The Origin of the Buddha Image & Elements of Buddhist Iconography (Paperback)

By A. K. Coomaraswamy

Fons Vitae, 9781887752800, 200pp.

Publication Date: April 28, 2006

List Price: 27.95*
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Two foundational texts, enhanced by a third, "The Nature of Buddhist Art," are concerned not only with providing a language for reading the artistic and linguistic symbols for Buddhism, but also show how these symbols are conducive to self realization, which is the aim of all sacred art. Providing a schema of what is of the utmost value in all the world's great spiritual traditions as they pertain to transforming the understanding life and the spiritual process, clear expositions on the significance of the most profound Buddhist symbols are offered, including the poses, the Lotus (the ground of manifestation), the Bodhi Tree (the Tree of Life synonymous with all existence), and the Wheel (the operation of principles). The portrayal of the "Kingdom of Heaven Within" in Buddhist etymology, iconography, and metaphysics is explored, and this whole cosmology—which would appear to be outward—is revealed to be located within the human heart itself. This work demonstrates that art is not solely for instruction or visual/mental pleasure, but intends to liberate the beholder from the restless activity that obscures reality and inhibits inner peace.

About the Author

A. K. Coomaraswamy was one of the world's greatest art historians and scholars of traditional iconography and is the author of numerous works, including "Christian and Oriental Philosophy of Art" and "The Door in the Sky."

Praise For The Origin of the Buddha Image & Elements of Buddhist Iconography

"Coomaraswamy's essays [give] us a view of his scholarship and brilliant insight." —Joseph Campbell

"Don't make any mistake about Coomaraswamy. He is an eminently practical man. I love him." —Wendell Berry

"It is not that I want to write about AKC [Ananda Kentish Coomaraswamy], but rather that I want to enter contemplatively into the world of thought, which . . . is for all of us, but which nevertheless had to be opened up to us by him." —Thomas Merton

"Coomaraswamy's essays, learned, elegant, and wise, are one of the great treasures of 20th-century thought. To read them is to see the world in the clear light of tradition, to understand art and philosophy from the viewpoint of first principles, to be reminded of our sacred calling and of the One who calls us." —Philip Zaleski, editor, Parabola