I first saw a Buddha ball on
day one of a week-long meditation conference held by Brugh Joy.
It was sitting on one of the tables
among a cacophony of spiritual iconography from all traditions.
It was midday, and, unable to do
sit meditation all day, and
not feeling particularly spiritual,
I was looking to draw something.
When I picked it up, I liked the feel of the fist-sized statue in my hand.
I stole it for the week.
I took it with me everywhere, and drew it from all angles.
When Brugh and the group were talking, I drew it while I listened.
During meditation it was my makeshift altar.
I heard someone call it the weeping Buddha during the conference.
I could see that,
but I thought about something Brugh had said to which I could relate:
When you name something, mostly folks stop looking at it anew.
The label becomes what-it-is, and the mystery stops.
An artist knows the importance of
looking at everything with new eyes.
I considered labeling
when I looked at “my ball.”
I spent days with him and
did not see him weeping.
Not just weeping.
I saw him in a pose of humility.
I saw him in a pose of shame.
I saw him curled tightly.
I saw him as Chenrezig,
who saw the suffering of the world
and cried 21 tears, each tear turning into Tara, the goddess of compassion.
I decided to call him Buddha Ball,
so he would forever remain an object of contemplation, unnameable.
When I returned home I went into our
little “spiritual” bookstore and
found him in several sizes.
I bought one I could carry in my hand,
and he found his way onto my eclectic altar,
alongside Guadalupe and Shakyamuni
and buffalo and abalone.
He’s been there ever since.
When I look at him I see my teachers,
beginning with the one who put my foot on
the path of Zen, my brother Stephen.
(Buddha Ball was on my wedding altar too,
behind us in this photo.)
The Jews believe that objects collect the nephesh or part of the soul of a
living person when they are used constantly, handled constantly, or worn.
I imagine my Buddha Ball has a good portion of my nephesh soul accumulation!
I’ve drawn Buddha Ball more than any other object, and painted him big in deep purple and silver acrylic. He’s been a doodle and a “serious” subject.
And my biggest secret about him?
I often slip him into my pocket or purse when I travel.
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