1.    Lecture Notes from Trinity University Buddhism Course Spring 93
2.    Dr. Bernier's SE Asian Art Lectures. University of Colorado. Fall 2003
3.    The Buddha Image. (Video) Dr. Bernier. University of Colorado Media Library.



BODHISATTVA - Buddha to be, on their way to enlightenment, yet out of compassion remain in the world to assist others in realizing nirvana.

BRAHMAN - 1 a : a Hindu of the highest caste traditionally assigned to the priesthood b : 1BRAHMA 2 : any of an Indian breed of humped cattle : ZEBU; especially : a large vigorous heat-resistant and tick resistant usually silvery gray animal developed in the southern U.S. from the zebu 3 usually Brahmin : a person of high social standing and cultivated intellect and taste <Boston Brahmans>  Etymology: Middle English Bragman inhabitant of India, from Latin Bracmanus, from Greek Brachman, from Sanskrit brAhmana of the Brahman caste, from brahman Brahman  Date: 15th century  - Brah·man·ic,  Brah·man·i·cal

MAITRAYA - The Buddha of the Future.

NIRVANA - Enlightenment. Heaven. See the Four Noble Truths.

SAMSARA - the world, existence

TANTRIC - one of the later Hindu or Buddhist scriptures dealing especially with techniques and rituals including meditative and sexual practices; also : the rituals or practices outlined in the tantra  Etymology: Sanskrit, literally, warp, from tanoti he stretches, weaves; akin to Greek teinein to stretch -- more at THIN  Date: 1799

TATHATA - such ness, the way things are


In The Assault of Mara the Buddha touches the earth to call it to peace, and the earth tells Mara to back off.


    THERAVADA - Later called HINAYANA (The Lesser Vehicle) by the Mahayana School

In the Buddha's lifetime.

    MAHAYANA - The Greater Vehicle

Begins 1st century CE. Ignores the Buddha's message to not make images of him.

    VAJRAYANA (Tantric School)

7th Century CE. Not much fuss. More is better.


Source 3:

Siddhartha Gotama was born in south Nepal (Bihar) into a culture with a 2500 year old tradition. He had 32 marks on his body indicating that he was a Mahapurusa - or great man.1 Shayiamuna (sp??), prince of the Shaki?

Earliest art (3000 BCE) supernatural in nature. Use of seals to mark bales of hay. The Hindu culture had concerns of life and afterlife since its beginnings. Also animistic beliefs of a mother-goddess. Objects of devotion: Bhakti art. A 1500 BCE house interior: lighting fires to honor dead brothers, in a mandala. A new population, Aryans, mix in with the original, Dravidian population. Four sacred books - The Vedas - of rules, life, society, politics, and religion. The rules deny art, physical images as profane. Geometry is ok. Caste system developed. Brahmans, Warriors, Merchants, Common People. Priests continually increase their power through time and hold a grip on society to the point where only the king could be saved. No place for women in society. Tribal people outside the system. Salvation was expensive. In the 6th century looking for a new way: Buddhism and Jainism.3

Teaching a new way, hand position, teaching the way of the lotus. Stands for the Buddha. The lotus has its roots mired in the roots of tumultuous water, and rises above the water and buds, it opens on a higher state, the state of full bloom is nirvana - higher understanding.

He was accompanied by a servant to see the outside world beyond the palace where he was very sheltered. He saw first a poor man, than a sick man, a dead man, and then a holy man for whom he had complete respect. He decided to seek a higher truth. He snuck out away from his father, wife and children. Lived as a holy man, rejecting the world of senses with no material possessions. He starved himself. Then decided to treat the body this way was not right or admirable, was to find the other way - the noble path.

In Bodguya under a Bodhi tree for 40 days of meditation he formulated The Four Noble Truths. There is a big temple there now. He was in a yoga pose and then set out to teach.

Life is filled with/characterized by change/suffering - Dukkha - The Reality of Suffering
Change is suffering - Cause of suffering is desire - Samudaya - The Cause of Suffering
Desire must be overcome - Nirodha - The Cessation of Suffering
To overcome is to find enlightenment, Nirvana - 8 Fold Path of Right Walking, etc - Magga- The Path to the Cessation of Suffering

Source 1:

Names of the Buddha:    Tathagata - tath (a) (such) agata (come) gata (gone)
                        The one who has thus come
                        The one who has thus gone
                 Sakya-muni: sage of the Sakya's

Cakra/varten (wheel/will)  - (these notes are not clear)

"the wheel" - marks of power, but don't know how the power will be used. Either a universal monarch or ruler (spiritual?).
Influence the circle of countries around him. The cakravarten may wheel his chariots anywhere he willed, thus universal monarch.
Symbols of holiness are in all artistic portrayals of him. In a depiction of his 1st teaching the wheel is turned and coming towards you. Not renunciation just now a spiritual leader, not a political leader. Even the stupa - the place where Buddha died - has an umbrella above him.
This established the dual nature of cakravartin's wheel of dharma. Engi is possessed so a small boy is sent and then led by the dharma wheel, showing that the spiritual nature of the dharma can help a politician.

Two main views on where the Buddha comes from:

1. Hinayana - Buddhas arise over time - Diachronic
2. Mahayana - Accepts this but this is lower understanding. Buddhas are generated eternally everywhere - Synchronic


1.    Buddhism did not start with Siddhartha Gotama. he had prior lives - Jataka Tales - birth stories, 1800 stories - only in one is Buddha a female.
Buddha is considered a Bodhisattva - dedicated to perfecting wisdom and compassion to achieve enlightenment.
The Vessantara Jataka - He grows up in wealth but gives it all away and goes to the forest with family. Then a beggar asks for his family and he gives that away.

2.    Buddha (Siddhartha) is 8th or 24th Buddha - Dipankara Buddha met the future Buddha in a different life. Siddhartha was then born in the Tushita Heaven and finally decided to be born on this planet.

Where did the Buddha go? Where does a flame go when you blow it out?
The next Buddha will be Maitreya, appointed by Sakyamuni.
Only one Buddha at a time, then he is gone, only his teachings are left.

Dipankara - the historical Buddha
Sakyamuni - ru-lai fo - the thus come Buddha
Maitreya - wei-lai - the future Buddha. Will be a tru Cakravartin. This idea becomes popular during times of political unrest. he will rule the world from China. One movement says Maitreya has already come. China has a linear sense of time. Once Maitreya has come, everything will be perfect.


Horyu-ji - some people are weeping because they don't understand
Heian - myth - raises from death to illuminate Buddhas, to enlighten his (dead) weeping mother
Vairocana Buddha - related to sun - also has multiple Buddha's sitting behind him. The Buddha never really died, he has always been here.

    Two models of Synchronic View

Static-Horizontal - Mandala - holy drawing describing truths. In all directions there are Buddhas.
                             Budrasutra - (diamond sutra) diamonds are forever

Dynamic-Vertical - Trikaya Doctrine - Three Bodies of Buddha

1. Dharmakaya (dharma body) - wisdom, non-dual, quiescent
                                                   nirvanic and samsaric reality
2. Sambhagakaya (bliss body) - compassion, dynamic, celestial Buddhas
                                                Bodhisattvas in heavens: Avalokiteshava in Tushita heaven and Amitabha in Pureland
3. Nirnanakaya (transformation body) - compassion becomes flesh to teach dharma
                                                             Dipankara, Sakyamuni, Maitreya
                                                             Saha-World (of suffering)


Dharma as law, world principles
and the teachings of the Buddha - Buddha Dharma

Interpretations of the Dharma
    hinayana - time of Christ
    madhyamika - 1st Century
    Yogacara - 4th Century
but it is believed that each of these are "turnings of the dharma wheel" which were discussed by the Buddha and simply were realized through time as deeper understanding was achieved

Classification Schemes -  flavors, and depending on the listener one will appeal to him/her.

    First Turning

body/soul dualism where soul went through many bodies until isolated salvation - ancient teaching. Buddha taught anatta or no self, no self annicca - non permanence, except for nirvana, it transcends the impermanence. Annicca is unsatisfying because we want permanence, we must escape from this world, which gruesome, which becomes the 4th mark of existence, Ashubha for Hinayana. Thus one should want to become a monk. This is the Chinese interpretation of this and wanted badly to create monasteries.

Wu-wo - lacking I, a doctrine of selflessness which is the Chinese interpretation of anatta - not a doctrine of no atma (soul), because that was an Indian idea.

    Second Turning

Ultimate reality is transcendental. Nirvana is achieved outside Samsara. It is through self effect that transcendence occurs
Buddha says Nayarjuna (Mahayana's 4th mark) or interdependence or emptiness (Sunyata). No real mass but just energy flux - no underlying substance - no enduring characteristics - emptiness. Nothing exists in isolation.
There is no dualism between Samsara and nirvana. Find nirvana in Samsara not from it.
Be open to the possibilities - emptiness is endless opportunity - no limitations.
Salvation of one is dependant on salvation of all.

Chinese perspective:    Concentrate on openness and not emptiness. Had a big Taoist influence. Sunyata - not being. It is the potential of being. From nothing comes something. The monastic ideal come into question since the world is where we find nirvana. Lay monks have valuable accomplishments.

    Third Turning

More of an extension of Madhyamika since Madhyamika teaches nihilism. Thus Vijnanavada and Yogacara schools. Buddha mentions the state of the enlightened mind.

Asanga and Vasubandha: 1. All reality is a projection out of the mind. 2. This consciousness is the seed or womb of enlightenment.

Potential Implications: 1. Tathata - such-ness - the way things are. 3. one is all and all is one

Chinese perspective:    Presses the idea that both Samsara and nirvana are empty (Madhyamika) and thus identical. No barrier between them - all things are Buddha nature.


Dharma is in decline. Sutras describe the signs that the dharma is declining. For example, women are permitted to join the Sangha (monkshood). Another Indian sutra talks about lack of respect for Buddha, Dharma and Sangha. This is not new to the Chinese. Confucius and Taoism taught of a past Golden Age. Thought that Sakyamuni is too far gone and the Dharma is becoming misunderstood. Three stages of the Dharma: 1. True Dharma - 500 years  2. Counterfeit Dharma - 1000 years.  3. End of Dharma - 10,000 years. (I guess that we have been without Dharma for about 1000 years now and have 9000 to go). Then Moonlight Buddha will come to save disciples. Then 56 eons of evil age. Then Buddha will come. There are a number of signs of extinction. One is the Sangha is made up of bad people pretending to be good. There is a glimmer of hope: Maitreya will come at anytime. Cult of Maitreya


The first appearance in Asia 600+ years after the life of Siddhartha Gotama, with Mahayana Buddhism, had a big impact on art is Asia. This happened in Beneres, a 5000 year old city of great devotion which has a heavenly cosmic plan.

The Buddha, like ancient Hinduism, denied physical images which became a Hinayana doctrine. But India demands an image of the great teacher. In the 5th century CE we see the Buddha in a teaching posture with his hands in the turning wheel mundra (position). The wheel of the law - dharmacakra (law - wheel). The Buddha is the hub, the central, non moving part of the wheel.

The image will not be a natural image, but it will be real. It will have breath, an illusion or essence of flesh, profoundly moving teaching image that is more than human. 2nd way of seeing Buddha: spiritual form, invisible, reborn 1000's of times. 3rd way: he is between a physical, yet flawless man and a spiritual man. this is the essential true body. Mahayana literature describes this 3rd form having a secondary brain, flat feet, webbed fingers. These characteristics are borrowed from nature making the Buddha a composite form. The third school of Buddhism, Vajrayana images become magical, no artist signs their name as it is Vishnu Karma that allows them to be artists. Buddha becomes sensual, earthly, beautiful and precious: abundant truth, fertile.

First appearances between 50-320 CE in India in both the north in a school developing in Gandhara, a Greek and Roman area, and in the south, Mathura.

Gandhara:    A foreigner image with curly hair and cloth clothes. Has long earlobes and a 2nd brain which looks like a hairstyle. Disguising? body looks human. This image disappears by 6th century. This style did tell the stories well, i.e. the Buddha's body merged from the side of mother at his birth. Reliefs of stories of the life of the Buddha. Statue of self deprived Buddha, naturalistic/humanistic. Does not fit.

Mathura:    Winter capital of the contemporary dynasty, 2nd century CE (same time as the Gandhara image) We see the supernatural body, volumes are hard, stocky, frightening, frontal. Lost some compassion. Perfect geometry.

During the Andra Dynasty (South India) in the 3rd century the Buddha image becomes a bit more human. Northern expansion to China, Korea, and Japan. Southern expansion by sea to SE Asia. Andra is the Southeast Asian influence. Perfection comes in the Gupta Empire (320-650) with a combination of forbidding geometry of Mathura and the humanity of Gandhara. Gupta style influence seen everywhere in Asia. Lotus pedal eyes and mango fruit lips.

7th Century:    Full Development of Buddhist Art. Monasteries. Pala and Sena Dynasties 8th - 11th centuries. The Buddha becomes elongated and ephemeral. Nepal uses inlaid jewels. Cambodia gives back his jewels. The Thai believe he should be gold, like a flame.