Black Buddhist Deity Fudo Myo'o
Most African Traditional Religions can co-exist with many religious systems, as is evident in West Africa today, where one will find a Christian leaving church to make sacrifices to their family dieties and Ancestors, or a Muslim offering libation to theirs.
Spiritual disciplines designed to relieve personal and universal suffering, such as in following the �Eightfold Path� practiced by many sects in Buddhism, is not a contradiction to either the Vodoun nor Mami Wata tradition.
These virtues are also no more unique to Buddhism, as Morality is to Christianity. These tenents exists within ATRs (African Traditional Religions) as well, and may even have their early genesis in Africa.
Conversely, in spite of the media�s overemphasis on the �magical� aspects of Vodoun, there are levels, both mystical and practical, in which one can see the parallelism between Buddhism�s historical development, and its ancient African origins.
Additionally, though certain Buddhist sects tend to downplay its early significance, there were a variety of �magical and ritual arts,� utilized and incorporated into Buddhism�s early practice which is very similar to Vodoun.
For example, the use of magical incantations to call upon deities known as
the Myo-o for both personal protection, and community defense against witchcraft and sorcery was widely practiced by many advanced Buddhists priests (monks).
These deities would indeed manifest and come to their defense, many armed with a variety of unique weapons.
This � Myo-o� was associated with the Kurai Kotori Clan, known as �Fudo Myo-o, meaning the � Unmoving Illuminating King.�
What is important and interesting to note, is that few practicing Buddhists today even know that this �Unmoving Illuminating King� diety (Fudo Myo-o), was an African.
He was known in China as �Fire� or the immovable fire. What is even more interesting, is that one of Fudo Myo�o�s particular implement was the thunderbolt, which he holds in his right hand.
Similarly, in Vodoun, the Thunderbolt is also the implement of Heviosso, our �Thunder god�, and is considered one of the most powerful gods in the West African Vodoun pantheon.
Fudo Myo-o in the above photo also holds a staff implement coiled by a serpent.
Of course, many Vodoun practitioners will quickly recognized this symbol as the Rainbow Serpent Spirit Da (Dan), the deity who encompasses many powerful attributes of health, wealth, movement (rhythm) creativity and wisdom, not to mention representing the collective embodiment of our African ancestors.
Indeed, it would greatly benefit African-Americans, and those interested in unearthing the hidden past of Africa�s early religious influence on the major religions, to learn more about, to embrace and not shun nor forget their own indigenous roots, as they seek out a suitable spiritual path.
In doing so, they will find that they greatly compliment rather than contradict many of the so-called modern spiritual tenents such as those found within contemporary Buddhism.
Finally, below are links for further research and study for AA�s and others interested in Buddishism from an African American perspective.
http://www.proudblackbuddhist.org/Buddhist_The Black Buddhist Deity Fudo Myo'o
Article: Choyin Rangdrol Racism in Buddism
Essentials of Buddhism
African & African-American Nichiren Shoshu Buddhist Web Site