Tuesday, January 09, 2007

My Office Altar

Recently I've decided to set up a simple altar in my office cubicle, so I can venerate the Triple Gems on a daily basis. As it is an air-con room, I don't put any kind of offerings except for a glass of drinking water, which I change every Thursday - the Day of Teachers. Fortunately, none of my colleagues seem to mind the Buddhist art on display. The main images of this altar consist of: 1) A bronze 5-inch bucha of Shakyamuni Buddha seated in the full lotus position and showing the "Vitarka Mudra" (gesture of discussion or transmission) with his right hand. There's a story on how I found this bucha, but I shall talk about it later.
2) A bronze 3-inch bucha of LP Tuad in a seated in a half-lotus position & holding an orb. There's also a King Cobra encircling his seat. Sharp eye readers would know this a the signature LP Tuad image from Wat Pako in Songkhla. I got this bucha on my 2nd trip there last year (2006).

3) 2 small 1.5-inch mini buchas (meant for putting in cars) of LP Tuad flanking the main Buddha image. The one on the left is from Wat Changhai, the place where LP Tuad attained enlightenment, & the one on the right is from Wat Saikow, where Ajarn Nong resided. Both temples are in Pattani.

4) 2 wooden Elephants & 2 jade Pixiu flanking LP Tuad, serving as protectors.

Yup that's basic setup. Feel free to give me your comments.

Regarding the main Buddha bucha, I actually found it months ago lying on the road being sold by an old man in the Sungai Rd flea market. It immediately caught my eye as it was totally different from most of the other poorly made Buddhist images found there. As you can see the casting was detailed, well defined & proportionate - a masterpiece of Buddhist art. I knew in my mind that this was the Chiang Saen - Lanna style of Buddha images to be found in Northern Thailand, but I did not know the name of this image or the temple that it might have come out from. How such a great bucha end up being sold in such a dirty & undignified state was a mystery to me. Without a second thought I decided to "rescue" it from the flea market. I bargained with the old man and took it at a real affordable price.

At home I meticluously cleaned the bucha, but found that the cement stuffing under the bucha crumpling in a few places. Unperturbed, I wrapped it up with a cloth bag, and on the very next day carried it to the Burmese Temple at Ah Hood Rd to let a Venerable there to conduct a consecration. Only then did I took it back to my office & place it on my cabinet. Although that settled the bucha, in my mind I was still eager to find out its origins.
It was only until yesterday (7.1.2007) that I realized where it came from. While surfing a tourism website of South Thailand http://thailand.sawadee.com/south_of_thailand/index.html
I saw that it was a replica of the famous "Phra Buddha Taksin Mingmongkon" statue in Wat Kaokong, Narathiwat province! Located 6 km away from town, on the Narathiwat-Rangae Road, this large seated Buddha image is covered with golden mosaic tiles, 24m high and measures some 17m from knee to knee. A magnificent object of veneration indeed!
The temple used to be visited by many tourists, but since the terrorist insurgency began in the South a couple of years ago, it has become quite deserted. However, it is precisely due to the atmosphere of fear pervading the whole region that the significance of this Buddha becomes more striking. With all the bombs exploding here & there, & with so many innocent people getting killed; yet the Buddha continues to sit there calmly, transmitting the Dhamma to all beings who still come to take refuge. Do you see the powerful contrast of imagery there? The fact that I came to obtain a bucha of Phra Buddha Taksin reveals the karmic affinity I have with this Buddha.

Strangely enough, I've also discovered that I'm linked to Amoghasiddhi Buddha of the Vajradhatu Mandala during a recent Kagyud blessing ceremony conducted by the 17th Karmapa. Amoghasiddhi Buddha, green in colour, is also portrayed as seated & showing the Vitarka Mudra, exactly like Phra Buddha Taksin. In the Vajradhatu, he represents the all accomplishing wisdom of the Dharmakaya. How does all these events link up with me?

Although I do not see the complete picture now, but inspired by this affinity, I've vowed to visit Wat Kaokong in Narathiwat once the situation in the region becomes more stablized. As difficult as it is, I do sincerely pray that the terrorists in the South will eventually give up the butcher's knife & make peace with the Thai government. Sadhu.

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