Posted by: nicodemomanifesto | September 26, 2009

Buddhism, Untitled

3 Day Buddhist Experience


Today I’ve decided to present to you one of my own personal paintings. I made this painting last semester for an assignment in my Eastern Religions class. The assignment was to follow either 5 or 10 of the Buddhist precepts for 3 days, I followed 9 (I figured it would be near impossible for me to not eat after noon for the rest of the day). We were allowed to express our experience being Buddhist for 72 hours any way we liked, either through an essay, a short story, a diary, anything. I chose to do a painting.

I based my primary sketches off of other traditional Buddhist pieces of art as seen below. Some of the same elements I used were the lilly pads the Buddhas are sitting on, along with halos adorned with flowers in back of them. I also used the stylized clouds in my painting and the idea that the Buddha is perched next to a coastline.

Some noticable differences between my painting and the other traditional Buddhist images are that my lilly pad is on top of a mountain, there is no Buddha seated on the lilly pad, and there is a figure at the base of the mountain attempting to climb up. The significance of these changes is that it represents my journey in Buddhism and the struggles I faced.

The lilly pad is placed on top of a mountain because it is supposed to be out of reach. I am trying to grasp at the idea of what being a ‘perfect’ Buddhist is, and I speculate if I can ever really achieve such a thing. Although I only got a taste of what Buddhism really is, I felt like I really connected with the religion and it certainly intrigued me. I am most definitely interested in further studying Buddhism, and even practicing it, but I don’t feel like I’m ready to take on such a task yet.

There are a few possible interpretations for the lack of a Buddha in my painting. One silly idea was that I was to be the next Buddha, so I was meant to fill the empty seat. Obviously this was not a serious idea, but rather just for fun. A more serious interpretation would be that the Buddha was missing as an extension to the theme of the mountain, meaning that the task of having to follow in the footsteps of the Buddha seems nearly impossible. Is living the life which the Buddha lead really even plausible for a human? Trying to connect to the Buddha on a personal level seems very difficult, mostly because he seems so unhuman and abstract. As if being the ‘perfect’ Buddhist is impossible because it would require the follower to no longer have natural human qualities.

There are plenty more details to be observed and disected in my painting, especially because it has to do with something as complex as religion. I don’t exactly want to point out every possible interpetation, because I like to leave a little mystery, plus it would take forever. Let me know what you think of my painting and how you personally interpret it!


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