Saturday, 13 August 2016

Question: Who created the first physical depiction of the Buddha’s image? How did he or she know how the Buddha looked like?

Answer: It is said that in the Buddha’s time, there was an image made of him during his short absence, to serve as a reminder for his followers. However, it has been lost in time already. It is not known exactly who was the first image thereafter. (Earliest existing images date back to Bactria in the first century.) All that remains as close accounts of the Buddha’s appearances are sutra descriptions of how the Buddha looks like in 32 major ways and 80 minor ways, each of which arose from a corresponding virtue being perfected over immeasurable lives as a Bodhisattva (which can be seen in Chapter 6 of the Sutra On Upsaaka Precepts: Cultivation For The 32 Charactersistics). 

Here are the 32 characteristics:
[1] 足下安平立相: Form of flat soles (and palms)
手足轮相: Form of palms and soles each with a wheel of one thousand spokes
指纤长相: Form of fingers (and toes) being slender and long
足跟广平相: Form of heels being broad and flat
手足指缦网相: Form of webbed fingers and toes
手足柔软相: Form of hands and feet being tender and soft
足趺高满相: Form of dorsals (of feet) being high and full
伊泥延腨相: Form of calves, (knees and thighs) like a stag king’s
[9] 正立手摩膝相: Form of hands when standing upright touching knees
阴藏相: Form of male organ hidden within body
身广长等相: Form of body width (with outstretched hands) equal to height
毛上向相: Form of all (body and head) hairs upright (and coiling right)
一一孔一毛生相: Form of each pore with one grown hair
金色相: Form of golden colour of body
大光相: Form of great light (aureole)
细薄皮相: Form of skin being fine, delicate and smooth
[17] 七处隆满相: Form of seven parts of body (two hands, two legs, two shoulders and neck) being full
两腋下隆满相: Form of both armpits being full
上身如狮子相: Form of upper half of body (majestic) like a lion king’s
大直身相: Form of body being broad and upright
肩圆好相: Form of shoulders being full and well-rounded
四十齿相: Form of forty teeth
齿齐相: Form of teeth being level and close
牙白相: form of teeth being bright white
[25] 狮子颊相: Form of lion’s jaws (cheeks)
味中得上味相: Form of tongue attaining best of all tastes
大舌相: Form of broad and long tongue
梵声相: Form of pure voice like a brahma king’s
真青眼相: Form of pure blue eyes
牛眼睫相: Form of bull king’s (orderly) eyelashes
顶髻相: Form of (flesh) protuberance on crown (like a topknot)
白毛相: Form of (right-coiling) white hair (between brows that radiates light of blessings)

Part of the beauty of it all is the mystery of exactly how magnificent the Buddha is. It is perhaps more wonderful this way, to leave it up to relatively open interpretation, while based on the above characteristics. It is also such that different beings saw the Buddha differently due to their different merits and levels of spiritual purity. Buddhas can also manifest various forms as skilful means to teach. Also, it is in their Pure Lands that Buddhas can be seen in their true and total splendour, while we lack merits due to impurity as severely defiled beings in this Saha World (of Endurance of Suffering) here.

Source : The daily enlightenment 
(Posted by  on July 20, 2016)