It would take a pilgrim months or years to study all the stone sculpture on the terraced mountain of Buddhist art in Java. The thousand plus year old shrine of Borobudur in Java forms nearly three miles of sculptured stonw pathways for the Buddhist pilgrims to ascend. It is considered a treasure of beauty that can hold its own against the Taj Mahal, the Church of Hagia Sophia in Istanbul, the Temple and Altar of Heaven at Peking, Giotto’s frescoes and others. ….
The art of Southeast Asia is Indian in its inspiration. It would never have come into existence if Indian navigation had not brought their culture with them to these distant lands. At the same time these monuments of Indian art outside India have a character of their own; indeed , each Indianized Southeast Asian country adapted Indian art to suit its own local genius. The masons and sculptors must have been natives, not Indians; but they seized upon, and developed, the Indian style as avidly as the peoples of Middle America made themselves adepts in sixteenth and seventeenth century western European styles after the Spanish conquest.
The flowering of Indian art in Southeast Asia is more remarkable, however, considering that there was no military conquest here. The Indian penetration of Southeast Asia was peaceful. The Indians came as traders and as missionaries first of Hinduism and then of Buddhism. There is no reason to think that their numbers were large, but the monuments they inspired show that their cultural influence was profound.
This Indian tradition of peaceful conversion persisted. Islam, in its turn, was propagated peacefully in Indonesia and Malaya by Moslem traders in the fifteenth century, and Islam did not extirpate Buddhism and Hinduism in Indonesia. It was content to overlay them with an Islamic veneer resulting in a culture of Moslem on the surface and Hindu beneath.
Borobudur, the outstanding monument of Buddhism in central Java, was built, so the archaeologists reckon, in the first quarter of the ninth century of the Christian Era. Built? Carved? Shaped? All three words are apposite.
The stupa at Borobudur has been shaped in the sense that here human art has co-operated with the beauty of nature. The shapers of the stupa at Borobudur in Java, like the shapers of the Acropolis at Athens, picked out for the nucleus of their masterpiece a hill that was beautiful in itself and with its natural beauty enhanced by its setting. The stupa and the Acropolis have this feature in common, and it has been the making of each of them, though the contrast between the two landscapes is, of course, extreme. The beauty of the Mediterranean and Near Eastern landscape lies in its stark simplicity.
The mountains are bare, their skylines are clear cut and highly individual, the colors are few and pure. The quintessence of this type of landscape in conveyed in the backgrounds of pictures of the Umbrian school of Italian art. The tropical landscape is soft, its outlines are blurred, its colors are more brilliant, more varied and more subtle. Both Javanese and Attic architects and artists knew how to bring out the beauty that the local landscape had offered to them.
buddhism offers an alternative account of creation to the one prevalent in the abrahamic religions. in the first instance buddhism focuses on the emergence of buddha-nature, not on the creation of the world. but more importantly, buddhism espouses the opposite of the concept of “original sin”. in buddhism we are all born with “original buddhahood”. we are all perfect and complete as we are, or in abrahamic terms, essential human nature is saintly. the problem of samsara, or sin in abrahamic terms, arises as we live our lives in society and in the world. it arises because we fail to realize and become cognoscente of our own essential buddha-nature. if buddhahood is a state of consciousness, it is not the case that we lose our buddha-nature when we become alienated from that state of consciousness. Read More: http://dialogicalecology.blogspot.com/2011/01/buddha-nature-and-community.html
estranged from buddha consciousness our existences become a semblance of that life of quite desperation h. d. thoreau so beautifully spoke of. (to be more precise, buddhism is ‘also’ a state of consciousness, as we need to become consciously aware of it and intuitively immersed within it, but, paraphrasing buber, it starts as consciousness but it cannot end there. it has to become a state of the whole-being). we repair (tikkun) our innate buddha-nature as we restore the consciousness of its existence within us. but how do we come to lose that consciousness we are born with? … to make this intellectual and emotional connection between what is, as is, and the buddha- nature which is what is, as is, its the real difficulty of all life. using spinoza’s language, buddha-nature sive nature, they are one and the same thing. buddhism does not dwell much on the issue of the loss of the buddha consciousness, it focuses more on how to restore it. it is my belief however that it is essential to have a clear understanding as to how buddha- nature becomes lost in the swamp that is capitalist-materialistic culture. … Read More: http://dialogicalecology.blogspot.com/2011/01/buddha-nature-and-community.html