‘Poetic Logic’
Feb15

‘Poetic Logic’

All images copyright of Amrta. Individual Buddha images reproduced courtesy of Buddhafield East. To commission Amrta go to www.buddhapixie.com.   An earlier version of this article was published in the February 2011 issue of the Triratna Buddhist Order journal, Shabda.     A Schema for the Imagination and Ritual based upon the Five Buddha Mandala     We are used to thinking of logic as dealing with concepts, but we can think of poetry too as having its own logic. In this short article I will try to explain what I think poetic logic is using an iconic system from Tibetan Buddhism called the Five Buddha Mandala, in which the qualities of Enlightenment – such as wisdom and compassion – are represented by five coloured Buddhas. A mandala is simply a pictorial organisation of symbolic forms. In the centre of the Mandala is the white Buddha Vairocana: the Illuminator. He holds an eight-spoked  wheel called a Dharmachakra, which symbolizes the teaching of the Buddha. Vairocana represents the central principle in Buddhism of personal transformation. The individual is transformed through contact with the teachings of Buddhism. But more importantly transformation happens through contact with any teacher who embodies Enlightened qualities to some degree or other. Surrounding Vairocana is the dark blue Buddha Aksobhya: the Imperturbable, in the eastern direction: the yellow Buddha Ratnasambhava, or ‘Jewel-born, to the south; the dark red Buddha Amitabha: Infinite Light to the west; ; and the dark green Buddha Amoghasiddhi or Unobstructed Success is in the north. Each Buddha has a different hand gesture – called a mudra – and is associated with a particular Enlightened quality. So for instance Aksobhya has the ‘earth-touching’ mudra and he is associated  with Wisdom; Ratnasambhava’s mudra is that of generosity and he is associated with seeing the value in things; Amitabha’s mudra is that of meditation and he is associated with Compassion;  and Amoghasiddhi’s mudra is that of fearlessness and he is associated  with successful activity. The reason why it is helpful to use the schema of the five Buddhas to explain the fields of Imagination and Ritual is that 1) the five Buddhas are themselves symbols of the imagination, and 2) there are five key areas that are pertinent to the fields of Imagination and Ritual and there are five pitfalls that we can fall prey to with each area if we are not careful. The five key areas are whether or not we set out with a poetic sensibility; the quality of the image we are attending to; the question of whether we have faith or confidence in the image, what we then do in terms of ritual and devotion, and finally whether we are helpfully...

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