The Four Faces of Buddha

When one faces death I have noticed that one begins to dream of things they have not yet done,
or of stuff they wish they can or could redo… and at some point during the journey of hearing a prognosis and going through medical steps in the hopes of somehow gaining a few extra days or months or minutes…

One finally begins to live.

So strange how a slide of a manila folder across the desk at an oncologists office can hold so much power over one’s choices from that day forward. I will never forget how the first oncologist showed me my biopsy report and gently told me the type of cancer I had and how aggressive it was and here were his recommendations. Somewhere in all of his speech I had tuned him out and dreamed of going to see Buddha.

 

http://www.viator.com/Bangkok-attractions/Temple-of-the-Reclining-Buddha-Wat-Pho/d343-a2611

Reclining Buddha — Photo ©2013 by Jewel Shepard All Rights Reserved

The real question of who Buddha was and what he — or being a Buddhist — represents, to me, is a strange one. I had always seen Buddha as a trinket one could buy at cheesy Chinatown store or as a piece of cheap jade in the shape of a fat balding man. Not as some mystical solver of problems if one were to rub his tummy a million times chaffing one palms in the process. Buddha is real. I know. I saw him. He was big and gold and … altar upon altar did I see this man. On some altars I saw so many versions of him I got confused as to which side of his many positions to place my flower or incense, and from which position on the kneeling ramp I needed to face.

 

Worshippers at a Buddhist Altar, photo ©Jewel Shepard, all Rights Reserved

Worshippers at a Buddhist Altar, photo ©Jewel Shepard, all Rights Reserved

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Erawan_Shrine

 

After finally kneeling, wishing, praying… on many a ramp? I finally found Buddha.

 

No, not in the kind you kneel in front of. Not the kind you toss coins into, but the kind of Buddha you see when looking at a small child wearing an “Angry Birds” T-shirt kneeling in front of a bunch of Buddhas. The kind of Buddha that goes beyond that of wishing and praying for riches and career issues — I looked at this small child on her own accord, drop to her knees and hold up her palms and in Thai she thanked Buddha for Mommy and Daddy. She said other words in Thai (no doubt wishing for a Big Wheel was among her wishes) but at that particular moment…

– I –

– FELT –

– Buddha –

“Thank you, Buddha, for Mommy and Daddy. Can I have a Big Wheel?” — Photo ©2013 by Jewel Shepard All RIghts Reserved

“Thank you, Buddha, for Mommy and Daddy. Can I have a Big Wheel?” — Photo ©2013 by Jewel Shepard All Rights Reserved

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