Saturday, November 29, 2008

The Buddha abides in Dorchester

Off Park Street in Field's Corner, behind the branch of the library, is a Buddhist temple with a spacious garden full of statuary that invites repose and reflection. The garden is dominated by a white marble statue of Kuan Yin, the boddhisatva of compassion, known in Vietnamese as Quan Am. There are marble lions guarding the gate and, on the garden's eastern edge, a statue of the Buddha in repose.

This pose symbolizes the Buddha on his deathbed about to enter Nirvana, that indescribable state of which we all partake if only we are aware enough to realize it. Paradise is as fleeting as it is eternal. The Buddha taught this so it is fitting that in this representation of him, the Enlightened One lays his head in Dorchester, Massachusetts.

The Buddha lies with his back to Dorchester Bay and his face turned toward the T station a few blocks away. He is wearing that inscrutible half smile that has baffled and intrigued many a Western non-mystic. You can find this satisfied look all over Dorchester. People wear it as naturally as they put on thier socks. Beatific faces dot Dorchester's stores and sidewalks and parks. If you look in a living room window at night, you will see calmly happy people going about thier domestic routines.

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