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Buddha, Maitreya and Manjushri


54,5 x 43,5cm. (21,4 x 17,1")

canvas, mineral colors, gold

Private collection, Buryatia


Buddha, Maitreya and Manjushri
chos khor gsum)

Shakyamuni is the Buddha of our historical period. To understand the omnipresence of his icon in Tibetan culture, we must understand what "Buddha" (T. sangs-rgyas) means to Tibetans. A Buddha is a being-both human and divine, either male or female-who has "awakened" (sangs) from the sleep of ignorance and has purified all evil, a being who has "expanded" (rgyas) limitlessly the power of his or her compassion and accomplished all goodness. 

A Buddha is a form of life that has achieved the highest evolutionary perfection possible. He or she is perfect wisdom (the experience of the exact nature of reality) and perfect compassion (the embodiment of the will to others' happiness). Buddhahood transcends suffering and death and incorporates the perfected abilities to experience and communicate happiness to all living beings.

A Buddha is not a creator god, so Tibetans do not blame Buddhas for the evil in the world. Evil is part of the existing order of things, produced by bad habits and persisting since beginningless time. Its root is ignorance or misknowledge of the nature of reality, which is the self's misperception of its own status as absolute, its own position as central, its essence as ultimately separated from others. 

This misknowledge leads to greed and hate, as one wants to take things away from others and fears that they will take things away from oneself. Greed and hate cause negative evolutionary actions, such as stealing and killing, and these inevitably cause suffering both to perpetrator and victim. For Buddhists, evil is suffering and good is happiness. The purpose of life is to get rid of all suffering and find real happiness." 

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Copyright 2002, N. Dudka
Design: S. Tarasenko
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