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A Sad and Beautiful World: Lessons from the Lotus Sutra Mandala

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posted on Dec, 12 2011 @ 10:58 PM
Hi ATS. I Came across the pictures below recently and thought I’d share. It has interesting metaphysical and spiritual implications.

The pics below are details from Scroll 3 of the the Lotus Sutra Mandala at Hompoji Temple in Japan, painted from 1326-28. The piece as a whole illustrates each chapter of the Lotus Sutra, one of the most influential and significant scriptures of Mahayana Buddhism.

Medieval devotees of the Lotus Sutra could use this artwork to mentally walk their way through the scripture, and for various contemplative spiritual exercises and experiences.

The scene that caught my attention in particular was from Chapter 2 of the Lotus Sutra, where a parable is set forth. In this parable, our world is envisaged as a beautiful manor that is on fire. Inside children are playing merrily, totally oblivious to the dangers around them, and their father needs to lure them outside with the promise of a ride in a special cart. The parable is supposed to illustrate (among other things) the inherently unsatisfactory nature of our life (a central Buddhist theme). The father represents an awakened individual who must try a variety of variety of different means to get the children outside (i.e., to get “childlike” people to “awaken” to the transcendent).

The picture of the world here is complex: it is seen as a mixture of pleasure and horror. Children are playing in a carefree way without realizing the danger posed by the fires that blaze all around them. Other dangers, like birds of prey and poisonous snakes, also lurk here and there. Some areas of the manor seem perfectly OK, such as the treasured vase that can be seen through the window of an opulent tower. But other areas are beyond saving.

In addition to its excellent brushwork and bold rendition of fire, the scroll expresses the peculiar mixture of beauty and danger, sorrow and joy, play and decay, and constant turmoil that is our world, both spiritually and materially. The use of this scroll as a spiritual tool for contemplation is also interesting in its own right, beyond the merely aesthetic aspects. I hope you enjoy the images as much as I did. I’ve left some of them large so you can see as many details as possible…the scroll is incredibly intricate.

Below: The world as a mansion on fire, a mix of luxury and horror:

Below: a closer look

Below: Barely outside of the range of the fierce flames, children play without realizing the danger that will soon engulf them if they are unable to awaken to the true nature of things.

Below: A tower on fire holds a precious vase, while idlers enjoy a chat in the garden, not realizing the peril that lies all around them.

edit on 12/12/11 by silent thunder because: (no reason given)

posted on Dec, 12 2011 @ 11:34 PM
Hi many thanks for this very important work, a blessing to receive a reminder. A blessing to know where we stand, a blessing to know what we might not know.
thanks AT your coucin

edit on 12-12-2011 by ancientthunder because: miss spelling

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