By ensuring that the Buddha’s teachings were transmitted across millennia, the religion helped develop and spread printing techniques around the world – as a new exhibition reveals.
By Cameron Laux, 15 January 2020 –
Do you ever feel like you’re trapped in a hamster wheel, while the lord of hell sinks his tusk-sized fangs into you? If so, you might feel a jolt of recognition upon seeing a Buddhist thangka painting by the Nepalese Master Buddha Lama. It’s been created for an exhibition of Buddhist artworks and manuscripts now at the British Library in London, featuring scrolls, artifacts and illuminated books spanning 2,000 years and 20 countries.
Although Buddhist principles like mindfulness have filtered into mainstream Western culture, other key tenets might not be as well-known. According to Buddhist cosmology, life is suffering experienced within the cycle of birth, death and rebirth. In Lama’s painting, we are in the big wheel that Yama, the lord of hell, is holding. (His facial hair is on fire and he wears a crown of skulls.) At the center of the wheel are three animals symbolizing the root causes of suffering, the ‘three poisons’: ignorance (pig), attachment (rooster), and anger (snake). The latter two come out of the mouth of the pig: ignorance is the primary obstacle to achieving anything, take note.
(For the source of this, and many other equally interesting articles, please visit: http://www.bbc.com/culture/story/20200115-how-buddhism-spread-written-language-around-the-world/)