Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Buddha on Loan

Not a Buddha, rather a statue of a Buddha, symbolic of a Buddha.

2500 years ago, when a monk wished to draw a likeness of Shakyamuni so that the monk could keep the Buddha in mind at times when he was meditating at a distant place, Shakyamuni said "No, but you may draw an image of the Bodhi Tree to keep me in mind."  Thus started the tradition of symbolic rather than lifelike images of Buddhas.  Here he is shown with the vitarka mudra, representing discussion of the Dharma.

Icons which were made for meditative purposes in temples were subject to theft, plunder, and profitable trade at a later date.  The 31st of the minor bodhisattva precepts urges the bodhisattva to redeem such treasures.  However 1500 years after the formulation of those precepts, the cultural context is no longer relevant.  Images are produced commercially for decorating homes, gardens, and businesses.  Such is the case here, this statue being accurately and artistically produced, later purchased by our local dentist, and stored in his garage.  So he then lent it to us indefinitely rather than have it languish in storage, and we are happy to give this Buddha a temporary home.  

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