A couple of days ago I blogged about the Dharma guardians, and one of those guardians is Guan Di, a legendary Chinese general who, in addition to being appointed a protector of the Buddha Dharma, is also an object of worship in his own right in Chinese folk religion.
This fearsome, red-faced soldier is always clutching a sword, poised to strike obstacles out of his way. You can see him frequently in a small shrine in Chinese shops and restaurants, as Guan Di is the appointed deity to guarantee success in business and the accumulation of wealth. This is why there are frequently whole temples devoted to him - including one in Sydney's Summer Hill - the business people who make offerings are inclined to be lavish in their praise, and so Guan Di temples can be sumptuous.
I have a confession to make - ever since I returned to university in 2005 I have made my own special devotion to Guan Di, beseeching his help in assignments and exams (Guan Di is also the protector of students). And I have to report that throughout the entire period I have done exceedingly well in my academic pursuits. Chance? Maybe, but I am superstitious enough to believe that my humility and thanks in the face of the universe's generosity may just have helped things along. And channeling that thanks through the form of Guan Di was convenient and served as an excellent visual stimulus.
I went to temple today (it being the last day of the year I can possibly do it) to give thanks for all of the wonderful things that have happened to me in 2007 and to pray for his continued protection. I pray that all of my readers may be similarly protected!