mithriltabby: Buddha zen-zapping Slick (MAX ZEN)
[personal profile] mithriltabby

On Twitter, BuddhistHulk has been making a number of LOLisattvas lately. The LOLisattva depiction of Palden Lhamo reminded me that Buddhist Hulk introduced himself as a “MODERN DAY FIERCE DHARMA PROTECTOR”, a dharmapāla— a notion out of Vajrayana Buddhism that there are wrathful deities (which could be anything from an ancient hill spirit to an emanation from a powerful bodhisattva) ready to battle the opponents of Buddhism. Buddhist Hulk takes his icon from a Tibetan artist depicting pop culture icons in traditional form, including one picture of the Incredible Hulk as a dharma protector. So we have ancient deities and modern superheroes reflecting off one another here— we can take it one step further for use in a role-playing game.

In a supernatural timeline, the exile of the Dalai Lama from Tibet in 1959 might have caused a number of dharmapālas that had previously been tied to monasteries to be turned loose upon the world, just in time for the Silver Age of Comic Books. A spirit might take on a human form with mask and cape initially, then pop out in their most terrifying form when the time comes to strike fear in the hearts of criminals. The open-ended goal of a bodhisattva to liberate all sentient beings provides an easy plot hook for bringing in such a character as a good guy or helpful NPC. A character could be portrayed as ancient and worldly-wise, or freshly arrived from the hinterlands with lots of chances to make comical mistakes about modern culture. In a game like Feng Shui, the character would probably be a Supernatural Creature with the Transformation schtick to allow them to pretend to be a human being when not actively battling evil.

Regarding LOLisattvas, BuddhistHulk and I had an exchange:

* This is a reference to “All dharmas are Buddha-dharmas”, a quote from the Diamond Sūtra.

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