A few weeks ago, a package arrived in the mail from a friend. It was a small box that was surprisingly heavy. The return address on the package said it was from The Monastery Store in Mt. Tremper, New York. Hmm. I knew a friend was mailing me a package as she had told me to be expecting something…but what was this?
When I opened the box, I discovered a small cast iron Buddha looking statue. What was this thing, I thought? A Buddha to pray with?
The packaging slip included described this little guy as “3” Cast Iron Jizo.” Okaaay. Who is that? (Sounds a little naughty too, but ahem, I digress…).
Before calling my friend to thank her for her gift, I did a little research. (Didn’t want to be completely Jizo ignorant.) So, apparently a Jizo is a Bodhisattva (Japanese Buddhist god) who plays the role as a protector of children and unborn children who died before their parents.
“The statues are believed to be protectors of children and unborn babies in traditional Japanese Buddhist teachings. It is believed that as the babies did not have the chance to build up good karma on earth, Jizo helps smuggle the children into the afterlife in the sleeves of his robe.”
Many women who have experienced miscarriages put them in their homes as a remembrance of their unborn child. (The Japanese Art of Grieving a Miscarriage.)
But Jizo is more than that. As The Monastery Store describes on their website: “Small, yet fierce as a mother protecting her child, Jizo Bodhisattva–Ksitigarbha, or “Earth Womb”–aids all those in the six worlds of existence who need relief from suffering.”
I hadn’t experienced a miscarriage, but I have had a rough year. When that package arrived in the mail, I’d been feeling lost, unsettled and uncertain of everything for awhile, on and off. My friend, so kindly, wanted to give me a little peace.
I put my Jizo on my bedside table, where she (he? I don’t know, but I like to think of her as a woman) watches over me and provides me comfort. I do feel a small sense of relief when I look over at the statue before I go to bed and wake up in the morning.