Saturday, February 14, 2015

Kurukulla; or How to Turn Yourself Into a Sex-Crazed Buddhist Love Machine

Although I've know for a long time that Buddhism built on and follow Hinduism, I never thought about the idea that there are gods/saints in Buddhism as there are in Hinduism, or that they the two pantheons may share concepts similar to the way that the Greeks and Romans did.  My introduction to this concepts was through Steve Perry's novel Champion of the Dead and the Buddhist love goddess Kurukulla. 

You're going to want to enlarge this to find your personal connection with God

(Almost all of the text was pulled almost entirely from Hong gui Huan’s Magick Pagoda).
NAME: Kurukulla “Of the Family of Harsh Sound,” (pronounced ku ru ku le,) Also Ri J├Ędma “Joyous Manifestation” (pronounced rig byed ma) red joyous manifestation, Wang-gi Lhamo (pronounced dBang gi lha mo), Rig Che ma, One of the Action Family, Goddess of Power. Kuru means “harsh sound,” Kulla means “family.” Sometimes spelled Kurukulle.

AREA OF INFLUENCE / CONTROL: The generation of energy and power, the transformation of obsessive craving, according to folk custom the one to call on by unhappy lovers for assistance. The goddess who transforms dualistic desire into non-dual desire through her unbridled thunderbolt of lust, who influences all beings and enchants them through her bewitching power of love and desire.

USUAL IMAGE: An energetic dancing voluptuous female figure said to be 16 years of age, (because sixteen is the ideal number that signifies perfection, four times four.), She is fiery red, has one beautiful face (embodying non-dual wisdom beyond conventional distinctions of good and evil), her face is poised between fierce and peaceful, has three eyes, and dark yellow hair driven upward by her own intense internal power. 

Kurukulla has four arms and hands, the top two of which hold a bow and arrow, with ones underneath holding a hook in the right and a lasso in the left, all are made out of red utpala flowers which are a type of lotus that stands as a symbol of purity in Tibet because of the way it grows out of mud unsullied these tools are meant as implements of conquest. 

She wears a tiger skin skirt, and the five-skull crown which is usually associated with wrathful awareness, this however complimented with flower ornaments rather than human bone ornaments. 

She stands with her left leg pressing on a red corpse, (the corpse of egoism), and her right leg raised in dance position. 

She has a sun disc and lotus seat, and is surrounded by a circle of flames of immaculate consciousness studded with wishing jewels. 

Some images show her wearing a necklace of fifty human heads dripping blood as a symbol that she vanquishes the fifty negative emotions. 

SYMBOLS: The color red (energy), flower bow and arrow (which fire thoughts of desire in the minds of others), utpala flowers (purity), Hook (which attracts and summons others into her presence) & Lasso or Noose (with which she binds those summoned to her will). 

DETAILS:  Kurukulla is, in Tibetan Buddhism, a yidam, or that is a special deity one works with in meditation as a means towards recognizing one’s own awakened nature and to bind one’s mind by oath to a deity who embodies an enlightened mind. 

She is red to show her fierce energy, some mistakenly equate with her with Kali because of this, but her ferocity is tempered with calm, also her bow and arrow are made of flowers to shows that although the image of the bow’s tension is there and the arrow’s menace, with Kurukulla they simply relax into the spontaneous delight of self-accomplished non-dual pleasure.

While the above is as about as enlightened sounding as you can get, most people who call on Kurukulla by repeating her mantra do so in the hopes that a chosen and perhaps reluctant object of desire will become inflamed by love and/or simply lust…. Okay, mostly lust really.

As I’m sure you are curious what this mantra sounds like (purely for academic reasons to be sure.) it goes like this:

Om Kurukulle Hrih Svaha 

Or that is to sound it out


Use with caution, your results may vary. 

And as a further admonition it should be noted that many different forms of Buddhist have different ideas on Kurukulle and are just as straitlaced and stuffy about this sort of thing as your average Baptist minister, Rabbi or Catholic priest, and advise that if you want to make this work you have to say this mantra exactly one million times in one long sitting while for the first 500,000 you visualize the object of your affection seated in front of you powerless to resist your charms, and watch as he or she grows older in front of you and suffers all the pangs and arrows of life becoming ill and then dies, then for the second 500,000, ask yourself what it would be like if you devoted all this energy to enlightenment for the welfare of all sentient beings, of whom your beloved is also included. 

I however personally doubt the thousands of common folk who have used the above manta followed that advice to the letter and cut short the more than 28 hours of non-stop chanting the above would take or it would not have become so popular.

I mean what will those daffy prudes do to calm the general populace down next?

Me I would suggest that if you absolutely feel the need to try this get yourself some red flowers and candles and give it a good 16 minutes, as that seems to be a number linked to Kurukulla.

But what would I know? According to one person (who claims to be channeling Kurukulle herself) everything said by a man about her is a lie, and while I am doing my best to type this using only the half of me that has X chromosomes I figure its was only fair of me to tell you that.


Monday, February 2, 2015

From Chi to Cyber: The Journey of the Lin Kuei in Mortal Kombat

Sometimes you play video games for the great writing.  Knights of the Old Republic, Dragon Age, Mass Effect, Planescape: Torment are a few that come to mind, and certainly there are others (Bioshock, Dishonored) that I haven’t played yet but reputedly have great writing.  Then there’s Mortal Kombat.  I’m not sure how many people play Mortal Kombat for the writing, but I admit that I’m hooked on one of the subplots in 2011’s Mortal Kombat.

There are a variety of factions kompeting in the kombat (forgive me the many k’s), like the Blood Dragon crime syndicate, Shaolin monks, and ninja clans.  Among the factions is the Lin Kuei, a cult of assassins that turns orphans into devout killers.  What makes the Lin Kuei particularly interesting is their decision to move past the spiritual practices of chi and prana and begin the adoption of technology in their art.

By adoption of technology, we aren’t talking guns and knives.  No, the Lin Kuei go all out, hacking off the lower body of their assassins and building armored cyborg bodies with lasers and rocket launchers around what remains of their killers.

Some characters enter the process willingly, others are dragged kicking and screaming to the blades.  All along the doubters worry that having their bodies cut apart will cut apart their spirit, and disconnect them from perfection.

As a yogi and as a bionic man, this notion disturbs me.  Prana, the yogic counterpart of Chi, rides the breath, and flows through all the limbs of the body.  When connected to your prana, the yogi can move with complete integration of the body, and ultimately with world.  As that connection takes our awareness out, it also draws our awareness inward.  Ultimately we see that the core within ourselves is the same in everyone we see, and at the center of us all is unity with a piece of perfection.

(This is why yoga people seem so fucking relaxed all the time)

So while I practice an art of peace, and the Lin Kuei practice an art of war, it is the same kind of energy that we tap into as we move.  Once you’ve touched it, cutting someone off from that energy is, frankly, horrible.  But how much machine does it take to cut you off from perfection?

How many times have I heard the first harrowing description of Darth Vader?  “He’s more machine now than man, twisted and evil.”
This guy lost his moral center even when he still had 95% of his original parts.

With that one sentence pop culture, even in the form of a movie deeply entrenched in eastern philosophy, teaches the world that the bionic and the spiritual are diametrically opposed, an idea that has spread through film and television at pace as fast as the spread of artificial organs and limbs through our bodies.  I am happy to report that this notion is, of course, wrong.

A few significant parts of my heart are artificial, made of Dacron and titanium.  Despite the very center of my being partially artificial and ticking like a clock, I am fully human, fully functional, and full of perfection.  My artificial heart valve may be loud, but it also keeps me focused and balanced.  Take that, Obi-Wan!

Ultimately that is the story of the Lin Kuei in Mortal Kombat as well.  The process of making them cyborgs does cut them off from themselves and their emotions, but it is a deliberate action.  In time one of the assassin-heroes, Sub-Zero, defeats the programming that cut him off from himself and turned him into a cold(er) killer, and returned to being the hero he strives to be.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Down in the Bardo, Part II: Champion of the Dead

Fresh off of the unexpected delight of a trip to the Bardo in Marvel’s Iron Fist: The Living Weapon, I decided to try Steve Perry’s take on the Buddhist Hell.  Some days Steve Perry is one of my favorite authors, but his writing is hit or miss for me.  He’s a best selling author for his time writing under some of Tom Clancy’s house brands, and I’m guessing he makes most of this money these days writing military sci-fi novels like the Cutter series.  And while these stories are okay, where Perry really excels is when he writes about martial arts and eastern mysticism.

Champion of the Dead has a modern setting, following the life of dmag-lag-rtsal practitioner Sam Kane.  Dmag-lag-rtsal is an obscure (but apparently real) Tibetan martial art that also happens to prepare you to enter the Bardo, a Buddhist version of Hell, and help guide souls to their next incarnation on the Great Wheel.  The novel opens with Kane taking on an assignment from a mysterious billionaire to help his daughter pass peacefully to her next life.  From there conspiracies and combat touching both the living and the dead ensue.

Perry is a long time martial artist, which shows in his writing- the action is detailed and brilliant.  Like all good martial arts tales there is also a crotchety martial arts master, or in this case a pair of them, helping Kane along the way between wisecracks.  I don’t know if Perry did this intentionally, but I could feel the influence of Remo and Chuin from the Destroyer series in some of the dialogs. 
The concepts artists for Mortal Kombat are reading the same manual on designing Hell.

This makes for a complicated Saturday night
As much of the novel takes place in the Bardo as it does in our world, and Perry’s depictions of Hell are intense.  The steaming piles of excrement that meat eaters are forced to climb will surely help keep me on the vegetarian track; well, at least close to it.  The Bardo is an insane place, which oddly resembled the Netherrealm and Outworld backgrounds in Mortal Kombat that I also happen to be playing lately.  A lot of Champion of the Dead feels like a novelization of the Tibetan Book of the Dead, so you wonder in the Mortal Kombat artists read from the same manual.  There are also gods both Hindu and Buddhist wandering about, leading to discussions such as “…consider the logistics of a god who has eight arms and three penises coupling with a goddess who has four arms and nine vaginas.”

Kane’s fights with demons are as much a matter of will as of skill.  “Kane stood ready, his sword forged of love, hope and prayer, in hand,” may be one of my all time favorite lines from an adventure story, which is probably influenced by my time in yoga.  Speaking of which…

Kane has several dmag-lag-rtsal students, and he hopes to find one to pass along his skills to and who can take his place in the future.  They all bring different backgrounds in mind-body techniques or combat, each adapting in different ways.  While the student with an aikido background looks promising, the one with a yoga background is less so.  She moves as well as, if not better than, the other students, but her background in yoga provides her with challenges.  Her yoga training “had taken her down a different path.  She was reluctant to hit people, even when she could.  This was not necessarily a bad thing in a warrior, to know when to hit and when to wait, but it could be a problem, taken too far.”  In time Kane and his student agree that the two paths are, ultimately, the same.  Both yoga and dmag mean “union”, but the time where the inherent violence of dmag-lag-rtsal and the pacifism of yoga reveal the same unity may be decades of practice away.

There’s not a lot of action/adventure novels out there with authors who understand yoga or concepts like ahimsa or pranayama, and most of them have Steve Perry’s name on the cover (Matt Stover, Steve Barnes, and at least one of the house authors of the Destroyer series round out the mix that I’ve seen so far).  Champion of the Dead is a great story if you are looking to merge your inner peace with some smack-fu.

(And a special thanks to Steve Perry for introducing me to Kurukulla, the Tibetan goddess of passion, with her bow made of flowers and bees, stark naked and trampling the ego.  That is perfection.)