reface  



is elementary book on Chinese Buddhism and its more popu-
larly worshipped Deities, has been writ en for the benefit of
Buddhists amongst the Chinese community. I refer to them as
Buddhists in italics because they do not have a clear idea of their
faith. eir spiritual practices have been reduced to mere super-
stitious beliefs and blind faith due to lack of doctrinal knowledge
and opportunities to meet with Dharma teachers.
It is amazing to find Buddhists who do not know what their
religion stands for. Some do not even know who the Buddha is
or whether He is the same Buddha who was born in India, or
what is meant by "Refuge-taking". Just by offering incense to the
Heavenly Gods and to the Ancestral Tablets does not qualify
them to be Buddhists as it is not a Buddhist practice at al . In or-
der for them to find comfort and meaning in their religious pur-
suits they must, first of al , have a clear idea of what Buddhism
is and what constitutes its practice. It is also important that they
are able to distinguish the differences between Buddhas, Bodhi-
sat vas and Gods, otherwise the term `deity' would have to be
used to describe them. is explains why the title of this book has
been changed from "e Buddhas and Bodhisat vas of Chinese
Buddhism" to the "Popular Deities of Chinese Buddhism".
e picture of the popular Chinese Pantheon of Deities gave me
the inspiration to write a book which offers the opportunity to

give an explanation on the meanings and differences between
the various classes of divine beings that exist in Buddhism. I
have the chosen the same picture for the cover design with the
hope that its familarity with the average Buddhist will induce
them to read it so as to gain a basic knowledge of their religion.
Apart from giving a general outline of Buddhism and its entry
into China, I have also at empted to provide brief accounts on
the important doctrines that the Buddha has taught, prayers that
one may recite to the Buddhas and Bodhisat vas, how to become
a Buddhist, and a number of interesting articles that are related
to Chinese Buddhism.
is is indeed a book of love -- love for the Greatly Compas-
sionate Kuan Shih Yin who came so suddenly into my life in
1979 and bringing so much meaning to it. It is also writ en for
the benefit and sustenance of our insignificant Kuan Yin Con-
templative Order which has been blessed with the visits of so
many wonderful Dharma teachers and friends. Final y, my very
grateful thanks to my brother Nelson Wong, who is my spiritual
benefactor, and my wife for her great patience with me during
my nightly struggles to bring forth this book.

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