Above is an ordinary, nothing special Buddha (with lichen spots) who has been sitting in my yard in Asheville for several years, and throughout it all, he has been consistently still and calm. In all circumstances and weather, covered in snow, leaves, poison ivy, or pounded by rain and heat waves, his subtle smile is unwavering. He has been completely unruffled by Trump's election, greed, twitters, corruption, and narcissism. He calmly faces threats to climate and civilization, and as for changes in immediate landscape—new moss carpet, pine needles, flowering plants—and his appearance—coats of spray paint (to cover lichen), Windex baths, he is completely indifferent. His smiles at me serenely, regardless of my changing moods, illusions, and suffering. I am in awe of him for these things and particularly struck by his disregard of bitter cold, something I cannot bear.
And If it sounds like I view him as a living being, I do. In one flash of awareness he was this remarkable creature of pure equanimity, chilling out in the yard for years on end, and in the next, he was the unchanging being/truth inside me and us all.
Yes, alive! Outside and within. And at the same time, an idea I had always considered this way: pictures or statues of deities, enlightened and holy beings are merely attractive symbols for the religious-minded and the hipster to display or masterpieces for art historians to study (the latter—me, now and then.) And so it follows that if I had met this Buddha guy coming down the road at one time in the past, I would have killed him.
Note: “If you meet the Buddha on the road, kill him” is from a koan attributed to Zen Master Linji, founder of the Rinzai sect. There are various interpretations, but I prefer - whatever your concept or image of the Buddha and enlightenment is—get rid of it! IMO using the word "kill" is just shocking enough to stun the Buddhist-trained mind into silence/emptiness.Maybe not.
Maybe I'm not an iconoclast any more, or just a selective one. Am thinking of the power of Tibetan Buddhist images and how they are intended for the creator and viewer to transcend ego/illusion. My heart and soul need these masterpieces, but apparently spirit can also be moved by a mere lawn ornament or a piece of meat(!)* (See story below)
17th C. Tibetan thanka of Guhyasamaja Akshobyavajra, Rubin Museum of Art
Anyway— this nothing-special Buddha led to something
In the midst of the political and world messes and my personal joys, euphoria, heartaches, and physical and psychological pain (shoulder/yoga practice/surgery) there is something unchanging and forever. It's there like the Buddha's smile, no matter what.
I've scheduled surgery with stem cell therapy in August.
Yard Buddha: still smiling.
*Story : Equanimity : Enlightened by Meat:
When Banzan was walking through a market he overheard a conversation between a butcher and his customer.
"Give me the best piece of meet you have," said the customer.
"Everything in my shop is the best," replied the butcher. "You cannot find here any piece of meat that is not the best."
At these words Banzan became enlightened.