touching the earth

A little visual treat this week.

While in Toronto I picked up a small book, The Perfection of Wisdom, featuring some amazing manuscript illustrations of the life of the Buddha and extracts of the 8,000 line Prajnaparamita selected and translated by R.C. Jamieson (Viking Studio Publishers).  The illustrations are from two 1,000 year-old manuscripts in a collection at Cambridge University Library.  One of these is believed to be the oldest dated illustrated Sanskrit manuscript (997 CE) and the other is the oldest dated Nepalese manuscript (1015 CE)  in the world.  They are painted on palm leaves and used to protect the sutra manuscript.

This one is of the Buddha at Bodhgaya in the touching of the earth pose.  Probably my singular favourite story and a lesson about belonging and living my intimate truth that I could never practice frequently enough.

In that moment of calling on the earth to bear witness to his rightful place, the Buddha also embodies the truth that in order to be real, to become realized, we must see each other purely and intimately.  The Prajnaparamita teaches that “the components of personal existence, the elements, or the bases of sense perceptions are not dual, are not divided.”  There are no categories.  Only relationship.

2 thoughts on “touching the earth

  1. what an amazing image and to think it is on a palm leaf! and a lovely teaching that you offer too, “to become realized, we must see each other purely and intimately.” This is our work, to see with clarity where we are so often confused and filled with clinging.

    • I know! I understand that the Sanskrit script developed its angular form because it was the only way to inscribe a palm leaf without tearing it… I imagine circular scripts would have lead to interesting holes in the text… not that there aren’t “holes” in the scripts anyway! 😉

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