“Half of the holy life, Lord, is it not friendship with the beautiful, association with the beautiful, communion with the beautiful? "No, Ananda," said the Buddha. This is not half of the holy life, it is the whole of it. » Samyutta Nikaya
From India to China, from Tibet to Japan, from Sri Lanka to Thailand, Buddhism has also been transmitted through art. Looking at a Buddha image can connect us with his teaching as deeply as studying a theoretical treatise. Without getting lost in the often misleading game of concepts, we can let ourselves be moved by the one who was called the Blessed and meet him.
We sometimes forget this resource of images, because, for us, they are too often vulgar elements of communication. They are illustrations that can transmit a set of information and sometimes provide aesthetic pleasure. But in the Buddhist tradition, the work of art is the manifestation of the spiritual realization of the Buddha and contemplating it confronts us with its realization.
Every work of art is, in this perspective, sacred – both truth and presence. It responds to precise and complex canons, in accordance with a vision of the world and a coherent spiritual universe. She thus seeks to bear witness to the harmony of the cosmos.
But it must also be animated by a living, moving and ardent breath. Buddhist art is not spiritual because it would represent religious subjects, but because it has given rise to non-egotistical styles and executions, where the artist gives way to the Open that he lets unfold. In traditional Buddhism, beauty is the dimension where life unfolds in its most vivid fullness. The artist is at his service.
It is through its art, moreover, that “every tradition forges and forms an atmosphere in which its truths are reflected, in which men breathe and live in a universe of meaning that conforms to the reality of this tradition. This is why, in almost all the cases for which we have historical testimony, tradition created and formalized its sacred art before elaborating its theologies and philosophies”. Long before Buddhism had developed a coherent doctrine, a thinker like Nagarjuna, for example, had written his subtle treatises, Buddhist architecture and sculpture had developed