Thursday, June 11, 2009

If you find the Buddha at Target...

I'm super picky when it comes to images of the Buddha (well, I'm picky when it comes to what I find beautiful, period).

There are conventions of Buddhist art I've incorporated into my own work, such as the three rings on the neck. (This started during the Tang Dynasty, when Rubenesque body forms were considered beautiful.)

I've seen some Buddha statues where the head is lowered in an almost slouching position. Not my favorite depiction.

I'm also not partial to the Thai representation, where the bun on the top has transformed into a divine flame usually shown as a sharp point. Interestingly, the bun at the top of the head has been explained to me (by Chinese Buddhists) as the location of a special "second brain" which allowed Sakyamuni to achieve enlightenment.

It's fascinating to me how the Buddha was an Indian man but he's rarely conceived of as one. This is similar to how some Protestants have told me that Catholics aren't Christian (usually, after I point out that there's a special someone hanging on the crucifix, they're very startled).

I find it unnerving how we appropriate and then become accustomed to our appropriations, as if they were always what we thought and anything else, including historic or factual evidence, becomes a heresy of sorts.

Anyway, I found this Buddha statue at Target and it's a testament to the good stuff they sometimes carry. I once told my mother that I wanted to "buy a Buddha statue" and she immediately corrected me:

"You do not buy a Buddha. You invite one."

Invite Beauty,

I.
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