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Prayer Wheel at Odiyan

40 X 60 watercolor, 1981

spiritual trailblazers

the story of this painting



"Stupa": a symbolic representation in stone of the

unity of the relative and ultimate nature of reality.

Its base is a dome which is topped by symbols of the Guru's awakening.(1)

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The Story of this Painting

To abide in a place of peace and silent strength in the midst of the chaos of our outer and inner lives. The stupa at Odiyan embodied that sense of harmony in a way I'd never experienced it before. My first encounter with it fulfilled years of romantic longing for a direct spiritual experience that would take me beyond the boundaries of Kay as I know her.

We arrived in the afternoon to celebrate Padmasambhava's birthday. The evening laid a blanket of fairy dust on the pine covered hills and sitting in the open framework of the temple site the atmosphere took on an air of anticipation. Above the night sky was full of stars that reflected in the surrounding moat. We began chanting the mantra of this great Tibetan saint, the sound of it creating a temple around us made of music and light. A gong sounded and everyone arose as in a dream. A long procession of beings, their faces softened in awe, slowly moved down the hill. I felt like one small cell in the body of a great being whose body, mind and spirit moved in total harmony and kindness. We descended into a circular clearing in the woods that had been an ancient Indian ceremonial ground. Moonlight rained down on a sight that took my breath away. There stood in perfect repose a white stupa. It seemed self illumined from within, the light gently enhancing its graceful lines and perfect balance. Around the base where it reverently touched the earth was a wreath of flowers and golden urns from which incense arose, enveloping the space in perfume and color. To me it was a glorious altar to the earth goddess, she who bore witness to the Buddha's enlightenment.

I was possessed to paint this beautiful form and as I did so realized the direct relationship of this image to our own human bodies. The outer shape--elegant and unpretentious, the inner space--rich with elaborately detailed panels depicting the four directions and images of the beings who embody, teach and protect the Dharma. A giant prayer wheel at the heart sends forth with every turn prayers of gratitude to the buddhas and bodhisattvas who continue to turn the wheel of Dharma (truth) in a world filled with suffering.

I painted the red rose with its drop of dew, not yet really understanding that this reflected my own fiery passion to know the truth and to understand the mysterious strength and peaceful countenance of the stupa. The rose is a personal yet ancient western symbol of the eastern jewel in the lotus, a seminal drop in the female flower, as is the cathedral or temple the body of the Goddess and the garden her womb.(2) It's been years since I've been to the stupa, and I've been told that it's now surrounded with rose gardens.

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Silent flowers

Speak also

To that obedient ear within.



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1. Tibetan Nyingma Meditation Center, The Legend of the Great Stupa, p.126

2. Walker, The Woman's Encyclopedia of Myths and Secrets, p. 867. Definition of "Rose".

3. Hallmark Editions, Silent Flowers, p.4

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