There are hundreds of Buddhas at Borobudur. It was hard to focus on just one, but this one, fully intact in his niche, seemed like he wanted some attention. Although, technically, Buddha didn’t seek attention, only enlightenment.
…you have become enlightened.
Those of you who’ve been reading this blog for a while will recognize the difference between the lower stupas and the upper ones. The diamonds and the squares are indicative of how stable one’s enlightenment is.
Super Sokka means “excellent tile”. The stack of tiles, above, are roof tiles, made by hand, in a village Central Java. We met the woman who was making the tiles – she presses out the mix of mud and clay with this medieval looking manual press – and she said that this was her job and that she pressed these out all day long, all year long.
And she seemed happy. I don’t know if something that routine could keep me happy. I also don’t know if something that routine actually makes her happy, or if she was just smiling because a couple of expats found what she does so interesting.
There is a story going on here, and it extends around the entire temple at Borobudur. What is most fascinating is that the reliefs shown above are incredibly well rendered and seem to include characters from global cultures. There are Europeans, Classical Greeks, Chinese, African, and Indonesian characters, all carved into rocks that are well over one thousand years old. They all reflect the story of Buddha, his birth, life, and transcendence.
I took this shot while driving back to our villa from Borobudur temple. We stopped to take some photos in a town of tile-makers. After wandering through one of the shops, I noticed these kids. They were trying to not be noticed, but were still following me around.
I asked them whether I could take their photo. One little guy wanted nothing to do with the photos. These three were incredibly agreeable. I got some brilliant shots of them, which I might share with you over the next week or so.
We hired a guide to take us up the Borobudur temple. He give us some interesting insights, along with some local folklore and some personal interpretations. The reason I titled this post “almost enlightened” is because of some information he shared when we got to the top of the temple.
I asked, “Why are these stupas (bell structures that house statues of Buddha) fitted with blocks that create a diamond shape, when the stupas on the last level, the top level, make square shapes?”
“The architect wanted to show how a person may be enlightened, but still not be entirely stable. The diamond shape can be tipped on its side, whereas the square is stable. Nothing can move it on its side, nothing can upend it,” was his reply.
Because we are still human, even though we may achieve enlightenment, we may still be upended, knocked over. I think there’s a good lesson in that.