Sacred India Tarot Archive – Buddha Rupa: Creation of Page, Knight, Queen, King of Pentacles

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Concluding the Suit of Disks: the Buddha’s Life and Teaching
by Rohit Arya and Jane Adams.  This post includes Rohit’s essay on Kirtimukha

Sacred India Tarot buddha Kubera Yaksha

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A Lens ...

A Lens …

Sacred India Tarot buddha Hariti wife of Kubera

In sanskrit, the rupa is an image of the divine.  Some traditions allow no images.  Other traditions allow that our whole lives are Image-ination.  The rupa may be a portrait, or it may be an impression engraved on the collective subconscious.  This post reflects on some ripened imprints of the Buddha’s teaching, pictorially.  Buddhist meditation is practical, methodical and based on psychology.  We need a working view of our own asuras – the demonic energies in our subconscious – which also drive us to realisation.  Light and shadow work together.

Rohit’s Notes (2003) 

“Page – Rahula, the son and disciple of Buddha … OR Ananda, cousin and closest disciple.

“This is a difficult choice, as both fit well.  The picture we have is of Buddha giving his son his ‘inheritance’ – the begging bowl.  Ananda was inseparable from Buddha while he was alive, and seems to have been a very earnest and slightly stupid young man – the only one in the crowd of monks around Buddha, who did not attain to the final realisation. 

visual reference for Page of disks

visual reference for Page of disks

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“Maybe we can cheat a little, drop the wife of Buddha from the composition, make Ananda a young man instead of a boy, but retain the difference in size between him and the Buddha.  

“That was an artistic convention, to depict the immense difference between Buddha and all other mortals, but in Ananda’s case, it was especially true.  By doing this juggling around, we maintain the power of the original image, which is one of the best known from the Ajanta murals – as well as cast Ananda in the role of the page.”

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“(from the book with the deck) – In a reading: a young person of great potential.  Whether it will manifest is another matter, but at present the potential is immense.  Dainty and finicky personalities;  sometimes visionary and psychic people, in contrast to the practical, grounded, unimaginative personality.

“Alternatively(shadow) – Unresolved personal issues: chronic bachelors of either sex, and in extreme cases, learning disabilities.   Slow and steady progress should pay off in the long run – diligent and plodding. … The special insight of this card is: ‘the situation you are in will teach you a lot, but experience, not wealth, may be your only gain.'”

Jane’s Notes (2013)

This is one of my favourites of this suit – the teasing expression of the Master, as he holds the bowl a little beyond the disciple’s sight, to enable him to grow.  It makes life the more “interesting”.

Sacred India Tarot, Page of Disks/Pentacles

Sacred India Tarot, Page of Disks/Pentacles

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Knight of Disks/Pentacles

In terms of the Buddha-Rupa or Image, the two following images show Rohit’s earlier concept :

Visual reference 1 for Buddha Knight

Visual reference 1 for Buddha Knight

The nobility of the chivalric warrior – the best of the Kshetra caste of Guardians …

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Boddhisattva – the Buddha in the making …

Visual reference 2, Buddha Knight

Visual reference 2, Buddha Knight – the Avalokiteswara

“This picture gives some idea of the elegant nature of the concept.  This is the Buddha – there are many Buddhas – who has given up his chance for final liberation, and is working to help all living beings achieve it.  Only then will he enter the final Nirvana.”

Before I began to sketch this out, a Stop Press arrived from Rohit:  “The Knight as Kirtimukha, the Face of Glory! – regard the previous suggestions as cancelled!”

“The important thing to realise, is that Kirtimukha is the Green Man of India, or to be precise, the Green Man as India experienced him.  He is usually found above sculptures of gods forming an arch of vegetation, which erupt from his mouth and flow from his hair, usually from the Crown chakra.

Green man door bell (Wikipedia)

Green man door bell (Wikipedia)

“Even houses have him over the front door, even in the heart of a city like Bombay.  He is tropical vegetation run riot in all his representations;  so ideally his very face should be composed of twigs and leaves and creepers and so on, with no real human flesh tone.

“Kirtimukha is always just a face, with no body and even no neck.  He could be depicted as some sort of ‘vegetation sun’ at high noon, over a fertile and lush landscape.  Alternatively, he could be forming an arch or bower of vegetation over a meditating Buddha.

“That the Knight should be Kirtimukha and not a Bodhisattva, came to me in a dream!” 

fired clay mask by Walter Storey - www.in-between.org.uk

fired clay mask by Walter Storey – www.in-between.org.uk

Gautam the publisher commented:  “I would substitute the Knight of pentacles with Kirtimukha, for the very good reason that he is the Green Man as viewed in the Indian cultural prism.  That is one of the archetypal planetary energies, and we need them in alignment with us.  The Green Man exists in all cultures so we cannot afford to leave him out of our pack.”

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Jane’s Notes, 2013

by Katherine Soutar, dancing cat designs

by Katherine Soutar, dancing cat designs

The Buddha during the throes of his Enlightenment, kept firm contact with Nature:  his hand was held to Earth.  So we depict the Knight centering the Earth energy.  Without a mastery of the telluric pulse, Guardians and Bodhisattva ideals are not much help.  The telluric pulse – the Earth – represents likewise, our subconscious, and the cellular memory within it, of the ancient animal, vegetable and lizard kingdoms – reaching even into the record of the rocks;  the aeons of our planet’s fiery cooling to become a forest grower.  The Knight in this revelation represents aspects of the Buddha’s conscious memory – the Tathagatha who was, is now, and will be.

Kirthimukha, the Green Man, the face of glory, is the threshold guardian on all temples.  Earth is female, vegetation is male, this he is.   He is a luminal being between the edge of ordinary and Awakened consciousness.  He is a filter of negativity, and deflects worldly impulses.

Kirthimukha is a forgiveness koan, forgiveness with the Judgement.

Ivy and Oak

Ivy and Oak at Buckland Filleigh

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Rohit’s Notes – (from the book with the deck):

“The Buddha is haloed by Kirthimukha, one of the earliest manifestations of the Divine in nature known to India. 

“The Kirthimukha is a protector deity, a threshold guardian belonging to one of the two oldest groups of Cthonic deities in India:  the Yakshas from the word Yakshamam – we shall protect.  The other group is the Nagas – serpent energies of the earth.  These are easily the oldest and perhaps original gods of India, predating the Vedas.  Even the Buddha was at birth taken to the shrine of his clan’s guardian Yaksha – Sakha Vardhana. Hinduism, Buddhism and Jainism had to totally assimilate Yakshas and Nagas before they gained wide acceptance. 

“Kirthimukha is the male aspect of nature, for while the earth is female, vegetation is masculine.  … Europe knew him as Dionysius, then the Green Man or John Barleycorn, while the Sufi mystics still experience him as Khwaja Khidur – a gigantic being, a spiritual initiator and mentor, whose footsteps sprout vegetation…  the special meaning of this card is forgiveness.  Let go of grudges and hate, and let time take care of the rest.” 

(cf Ace of Disks/Pentacles in this series, the Buddha’s birth.  The babe walked at once, spouting lotuses.)

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Now comes Rohit’s liberating tale – The Story of Kirtimukha – a fascinating cosmic psychology.  It is timely, because this BUDDHA series will be followed by the Suit of Cups/Lotuses – the Story of Siva and Parvati.   The websites of the asura images, are well worth a visit, also.

“IN MANY INDIAN TEMPLES, you will find over the main gate, or over the door frame of the inner sanctum, a monstrous disembodied head glaring or grinning down at you.  This is the Kirtimukha, face of glory.  Our myth seeks to explain how this seeming incongruity came to occupy this respected position:

AsuraLord from https://mythoughtsbornfromfire.wordpress.com/2012/12/12/asura/

AsuraLord from https://mythoughtsbornfromfire  – NB, this site contains other good illustrations

“In the Indian mythological system, the asuras (demons) are cousins of the gods, and indeed are created from the same cosmic material.  They are demonic however, because they identify the Self with the body.  All their cosmic power is perverted in finding ever fresher ways to satisfy the material consciousness.  That gets them in self-destructive trouble over the long term, though in the short term they create some trouble of their own.

“This situation actually works for the good of all sentient beings in the universe, as the asuras are infinitely more powerful than the ‘gods’ – a situation that the Norse divinities knew only too well – and if they were more disciplined or wise, they could have taken over heaven on a permanent basis.  As it is, the asuras are always a chaotic force in the evolving universe. 

“One such asura suddenly got it into his mind that since he was the strongest being in the universe, he deserved the most beautiful woman existing.  This sort of logic is typical asura, but for them to think is to act.  He turned up at the abode of Siva the great God himself, and peremptorily demanded possession of Siva’s wife Parvati.  Now Parvati is the Great Goddess, and this was stupidity on a scale that even the asura should have quailed at. 

“Siva being pure consciousness, merely projected back at the asura a crystallization of his own insatiable desires.  This new entity was far worse than anything the asura had seen.  It was the living manifestation of a raw hunger, a world devouring flame that needed more, ever more, and was still left empty.  The immensity of his own endless desire was now in front, and the asura turned and ran.  The new demon chased him, intent on eating him up, devastating and devouring all that was between him and his prey.  Peril breeds perspective, and the asura realised that his only hope was Siva.  According to Indian mythology, you cannot refuse to grant quarter and protection if it is asked for.  So now Siva had one suitably chastened asura on his hands – as well as an enormous problem that seemed determined to eat up the universe.

“The Hunger was accepting of Siva’s mercy, but he had a problem.  ‘What do I eat now?‘  He was brought into being to solve a crisis, and now his own existence was jeopardised – which reflected poorly on the God.  Siva came up with the sort of Trickster solution so beloved of India – ‘Why don’t you eat yourself?’

“A god’s word is worth following, even if it seems senseless and destructive, and with faith in the Lord the demon did just that.  He began to chomp and champ away, beginning with his toes and working upward in a grim straight line that never wavered, never doubted and never ceased to masticate.  Finally he came to the neck and that was it – he could no longer contort himself to provide any room to bite. 

“Siva laughed, the earth shaking peal of pure joy that Kalidasa said was the Himalayas – the frozen laughter of Siva. 

“This episode was a grimly humorous illumination on the nature of life.  Life feeds on life, no matter how monstrous that may seem at first glance.  Desire forms a perfect feedback loop that ends up eating even what is desired.  This concept was known to the Sumerians as Ourobouros, the serpent eating its tail.  Life feeds on Life.  It is wildly exhilerating and liberating to realise and accept this concept, but it seems monstrous to those who have not had the experience.

16 kekuli serpent

“Siva named the Hunger Kirtimukha, the immortal face of glory.  He is seen above the doors of all temples.  Siva who is Constant Awareness, wants you to be aware of the real nature of the universe, to accept it.

“A philosophy of life and spirituality that will not acknowledge the dark side is only a milk and water religion after all, not really nourishing in the long run.  To live in the world, is to be aware of that constant hunger, and as always Siva or god is the only way in which you can transcend it. 

“To recognise Kirtimukha is to grow up, to have an adult understanding and acceptance of the universe, not a child’s fantasy.  In Jungian terms, Kirtimukha is a visibilization, a personification of the Shadow (or some aspects of it).  Kirtimukha is thus a threshold guardian to maturity, to the deepening of experience which is called wisdom.”

Vajrapani

Tibetan-Buddhist Wrathful deity Vajrapani

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Here is the finished card – Kirtimukha, the Face of Glory

Sacred India Tarot Knight of Disks - Buddha Kartimukha

Sacred India Tarot Knight of Disks – Buddha Kartimukha

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We arrive at archetypes of the Buddha which depict his Taurean nature, at home in the physical elements.  He tried the traditional path of starvation, but it had no relevance to the Great Middle Way which is central to his teaching.  Suffering is the result of imbalances and extremes of desire, to either side.   Physically the Buddha must have been well toned, with a beautiful opulence in his skin, in the way he walked, and in his bearing.  The quality is celebrated in the Court cards of this suit.  He was also – as are all great Sages – at home in the feminine side of his nature, as in the male.  There is something of the androgyne, or ardhanariswara in the manifestations of sacred Wisdom and Understanding.

This study is Siva Ardhanariswara, Lord whose half is Woman – with Siva’s vehicle, the white bull Nandi – but it serves as well here:  there are very few depictions in Indian art.

Ardhanariswara, ja 1993

Ardhanariswara, ja 1993

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Rohit’s feedback – 18 July 2003

I have no real observation I need to add onto the Page card, as it is very beautiful and astonishingly similar to the Ajanta tempura painting in original – except that I like what Jane has done in giving Rahula a little beard.  At that adolescent age that is exactly what young men do, experiment with fuzz in order to feel more mature. 

The Knight card captures what I had in mind very well.  An interesting point about the Kirtimukha archetype only recently came into my knowledge.  All over India, the Kirtimukha is a threshold guardian placed above the doorway of the shrine.  In the state of Maharashtra however, he is always placed on the central position of the last step before you step into the shrine or on the lower wooden frame of the threshold.  I was not aware of this when I first wrote to Jane, but it is common in Hindu, Buddhist and Jain temples all over this particular state.  It is an interesting difference, but we shall stick to the larger viewpoint about the Kirthimukha that prevails all over India.”

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The Queen of Disks/Pentacles is Hariti, wife of the great Yaksha Kubera.

A Yaksha is a tree spirit, a spiritual organism of nature.  Hariti was Kubera’s Shakti or fertility.  She was taught a lesson by Buddha, for stealing children: she never had enough, it seems.

Rohit’s Notes 2003

“The picture we send should be an adequate reference.  She is certainly slightly thick and stumpy around the waist, to depict the fertile earth energies.  But do not make her too fat.

(from Rohit’s book with the deck:) “Hariti had a superabundance of maternal and nurturing energy.  She had a hundred children of her own, but they were not enough to satisfy these desires.  She began to kidnap children in a peculiar display of avarice.  Popular apprehension held that she was eating them, but actually she kept them entertained in a never never land as companions for her children.  The parents of the lost children appealed to Buddha to intervene.  He concealed Hariti’s youngest child who is her favourite, and waited till she was frantic with fear and worry, to return the child with the old admonishment to do unto others … Hariti was appointed the guardian of small children from that day on, so all ended well. 

“Hariti represents a peculiar strand of malefic-beneficent earth mother deities known to India as the Matrikas.  They are guardians of boundaries of cities or villages, and can still be seen in that role today, in shrines on the outskirts of villages …  The Yakshas and Yakshis of India were both the oldest and its most popular gods, and they have inspired some of its greatest art.  There is always an exuberant feeling to Yaksha energy, which remains in the defining characteristics of the goddesses still worshipped.”

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Queen of disks reference

Queen of disks reference

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Buddhism at one time spread wider in the world than any other faith.  The Law of Compassion and Deliverance moves harmoniously with the root principles of Hinduism, Japanese Shinto, the Tantras and the Chinese Tao.

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Sacred India Tarot Queen of Disks - Buddha Hariti, wife of Kubera

Sacred India Tarot Queen of Disks – Buddha Hariti, wife of Kubera

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Reflection

Peace includes every turbulation of the ocean.    This series on the Buddha began with a blue flower, and flows into the sea.  I saw a TV programme last night about the colour blue – from Picasso’s blue period, through an artist who threw himself into the sky for the love of the Blue, to the “Earth Rise” photograph in 1968, taken from the Moon’s atmosphere.

Earth Rise zr28z

Blue is the colour of the Beyond.  Yet blue is the colour of our Home, and closer than our breath.  In Tarot, blue is the tonal vibration of the feminine-subconscious.  Blue is first sight of the Sea.

For me, the wish fulfilling Blue Jewel is the Buddha’s colour … dive into it.

convolvulus - Version 2

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Visual reference, buddha king of disks

Visual reference, buddha king of disks

King of Disks/Pentacles: Rohit’s Notes 2003

“The King is Kubera the Yaksha, again an earth energy.  The two options we send should be adequate.  I prefer the fatter version for it ties in with the Pregnant Male attributes of some deities, proto ardhanariswara so to speak. Kubera is claimed by the Hindus and Buddhists as well as the Jains, and worshipped by all of them, even today!

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(From the book with the deck) “Kubera has been the actual god of wealth worshipped in India for over two thousand years, in unbroken continuity.  For most of that time India was a very rich country, so he did well by his people.  Kubera is one of the Lokapalas – world guardians – as well as a Digapala, guardian of the quadrant: in his instance, the North … he is known as Vaishravana in Tibet … The pregnant male is a way of saying that he was a dual concept god, possessing both male and female energies.  Iin Buddhist and Jain representations he normally guards the shrines of Enlightened beings.  At the Ajanta caves, relief sculptures of Kubera and his consort are found outside almost all cave temples to the Buddha.

“Insight of the card:  What can you teach others from your experience?”

Visual reference, buddha king of disks

Visual reference, buddha king of disks

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Sacred India Tarot Buddha Kubera Yaksha, King of disks

Sacred India Tarot Buddha Kubera Yaksha, King of disks

The King of Disks by contrast has a fiery red earth tone – the illumined male. This composition suggests a “double decker” mode of life.  The little king inside the wheel is the servant to the greater.  He believes he ‘does it all’.  The Greater King encompassing him, whom he rarely perceives, and who Turns the Wheel, is his Allowance and grace.

Life is like a red double decker bus.  Dealing with persons in the world and in my lower mind, the view is limited to the coffin sides:  to conditioned viewpoints, angles and edges.  But when I am on the upper deck – which is of course open, like a London tourist bus – those ideas are not sufficient for the living Truth perceived.  I see over the roof-tops, I see all the landmarks, I am in the sky and I am amazed.   Both views hold.  They are the way we are embodied.  To perceive from the upper deck, is to experience a life-situation COMPLETELY, with the Buddha’s compass … a “Long Thought” for the journey.  The knack is to become a good bus-conductor, up and down the stairs.  Passengers get on and off.

Wheel rolling King

Discriminate rightly, the personality and the Self – as in the Buddha King.  Such is double decker.  The wheel rolling King is all around the wheel and in its centre.

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14 Arcana

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Rohit’s Feedback 18 July, 19 August 2003

The Queen is in many ways the most gorgeous card in the entire suit, and there is nothing I can say about it.  The concept is just dazzling in its beauty.  The belly of the Yakshas does not denote fat and flab, but the fact that they are turgid with the creative and generative power of the Prana.  The abdominal cavity is the only place in the body that can accommodate extra prana, hence the swollen belly of yogis who live on about as much food as an ant.

5 Arcana

The King –  like the Queen of Pentacles, this card too is tremendously beautiful and vibrant.  The framing within the body of the Buddha is a wonderful touch, while the elephant looks delightful.  

“In all sculptural representations of the Kubera Yaksha that have survived, there is usually a piece that has been vandalized.  This would be a citron or matulinga fruit, rich in seeds, symbol of  inexhaustible bounty, which would have been broken off or filed away as a talisman.  The famous image of Siva in the Elephanta cave sculptures, described in Stella Kramrisch’s ‘The Presence of Siva’ has a similar fruit.  Looking at the picture I realised Kubera’s hands are empty.  Instead of the fruit, we could place the geometric Kuber Yantra instead, though it would be a six-pointed star, the prime symbol of the Yaksha deities in India.  That would communicate the point of wealth as well as being a breakthrough in his depiction.  

“The visual reference for the Yantra we are sending you.  What we need is merely the central six pointed star, with the concentric circles of lotuses around it, a simple outline practically.  Keeping it as a circular figure would be best, instead of bounding it within the square of the metal of the yantra.   In all other respects, the card is perfect.”

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It appears that alas, this addition to the deck got overlooked – except maybe the yantra on the elephant’s head.  However,  I would be disinclined to furnish the Consciousness implied in Buddha’s open hands, with any objects.  His gesture allows space, and all being.

So here is a nice round fruit – a Kuber Yantra for the archive:

kuber yantra

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and finally …

Tibetan Dakini

This portrait of a Tibetan Dakini was commissioned in 2003 – my exact copy of someone else’s painting.  I do not remember the name of the original artist.

The next Sacred India Tarot Archive posts will cover the Suit of Cups/Lotuses – the courtship and marriage of Siva and Parvati.

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For other Sacred India Tarot posts, look under Recent Posts, or Archive of All Posts in the title bar.

Rohit Arya

Rohit Arya is an Author, Yogi and Polymath. He has written the first book on Vaastu to be published in the West, {translated into five languages} the first book on tarot to be published in India, co-authored a book on fire sacrifice, and is the creator of The Sacred India Tarot {82 card deck and book}. He has also written A Gathering of Gods. He is  a corporate trainer, a mythologist and vibrant speaker as well as an arts critic and cultural commentator. Rohit is also a Lineage Master in the Eight Spiritual Breaths system of Yoga. 

Earlier posts about the deck, including the first 15 Major Arcana archives are in http://aryayogi.wordpress.com   The deck is copyrighted (c) 2011 to the publishers, Yogi Impressions Books pvt, and available also on Amazon and internationally.

 

Jane Adams

My adventure invites fellow travellers.  I am a poet, an artist and a seer.  I welcome conversation among the PHILO SOFIA, the lovers of wisdom.

This blog is  a vehicle to promote also my published work – The Sacred India Tarot (with Rohit Arya, Yogi Impressions Books) and The Dreamer in the Dream – a collection of short stories (0 Books). Watch this space.

All art and creative writing in this blog is copyright © Janeadamsart 2012. May not be used for commercial purposes. May be used and shared for non-commercial means with credit to Jane Adams and a link to the web address https://janeadamsart.wordpress.com/

Sacred India Tarot Archive: 8,9,10 of Pentacles – Buddha’s Teaching & Mahanirvana

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Continuing the series following the creative process of The Sacred India Tarot Archive by Rohit Arya and Jane Adams –

water falls in arizona

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Rohit’s Notes 2003 on SITA 8 of Disks – the Angulimala episode.  

“… A forest path with the calm and smiling upright Buddha being threatened by a wild looking bandit who is wearing a garland of human fingers.  He brandishes a sword, and he wants Buddha’s finger to complete his collection. Angulimala is physically exhausted from chasing after the Buddha and somehow never managing to catch up with him.  Buddha converts him and even leads him to enlightenment, but that lies some time after our scene!

“… We would like to see the Buddha as he is always shown, the long sari like robe he is depicted in. Angulimala –  the finger necklace he wears round his neck, is core; and a sort of wild desperation, a recklessness that only comes upon those who were once good and respectable. The two figures are likely to take up all the space, so compositionally I don’t think we can squeeze in any background details. The entire drama plays out in a forest….”

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Jane’s Notes – Angulimala was an unhinged sadhu who collected the fingers of celebrated sages and wore them in a mala around his neck.   Naturally he sought the ultimate trophy.  The Buddha however, smiling like the Mona Lisa, contrived to walk always just ahead of the violent sadhu’s effort and out of reach.

We have a saying here:  “to walk just one mile an hour quicker than the incoming tide, is to be in the world but not of it;  to carry the Great Work;  to remain awake.”

When Angulimala’s consumerist greed for enlightenment was all played out, he surrendered and became a devotee of the Great Middle Way.   This story is a vivid example of the accelerated Karmas in the vicinity of a Perfected One.  The noble Buddha Nature is Tathagatha of the cosmic aeons.   No “individual” dream can grasp this, until it starts to dissolve into Individuation of the Whole.

Sacred India Tarot - the story of Buddha and Angulimala

Sacred India Tarot – the story of Buddha and Angulimala

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Correspondence:  Rohit to Gautam Sachdeva, 2003

“The Eight card should have been a very difficult card to draw, but Jane has solved all compositional problems by completely eliminating all background clutter, and just keeping the two principals before us.  The contrast between the man of violence lost in his rage, and the calm of the One who is Awake, is remarkable.

“The turban by the way, is very accurate for the time period.  I especially love the touch of the orange robe that Angulimala is wearing, presaging his conversion and salvation as a monk.

“I said it before, and I will say it again, I am not going to get between Jane and her stream of inspiration with the clutter of irrelevant instruction. She is doing a great job with what I am telling her, and this pack is going to be an all time classic, not just in Tarot, but also in the field of Indian mythology.”

Visual reference for the teaching of "Sangha"

A visual reference for the teaching of “Sangha” – also for the original conception of Knight of Disks, a picture of Boddhisattva, the Buddha in the Making.  However, Rohit later substituted the Face of Glory, Indian mythology’s Green Man, for Knight of Disks.  The Green Man accorded better with Buddha’s temperament, well earthed in the nature kingdom.  See the next post, in this series.

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Correspondence:  Jane to Gautam – May 2003 

“Dear Gautam, we just seen Nikki (Gautam’s sister) for tea, and thank you very much for the beautiful copper Sri Chakra in its protective case, and the leaflet with it.  For me this is a most serendipitous gift, connecting directly with some work I’ve been doing.  I am very touched.  Nikki told me also how these Sri Chakras are “charged”, and gave us news of Yogi Impressions’ spiritual portal.  Thank you also for the bank draft of 100 …

“I have done two more pentacles, and will try to send them to you tomorrow, or at least over the weekend.  I am pleased with them. 

“The four court cards will soon be done.  Please send illustrations and notes for the next Suit as soon as you can.  God willing, the minor arcana will be complete at the end of this year.  With warm regards to yourself and Rohit, and to your mother – Jane.”

Copper Sri Yantra Chakra.  An auspicious gift, as its energy field is particularly earthing or the cosmic lattice.  Copper is the non-resistant metal of Venus and of electricity.

Copper Sri Yantra Chakra. An auspicious gift, as its energy field is particularly earthing of the cosmic lattice. Copper is the non-resistant metal of Venus and of electricity.   It is another version of the Wheel which symbolizes the Buddha’s noble teaching.

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Suit of Pentacles/Disks: Creating Card 9 – Sangha and the Flower Sermon

Wildflower at Nether Stowey

Wildflower in my mother’s garden at Nether Stowey

The story of the Buddha’s Flower sermon is well known.  Here are Rohit’s Notes for Card Nine: 

“Nine – the silent transmission to Kashyapa of Zen, and the firm foundation of the Sangha. The Buddha is on the left of the card, a body of monks facing him, with one particularly intelligent face being Kashyapa.  He smiles, as he has just understood Buddha’s transmission of Zen by holding up a single flower in his right hand.”

snowdrop buddha

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And here is the card:

The Sacred India Tarot - the Sermon of the Flower

The Sacred India Tarot – the Sermon of the Flower

Jane’s Notes: – Sangha is “the community of the wise.”  Rohit and Gautam asked me to put Ramesh Balsekar’s features on “Kashyapa who had the understanding”.  They both knew Ramesh well, and admired his teaching.  The object was for The Sacred India Tarot to touch upon and honour the teaching in all its forms, in the universal field.   As it is not a good portrait of Ramesh, I include here, two of my drawings of him in bhakti mode:  his Buddha nature.

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Ramesh Balsekar, bhakti

Ramesh Balsekar, bhakti

Ramesh used to say that there is no Guru, until a devotee recognises him as such.  The Guru – dispeller of darkness – is created in a special spark of recognition:  the understanding, which passes between the two.  Wisdom is in dialogue:  wisdom is the relationship.

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Ramesh at Rest

Ramesh at Rest

I remember when I drew this one, that Ramesh’s facial features flowered like a mandala.  The penciled lines and folds below his eyes, radiate as rivers and the ripples do.

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Suit of Pentacles/Disks:  Creating Card Ten – the Buddha’s Maha-Nirvana

Rohit’s Notes in 2003: – “The Great Nirvana.  The texts mention again and again that the Buddha lay on his right side like a lion, and taught his disciples before breathing his last.  A somewhat crowded composition, as all his monks were crowding around him.  The picture is a stylistic rendering of the great moment.”

Disks buddha 10, ref

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Sacred India Tarot - Buddha's Maha-Nirvana

Sacred India Tarot – Buddha’s Maha-Nirvana

This was in some ways, my favourite of the suit.  Drawing this, brought me a feeling of great serenity.  I understood that the troublous “10” of each Suit, is in fact its full manifestation during a moment of transition:  the transformation we often dread.  Transformation is the movement of eternal Life.

Transformation is BARDO in the Tibetan book of the dead.

Sacred India Tarot 10 of Arrows

For a quick preview on this topic, the SITA Ten of Arrows/Swords – sometimes considered the most destructive of the deck – shows the dying Bhishma transmitting the Laws of wise Kingship to his heir, Yudhishtara.  He achieves his true Dharma at last.   It is a point of change.  The whole of his chakra spine, pierced by ten arrows as he lies dying in his BARDO, awakes.

Wisdom is a conversation, never a monolog.

This story is from the Mahabharath.

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Correspondence: Rohit to Gautam – July 2003

“Feedback for Jane on Pentacles last cards … I really have nothing much to add about any of the cards as they are exactly what we need for the packs.  They are excellent work in no uncertain terms.  The Nine card may need to be flipped transversally, so that the Buddha is handing over the flower with his right hand instead of the left one, as that is regarded as culturally suspect.  But the composition itself is perfect, and any imaging system on any computer can easily do what we requre, so there is no problem there.”

(Jane: I seem to have managed to change his hands with the flower, myself.  I don’t recall doing this.)

“In the Ten card, I particularly like the addition of the turbaned man, as the death of the Buddha was a great loss to the common people as well as the monastic community too.  The serene withdrawal on the face, is remarkable.” 

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Tree tao

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Thus far, the creative process of those three Pentacles.

Wisdom is a conversation, as revealed in cards 9 and 10.  Awakened conversation is pragmatic and down-to-earth, never a mere “blissing out”.   Awakening participates in the universal Transmission … which never began, never ends, and is all ways.

In my next post after this one, I would like to share extracts from a Buddha awakening in my journal, early 1988.  There are sometimes glimpses into the transpersonal.   I had planned to attach it to 8,9,10 of Pentacles, but there is more of it than I thought, and even after editing and pruning, it is a bit long.

Here is something from it, experientially, which stays in my memory:

The Cosmic Note, February 1988  … a feel of space having been cleared as on a windy day, in relation to him as to everyone else.  My bad Karma has always expressed itself in terms of jealousy, isolation and the discomfort of ego’s performances.  Ego there is, but not jealousy.  The freedom is implied, to move around and be real. 

Splendid dream … which I cannot describe, as it was in another level altogether, but was in terms of being the actual Law of Life in the line-movement and shade of a drawing.  As I half woke, I heard a most extraordinary and wonderful note or cosmic tone, of the Universal Eternity.  It was outside time.  It rested and passed and faded like the long-resonating song of a bell.  

This turned out to be a passing lorry – every sound in all the worlds is the primordial atomic OM, and liberates for ever.  

Another vehicle or two gave a remnant of this imprint, or Voice, as did long tides of bliss in my being-body, but I was rapidly surfacing, so it was for an unending moment only.  How good.  Surely I will find it for ever.

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Do readers sometimes hear music of this kind, in their dreams?  Is this a common occurrence?  Please comment below, if you have.   The music or tonal integrity seems to arrive fully formed, from a spectrum far beyond my capacity.

21 musical j&d6..

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For other Sacred India Tarot posts, look under Recent Posts, or Archive of All Posts in the title bar.

Rohit Arya

Rohit Arya is an Author, Yogi and Polymath. He has written the first book on Vaastu to be published in the West, {translated into five languages} the first book on tarot to be published in India, co-authored a book on fire sacrifice, and is the creator of The Sacred India Tarot {82 card deck and book}. He has also written A Gathering of Gods. He is  a corporate trainer, a mythologist and vibrant speaker as well as an arts critic and cultural commentator. Rohit is also a Lineage Master in the Eight Spiritual Breaths system of Yoga. 

Earlier posts about the deck, including the first 15 Major Arcana archives are in http://aryayogi.wordpress.com   The deck is copyrighted (c) 2011 to the publishers, Yogi Impressions Books pvt, and available also on Amazon and internationally.

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Jane Adams

My adventure invites fellow travellers.  I am a poet, an artist and a seer.  I welcome conversation among the PHILO SOFIA, the lovers of wisdom.

This blog is  a vehicle to promote also my published work – The Sacred India Tarot (with Rohit Arya, Yogi Impressions Books) and The Dreamer in the Dream – a collection of short stories (0 Books). Watch this space.

All art and creative writing in this blog is copyright © Janeadamsart 2012. May not be used for commercial purposes. May be used and shared for non-commercial means with credit to Jane Adams and a link to the web address https://janeadamsart.wordpress.com/

Sacred India Tarot Archive: 5,6,7 Pentacles – Buddha’s Enlightenment

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What is a Chakra?  The word means literally – “wheel”.

Chakra spiral, centrifugue and OM

Chakra spiral, centrifugue and OM

The seven chakras in the Yogic body are centres where the Life-force flowers.  Chakras are transmissions of energy in the Earth vessel.  The story of the Buddha’s enlightenment aligns the chakras, bringing them into the sublime cosmic harmony which is compassion – the natural state.

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Waite 5 Pentacles

This post will cover the creation of SITA 5,6 and 7 of Pentacles, or disks.  Here is A E Waite’s traditional interpretation for Five of Pentacles:  “Two mendicants in a snow-storm pass a lighted casement … It foretells material trouble above all, whether in the form illustrated – that is destitution – or otherwise.  For some cartomancers it is a card of love and lovers – wife, friend, husband, mistress;  also concordance, affinities.  These alternatives cannot be harmonized.  Reversed:  Disorder, chaos, ruin, discord, profligacy.” 

Disks buddha 5 ref

We will therefore reflect on the Sacred India Tarot 5 of Pentacles as the misfortune and sense of deprivation which shadows and precedes a realisation of the Truth which is 6.   In 7 of Pentacles, the realisation is mature and mobilized.  It becomes a transmission.

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Rohit’s Notes 2003

“The starving Buddha is a famous trope in Buddhist art.   We include a few visual references! Basically a sort of pastoral scene under a tree would be ideal. The discs would be a little difficult to fit in easily, perhaps in a ring around the tree? He is usually depicted as clean shaven, though if he was not eating for weeks, perhaps shaving was not his highest priority.

“The skeletal gauntness and meditation are important here – mental peace at the expense of physical torment, which he realized was not an adequate tradeoff. It is a mistake to torment the body.”

Meditation - the withdrawn Buddha

Meditation – the withdrawn Buddha

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Sacred India Tarot 5 of Disks: the Buddha Fasts

Sacred India Tarot 5 of Disks: the Buddha Fasts

Rohit’s Notes:

“The Five is a very unusual depiction of the Buddha in the starving state, but I realised that actually this is more liable to be the truth than the traditional representations.  He did tapasya as  a Hindu, and the beard is more likely to have been his true condition, than the gaunt clean-shaven skeleton so beloved of Buddhist art.

“The disk as the solar plexus chakra is another beautiful touch, linking Buddha up with his nature as an incarnation of Vishnu, solar god.  (See Vishnu The Magician in Sacred India Tarot Archive series, http://aryayogi.wordpress.com).

“I just love the composition of the card;  the manner in which the disks form the quintessential question “Why?”, seen in the card as the giant letter Y, which after all was the purpose of such starvation, to find answers to the whys of life.

“That banyan tree is one of the most remarkable things I have seen drawn.”

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Jane’s Notes

The banyan was inspired by the trees at Ramanasramam – the shaggy condition of the sadhu in full tapasya.   The sheer force and focus of the meditation is given back to Nature.  Nails, hair and beard grow unimpeded!  In the end Buddha fulfilled the whole history of Hindu spirituality by showing that the via negativa has its limitations.

To reverse the laws of inertia, a sage at first backs up into them, against the body’s need for nourishment. Towards realisation, that effort becomes irrelevant, and reverts to a more natural alignment with the Fountain of Nature.  The 5 pentacle disks are arranged to suggest the growth of the life force through the tree.  In the autumn, it falls to the ground, like the fountain, and circles through winter, up into the stem, year upon year.

The physical body no longer denied, blossoms as the bodhi tree in all its beauty;  for the impending enlightenment is seamless:  no separation.

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Visual reference - The bodhi

Visual reference – The bodhi tree

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Rohit’s Notes 2003

“6 of Pentacles/Disks should be a dynamic sort of card, as the moment of Awakening, becoming the Buddha, arouses the last attack of the Evil One, Mara. He sends his daughters, along with natural calamities, wild beasts and venomous things, to disrupt the massive shift in Consciousness that was about to be achieved.

“While all around the Buddha there can be chaos, he should be depicted in stillness at the centre of course, under the famous Bodhi tree!! His fingers should touch the ground in the mudra shown in the illustration, the famous Bhoomi Sparsha mudra, calling on the Earth to witness his attainment and confirm there was no ego present.”

Visual reference for Buddha's enlightenment

Visual reference for Buddha’s enlightenment

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Here is a recent impression in my companion blog, Aquariel:

So who are you then, whomever I meet and fear?  You look like Mara’s face, in the SITA Buddha enlightenment card.  Mara is the Buddha’s opponent – the force which tried to stop the enlightenment.  So get it out, and look at the devil, sex and death.  Through all the blandishment, Buddha sits under his tree and keeps touching the ground with his open hand … the same as FOOT – keep walking, feel the ground –  (like baby Buddha did when he was born – straight out from under his labouring mother.  If you turn to the Ace of Pentacles, she too is hung upon a tree!)

Mara goes BLAH …

When I am tense and full of think, I am frightened of this stranger – Mara going BLAH – and above all, ASHAMED of admitting anything about it here, ashamed and scared of my panic and projection, lest it get worse.  My panic and projection is a disguise –  a whirling dust devil.   But go to the root –  does it really exist?  No wonder it harries and drives me away from telling about it.   Does it exist?  Look at Mara, depicted below.  Has he a body?   Is he not just my scurrilous mind going WAH from behind a bush?   Has he any root at all?  Why, no ! just confusion.   That is what he thrives on, when I let him settle in my city; and just about anything can inflate to look like him and drive me nuts.   Confusion is the disorder.  Confusion is the tension – giving it the power to damage and hijack my life.

This is seen in all the world’s trouble spots, cancelling Consciousness.

Well, good, good, keep going, this inner exercise will help my mind to clear.  Mara forms a Grand Trine around Buddha, with a sly serpent and a siren woman.  The serpent and the woman proceed through chaos, but the Buddha’s serenity is firmly established in the green and golden ground as Tifareth of Pentacles – his spine with the bodhi Tree of Life: the wheels of the cosmic Law.   Death’s skull leers from behind the woman.   Men consider Eve to be the gate of death because she gives them birth.

The  Sacred India Tarot 6 Pentacles/Disks - Buddha's Enlightenment

The Sacred India Tarot 6 Pentacles/Disks – Buddha’s Enlightenment

Enlightenment on whatever scale seems to follow on a jolly good clearout of the Shadow in one’s cupboard.  Enlightenment happens as the projections clear.   Every obstructive interior terror from his innumerable lifetimes must have bombarded Buddha as he quietly attained his peace.  For the lower mind is in love with its own drama.

Such is the Great Wheel depicted here – the card itself is a life-mandala.  The design was inspired by the film Little Buddha, starring Keanu Reeves.

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Correspondence 2003 – Rohit to Jane 

“… The Six is a spectacular composition, depicting the triumph of the Buddha over all the forces of Evil and negativity;  and what forces they are!

“At the moment of his greatest challenge, he calls upon the earth to witness that he has transcended, he is Awake.  The card captures that feeling perfectly, as well as the futility of attempting to shake one who is awake.  This is really beautiful.”

blue float

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Rohit’s Notes 2003

“7 Pentacles/Disks. The first sermon ever given is regarded as the complete Buddhist teaching in itself. In the deer park at Sarnath, verdant surroundings seem to be mandatory. 

“Traditionally, he has always been shown as being much larger physically than the students in religious art – his stature being gigantic as a representation of his achievement. It is famously called ‘Setting the Wheel of Dharma into Motion‘ –  so one disc could perhaps be rotated. We need to convey that he was radiating immense energy from that point on… a sort of translucent skin…?”

Buddha 7 of Disks, visual reference

Buddha 7 of Disks, visual reference

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7 of disks visual reference

7 of disks visual reference

This is the pose I used for the card:  his former disciples felt a little shocked and betrayed by their Guru’s illumined evolution to full stature.  They preferred to go on starving.

Ramana Maharshi’s story followed the same general pattern.  When he was very young, his continuous samadhi remained detached from the world.  After his second conscious death experience on Arunachala, his state became “sahaja” – that is, unconditional.  The realisation unbroken, he engaged fully in everyday life, as chief cook, bricklayer, engineer, bookbinder, poet, counsellor and friend.

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Sacred India Tarot 7 of Pentacles/Disks:  The Sermon in the Deer Park

Sacred India Tarot 7 of Pentacles/Disks: The Sermon in the Deer Park

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Jane’s Notes 2012

7 in Tarot is The Chariot.  On the Tree of Life, the 7th Sefira (emanation) is Netzach, the Life power – a spark which wakes the physical and emotional worlds.   The Wheel/disk in Buddha’s hands indicates the binary force turning the chariot wheel – an upward and a downward pressure – as in the Sri Chakra Yantra:  duality.

Sri Chakra Yantra - 4 Siva triangles through 5 Shakti triangles form a radiation which is simultaneously concentric and up/down.

Sri Chakra Yantra – 4 Siva triangles through 5 Shakti triangles, forming a radiation which is simultaneously concentric and up/down.  It is like the sap through the seasonal cycle of a tree’s rings.

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As the One however, every point radiates concentrically –  the rings of a tree, a ripple on water, a sound-wave.  The point has a spherical geometry, for it is infinitely reducible, as well as expanding to an atom, aura, planet or star.

The nature of the Enlightened One is everywhere, in all places, all times:  Tathagatha.

Buddha teaching in the Tree of Life, showing chakras

Buddha teaching in the Tree of Life, showing chakras

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Rohit’s Notes – 2003

“The Seven is yet another creative breakthrough, in that all the disks are spinning, as the Great Wheel of Dharma has been set into motion with this first sermon.  I have an idea, should we call the suit the Suit of Chakras then, as that is what the disks seems to represent? 

“I particularly like the touch of the Buddha’s halo being a Great Wheel too.  I have seen many representations of this pivotal Buddhist event, but I feel that Jane has managed to capture something new and fresh about it.  

“This suit is turning out marvellously. Again the Vishnu/Solar element is conveyed in the placement of the disk in the hands of the Buddha.”

buddha in the grass

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water and light

The blue “Buddha light” – a healing radiance – enters these russet-brown, Taurean waters.

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For other Sacred India Tarot posts, look under Recent Posts, or Archive of All Posts in the title bar.

Rohit Arya

Rohit Arya is an Author, Yogi and Polymath. He has written the first book on Vaastu to be published in the West, {translated into five languages} the first book on tarot to be published in India, co-authored a book on fire sacrifice, and is the creator of The Sacred India Tarot {82 card deck and book}. He has also written A Gathering of Gods. He is  a corporate trainer, a mythologist and vibrant speaker as well as an arts critic and cultural commentator. Rohit is also a Lineage Master in the Eight Spiritual Breaths system of Yoga. 

Earlier posts about the creation of the deck, including the first 15 Major Arcana archives are in http://aryayogi.wordpress.com   The deck is copyrighted (c) 2011 to the publishers, Yogi Impressions Books pvt, and available also on Amazon and internationally.

flower sermon

flower sermon

Jane Adams

My adventure invites fellow travellers.  I am a poet, an artist and a seer.  I welcome conversation among the PHILO SOFIA, the lovers of wisdom.

This blog is  a vehicle to promote also my published work – The Sacred India Tarot (with Rohit Arya, Yogi Impressions Books) and The Dreamer in the Dream – a collection of short stories (0 Books). Watch this space.

All art and creative writing in this blog is copyright © Janeadamsart 2012. May not be used for commercial purposes. May be used and shared for non-commercial means with credit to Jane Adams and a link to the web address https://janeadamsart.wordpress.com/

Sacred India Tarot Archive: 2,3 & 4 of Pentacles – The Awakening of Buddha

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What are Pentacles?

In the Minor Arcana, the Tarot Pentacles are its “Earth” suit – the plane of manifestation.  A Pentacle is a conscious mark or sigil.  The cross-section of a tree with its concentric rings, is a sigil, a Yantra.  Flowers and their sacred geometry are sigils;  so are the Fibernacci series, the spiral, and the laws of growth.   In every mark of nature, and everywhere in life, if we care to look, the sigils are engraved.  They appear also as omens.  They require intelligent reading.   Intelligence is of a deeper order than “cleverness”.

Fibonacci series pentacle, by Keith Critchlow (“The Hidden Geometry of Flowers”)

A Pentacle is classically a five-part pattern or circle, embodying humanity.  The Coins, by which this suit is also known, are Currency.  They bear the mark of trade.  Financial currency with its gold or paper standard, is a “promissory note”.  It is no more visible in essence, than electric current, the current of life:  our imagination gives it power.  Our coinage is a symbol, with its own temples, altars and acolytes.   It depends what we  believe in;  but without adequate means and/or a nourished belly, it is hard for the Great Work to touch base.   The Currency is the undercarriage – monetary, linguistic or psychic – which helps us/the Great Work, to survive; a relative freedom from anxiety.  Best is a balance of all three.   The Currency is a balanced state of health.

shell spiral

For the Sacred India Tarot minor-arcana, the Pentacles or Coins are “disks”.  Vishnu and other gods within Brahman the All, carry a diskus in one of their many arms.  The diskus is a sport, a weapon, a wheel.  It is thrown, it spins like a planet, it reaches target, comes to ground.   The Wheel of Karma likewise comes around, to wake us up.  Justice is the Law of action upon reaction.

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Wood bird yantra

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In the Buddha’s story, we decided to let the Disks be wheels.   The Buddha, who overcame the traditional habits of denial, and touched the ground all through his enlightenment, is often called The Wheel Rolling King.  He has the Wheel of Dharma;  what comes around, comes round, as a Kalpa, seasonal leaf through trees, or an insect life-cycle.  What comes round comes around, in our life, to help us untie the knot.

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Paul Foster Case

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The Buddha Nature is itself a sigil:  right conduct, compassion, the Great Middle Way.  The  shining Pentacle of Gautama Buddha’s lifetime among us, was and is his awareness and concern for human suffering, disease and death.   What can be done?  How can freedom be found, through these vicious and perpetual circles?   He applied himself to pioneer a way which was practical, and – like Jesus a few centuries later – overturned rigid, doctrinal tables in the temple of the One.

The Buddha’s long life and teaching is supremely practical.   Practice is the way of the Pentacles, the Suit of Earth.

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Two of Pentacles

Rohit sent me this in 2003, as an early image-reference marked “Two of Pentacles”.  It is the only one I have.  I am not sure what he had in mind.  A woman offers fruit – or sea-urchins? to another woman.  They share a Mona Lisa smile, or secret.  Perhaps it is the Buddha’s feminine nature – the women who surrounded his pampered youth;  his early sexuality and experience.  The most beautiful portraits of the Buddha all have a heavy-lidded cosmic tenderness – the smile which just suggests an invitation.

In his instructions for the Suit, Rohit wrote to me: 

“A prince in the lap of luxury, surrounded by beautiful girls, in a garden, walled off. There is poverty sickness and suffering on the outside but his father has kept him from unpleasant sights, determined he will never know of pain and decay – to the extent of removing dead leaves, branches and flowers at night!

“He is a very capable and intelligent young man but he is also being stifled in this curious ignorance he is being kept in.

“Compositionally this is not going to be easy – I know.”

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My solution is graphic – the young man in his garden of delight, is disturbed by an intuition  beneath the surface of things.  He awakes uneasily.   Is not this so also, if we give too much attention to a meditative bliss, and not enough to where we are?  What are we starving or neglecting?   Balanced spirituality must be embodied.  The Buddha found this out by trial and error:  first, through sheer empathy, he would endure his own period of starvation.

His eye of Consciousness – rather like ancient Egyptian profiles – opens sideways from the eyes of life.  It is;  it will be;  it always was.

In many teachings, the blind lead the blind.  Studying this card, makes me reflective.

The Wheels are the old teaching:  as above so below.  The beggar woman touches the wheel as if to implore divine grace.  Her baby hasn’t milk – her husband is blind.

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Correspondence March 2003 – Gautam (the publisher), Rohit and Jane:

“Dear Gautam – got yours and Rohit’s … Re Ace Pents, I certainly did not know that the ladies should be dressed Vedically.  I will see if I can reduce them.  Maybe they are not needed at all?”  (Later, the extra ladies, or birth-helpers, were removed, so the Buddha’s mother is on her own – see the Ace of Disks Birth of Buddha (earlier post.)

“I’ve started on Two of pents, and plan to send it to you when I’ve done one or two others as well.  Am recovering from bronchitis and not quite up to scratch, but much better this week.  I would like from you just a few more hints on the ‘teaching’ in each one.  The idea of using the Dharma wheel as the coin, came spontaneously, and can be used in each card of the suit.  But I would like indications from you as to where you would like them placed geometrically.  For instance in Two of pents, the design has Prince Siddhartha in the garden, top half, with a (smaller) wheel in the background, rather like the sun – and two less fortunates (whom he senses but cannot see) in the bottom half.  They also have a golden wheel above them, and are divided from the Prince by a wall.

“As I said before, I’m doing the minor arcana in a slightly simpler style than the major – otherwise it will take years.  In most decks, the minor are more symbolic and less literal than the major;  some are purely geometric.  My aim is to try to keep a consistent formal design and colour scheme through the suit.  Any suggestions?”

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“Dear gautam and jane – I have nothing to add to what jane says here, it is all great stuff.  There is no message or teaching coming forth from each card in the suits, unless it is the key-word association.  Perhaps that would help.  I will send off a list. 

“Jane’s ideas on card no.2 in Pentacles is great.  I do not wish to get in between her and her obviously inspired streak!  she is on the right track.  I agree we need to keep time in mind, but still, the minor arcana cannot be a dip or drop in the quality of effort.  We are aiming to compete with the best in the world.  The Mythic Tarot would perhaps be the only real competition we have.  A few extra months does not matter – this pack is for being done to last many centuries!  Since each suit is a theme and story inspired one, it will take some time, more time than if we just drew the pentacles or wands.  That is an acceptable slow process.  With regard, ROHIT“.

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Fragment from Rohit – “… would indicate, in fact sometimes wearing considerably less.  (You could not possibly be expected to know this, and I missed communicating it, because it is simply taken for granted, and not even part of normal consciousness.)  In fact India was a gorgeous and sensual place then, the richest country of the ancient and classical world.  The pentacles suit should reflect that spectacle and grandeur.  You cannot possibly overdo the ‘effects of opulence’, especially the use of gold ornamentation, if you wish to draw it that way.  The south-east Asian and Indian visual references we sent, will help here.  For the whole pack in fact, we should keep Opulence, Splendour and Gorgeousness as keywords.  I think we are doing very well indeed, and creating something genuinely valuable for the world here.”

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3 of Pentacles

Rohit’s Instructions:  “Curiosity drives the young prince out of his faux paradise. He sees Four Sights from his chariot , Disease, Old age, Death and a Sage who seems to have found peace in his meditation.

“Again to cram all of this into a rectangular space is going to be difficult, but I trust you will find some way round the difficulty. It is regarded as a great victory in Buddhist literature for the human spirit, so the sense of potential and urgency the prince feels is central – not the harrowing sights.”

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Visual References for SITA pentacles/disks 3 – The Four Sights.  Note the Wheel

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The Earth disks tip the scales from the Sky disk, with the desire to see and understand the reality of suffering:  poverty, disease, old age and death.   These “sigils” (pentacles) shocked Prince Siddhartha profoundly, and altered his course of life from the local to the universal plane.  On his fourth sally from the palace, he met a sage whose serenity (despite starvation) sustained a blessing on the piteous human condition.   There must be a way …

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Rohit’s Instructions for Card 4 –

“The story explains the context but it is very clear he left when his wife and newly born child were sleeping. He left on horseback instead of his chariot to confound any pursuers. Again the situation is regarded as a huge triumph for consciousness.

“There has always been a tension inherent in this episode, he is refusing to do his duty to follow his entelechy! If that can be conveyed it would be great…”

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Four Sights, Signs, Wheels … the Law is aligned, and the household sleeps.  The Prince rides forth on muffled hooves, in an etheric shroud to protect his destiny.   Yet he bears in his mind, his wife and child.  In due course, they became his devotees.   The Buddha’s tempo of evolution is seemingly accelerated, in relation to theirs.

Throughout sacred and esoteric history, we come across different time-signatures in tandem, like a raga with two or more rhythms through it.

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Correspondence – April 2003 

“Hi jane – card one looks much better now.  We’re very happy with 2,3 and 4, and suggest u just ‘go with the flow’. … Warm regards, Gautam.

Rohit:  “It perfectly captures the sense of luxurious blindness to reality and the imperative for change, which is the message of the Two in the suit, anyway.   

“Three is dramatic, even somewhat harrowing, but that is exactly what the young prince must have experienced in the Four Sights – something that knocked the bottom out of his shallow ‘successful’ world.  It is a very strong composition indeed, made all the more powerful by substituting a skull, which has archetypal resonance, over the more obvious choice of a corpse. 

“The Four has a somewhat Mughal miniature feel to it, with its split perspective to indicate simultaneity of action in different places.  I think the prince has never looked so regal as at the moment he is going to renounce all the trappings of royalty.  As always, Jane draws animals marvellously!  It is a poignant card, not a dramatic one.”

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“Painting the Buddhist Wheel of Life”, photo by Scott Aaron, 2divineways.com

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Shyam-Kali Yantra, 18th century Rajasthan.  Yantra with magic pentagon symbolizing the five elements: earth, water, fire, air, ether – may be vitalized as a safeguard against destruction and evil, and for good fortune.

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Sri Chakra Yantra created in an electronic vibration field, an experiment in the translation of sound into vision.  A similar experience is ‘sensed’ during ritual worship when the yantra pattern ‘dematerializes’, appearing to dissolve into a sound-pattern or vibration field of spoken mantras.  Still for a film by Ronald Nameth.

These two Yantras are not of the Buddhist tradition, but they serve to demonstrate the universality of the Wheel:  the precious seeds we bury in our lives.

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For all other Sacred India Tarot posts, look under Recent Posts, or Archive of All Posts in the title bar.

Rohit Arya

Rohit Arya is an Author, Yogi and Polymath. He has written the first book on Vaastu to be published in the West, {translated into five languages} the first book on tarot to be published in India, co-authored a book on fire sacrifice, and is the creator of The Sacred India Tarot {82 card deck and book}. He has also written A Gathering of Gods. He is  a corporate trainer, a mythologist and vibrant speaker as well as an arts critic and cultural commentator. Rohit is also a Lineage Master in the Eight Spiritual Breaths system of Yoga. 

Earlier posts about the deck, including the first 15 Major Arcana archives are in http://aryayogi.wordpress.com   The deck is copyrighted (c) 2011 to the publishers, Yogi Impressions Books pvt, and available also on Amazon and internationally.

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Jane

My adventure invites fellow travellers.  I am a poet, an artist and a seer.  I welcome conversation among the PHILO SOFIA, the lovers of wisdom.

This blog is  a vehicle to promote my published work – The Sacred India Tarot (with Rohit Arya, Yogi Impressions Books) and The Dreamer in the Dream – a collection of short stories (0 Books).  

Published recently online: The Reckless Fruit in two parts
– here are the links to click

 

Sacred India Tarot Archive – Creation of the Buddha Suit of Pentacles

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Continuing our Sacred India Tarot Archive series, now through the Minor Arcana – Creation of the Suit of Pentacles/Disks:

Buddha and Nasturtium Salad (these peppery leaves & flowers are good to eat!)

Jane’s Notes

Gautama Buddha, born under Taurus, sustained throughout his life and enlightenment, the strong sensuous contact with Earth.  He experimented with the traditional spiritual path of physical starvation, but found it as unwise as the dry “heady” practices to which Hindu spirituality had succombed.   He taught the Great Middle Way;  but also to enjoy, by example, the fruits of life:  mens sane in corpore sano.  The key to alleviate suffering – about which he felt passionately – is balance and moderation.  This he firmly held. Compassion is impossible, when driven by partisan beliefs and malnourishment. Compassion is equal with Mother Earth, who births and feeds us.

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SITA CARD ONE, Ace of Disks – the Birth of Buddha)

Rohit’s Notes to Jane – March 2003:

I am using the Buddha story, because I realized it is primarily an earth myth.  He is born feet first, and as his mother births him in a standing position, his feet touch the ground first, and he instantly walks three steps.  All identifying with earth.  He calls on the earth to testify in his favour when Mara accuses him.  He dies lying on the earth like a lion.

The pictorial references given should in most cases prove adequate to compose the drawings for each card.  We need not range too far from the norm here, as the story of Buddha as explained in the accompanying article (see “Rohit Arya’s Essay on the Buddha”, posted earlier) is now part of the mind frame of all Asia.  This used to include countries like Iraq and Afghanistan, which were Buddhist for almost a millennium before converting to Islam.  Before beginning the cards, please read the article.

One of the compositional issues we are likely to face is, how do we fit in the appropriate number of pentacles or coins, as the choice may be into each card.  I give a picture of coins actually depicting the Buddha, so that we have an idea as to the India style of coins, if we choose that option.  The sort of edge to the coins gives an authentic touch.  Perhaps we can compromise – have a coin ‘feel’ with pentacles inscribed within their boundaries.

The sketches of buildings are solely for the purpose of filling in background.  If need be, they can be used in all the suits.

Even though I started my article by saying that the Buddha was not a prince, that is how mythology remembers him, and that is how we will therefore depict him.

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Ace – Birth of Buddha

The choice was to go with the famous white elephant dream his mother had, or the actual depiction of the birth itself, which I felt was better, as it immediately establishes the link with the earth energies.

So we will use the actual birth of the Buddha.  He was born feet first, and as soon as he touched the ground he walked, a phenomenon of great and complex doctrinal significance.  The illustrations given should prove adequate for the composition, but we might include a little walking baby, suitably halo’d.  In the illustrations the Buddha is shown emerging from his mother’s side, a somewhat improbable event!  The mother is holding on to the branches of the tree to help herself deliver, it being common enough in India for women to give birth standing, as almost all other mammals do.

There is no need to veer away from the traditional depictions of costumes of either men or women.  The bare breasted women picture is for reference only, and comes from Sri Lankan murals, though they show the unmistakable Ajanta influence.

This pictorial reference from Rohit – the only one I can find now – has a more Greek style.

Jane’s Notes

Traditionally, the Buddha’s mother gave birth bearing down as she held the branches of a tree;  surrounded by helping women.  To the bodhi tree he returned, for the Great Enlightenment;  and as the tree lay on its side to die, he attained Nirvana.  My first draft for the Ace of Pentacles card contained a female figure to each side, but these were later removed.

I do not have our correspondence about this card.  Probably it didn’t get printed out. Here is the completed work:

The question of how to depict the coins, was resolved with this first card:  the traditional Buddhist symbol is the Great Wheel of the Law.  We agreed to use this – (with twelve outer spokes and eight inner ones) – for the  Pentacles or “Disks”, by which the teaching reaches the ground, and … walks!

In some scriptures, Buddha is called “the wheel rolling King”.

Wheel rolling King – 1988.  The orbital eye in the wheel is a cosmic atom

The Buddha nature vastly transcends any personal or individual focus.  It is of the order of those great wheels, the galaxies;  the time it takes for a feather’s touch on the Himalayas once every billion years, to reduce the entire range to dust.  The Tathagatha is the in and out breath of Kalpas:  the aeons of innumerable universes and lifetimes of the Buddha.  And yet, when this great being walked our paths, he was tender, shrewd and intensely practical.   Nature on earth is in this way, exquisitely practical:  to the smallest detail – the tides, the cycles and the seasons;  the way our body is made.

But we have to learn to become practical likewise. When we live arrogantly and out to lunch in our heads, and have no conscience with our toxic litter, Nature is our faithful mirror.

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From the Buddha’s teaching …

“THE TOWER is as wide and spacious as the sky itself.

 The ground is paved with (innumerable) precious stones of all kinds, and there are within the Tower (innumerable) palaces, porches, windows, staircases, railings and passages, all of which are made of the seven kinds of precious gems …

 “And within this Tower, spacious and exquisitely ornamented, there are also hundreds of thousands … (innumerable) of Towers, each one of which is as exquisitely ornamented as the Tower itself, and as spacious as the sky.

 “And all these Towers, beyond calculation in number, stand not at all in one another’s way;  each preserves its individual existence in perfect harmony with all the rest;  there is nothing here which bars one Tower from being fused with all the others, individually and collectively;  there is a state of perfect intermingling, and yet of perfect orderliness.

 “Sudhana, the young pilgrim, sees himself in all the Towers, as well as in each single Tower, where all is contained in One and each contains all.

Paraphrase by Suzuki from the Buddha’s AVAMTAMSAKA SUTRA

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The child was born from his mother (who died soon after) and walked at once.

How many others have dreamed about this, perhaps during pregnancy?  I did, many times when I was expecting, and I would like to hear if others did.  Briefly, in those dreams, the baby was born awake, and to my astonishment, spoke to me, and walked sturdily.  I might tell this story in my next post.

In my view, such a child is the delivery of a creative consciousness, and may happen at any time.  Such a child is a way of thought, foretelling a way of seeing.  The gods and devas and Great Messengers download through our psyche – (the atmosphere around the planet) – sometimes as infants fully formed, with their term of growth and realisation.  And they walk!

The more ancient the wise ones are, the younger they apear.  In every newborn’s face flow and flicker the centuries of our Self:  and thus the maternal bond.

A movie was made of the Buddha’s life, starring Keanu Reeves.  The footsteps of the walking newborn sprout lotus flowers, deliciously.  This babe accelerates the inner nature, rather like photo-technology learns to, on the surface.  The Christian tradition of the Virgin birth contains the same mystery, striking any moment, in the most ordinary manner.  Fruit of the womb! Only a fragment of the divine ordination – the Buddha land wherein we live:  the galactic Christ consciousness – gets captured into “what we think”; and then is dogmatized.

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The Law

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Rohit Arya

Rohit Arya is an Author, Yogi and Polymath. He has written the first book on Vaastu to be published in the West, {translated into five languages} the first book on tarot to be published in India, co-authored a book on fire sacrifice, and is the creator of The Sacred India Tarot {82 card deck and book}. He has also written A Gathering of Gods. He is  a corporate trainer, a mythologist and vibrant speaker as well as an arts critic and cultural commentator. Rohit is also a Lineage Master in the Eight Spiritual Breaths system of Yoga. 

Earlier posts about the deck, including the Major Arcana archive are in http://aryayogi.wordpress.com   The deck is copyrighted (c) 2011 to the publishers, Yogi Impressions Books pvt, and available also on Amazon and internationally.

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Jane

My adventure invites fellow travellers.  I am a poet, an artist and a seer.  I welcome conversation among the PHILO SOFIA, the lovers of wisdom.

This blog is  a vehicle to promote also my published work – The Sacred India Tarot (with Rohit Arya, Yogi Impressions Books) and The Dreamer in the Dream – a collection of short stories (0 Books). Watch this space.

All art and creative writing in this blog is copyright © Janeadamsart 2012. May not be used for commercial purposes. May be used and shared for non-commercial means with credit to Jane Adams and a link to the web address https://janeadamsart.wordpress.com/

 

Sacred India Tarot Archive – Rohit Arya’s Essay on the Buddha



Buddha mudra behind a Hebrew Tree of Life

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(In the Sacred India Tarot Archive series, we completed last month 
our posts on creating the 22 Major Arcana.  We now continue 
along these lines, with the four suits (56 cards) of the Minor 
Arcana. In this deck, the traditional Pentacles, Wands, Swords 
and Cups are respectively, Disks, Staves, Arrows and Lotuses. 
The suit of Pentacles is "Earth", and tells the story of Buddha's 
life and supremely practical teaching.  The other suits are tales
from the Ramayana, the Mahabharatha, and the wedding of 
Siva and Parvati.

Here is Rohit's introductory life-story of the Buddha.  The next 
post in the S.I.T.A. series will detail the remaining Grace card 
of the deck - Blessings of Babaji.  (The other Grace card is 
Ganesh, see Major Arcana.)  We shall then proceed through the 
suit of Disks, about one a week.

Seeking images to accompany Rohit's writing of the Buddha, a sky 
blue colour filled my mind, as of old.  For me, the TATHAGATHA - 
a beautiful name for the Buddha - has this radiance of the Endless
One:  jewel in the lotus.  "Tathagatha means one who has attained 
reality...  Tathagatha is further explained as True Nature, that 
which is immutable, immovable, and beyond all concepts and 
distinctions."  Buddha, a Taurean, earthed that light in nature, 
in rocks, flowing water and humanity, and does so to this day.)

J.A. 25.10.12

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Buddha nature

“The Life of Buddha – the Most Popular Story in the World” by Rohit Arya

The sheer volume of numbers who are aware of the Buddha, make the title of this essay a foregone conclusion.  For Buddhism was the dominant faith of Asia for a clear millennium, and it still holds a significant position there.  It is not normally realized that a great many countries which are Islamic now, were once strongholds of the Buddhist faith, especially Afghanistan and Iraq: the former famous for the now vanished Bamiyam monoliths, the latter for the finest monasteries the world has ever known, till medieval Europe.

Between the first century BC and the fifth century AD, Buddhism was unchallenged over Asia, with only pockets of the Confucian, Hindu and Zoroastrian beliefs holding out.  That makes the Buddha life story the most well known to all humanity, and in sheer numbers who religiously repeat it, it remains the most popular story told even today.

Before we begin recounting this tale however, one fact needs to be brought out.  The Buddha was not a prince.  That was romancing by later biographers, who could not conceive of anybody other than royalty doing such marvelous things.

Also, there was a caste agenda in place by then.  Buddhism was a Kshatriya response to a Brahmin hegemony financed by Vaisya support, and they needed a prince to be the mythical spokesman for the new faith.

The Buddha’s father was the head of a Janapada, a republican state, kingdoms merely having begun to emerge, and no real empire in place in society.  He was undoubtedly a privileged young man, but not a prince.  Since this narrative will deal with the mythic aspects of the life as popularly understood, we will go along with the prince fiction, but the historical Buddha is not the Buddha of invented memory.

Stream, sunlight, teaching

He was born according to tradition as well as history, in the year 563 BC, son of Suddhodana, belonging to the Kshatriya tribe of the Sakyas, in Kapilavastu near the border of modern Nepal.  His name was Siddhartha Gautama, the latter being his family name.  His birth was attended by the usual portents that seem to grace the descent of a great Master, notably some dreams that his mother had, that the child she was carrying would be unthinkably exceptional.

The baby was supposed to have been born while his mother laboured standing up, so that his feet touched the ground;  and the Buddha is supposed to have been the only human infant who could walk immediately upon birth, as befitted a future world saviour.  The astrologers gathered around, predicted that the boy would become an emperor if he could be persuaded to reigh.  It was more likely however, that he would renounce the world as soon as he was aware of the reality of suffering.

The mother died seven days after the birth of the super child.  A human frame cannot endure the incredible strain of bringing forth a Saviour for very long.  Suddhodana married his wife’s sister Mahaprajapati, and for once we are spared the evil stepmother routine in myth, as the lady dearly loved the young child.  The doting father was not going to have his son turn to renunciation, so he began a celebrated social-control experiment.  He shut his son up in a great palace, surrounded by high walls that kept the unpleasant reality of the world out of sight, and hopefully out of mind. The young man was immersed in wine, women and song; and that his constitution as well as his mind survived such paternal solicitude, is one of the greater miracles known to humanity.

Dharma stone

Siddhartha became the finest young warrior in the land, as well as a formidable scholar and in true epic fashion he wins the hand of his cousin Yashodara after a contest of skill in which he wipes the field of all comers at all contests, except curiously, sword play!  The ancient and enduring Indian disdain for close quarters fighting, which would be its eventual downfall, is here clearly reflected.  The hero could not do something so uncouth and dreadfully sweaty as fight well with a sword, even if he was the greatest warrior who ever lived.  The marriage was blissfully happy, and the king thought he had covered all the bases.  Siddhartha would become a world conqueror.

Then disaster struck, for the young man suddenly had an unwonted curiosity to see the world outside his magnificent prison.  The legend goes, that the gods despairing of him achieving his incarnate mission, promoted his mind with such strange whim.  In collusion with a famous confidante and charioteer, Chana, the young man slipped out and encountered the Four Sights, doddering Old Age, Sickness, a Dead man and finally an Ascetic who somehow seemed to have arisen above these inevitable and implacable miseries.  Later versions claim that in each case it was the god Indra who had assumed these forms to rouse him from his pleasure blinded ignorance.

Wood portal

A little digression would not be amiss here.  Many miracles would be attributed to the man later, but his appalled reaction to the sight of suffering has never got its due as the most important of all the miracles.  For we all know Sakya princes who live gilded cage existences, and it is a bitter psychological truth, that they are not particularly distressed when confronted by other people’s suffering.  They do not have either the experience or the mental concepts to make sense of suffering, looking upon it as something strange and quite unnecessary. “Why don’t they eat cake?” is not a cruel question, but a devastating confession of ignorance, of genuine puzzlement.  Siddhartha’s great leap of self transcendence was the realization that this sick person was like him, not “one of them”.  Somehow he preserved his sense of humanness against all the luxury that was stifling him.

The Four Sights could have been viewed as a freak show, the royal equivalent of slumming, a novel curiosity that amused, but did not touch in any way.  His feeling of despair at the general hopelessness of the human condition, is what should have been most exclaimed over.  In spite of genetics, environment and the prevailing zeitgeist, his spirit flared up when confronted with a moral challenge.

Back home, he became prone to brooding over the generally depressing nature of human existence – decay and pain and death, with an occasional narcotic experience of “pleasure” or “success” to numb the mind from the awful truth.

At this juncture, he was told his wife had given birth to a son, usually a matter of great joy to an Indian father.  It was the last straw.  “Yet another fetter has been born,” he moaned, inadvertently naming the son Rahula, a chain or fetter.   That night, he abandoned his new born son and wife, determined to seek out the secret to overcoming human suffering and sorrow.  It is an act known as the Great Renunciation.  He was 29 years old.

He took to the road, in an India that was an incredible intellectual adventure at the time.  Freethinking and speculation was at a peak never before achieved, or equaled after.  Mahavira the great Jain Master was his contemporary, though the two never met, in what is one of Destiny’s greatest oversights.  Originality of thought was matched by pugnacious championing of belief, and the young man soaked it all up.  However, while he was willing to learn from all, he was usually only too evidently the intellectual superior.  He used to learn, and then move on.  Tradition ascribes to him the discipleship of Alara Kalama and Uddaka Ramaputta, both Brahmin sannyasis.  He seems to have accepted the need for a belief system, good conduct and the practice of meditation, though he was not convinced they had the answer.

Austerities

In no time, he had accumulated five disciples himself, and they underwent severe austerities in the forest of Urevala.  Siddhartha tried to gain the knowledge of salvation through terrible fasting and overextended meditation.  The result was he became a living skeleton, and his mind began to lose its sharpness too.  So severely had he subjected his body to austerity, that when he stroked his skin his body hair would fall off, having no flesh in which to root themselves!  He even experimented with eating his own excretions, but he soon realized that this was no way forward.  Always intellectually courageous and integrated, he abandoned the path of self torture as well as the gigantic reputation for holiness it had given him.  His disciples left him, huffing with disgust at such backsliding.

Once his health had recovered, he recalled a mystical experience he had in his youth, and determined to pursue that line.  In the famous spot of Gaya, he sat under a Peepal tree, determined not to budge until he had cracked the secret of overcoming suffering and death.  His formidable will kept him there for forty days and nights, when Mara the Evil One, realizing his days of unchallenged dominance over Life was over, assaulted him with terrors and temptations.  The latter always meant impossibly voluptuous beautiful girls, and was regarded culturally as the greater threat to saintliness.

“Blue Lotus”

Siddhartha was unmoved by either fear or pleasure, as his Realisation was now complete.  The desperate Mara than accused him of the subtlest sin of all – egoism – the true feeling of having triumphed over fear and temptation.  Siddhartha merely touched the earth with two fingers and asked it to bear withness if a “person” was present there.  The earth announced that she did not bear on herself any human, there was only the Tathagatha, the Realised One, and ergo no human attributes.  This was the final victory, and the moment he entered into Nirvana, as well as the state known as the Buddha.  (“Buddha” is actually a way of being, a condition, not a title.)

Law of Life

The Buddha stayed in his seat for another forty days, unsure if his subtle and refined doctrine of transcending pain and suffering should be communicated to an uncomprehending world.  Finally, he resolved to risk the inevitable errors of the many for the sake of the few who would understand and profit from the new learning.  He went to Sarnath, a famous deer park, where his disgruntled disciples were living.  They saw him approaching, and resolved to ignore the apostle in their ascetic pride, but his transformed personality compelled them to offer him respect against their wills.  To them he preached his first sermon in the great event known as “Setting into Motion the Wheel of the Law”.  The Buddha was forty years old, and he had another forty two years of preaching ahead of him.

Law of Life, with Dharma wheel

Having been somewhat of an extremist himself in his striving, he named his new doctrine the Middle Path, or Arya Marga, the Noble Way.  His first sermon contains all the key elements of the Megatharian structure that would become Buddhist theology.  They are the Four Noble Truths and the Noble Eightfold Path.

The Truths are devastatingly simple.

Existence is unhappiness.

Unhappiness is caused by desire/craving.

Desire can be overcome.

It is overcome by following the Noble Eight-fold Path

… … which are

Right Understanding, Right Purpose/aspiration, Right Speech, Right Conduct, Right Vocation, Right Effort, Right Awareness/Alertness, and Right Concentration.

The need for chastity, truthfulness and nonviolence were core components of this.

Like a snowdrop

Buddha rapidly became one of the most influential figures in the country.  Even his skeptical family fell under his influence, and the whole country saw a mass movement of renunciation.  He used to wander the land attended by his nephew and favourite Ananda, a petulant weak-willed sort, and therefore under his special care.  Ananda’s recollections of his conversations with the Tathagatha made him an invaluable biographical source once the Buddha was dead, and he was much referred to in the settling of theological disputes. 

The Buddha did not care, much to the disappointment of more than a few of the faithful, for miracles and magic, but only in finding the shortest way to end suffering and attain Nirvana.  In a land where spirituality was automatically equated with the ability to work miracles, He stood out as a beacon for rationality and reason.

This may seem strange in a country which produced the Upanishads, but they were a rearguard action against a country that demanded magic, or a reasonable facsimile of it, from holy men.

The Buddha therefore is not only India’s foremost religious figure, he is also first in demanding a grounded view of life, which may yet be his major contribution.

We all know the famous story of Gautami, who had come to him with her dead child, and the usual hopes of resurrecting miracles.  Was he not the Tathagatha, the Ford-Crosser and the most famous holy man of the age?  Ergo miracles were expected.  He did perform one, by assuring her the child could indeed be bought back to life, if she got him some mustard seeds from a house in which death had not occurred.  The many wanderings within the city brought the distraught mother to her senses, as she realized that spiritual giants can offer another sort of immortal life, not the impossible one she was asking for.  He had no greater miracle to offer than the realization of the inevitable truth – suffering exists and can only be transcended, not avoided.

Snowdrop (JA 1969)

At another time he was told of a great feat of levitation that a holy man had performed, sending his begging bowl sliding up a flag post till it reached the top.  The reporters were evidently expecting a greater feat of supernatural prowess to be exhibited as an answer to their silent reproach – it was embarrassing to be the disciples of a guru who was not doing magic!  The Buddha merely said, in an elegant, celebrated squelch, “Such is not conducive to the cessation of desires and the attainment of Nirvana.”

His most famous conversion was that of the bandit and killer Angulimala, “Finger Garland”, an interesting type who used to keep count of his victims by cutting off a finger and adding it to his grisly garland.  Kings were his disciples too, most famously the king of Magadha, Bimbisara.  His son Ajatashatru slew him when the restraining presence of the Buddha was not there, but he repented and publicly confessed his crime to the Buddha the next time he visited. (Ajatashatru was too great a king for anyone to work up much indignation at his parricide, and in any case succession was usually decided by displays of such vigour.  It was, in a sense, expected behaviour.)  Royal patronage all over the country made the Buddhist stock rise very high indeed.

Sanatana Dharma

The Mahaparinirvana, the great and final Nirvana of the Buddha’s long life finally came when he was over eighty.  Never in his mission had he ever asked people to be anything other than sensible and intelligent in their spiritual approach.  “As the wise test gold by burning, cutting and rubbing on the touchstone, so are you to accept my words after examining them, not out of regard for me.”

He held fast to this doctrine, even on his deathbed.  His final sickness, incidentally, was brought on by his eating badly cooked pork at the house of a poor disciple he did not have the heart to refuse when invited.  The Buddha ate what was available, vegetarianism was a preference not an absolute fetish.  Three times he was ready to let the body go, but each time he was interrupted by somebody desiring instruction, and he held his Nirvana back, “lying on his side like a lion and instructing.”

Then he spoke to the disciples, “What need for the Tathagatha?  Become lamps unto yourselves.  The Buddha is a state, not a person.  Enter therein.  Decay is inherent in all component things.  Therefore work out your salvation with diligence.”

He died then, but the history of mankind had been for ever altered.

 flower sermon

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Ah, so!  Rohit’s writing of the Buddha, has stirred up voices and feelings in me, about the Buddha’s presence and footways in those ancient times, and his teaching.  It smooths my brow, restoring afresh the wonderful blue flower … Vishnu Krishna prototype!  Enjoy walking with this through the SITA suit of pentacles … the peace.

His brilliant 350 page book The Sacred India Tarot, which accompanies the deck, is unique and covers the full terrain, including mythology, yoga and interpretation – available from bookstores, ebooks, and on Amazon.  Visit the Sacred India Tarot website (published by Yogi Impressions) or on facebook.

The deck took us about nine years to create by correspondence.  The first 14 cards’ process work, plus Ganesh and Kali, are on Rohit’s blog http://aryayogi.wordpress.com which contains his other illumining essays on the subject.

Due to technical problems in India during the summer, I took over the archive, and The Major Arcana 15-21 process work was put up on both blogs.

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Rohit Arya

Rohit Arya is an Author, Yogi and Polymath. He has written the first book on Vaastu to be published in the West, {translated into five languages} the first book on tarot to be published in India, co-authored a book on fire sacrifice, and is the creator of The Sacred India Tarot {82 card deck and book}. He has also written A Gathering of Gods. He is  a corporate trainer, a mythologist and vibrant speaker as well as an arts critic and cultural commentator. Rohit is also a Lineage Master in the Eight Spiritual Breaths system of Yoga

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Jane Adams

My adventure invites fellow travellers.  I am a poet, an artist and a seer.  I welcome conversation among the PHILO SOFIA, the lovers of wisdom.

This blog is  a vehicle to promote my published work – The Sacred India Tarot (with Rohit Arya, Yogi Impressions Books) and The Dreamer in the Dream – a collection of short stories (0 Books) – along with many other creations in house.  

I write, illustrate, design and print my books.   Watch this space.