Buddha Zodiac

 

The composition of Buddha Zodiac is based on a Sui period (6th c. China) bronze shrine depicting the Amitabha Buddha. That shrine shows the Buddha in the center under an arch of jeweled flowers. An image of this shrine appears in the 1992 edition of Richard Evans Schultes’ book Plants of the Gods in the chapter titled “Holy Flower of the North Star”. The caption for this image tells how when the Buddha preached raindrops fell from heaven and landed on Datura (a common weed that is both psychedelic and poisonous). In Buddha Zodiac, a canopy of Brugmansia (formerly known as Tree Datura) appears over the central figure.


Text floating from a translucent figure states: "We people and color the indifferent, neutral screen." This is both a spiritual axiom and a direct reference to the lack of any color in the drawing. The grayscale rainbow over the figure showing phases of the moon restates this absence. The face is mask, a terra cotta sun/garden decoration.


The setting is the beach. The scene is a man drinking from a bottle labeled Spirits out of which a ghostly Saurian is emerging. He is possibly any man who drinks at the beach but he is experiencing a holy, transcendent drunkenness and is expressing his awe in a halo of exclamatory text: God damn. He is sitting on the beach amongst agave, a tree stump, and rocks with two Shi Tzus. These dogs are associated with the Buddha and are his guardian dogs/pets. The text in the stars are an abridged quotation from Francis Thompson, a late nineteenth century English poet, ascetic, and opium addict:


All things
Near or far
Hiddenly
To each other
Linked are
That thou
Canst not
Stir a flower
Without
Troubling
Of a star

 

E.A.B. 2/23/12