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LOCKDOWN (April 3rd) by Gillian

There are beautiful houses along East Heath Road; a feast for the eyes! Being outdoors, during these strange times feels so precious, so I naturally observe more carefully than 'before'.

There it was! A striking, beautiful Buddha statue, belonging to one of the houses. What struck me was the fact that it had been chained to a post, probably to protect it from being stolen, such is the nature of humans to act impulsively, and to take something of beauty that does not belong to them.

Buddha literally means 'enlightened one, a knower'

The Buddha that I saw adopts a pose similar to the 'Medicine Buddha': Traditionally, the right hand is held facing downward with fingers extended toward the ground, palm facing outward toward the viewer, a bowl of herbs rests in the left hand upon the lap.

It is believed by the Tibetans that the Buddha was responsible for delivering the knowledge of medicine to the people of the world, and in fact the right hand facing outward signifies "granting a boon" (meaning, giving a blessing) to mankind. This is a common hand gesture amongst both Buddhist and Hindu statues.

This Buddha statue is a travesty of its intention. We are all locked down like the Buddha, whilst we wait for a vaccine to be created to help us survive this global pandemic. Many feel constrained, restricted and frightened.

We have chained ourselves to a world of consumerism, of greed, superficial matter and waste. By being locked down, perhaps we are forced to look inwards and connect with the soul and sprit within.

Upon closer observation, I noticed that this particular Buddha has their right hand held low and unturned, as if denying the world the blessing to mankind and unable to bring the knowledge of medicine that the planet so desperately needs.

If we were to unchain the Buddha, we would set them free, and bring great joy to their spirit. In turn they would be able to share the knowledge of medicine that they hold in their hands, heal the suffering and prevent the virus from spreading.

There are indeed early signs that we are already changing for the better: the coming together of communities; being kind to one other, sharing with each other.

Only when we have learned our lesson will the chains be removed, a vaccine created and a new way of living begin.


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