Tibet and India: Buddhist Traditions and Transformations

As Buddhism spread out from north India, the place of its origin in the sixth century BC, the core ideas of this great religious tradition were often expressed through images. This Bulletin and the exhibition it accompanies, “Tibet and India: Buddhist Traditions and Transformations,” focus on Indian and Tibetan Buddhist art of the eleventh and twelfth centuries… (Free PDF download) Beautiful Buddhist works of art

Cover of Tibet and India @ Metropolitan Museum of ArtAs Buddhism spread out from north India, the place of its origin in the sixth century BC, the core ideas of this great religious tradition were often expressed through images. This Bulletin and the exhibition it accompanies, “Tibet and India: Buddhist Traditions and Transformations,” focus on Indian and Tibetan Buddhist art of the eleventh and twelfth centuries, a period that witnessed both the end of the rich north Indian Buddhist tradition and the beginning of popular Buddhist practice in Tibet. At this critical juncture in Buddhist history, a number of Tibetan monks traveled down out of the Himalayas to study at the famed monasteries of north India, where many also set about translating the vast corpus of Buddhist texts. Continue reading “Tibet and India: Buddhist Traditions and Transformations”

A small bronze Buddha

This small bronze Buddha (16.8 cm) is probably one of the earliest iconic representations of Shakyamuni from Gandhara.

Buddha is probably one of the earliest iconic representations of Shakyamuni from GandharaThis small bronze Buddha (16.8 cm) is probably one of the earliest (1st to mid-2nd century) iconic representations of Shakyamuni from Gandhara. He sits in a yogic posture holding his right hand in abhaya mudra (a gesture of approachability); his unusual halo has serrations that indicate radiating light. His hairstyle, the form of his robes, and the treatment of the figure reflect stylistic contacts with the classical traditions of the West. This Buddha shows closer affinities to Roman sculpture than any other surviving Gandharan bronze.

Click on an image below to view larger photo.

© The Metropolitan Museum of Art

Cold Mountain: Chinese poet Han Shan

Han Shan wrote poems for everyone, not just the educated elite. A man free of spiritual doctrine, it is unclear whether or not he was a monk, whether he was a Buddhist or a Taoist, or both. It is not even certain he ever lived, but the poems do. Short film (about 30 minutes)

Cold Mountain is a film portrait of the Tang Dynasty Chinese poet Han Shan, a.k.a. Cold Mountain. Recorded on location in China, America and Japan, Burton Watson, Red Pine, and Gary Snyder describe the poet’s life and poems.

Han Shan

Short film (about 30 minutes)

Han Shan wrote poems for everyone, not just the educated elite. A man free of spiritual doctrine, it is unclear whether or not he was a monk, whether he was a Buddhist or a Taoist, or both. It is not even certain he ever lived, but the poems do.

Children, I implore you
get out of the burning house now.
Three carts await outside
to save you from a homeless life.
Relax in the village square
before the sky, everything’s empty.
No direction is better or worse,
East just as good as West.
Those who know the meaning of this
are free to go where they want.

Red Pine poem 253

Directed by Mike Hazard and Deb Wallwork, the music is by Gao Hong and animations are by John Akre. For more, visit Center for International Education.

The film will engage people interested in poetry, China, Zen, Taoism and other spiritual pursuits.

For more from Red Pine (Bill Porter) click here.

Season’s Greetings from all of us at Buddhism Now and BPG!

Season’s Greetings from all of us at Buddhism Now and BPG!

Season’s Greetings from all of us at Buddhism Now and BPG!

Sadaksari-Lokeshvara Surrounded by Manifestations and Monks (Avalokiteshvara) C15th, Tibet. © The Metropolitan Museum of Art

Photo: Sadaksari-Lokeshvara (Avalokiteshvara) Surrounded by Manifestations and Monks C15th, Tibet. © The Metropolitan Museum of Art.

This painting represents the “six-syllables form” of Avalokiteshvara, evoking the mantra om mani padme hum. Surrounding him are bodhisattvas, an array of protectors, and a lineage of monks. This manifestation of Avalokiteshvara is especially associated with the Dalai Lama, who is understood as an incarnation of this form. Sadasari is conventionally white, though here is represented all gold, the most radiant of colours.

Tantric shrine, disclosing Nirvana within the petals of a lotus

Buddhist art: Tantric shrine, disclosing Nirvana within the petals of a lotus.

Gilt bronze Tibetan Chinese mandalaMandala. At the centre, a tutelary deity, Yi-dam, of buddha rank, locked in embrace with his prajna, or wisdom party. Twenty lesser divinities surround them, two or three on each petal, before circular drums or altars. Continue reading “Tantric shrine, disclosing Nirvana within the petals of a lotus”

Fudo-sama — immovable wisdom

Fudō uses his sword to cut through ignorance and his lasso to reign in those who would block the path to enlightenment.

Fudō uses his sword to cut through ignorance and his lasso to reign in those who would block the path to enlightenment. Fudō Myōō (Achala-vidyārāja)
Artwork © The Metropolitan Museum of Art

Fudō Myōō is the most widely represented of the Buddhist deities known as Myōō, or Kings of Brightness. A fierce protector of the Buddhist Law, he is a direct emanation of the Buddha Dainichi Nyorai, the principal Buddha of Esoteric Buddhism. The first sculptures of Fudō made in Japan were seated, but standing sculptures like this one were carved beginning in the eleventh century. Fudō uses his sword to cut through ignorance and his lasso to reign in those who would block the path to enlightenment. The heavy weight of the shoulders and back is planted firmly on the stiffened legs, appropriate for a deity whose name means the “Immovable.”

This statue, originally composed of six hollowed-out pieces of wood, was formerly the central icon of the Kuhonji Gomadō in Funasaka, twenty miles northwest of Kyoto.

Continue reading “Fudo-sama — immovable wisdom”