Scanning the view out my bedroom window in the wee hours of the morning, I continued to play with the crystal heart. What I caught with the camera was again powerful. An overwhelming warmth, a deep feeling of love arose as I looked into the heart’s center and there I saw my beautiful garden Buddha, presiding over the autumn earth and remnants of the past season’s blooms. There were undefined yellows, some bright golds, spotty oranges, poignant dark purples and deep browns. As the sun was peeking on the right side, an orb created by the interaction of the statue, the light, the crystal, the sky, the sun and the wind appeared. The entire landscape transformed into a Buddha field. The mantra simply danced in my mind’s eye… Gate, Gate, Para Gate, Para Sam Gate…Bodhi Svaha, as I uttered similar words heard 2500 years ago. What do I need to know to expand this practice of supreme wisdom? How shall I best use my innate wisdom and what I learned over this life span? Can I use my art to help others see the beauty and strength of a fully open and grateful heart? Is this my task in this lifetime?
I am referring to the question described in The Heart Sutra, also called the Perfection of Wisdom Sutra. It was part of a lesson said to have been taught over 2500 years ago at Vulture Peak Mountain, located just outside the ancient city of Rajgir, in India, at a gathering which included the historical Buddha, along with a fully enlightened Avalokitesvara, or a venerable being called a Bodhisattva, who simply understood things as they are, and monks who were always eager to learn. What has come down in written form is a discourse explaining that nothing is inherently solid onto itself, including our forms, our perceptions, thought, ideas, concepts or beliefs. Everything is interdependent, and when we understand that phenomena are what we perceive, guided by our interpretations, we begin to feel liberated. Our place and time in the world are perfect, our form is perfect, and so are our perceptions, thoughts, ideas, concepts and beliefs, as long as we are present to see that all exists only in our awareness. But this “all” is available to be embraced, play with, contemplated, learned and eventually released. Under this scenario, Avalokitesvara assured, we will abide in wisdom and will be a light unto ourselves, so that others can learn too. I like to point out that this most revered and studied of the Buddha’s teachings is not a simplistic as it appears here. For today, I want to share how I open the door to better understand, how abiding in gratefulness and love can alter the land, the people and everything, and I know I can best express it through what I see and paint.
Thus, in the studio, I allowed the Buddha’s image to stay at the center of the paper, surrounded by the huge beating heart, to represent the wisdom of his teachings as embodied in the Dharma. Avalokitesvara is the orb above the Buddha, implying that they are not separate. Not as if they speak with one voice, but rather share the wisdom. The gold leafed shapes and lines, along with the silvery strands represent the innate wisdom we all share and are capable of uncovering. We don’t need to seek it. Like I said last week, it is here within us, within our heart-mind. As we uncover it, we are grateful for our joyful heart and feel irrepressible and unconditional love. Abiding in acceptance and in peace, we become a light. This is represented by the Amethyst at the end of a spiral and at the heart’s point spreading garlands of love and light everywhere. The images imply that the Buddha Field is everywhere we are. No tickets required, just acceptance of who we are, willingness to play full on with all our partners and sincere gratefulness for the marvelous playground we created. To emphasize that we are always in this “field”, I changed the contrast when printing it.
I invite you to answer the last question I posed in the first paragraph. I know I better understand my mind, my life events and the circumstances I am in by creating art and then meditating with it. Can meditating and contemplating the art help you? What are your experiences? Are you willing to try it with this piece and comment on the results?
The image is 13” x 13” mixed media on paper. It is available for sale @ www.lidiascherart.com, under New Work.