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  • Paul Rutherford

BUDDHA'S ROOTS


In Singapore’s Chinatown – on the corner of Sago Street and South Bridge Road – stands the Buddha Tooth Relic Temple (BTRT), a magnificent Tang Dynasty-style building. It’s a place of worship, a museum and a cultural centre. Buddhists like teeth; there’s a similar relic temple in Kandy, Sri Lanka. The reverence with which both sites guard their connection to Siddhartha, the founder of the faith, is evident in the amount and purity of the gold they use to protect it. The similarity between the two is noticeable, given that Sri Lanka practices the Theravada tradition (“The Way of the Elders”) and China follows the Mahayana (“Great Vehicle”). For an imprecise Western parallel, think Catholics and Protestants. In the BTRT’s Universal Wisdom Hall you can see representations of other boddhisatvas (think ‘saints’) , such as Akasagarbha, Avalokiteshvara and Manjusri. Revered figures throughout the Buddhist canon, here each is assigned the role of as a Zodiac protector in line with the 12-year cycle of Ox, SHeep, Dog and so on. This is a unique variation of the faith. When Buddhism arrived in the China, it needed to put down roots, and did so by embracing established traditions and culture - just as Japanese Zen came from links into the samurai tradition. Management thinking c. 200 BCE: Think global, act local.

Coachaiku: 17-syllable reflections, in a 5-7-5 form, for personal and professional development.

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