It’s Okay… Just Do Your Best!

Above: [Stele with a Buddha & two Bodhisattvas, Eastern Wei (534–50 CE), Limestone, overall height 310 cm, Collection of the Qingzhou Museum, Shandong Province, China] Hmmm… a ‘smuggled’ shot from the exhibition? Who’s the naughty one!? Anyway, the museum’s shop sells a nice coffee table book with much better detailed shots of the images in the exhibition, plus historical cum cultural commentary.

Fragments making up an ancient Buddha image.
Made me frown a little,
wondering how (in)completely
I’m picking up the ‘pieces’ of his timeless Dharma.

But still, though he stands still,
his smile is discernible,
still beckoning, as if to say,
‘It’s okay… just do your best! And I’ll still do my best!’*

*In the Mahayana tradition, Buddhas never retire due to their infinite compassion; not even after their parinirvana, thereafter they re-manifest indefinitely as Bodhisattvas to aid beings in need.

Just visited the ‘Serenity in Stone‘ exhibition again today, this round with a guided tour by 3GEMS and with the Pureland Practice Fellowship. It never fails to astound me how unenlightened(?) humans can sculpt such graceful images of the enlightened. Of course, the fully enlightened in their total splendour should be much more magnificent, but many beautiful images already give us pretty amazing inklings of their grace. My theory of how such wonderful images can be made is simple – it is due to the very truth that all of us, sculptors and ‘connoisseurs’ alike, have the same Buddha-nature, the potential to be Buddhas, the innermost nature that is not unlike the Buddhas’. This must be how the creators can shape such majesty, and how the appreciators can rejoice in their works. The moment the artist mindfully sculpts, and the moment the visitor mindfully appreciates the sculpted, are the moments they tune to their Buddha-nature.

(A little of a damper here… I saw the names of supposedly eleven nuns etched faintly onto the backdrop of a set of Buddha-Bodhisattvas images. It looked rather untidy. Maybe there was excess eagerness to leave their names behind to mark their meritorious commission of the work? The good news is that our Buddha-nature can never be marred by even the subtlest of attachment, aversion or delusion. That’s what makes it precious and worth discovering in full!)

Related Article:
For that Ensconced Heart of Yours

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