Wisdom is our best friend, an inner voice that never leads us astray; and our best friend looks like this, the beautiful Wisdom Buddha Manjushri.
Right from the first time we hear a Dharma teaching, we are being encouraged to develop our wisdom realising that happiness depends upon the mind. Gradually, this simple understanding develops into the wisdom realising emptiness, seeing directly that everything arises from mind. To help us make this journey, we can rely on Manjushri. A lot of people get a bit discouraged about Buddha’s wisdom teachings – maybe you’ve read a chapter on ultimate truth in one of the books and thought ‘that’s way too intellectual and complicated for me.’ If it seems complicated, we can ask for Manjushri’s blessings to help us understand; and if it seems intellectual, we can ask for Manjushri’s blessings to help us realise that we’ve missed the point and need to focus on the practical value!
Buddha Manjushri carries a wisdom sword that can cut through our ignorance and unknowing. In the prayer Homage to Manjushri, it says:
‘Your sword held aloft dispels the darkness of ignorance,
And cuts through all roots of suffering.’
The closer we get to Manjushri, the more our wisdom will grow; but to get close to someone, you first have to meet them! An empowerment is where we are introduced to a Buddha. The teacher granting the empowerment will have spent some time in retreat, developing a deep connection with Manjushri; a connection that they then share with us. On the basis of this introduction, we can then form a close relationship with Manjushri, until he becomes like a friend we can rely on and trust with anything.
There’s a wonderful story about Manjushri in How to Understand the Mind, where a famous teacher called Dharmakirti is trying to write a Dharma book. He keeps trying to explain the topic to a neighbour, but the man doesn’t understand and keeps getting angry and erasing everything Dharmakirti has written. Finally, Dharmakirti gets totally discouraged and decides there’s no point writing about wisdom because no-one ever gets it. He throws his manuscript up in the air, saying ‘When this book hits the ground, I’m giving up.’
But the manuscript never comes down. Dharmakirti looks up and sees that Buddha Manjushri has appeared in the middle of space and caught the book before it could fall. So he realises that he has to carry on with his task.
I love this story because it shows how important it is to keep on trying to understand and to teach Buddha’s wisdom, and it also shows that Manjushri is always there to help encourage us.
More: Manjushri Empowerment