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Specimens from the Flowerbank World
These paintings and drawings were inspired by the AVATAMSAKA SUTRA. The English translation of its title - FLOWER ORNAMENT SUTRA – discloses the obvious relation between text and image. It would however be inaccurate to view these works as illustrations of the book, since they do not coincide with any specific descriptions of imagery in the sutra. It might be more appropriate to say that the images reflect the very rich content of the book.
For instance, the proliferation of the tiny club motif is representative of the elaborate descriptions of phenomena so characteristic of the book’s literary style. “The finest jewels appeared spontaneously, raining inexhaustible quantities of gems and beautiful flowers all over the earth.” And in another sampling of the sutra’s visionary cosmology, we read “There were great enlightening beings numerous as the atoms in ten Buddha worlds.” Or “Each of his hair tips was able to contain all worlds without interference.”
One could say that the sutra in its 1,500 plus pages is an epic exhortation to meditation practice. Meditation is simply another word for concentration or attention. A common but not exclusive meditation practice involves repetition. The repetition of mantras. Counting the breath. Or simply the act of bringing awareness back to the breath should it forget itself in daydreaming. Although not specifically a meditation practice, the attention directed to the consistent repetition of the miniature details parallels the voluntary attention of meditation. It also ironically yet respectfully parallels the art of the insane that often exhibits urgent neurotic repetition and obsession with minutiae.