Kishitigarbha (Jizo)

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Jizo and the paramitas

The transcendent practices emphasized by Jizo are vow, discipline or ethical conduct, powers, and effort.

Jizo is especially venerated for his strong vow to save beings in even the most horrific situations. Jizo has been enacting this vow for an inconceivably vast time period and will continue to do so until the arrival of Maitreya as the next buddha. He is always present in all realms to help all of us. We can activate this aspect of Jizo in our practice when we commit ourselves to remain present with those in desperate situations, calmly and sympathetically witnessing their plight and giving assistance if we can.

Ethical conduct
Jizo's commitment to the second paramita—ethics, morality, or discipline—is apparent in his persona as a monk, embodying ideal standards of purity and discipline. A major aspect of Jizo's liberative work is to educate people about the consequences of their actions and recommend beneficial spiritual practices. When we study our responsibility for the consequences of our deeds and share this study with others, we are extending the ethical concern of Jizo.

Jizo exhibits the perfection of powers in his ability to liberate beings, as in the pictures of Jizo lifting beings out of hell. In the many folk stories, he shows his power to perform the toils of others, and even to accept their tortures.

While all the bodhisattvas are involved with all the ten perfections, the other paramita that seems particularly demonstrated by Jizo is effort. Jizo Bodhisattva works hard. He endures the fires of hell for the sake of helping beings. Perhaps this quality of Jizo as a hard worker, with a straightforward, down-to-earth style and practice, is what makes him one of the most beloved of the bodhisattvas.