The Buddha, even in masculine form, exhibits feminine delicacy, especially in the act of intense contemplation. At the Ryōzen Kannon Temple in Kyoto, his enormous figure of bone-white concrete looms at the foot of the Higashiyama mountains. It is a memorial to the dead of the Pacific War, and the Buddha is the Lord Who Looks Down on the lamentations of those who suffer. 

Ryōzen Kannon Temple, Kyoto (2015)
Ryōzen Kannon Temple, Kyoto (2015)

He is presented as the Bodhisattva Avalokiteśvara: he who embodies the compassion of all Buddhas. He sits serene in lotus position, but in his compassion defers his own enlightenment. In East Asia, his rounded face signals a maternal benevolence, and the Japanese Kannon or Kanzeon could indeed be a female figure except for the breasts missing or lost in the folds of her shawl.

Indeed, the Chinese Guanyin conflates the Buddha with the beloved Goddess of Mercy, and they become one and interchangeable. His sex retreats to a recessive trait, felicitous to compassion, which, like the suffering it attends to, transcends gender.

(Kyoto, 2015 – Wiesbaden, 2017)

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s