Seated upon a stone bench in the corner of an ivy garden, this Buddha meditates with calm reflection of the peaceful and beautiful scene around him. It is very popular to position Buddha statues in gardens. They serve to remind the casual garden wanderer that the garden is a perfect place for personal reflection.
The Buddha statues you see in a garden are often varied in size, color and origin. The Buddha’s teachings traveled all over India and into China. From China it moved wherever the traveling missionaries/monks went. Some took the teachings into the countries of the Southeast Asian peninsula, while others went through the Korean kingdoms into the Japanese Isles.
Thus, we find all sorts of versions of Buddha statues. Some are fat, some thin, some happy, some sleeping, and some wearing strange ornamentation on their heads. The key is that no one has any idea what the actual Buddha looked like. We often forget in our technologically dependent civilization, that cameras and photography are not even 200 old years. So, these statues are decent representations of people whom received the rank of enlightenment known as a Buddha.
This particular Buddha has the characteristic snail knots on his head. It is lost to history and speculation about what, if anything, the strange bumps actually represent. Historians know that the Buddha shaved his head after he became enlightened. According to a logical earthly artistic interpretation, the bumps therefore show the artists were artistically attempting to display the short curls of the Buddha as the hair grew back in.
However, since the Buddha is often seen in a spiritual nature, it makes sense that there is a story that covers this characteristic also. Indeed, there is a popular story of garden snails who martyr themselves to the sun while protecting Buddha’s shaved head from sunburn as he meditated in the garden one day.
It was also thought that upon enlightenment you would receive a cranial bump that signified your advancement into higher levels of thinking. One possible interpretation being that bigger thinking needs bigger brains that have bigger skulls. Therefore, the Buddha could have all these bumps to signify how spiritually advanced he was.
Regardless of your interpretation, the Buddha statue remains one of the focal points to most gardens. A simple reminder that harmony and peace should exist there.
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