According to the snippets of history that have come down to us about the life of Buddha, as he neared the end of his life he asked that there be no images made of his face and body. The implication being that these images (like words) would not only be a poor substitute for the living teaching, but would also lead to confusion and error in one’s practice.
And yet, the iconography appeared. And I’ve joined the ranks of presumptuous well-meaning artisans that have appeared ever since. Even now, having made hundreds and hundred of Buddha sculptures — in the image of men and women, old and young, reflecting all sorts of ethnicities — I am a little ambivalent about what I do. Perhaps I would have been better off with just that initial lump of clay. Maybe that would have been a more authentic representation….
Today, day 4 of the Buddha being out in the elements, I celebrated seeing how the elements of nature have distributed themselves and spread their “thusness” around. Pine needles have landed on various parts of the body of Buddha. And Buddha’s body has (with the help of yesterday’s rain) spread itself beyond the stone slab for the first time, bequeathing the nearby leaves with a sheen of gray. Already! A commingling of being begins.