As I write this I can see, just to the left of my computer, a wooden carving of a Buddha on a lotus throne. It looks a bit bashed around and doesn’t quite sit straight – it never has.
Some years ago, I was looking around the bookshop at Throssel Hole Priory (as it then was) and saw a group of wooden carvings which, I think, had recently been imported from Hong Kong. I was particularly taken with a Buddha on a lotus throne with an intricately fretted and carved nimbus behind it. It was in three or four parts – the Buddha itself which was loosely do welled into a lotus throne made out of several layers of carved wood and, plugging in behind the figure on a flimsy wooden tongue, the carved nimbus. The other carved figures looked pleasing too, especially the one of Kanzeon with an upended water jug, but the one I really liked was the Buddha. Anyway it was too expensive for me at that time so I had to let it go but I did remark to the monk running the bookshop how attractive I thought it was.
A couple of visits later that same monk told me that the Buddha carving which she believed I liked had been bought but had been subsequently returned because the purchasers had discovered, when they got it home, that it was seriously flawed. Apparently it didn’t fit together as it should and looked crooked. Since it was now second hand, would I like to buy it at a reduced price? I did and here it is.
When I got it home I did a certain amount of improvement on it. I managed to make it fit together a bit better so that it looked almost straight and I glued some of the parts permanently so they wouldn’t go any further out of alignment. Then I varnished it and this turned the bare wood a rather nice golden colour. I placed it on the left of my computer, where I could see it and where, I assumed, it would be reasonably safe.
While I was replacing and updating my computer equipment earlier this year (faster horses, you understand) a power cable, sweeping across the table, knocked the little figure on to the floor where it broke into four pieces (different pieces from the original components, of course) and suffered a split where no Buddha statue should have one. Well, I restored it once again but, I’m afraid it’s now more crooked than ever. Every so often I turn the Buddha slightly on the throne and move the nimbus from side to side but it’s impossible to get everything straight at the same time.
Now, I expect you think, I’m going to start drawing parallels with the spiritual life or use this as an extended metaphor for my own training. Well, it’s OK, I’m not. Just straight Buddha, crooked Buddha, that’s all.
By Tony Lee
Thanks Tony for this article. And for those left wondering where about’s that split was where ‘no Buddha statue should have one’…. In my view it was the split dowel which affixed the statue firmly to it’s seat, the Buddha’s Lotus Throne. Now, I expect you think I’m going to start drawing parallels with this split and personal training… I’ll do that tomorrow!