Historical Buddha Shakyamuni

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30 x 24 cm
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A thangka is a Tibetan painting that is traditionally used as a support for one’s meditation practice. The imagery depicted in Tibetan paintings provides a guide for the elaborate visualizations that one does in Tibetan Buddhist practice. In Tibetan homes and monasteries, thangkas are considered sacred objects and are often placed above shrines.

At the age of 16, Prince Siddhartha married Yashodhara and they later had a child, Rahula (the name means “obstacle” and speaks volumes about the paternal feelings attributed to the prince). Other sources claim that he had three spouses and followed a traditional career path as a future monarch. At any rate, destiny had other plans for him in the form of four encounters that took place during one or several excursions outside the palace: he met an elderly man, a sick man, a corpse, and an ascetic. The first three encounters made him aware of the transitory nature of existence, while the fourth brought him a sense of the possibility of deliverance. As a result, at the age of 29, Siddhartha fled from the palace and abandoned his princely duties and prerogatives. For six years, he practiced all kinds of austerities, which almost got the better of him. Having finally realized the futility of these practices, he discovered the “middle way,” a path between hedonistic pleasure and asceticism. He then came up against the Buddhist devil, Mara, and his enticing daughters, but successfully resisted fear and temptation, and there was nothing more to block his path to awakening. During this ultimate stage, he gradually passed through the four stages of meditative absorption (dhyana), contemplated the links of dependent origination through his previous lives, and eventually realized the four noble truths.

This story of the Buddha’s life, culminating first in awakening and later, upon death, with final nirvana (parinirvana), is first and foremost a digest of doctrine and a paradigm of Buddhist practice. When it comes to awakening, through which the Buddha is able to gain knowledge of ultimate reality, it is this same life—the same psychodrama or cosmodrama of awakening—that is repeated by all past and future buddhas. This explains the extreme monotony of accounts of these lives, all based on the same model. The same can be said, in part, of the lives of the saints, which are also “imitations” of the life of the Buddha. All past and future Buddhas are said to have passed through the same stages as Shakyamuni Buddha: a spiritual crisis followed by a renouncement of the world, an ascetic existence leading to awakening, the acquisition of extraordinary powers, preaching and gathering disciples, being targeted by jealousy because of his success and criticism of a corrupt society, his death being foretold, and a funeral that gives rise to the worship of relics.

This is a very high quality Thangka painting from The Himalayas purely made by hand with natural stone color and pure gold.


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