The first anthropomorphic representations of the Buddha are said to have been drawn on canvas from rays of golden light emanating from his body. Later Buddhist art pictured the Buddha in numerous manifestations, but always as an archetype of human potential, never as a historically identifiable person. All forms of the Buddha, however, are commonly shown seated on a lotus throne, a symbol of the mind's transcendent nature. As a lotus rises from the mud to bloom unsullied in open space, so does the mind rise through the discord of its own experience to blossom in the boundlessness of unconditional awareness.
Buddhism is not a static doctrine, but a creative expression of the interdependent nature of all things. It is a means by which we can discover in the heart of experience, not ourselves, but a luminous and unfolding mystery. Buddhism envisions the universe as a net of jewels, each facet of reality reflecting every other facet. Our calling is not to escape this web of interdependent origination, but to awaken to our indwelling Buddha nature, to see the world for what it is, and to become Buddhas in our own right - beings of infinite awareness and compassion.
"Be a light unto yourself," Buddha Shakyamuni declared at the end of his life. Become a Buddha, an awakened being, he urged, but never a blind follower of tradition. Indeed the image of the Buddha, transcending time and place, centers us in our innermost being.
Shrestha, Romio. Celestial Gallery: New York, 2000.