tag : bright yellow-green apples: visage

"I see little point in persisting in a discussion with one so obstinate as you" Martin White

Friday, May 13, 2005

visage

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figure 67.1. yet to be

For quite some time now, I've had this little Buddha statuette - a whimsical present from my mum. It's an elegant thing - and though a cheap wooden trinket, it's come to signify quite a lot to me over time. Not least, the story of how the Buddha achieved nirvana and then returned out of compassion, to help all others. In the context of my shrine, it teaches me every day that religion isn't simply a private revelation or contemplation - that it's a vision taken out of the ritual or small sacred space into every part of life, which we might find as sacred.

Well the dog had been sniffing around for some time now, pinching the odd candle. I suppose having it in a low windowsill doesn't help, nor that most of the things in it are nicely chewable. One day disaster struck, and I found the Buddha statuette lying on the floor, with his face missing - chewed off. I was upset and angry, and gave the dog a rather frosty reception for a while. I packed my shrine up, and put it away, to avoid any more loss and destruction. But I got over it pretty quickly, and begun to contemplate the damaged object. I certainly recalled the two giant Buddhas that had long existed without faces, victims of violent attacks. Not that I'd accuse our dog of being akin to the Taliban - that would be a little like overreacting (which of course, I never do!) Anyways, maybe there was actually something I hadn't seen before now?

There's a story that if you ever meet the Buddha on a roadside, you should put him to death. Kill the Buddha. From my own reflections in faith, I've often returned to thoughts around this - that we should hold what we see and know in faith very lightly. And carefully let it go, in favour of allowing ourselves to see things afresh. I don't mean simply a novelty-seeking or restless approach, change for it's own sake, which would be tiring and lose so much along the way. More that we need a dynamic internal reformation, which allows ourselves to change and accommodate and to adapt with life's many lessons. In the face of new experience and what other people can teach us, any stolid fixed faith would be a little bit like spiritual death. Maybe this faceless statuette can keep reminding me of something. In it's sheer anonymity, losing any specific visage. That our religious truths come to us in many people living around us now, re-casting those great figures of Jesus Christ and the Buddha we know. That our truths need the potential to be seen in a multitude of faces, incarnated in everyone, if we might see and make our God and our salvation (to use Christianspeak unabashedly) in this life.

It's sat on what's left of my bookcase at the moment, while I wonder what to do with it and the rest of my shrine.

10 Comments:

Blogger ash said...

my shrine get's constant abuse from my curtains, who not only thwack things when ever they are drawn, they shed blue dust over everything... I think they're dying.

Some intriguing and wise thoughts there.... some stuff to ponder on for sure.

12:39 PM  
Blogger mary said...

oh...for a shriney home for my candles and bibles and hidden books telling you how rosary beads work, and my stained glass and indiany box. living in a very protestant rectory means shrines aren't really an option, just little hidden bits of shrine around my room. :) really good post there, very thought provoking. reminded me of the sermon i heard on sunday about the shrine paul encountered to the unknown god - maybe the people in athens were onto something? not that we can't know god, just that god is a big complicated ball of things it's hard to understand or assume, so better to keep him meaning everything, universally reachable. ponder ponder.

3:20 PM  
Anonymous Donna said...

Laurence,

I think this is one of your most well-written and thoughtful posts. I really enjoyed it! Now I'm going to go back and see what "Kill the Buddha" is all about.

3:29 PM  
Blogger Ruthie said...

Clearly the Lord made your dog munch your Buddha to show it up for the false idol it is ;)!

Just kidding - good to see we can reflect on even the little accidents that come our way...

Ruthie

PS. See, I do post on your blog sometimes!

3:48 PM  
Blogger Andy said...

Laurence,

That story made my day! I will endeavour to preserve it in my memory as a fable (well it has animals in it doesn't it?) that has something to teach us.

As you suggest, figures such as Buddha and Christ are faceless, in the sense that they are both our universal teachers and that which we have to imitate. Christians try to become Christlike, Buddhists try to find their Buddha-nature within them.

I extend my blessings to your iconoclastic dog!

Andy

7:01 PM  
Blogger postliberal said...

Ash -

I'm not exactly precious about my devotions, and I suspect you aren't either. A bit of knocking around is par for the course, maybe even more realistic in a living religion. In this particular case, though, total destruction seemed to be likely one of thse days. So we have a temporary measure.

Only last night I was settling into sleep when he came blundering over my head onto the windowsill, scattering all the tapes I also have up there in a noisesome clatter. No respect at all, tut tut. Though in this case, he had a fair excuse - still being still in trauma after going on a walk with a much larger and much more randy dog.

1:09 AM  
Blogger postliberal said...

Mary -

That story of St Paul coming across a shrine to unknown God is a really interesting one. Not least because he doesn't disavow it, but seeks to relate his own personal encounter through Jesus Christ to it, and to how other people experience the divine in thier own ways. he niether abandons his own vision, nor subsumes other's. Christians may have seen emmanuel, but that little nugget of a story offers so much hope - that we might not have a Jesus who's a barrier to others, but a face of God, specific yet with a universal message that goes beyond our specific plural views.

1:13 AM  
Blogger postliberal said...

Donna -

Thanks for that...all the more gratifying because I don't always think it likely a late night waffle from me will make any sense at all! I reccomend you check the whole schebang out - I reckon it's inspiring stuff, almost whatever perspective you might come from.

1:15 AM  
Blogger postliberal said...

Ruth Ann -

Ha, looks like you have indeed defied my expectations and come out the woodwork ;) Strange, so much of where I've got to here and now seems to have come out of what are effectively mishaps and mistakes. Like going along to CU, par example!

1:18 AM  
Blogger postliberal said...

Andy -

I think Dave (aka Sparbrook Maples) is going to appreciate all this attention and the idea that he might be a carrier of God's messages, hehe. And thanks muchly for deeming me worthy to join the panthion of modest fables with that little ramble, tis such an honour.

You put that well. I should add here that the very specificity of these two figures should be valued infinately. They need to be stories of living breathing people, of bodies, with thier own particular lives. As long as that specificity is generous and open to the world - with enough scope for people to find themselves, thier lives, within. Jesus Christ is at once a first centaury Jew and found in everyone who lives inspired by the spirit...this is getting a bit simplistic in my talk, but you get the idea...

1:26 AM  

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