Tuesday, April 12, 2016
Buddhas & Bodhisattvas In Repose -- at The Met
We were in NYC last weekend to see Jessica Lange and Gabriel Byrne in Long Day's Journey Into Night (an eye-opening experience I'll write about this weekend.) While there we ducked into The Met to take a quick look at the treasures therein. These Buddhas and Bodhisattvas were stunningly elegant. In Christianity the core image is Christ on the cross, an expression of pure suffering. In Buddhism, the deities are shown after the suffering has ended, when the figure in question has awakened to the transience of existence, and, no longer clinging to phenomena and life, experiences enlightenment and seeks to help others through his example. In Christianity, Christ helps others by sacrificing himself, or allowing himself to be sacrificed. Christianity does have many images of the beneficent Christ, for example as the Shepherd. But the cross is always the heart of it. Years ago on a trip to Mexico I noticed that the suffering Christ was more front and center than we typically see in the US. After all, the people there have suffered a lot, so it's a matter of identification. But then again, so to is the affection for the Buddha in repose.