Buddhist Path

  • My Buddhist Path is a work in process.  This granite slab caught my eye one day as a fair and elegant icon for the plane of perceived reality of our human path in life.  I will not attempt to defend that statement but perhaps you might agree especially if you know something about the so-called Buddhist Path.

    You obviously will have your own perception of what this is or represents so I will not attempt to interpret this piece for you.  However, I will tell you what the elements represent so you have the opportunity to know what it meant and continues to mean to me which, incidentally, changes as time passes.

    The large chip out of the right end represents arriving on this plane, i.e., birth.  The four larger bronze pieces adjacent to the chip represent the idea of perceived distinctions in my view of my life and its contents.  On one of the pieces, barely visible, is a small bench representing the thought process that I had harbored virtually all my life, always wondering if there isn’t SOMETHING else going on that is just out of my grasp.

    My questioning began to take on more direction many years ago after having taken the two-weekend EST Training workshop. I continued to participate in the EST organization and its various activities for about seven years.  Just as I was about to move on, the founder gave me a little, now dog-eared book “Zen Mind Beginners Mind”.  I didn’t understand it, but I have continued to re-read it over the years.  This exploration branched out into many other Buddhist books and eventually led me to a Buddhist lay practice that has become a core part of my life.

    The 16 little bronze steps leading from the four larger bronze pieces depict my Buddhist  path in life.  At the end of these steps is my vision of a “Tori Gate” or gateless gate, .  This icon, in my understanding, has the flavor of a perceived barrier/gate often seen at the entrance to a holy shrine in the Japanese culture.  My very simplistic description of what I was attempting to depict is that the gate or barrier to enlightenment is an illusion, that we only need recognize as an illusion to “awaken”.

    As you see the final version of this piece includes a second Tori Gate. The pearly white of the first gate represents my conceptual vision of a gateless gate.  The second Tori gate is unfinished and represents the fact that Nirvana cannot truly be expressed in words or pictures; indeed any preconceived vision of Nirvana is merely a conceptual representation of the actual experience of awakening. That second gate continues to change, just as does my understanding and misunderstanding of my Buddhist path.