Wednesday, January 21, 2009

MY FAVORITE BODHISATTVA AT THE METROPOLITAN MISSING


It's probably absent for cleaning or restoration, but the Eastern arts section of the Met has a vast collection and this is the only thing missing - and I just blogged about it sunday. Strange. The section is tucked just a turn away from massive crowds and it's always virtually empty. There are also little floors above the main floor sectioned into tiny rooms that are even emptier than the rest of the section and fluctuate in temperature from boiling hot to freezing from room to room.


Head of a Bodhisattva, Afghanistan, 4th-5th century, clay or terracotta, garnet eyes. I couldn't capture the sparkle you can see in the garnets even from afar.

This being my second posting about Bodhisattvas, I guess I should give a definition...

A bodhisattva is an "enlightenment-being" or "heroic-minded one (satva) for enlightenment (bodhi)". The various divisions of Buddhism understand the word bodhisattva in different ways, but especially in Mahayana Buddhism, it mainly refers to a being that compassionately refrains from entering nirvana in order to save others. By refraining from attaining nirvana, they are reincarnated to this world to selflessly help the suffering and having taken a vow to continue to return to this world until all suffering is gone. I think it's the most beautiful thing ever.

When I was in 9th grade in boarding school and the terror from both the students and the teachers reached an alarmingly violent level, a woman who taught a class there saved my life and took me off the campus and to her commune/school until arrangements could be made for me to be sent back to New York. She never told me she was a Buddhist or about Buddhism at all, although I knew the commune was a Buddhist school. I later found out that she and her husband were Bodhisattvas. They have since passed to the next life.

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