation that would guide them to discover the true nature of reality for themselves.
Shantideva, the author of The Guide to the Bodhisattva’s Way of Life (Sanskrit title: Bodhicharyavatara), received the wisdom and instruction to write the Guide from visions of Manjushri visiting him in the middle of each night. Je Tsongkhapa is also known to have received the teachings in his commentary on Atisha’s text The Stages of the Path (Sanskrit: Lamrim) directly from visions of Manjushri.
The following Manjushri blessing has been interpreted by Still Yourself, to reflect an updated, modern understanding:
Blessings to you, honorable teacher and protector Manjushri!
At your Heart you hold the ancient text which reveals the immovable truth that all things are simply as they are, eternally of the same energy, forever one. The compassion you have found in this truth shines like the sun and dispels the clouds of ignorance and delusion.
You gently and patiently embrace like your only child all beings who are momentarily in the prison of samsara and overwhelmed by their suffering. You unconditionally love and guide them through the confusion and darkness of ignorance.
Like the roar of a dragon’s thunder you speak truth, waking all from the sleep of delusion, and cutting through iron chains of karma.
With the flaming sword of wisdom upheld in your right hand, you are quick to cut down all roots of suffering wherever they begin to appear; with its light, you chase away the darkness of unmindfulness.
Though you have realized the highest perfection of a Buddha, in pure love and compassion you choose to stay with us as a Bodhisattva and a servant of all.
OM AH RA PA TSA NA DHI
O Manjushri, I bow in respect to you!
With the radiance of your wisdom and boundless compassion, help me to recognize, acknowledge, and eliminate all darkness of ignorance and confusion within my mind, that my own wisdom and insight may realize these truths and act upon them immediately!
This Manjushri Meditation Center was originally envisioned as a local meeting hall for meditation, events, and even a 24/7 chapel available to anyone who needed intentional and respected silence any time of day or night. I believe this center will still see manifestation, but in the meantime, it has incarnated as an online meditation center—also available to those who need the sacred space, 24/7.