I was browsing through the pictures of my visit to Tokyo this New Year and the picture of this gigantic 13 meter great Buddha of Kamakura stood out. I was transported to Kamakura and of the time I spent there walking into the statue. Yes! You can get into the statue and look into Buddha’s hollow empty head. It is this emptiness inside the statue that was very striking. The statue was built in the 13th century and was housed inside a large temple. The temple was washed away in a tsunami in the late 15th century and Buddha somehow has withstood the test of time. A visit to Kamakura which is full of Buddhist temples is incomplete without a visit inside the great 13.35 meter Buddha.
This essay wasn’t supposed to be a travelogue or about Kamakura. I had intended to write about how intriguing I found Buddha’s empty head to be. Why such an enlightened soul would have an empty hollow head was beyond my comprehension. In the space within the walls of the Buddha I felt very insecure. I realized how my big wide world was confined to finite space within the statue depriving me of freedom. As I dwell on this issue of empty space many unanswered questions keep following me like an avalanche, chasing me into wild thoughts and making me obsess.
Why do we all obsess over unanswered questions? This question brings me back to the great Buddha. Buddha was obsession incarnate. He obsessively questioned and analyzed the philosophy of life for years and he taught his disciples the “true” meaning of life. This “truth” is what I felt in looking at his empty head at Kamakura. That hollow empty space is the eternal “truth”, something that we feel around us at all times. We just don’t realize the space around us until or unless it is restricted or defined. Meditation also I believe makes us understand this very “truth” that the universe is nothing but empty space. How far within one can you delve for answers? Or, how small can you dissect an atom? (It is interesting to note that root of the word atom means indivisible) The root of everything in essence seems to be embedded in nothing! The complexity that covers this simple nothing is the marvel of science.
The empty head
Buddham charanam gachami (I take refuge in the Buddha)…