The Subodarama Temple in Sri Lanka , July 2013
The Subodarama Temple in Sri Lanka , July 2013

Today a monk and I began making 28 Buddha statues.

In many Buddhist Temples in Sri Lanka, monks display 28 Buddha statues representing the 28 Teaching Buddha’s who rediscovered the Dharma (the teachings of the Buddha) after it had died out.

Each time they begin again, teaching and re-introducing the teachings for new generations to carry on.

The Buddha we all identify with now was born nearly 2600 years ago and the next Buddha, number 29, will come again when the Dharma people know and practice today is once again lost.

We’re making these 28 Buddha’s in honor of the ancient tradition and to practice this craft so that we can share additional sculptures with other people… a way for my noble monk friend to earn a small living.

It’s hard to say what the Buddha really even looked like-    perhaps you don’t even believe that Buddha was an actual person.

remains of an ancient temple, Sri Lanka, July 2013
remains of an ancient temple, Sri Lanka, July 2013

I personally think, who cares.

The image and the purpose of it, I believe, is just to remind us of a core set of principals and navigational tools to bring happiness to our lives.

To me, It’s art—and a visual reminder, a tool—that’s all.

As we pored the plaster into the mold, we didn’t know what to expect.   I sculpt with clay but this plaster and mold was new to me, the process totally unfamiliar.

In less than an hour, we were removing the mold to reveal the most beautiful sculpture—it wasn’t dry, nor was it close to perfect, but I was so moved by how beautiful it was.

The monks chanted as we made it and I put some Bodhi leaves that I had collected from the base of the original Bodhi tree while I was in Sri Lanka into the plaster before it dried.

We cleaned it up some, sanding and scraping and perfecting…  commenting on the imperfections and how we’ll improve on the next and next…

The first of 28 Buddhas project... it's about a foot tall..  progress, not perfection!
The first of 28 Buddhas project… it’s about a foot tall.. progress, not perfection!

When it was ready to dry, we placed it on the counter and turned off the timer.. I’d timed how long it took us so we would know what kind of project we were in for to complete 28.

I realized we’d made this beautiful sacred Buddha in under 2 hours and I thought about how fortunate we all are that each and every one of us has this amazing ability to re-create ourselves that quickly— with each new sunrise, each new breath, each new interaction—again and again we get to course correct, re-align, get back on the wagon, begin once more and be just a little better everyday.

I don’t know what to believe about the whole 28 Buddha thing, but this concept of renewal—this idea that something is deep in us and when we are at our bottom something re-sprouts to bring us back–  I get that 100% because I’ve been personal witness to it again and again.

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  • TBA

    I just want to express how much I appreciate your posts. I check in often and find we similar ponderings. I often want to respond with (long) thoughts of my own — but don’t have the time to put my thoughts out there. Life is a wonderful gift, challenge, joy, surprise when one choses to see it so. I am so grateful you have the gift to share. (the little things in life, in my life don’t go unnoticed)
    Today I just wanted to take the time to let you know how appreciated you are.
    Have a wonderful holiday with all that you love!

    • Tyler

      THANK YOU! I am so thankful when people tell me they resonate with something. Wishing you happy peaceful and well this holiday!
      Please post when you can, I’d love to hear and start a conversation.. I’m always amazed at how much it can help people!

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