Buddha Statues in the Garden
Imagery and symbols are a big part of keeping mindful of the Buddha's teachings. Naturally, this should carry into the garden.
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By Maureen Gilmer
DIY--Do It Yourself Network
The Dalai Lama says unhappiness stems from desire. It's a simple yet profound concept, and I come back to it often when facing the flood of western materialism.
This is just one small example of why Buddhist philosophy draws millions down its spiritual path. Imagery and symbols are a big part of keeping mindful of the Buddha's teachings. Naturally, this should carry into the garden.
A fig tree called Ficus religiosa, so named for its role in Buddha's life, grows in India. It is evergreen, but renews its foliage once a year at the end of the rainy season.
All the leaves will drop, and then regrow in just two weeks, creating a natural symbol of reincarnation. It was under one of these trees in the village of Godh Gaya that the Buddha attained enlightenment 2500 years ago.
This tree, known as the Bodhi, is venerated, as are many others of this species all over Asia. Visitors show their respect by tying yellow or orange strips of cloth around its trunk.
When a household statue of Buddha is broken, it cannot be thrown away. Instead, it is left at the base of a Bodhi tree. In home gardens, planting a fig or its relatives becomes a reminder of the austere lifestyle of the Buddha, suggesting that we too can live happily without wealth or possessions.
Statues of the Buddha are among the most evocative of Asian garden art. They are beautifully crafted in every material from bronze to stone and resin. Placing one under the canopy of a religious fig tree is the perfect combination that reminds us that it takes time and devotion to achieve enlightenment.
Before you choose a Buddha for your garden, consider the kind of statue that best suits your own spiritual approach.
Most Buddhas will be in the cross-legged posture of meditation, but it is the position of the arms that relates to different aspects. If the hands are held in front of the chest, it means teaching. One hand held up palm facing outwards signifies courage and fearlessness. The Medicine Buddha invokes a healing presence. This statue holds a bowl containing herbal potions, which indicates his teachings are medicine.
The popular chubby Laughing Buddha is a Chinese form. He is the loving or "Friendly One," who carries a sack of candy for children. He is invoked for good luck and prosperity. When a Buddha statue is lying down he is dying. This form suggests his triumph of enlightenment just before he left the world.
All these forms of Buddha mean many different things to many people. The one you choose should appeal to you both visually and symbolically. To find weatherproof Buddhas for the garden, one place to search is online at Big Happy Buddha at www.bighappybuddha.com.
The female deity Quan Yin is goddess of compassion and mercy. Her name in translation is "The One Who Hears the Cries of the World". She is said to have earned the right to leave the world's suffering, but chose stay to help others reach enlightenment.
Quan Yin is usually cloaked in a white flowing gown, the color of purity. She often holds a willow branch as a sign she bends but will not break. Often she stands on a lotus flower, another important water plant of the Buddhist faith.
These beautiful blossoms grow out of the mud as if by magic. They symbolize the fact that we live in a dirty world, but through devotion we may rise above it through the Buddha's teachings.
The Indian version of the goddess shows her with many arms to symbolize her ability to help the masses. There's more on Quan Yin online at Siamese Dream, (Maureen Gilmer is a horticulturist and host of "Weekend Gardening" on DIY-Do It Yourself Network. E-mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org. For more information, visit : www.moplants.com or : www.DIYNetwork.com. Distributed by Scripps Howard News Service.)
(Maureen Gilmer is a horticulturist and host of "Weekend Gardening" on DIY-Do It Yourself Network. E-mail her at email@example.com. For more information, visit : www.moplants.com or : www.DIYNetwork.com. Distributed by Scripps Howard News Service.)
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