Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Revisiting Buddha pointing finger at the Moon

Mythology has a way to spur human thought. It does not mean that we must believe in myths. Instead the fact that a mythology exists, heightens the curiosity and inquisitiveness to explore the meaning and purpose of the myth. For example, it is said in Hindu mythology that Maharishi Vyasa recited the epic Mahabharatha while Lord Ganesha listened, understood the full meaning, and transcribed exactly what was said, all at the same time. A humanly impossible task, it creates an "ideal" model for human learning. Perception, thinking and understanding naturally lead to greater knowledge which creates the path towards achieving a higher state of the conscious mind. In fact, these are the five principal aggregates to human consciousness, also known as the Skandhas in Sanskrit.

Perception is based upon how our five sensory systems, namely, vision, hearing, smell, taste and touch, can be combined together to give form to the object that we wish to perceive. It is a self-taught skill that must be practiced and experienced. We must focus our attention deeply towards what we wish to see, understand, experience and learn. Our focus must not be disrupted by momentary thoughts that are unrelated and are inconsequential to what we wish to learn. Like firecrackers exploding randomly, thoughts emerge from nowhere, and disappear quickly. It is an annoying feeling when we are unable to concentrate on any one topic or issue when our mind begins to wander, sparked by dozens of thoughts. We cannot focus on any one thought for any length of time. We feel frustrated by the distractions. We feel like closing our eyes and ears so no thought other than what we wish to focus on can persist in our mind.  We wish to experience a stream of thoughts and see the continuous, uninterrupted sequence of images in the mirror of our mind. How can one possibly achieve such a state of mind and yet carry on with the activities that we are normally engaged in.

I have been meaning to revise the blog posted in late August 2011, for some time. Needless to say, the lack of time combined with many distractions I have been experiencing has been major factors contributing to my inability in making any revisions. In any case, I have felt it is better now than later to start making changes. 

The picture below shows an early first century AD Tibetan painting of Buddha pointing to the Moon. It is possible that the image is part of the Bhavachakra (Wheel of Life). The Full Moon image shows what Buddha might have pointed to.

           Buddha pointing to the Full Moon               What one can see
Here is the image of the Moon in false color taken by NASA's Cassini spacecraft from approximately 400,000 nautical miles. 
         False color image                      Closeup                             Face
I have had a few instances when people have asked me "How do you know this is what Buddha pointed to?" Obviously, no one will ever know the answer. But there is sufficient detail in the image to arrive at one's own conclusions. 

1 comment:

  1. Buddha pointed to the moon to show nirvana.. like the moon which gets it's light from sun. nirvana can also be seeked with awareness !