The Reclining Buddha turned out to be the prize puppy of the riverfront temples in Bangkok. Serene and humorous, he looks like he's about to tell you a joke. Even the name of the temple-Wat Pho-seems designed to make you smile.
But there's something much more going on here. The statue is huge, 46m. long and 15 high. Half a football field of Buddha entering Nirvana. It's separated from the gallery by a line of columns that make for a peek-a-boo sort of viewing experience.
And then if the Buddha needs a little help, there's always hydraulic meditation.
The Emerald Buddha is just barely visible below in the center left of the window. The statue itself is small, 45cm (18 inches) tall and mostly obscured by its clothing. The strength of the impression comes from the room, which is gilded to a fare-thee-well and decorated with scenes from the Life of Buddha. There's also a wonderful Buddha-nazi attendant who makes sure that everyone is properly respectful. I think I saw a few Euro-buddhists of the Mahayana persuasions smirking as they hunkered down to meditate, but maybe I'm just projecting that.
|Emerald Buddha, Violet Buddhist|
This (from Angkor Wat) is the serenity, the joy that makes these images so appealing to me. It's not the doped-up bliss-face that you see in so much religious imagery, it's something light hearted and happy.
This must be a standard guide prank. The guide takes the tourist's camera and moves him into position, snaps the picture and laughs. Later the tourist sees himself about to lay a lip lock on the Enlightened One. You have to admit that the Buddha looks as if he likes the idea.