The Erythraean Sea

May 3 2016 – my month of daily flower and buddha photos, day 3

daruma nicho

Daruma doll, bathroom nicho  photo ©


desert bougainvillea photo ©

peri 2

The Periplus of the Erythraean Sea (2002), detail, a/c  ©

Sambhogakaya “Body of Perfect Enjoyment” (Sanskrit sam all, perfect; bhoga enjoyment; kaya body).

“In an outward sense, this kaya refers to the manifestation of buddhas as they appear in celestial pure realms, giving teachings only to the assembly of noble bodhisattvas by way of light-bodies, rather than physical ones. The buddhas of the five buddha families taught in Vajrayana Buddhism are sambhogakaya buddhas. However, sambhogakaya in a spiritual sense also refers to the luminous nature of mind, mind’s unimpeded, radiant, and blissful energy. From the triad of body, speech, and mind, it is taught as the speech quality of buddhahood.”

Photo notes:

My bathroom nicho: antique Japanese Daruma doll, Indian conch seashell, and Chinese cloisonné offering bowl holding ten-year old bougainvillea blossom from my yard.

Daruma (Bodhidharma) doll, papiermaché, Japan, c. 1900.

Bodhidharma (5th-6th century AD) was the first Buddhist master to bring the teachings of the Indian Dhyan (Meditation) Sect of Buddhism to China, becoming the first patriarch in China of what became known as Chan (Chinese for Dhyan), and Zen in Japan.

Bodhidharma is variously said to have been an ethnic Persian or Sogdian from a Central Asian kingdom steeped in Indian Buddhist culture, or a prince of a South Indian brahmin dynasty. He became a Buddhist monk and priest (said to be in the 28th disciplic generation from Lord Shakyamuni Buddha, himself born as an Indian Hindu prince). Bodhidharma is said to have settled at Shaolin Monastery in China where he founded the Shaolin martial arts tradition of Kung Fu.

The Indian Vedic master, Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, once told me that his Shankaracharya Tradition of Vedic Yoga and Advaita Vedanta contained historical records identifying Bodhidharma as a former student within the Tradition who later taught his Vedanta-informed personal understanding within an Indian Buddhist context, before leaving for China. There is much controversy regarding the historical origins of various Buddhist traditions in relation to the Vedanta and Yoga traditions of India.

Bodhidharma (Japanese Daruma) is held within the Chan/Zen tradition to be a fully enlightened bodhisattva, ie a buddha.

Chinese offering bowl, cloissonné on brass.

A birthday gift from my sweetheart, one of the few items to survive a 1995 fire that destroyed our Berkeley home, school, and studio. The heat blackened one of the darker green enamel colors of the bowl.

conch shell, India

In the Vedic/Hindu and Buddhist traditions, the conch shell is sacred. Small shells are often used to pour water offerings in yagyas and pujas, traditional ceremonial thanks-offering ritual performances. Larger shells are often used as ceremonial trumpets during such performances. Because of sounds made by shells (on their own, when held to the ear, or when blown as trumpets), they are symbolic of the divine primordial sound of creation (AUM, and all the 8,400,000 bija mantras), the voice of the Gods, and the speech aspect of Buddha-nature. Rosary (mala) beads are made from conch shells, and specially triturated (finely powdered) conch shell is used in many traditional Ayurvedic medicines and other indigenous Indic and Tibetan medical systems and in internal Tantric alchemy.

Bougainvillea blossom (resting in Chinese bowl).

Bright red-purple when it fell from our front yard trellis-bush the day we moved in, ten years ago, I placed the delicate flower in this bowl as a nicho offering to the bathroom gods. It has rested there ever since, fading to an almost transparent light brown-cream color.

In Japanese Zen temples, it is traditional to have a small altar shelf or niche in the bathing house, and in the latrine outhouse. This is my homage to that tradition.

My painting,  The Periplus of the Erythraean Sea,
was brushed in 2002, while living in Strawberry, Marin County, the northern peninsula of the Golden Gate, San Francisco Bay/Richardson Bay, California.  This photo is a detail of the full painting.

 the painting and all photos for this post ©



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