The current paper deals with the analysis of a painting from a temple in Bodh Gaya and its relation to Siddhartha Gautama. It is necessary to specify what ideas are illustrated with the help of this piece of work. The first idea that may be clearly observed is the desire to reach Nirvana. Corresponding Buddhist practices are described in the painting, and the progress in this direction is presented as well. Another idea is readiness to accept all physical sufferings that are needed in order to better understand the essence of things or even the entire universe. Sufferings are viewed not as an objective per se but rather as a tool of achieving other key spiritual goals (Kabat-Zinn). One more idea that may be observed is the neglect of wealth and physical possession of any goods. Buddhism teaches that wealth does not guarantee happiness; therefore, additional attention should always be paid to spiritual development (McMahan). As all these ideas are typical for both Siddhartha Gautama and the painting from the temple in Bodh Gaya, they are closely related and present the same philosophy.
It is necessary to specify what unambiguous message is formulated by the artist through this piece of work. The main message is that human needs and desires for accumulating additional wealth may cause sufferings and numerous problems. It is reasonable to satisfy only the basic physiological needs while the rest of energy and time should be devoted to spiritual self-improvement and permanent self-development. It is evident that the sense of life is to achieve happiness in the most rational way; it means that it is unreasonable to try to increase one’s wealth if it does not lead to higher happiness and does not contribute to better understanding of the external world. Thus, the artist tries to orient all viewers towards their internal world and spiritual issues. In my opinion, it is very consistent with the Buddhist philosophy, and this perspective may be useful for representatives of different modern cultures.
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The analysis of this work helps to have a different perspective on a number of current social issues. For example, it is possible to examine the current prevalence of social media communication. Although Buddhism in general and this painting in particular do not provide a specific answer, it helps to evaluate the role of social media in the modern world in a different way. Social media help to communicate with more people from different countries, and it is a positive aspect as it helps to optimize this process. However, some people are very dependent on social media, and it is their main way of communication. Buddhism and this painting suggest it to be highly negative as such an over-concentration on social media does not allow improving one’s internal world and being occupied with spiritual issues.
The majority of people examine their daily problems and material questions through social media, and it contradicts their long-term objective of achieving happiness. Thus, it is necessary to use social media only in those cases where it is needed either for satisfaction of basic needs or for spiritual development. In the rest of all other cases, it is reasonable to be more concentrated on “offline” communication with different people as it is the most natural form of communication. It allows acquiring some information that is unique and cannot be received through other alternative methods. Moreover, it is useful for spiritual development to be alone in some periods of life and evaluate one’s life principles and life style. The most important thing is to be focused on one’s long-term happiness, not allowing social media to negatively affect this purpose.