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bodhisattva

in Buddhism the Bodhisattva is a person whose life-long practice of non-violence and the relief of suffering to all creatures perseveres until at last they attain enlightenment. however, instead of entering into nirvana at the end of their life (thereby ending their own individual cycle of re-birth, personal suffering, and death) they choose to stay behind until they have helped everyone else -- all beings -- enter nirvana ahead of them.

 

of all the cultures, religions, and myths i've studied i've never run across a more powerful idea of selfless dedication.

 

a Baptist and a butcher at a Safeway grocery store in a small town in east Texas, i tend to think of my grandfather (my GranGran), mom's dad, as a bodhisattva. using different words, that's the way his friends described him 25 years ago at his funeral. something of a clown and a cut-up, he was unerringly described as the kind of person who would do anything for anyone at any time. it's not to hard to imagine him at the gates of Heaven, his little hat in his hands, smiling and joking and waving everyone else through before him.

 

why a snake here then? as a symbol of the dedication to the endless cycle of death and re-birth, as a dedication to Life itself. this from Joseph Campbell, again:

 

The serpent sheds its skin to be born again, as the moon its shadow to be born again. They are equivalent symbols. Sometimes the serpent is represented as a circle eating its own tail. That's an image of life. Life sheds one generation after another, to be born again. The serpent represents immortal energy and consciousness engaged in the field of time, constantly throwing off death and being born again. There is something tremendously terrifying about life when you look at it that way. And so the serpent carries in itself the sense of both the fascination and the terror of life.

-- Joseph Campbell, The Power of Myth

 

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Our Daily Challenge: dedication

 

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the geek behind the curtain: this shot is pretty close to SOOC. instead of cropping down to a square i added the black bars on the sides, "faking the square." spent close to 20 minutes manually building the border -- i'm sure there are apps somewhere that do this for a person, but i don't have any experience with them. the shot itself had its contrast adjusted a bit, unsharp-mask was used once. that's it.

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Taken on February 5, 2012