Weekly Photo Challenge: Broken Buddha

“The saints of God dare to be ordinary.”–Hugh Prather

A friend of mine who owned an import/export shop gave me a large Buddha statue that had been damaged irreparably in shipping. Like everything else I receive for free, I didn’t give it much thought. When I was forced to live in my car, I left the statue with my mother who placed it on her front porch in the wind and rain like an Asian garden gnome. Years later, this battered moss covered Buddha became one of my prized possessions. Although my wife and I own other Buddha statues, this broken Buddha is still my favorite.

For me this faded sea green Buddha reminds me of the real Shakyamuni Buddha. Although many depictions of the Awakened One are artistically crafted in gold, we often forget that Siddhartha Gautama was a broken man right before he attained enlightenment. A former prince, Siddhartha abandoned his wife and newborn son to pursue a spiritual life as an ascetic.

After six years of mortifying the flesh including eating only one grain of rice a day, drinking his own urine, and fiercely meditating every waking hour, Siddhartha accepted a meal of rice pudding from a young maid, much to the consternation of his fellow ascetics. Imagine the bitter taste of failure that accompanied this fast breaking meal. This was right before he sat under the Bodhi tree and attained enlightenment.

I try to remember this when I’m picking through the pieces of my shattered life. Rock bottom provides a solid foundation to propel us into a higher consciousness.

The tattered statue also reminds me of another story about the Buddha that occurred after he became the Enlightened One. Upon hearing the news that the men, women, and children of his former kingdom had been massacred, the Buddha became sad. The Awakened One fell back into the suffering of samsara. This reminds me that mindfulness is a moment-by-moment practice. There is no perfect state free of change, transience, or impermanence, even if we attain enlightenment. Happiness ends, loved ones die, statues break. Enjoy the perfection of this moment for it is all we have.

Thank you for reading, sharing, and/or smiling.

What objects remind you of your spiritual practice? Please share.


28 comments on “Weekly Photo Challenge: Broken Buddha

  1. lorenmarvin says:

    That Buddha’s got Character!!

    • Kozo says:

      Thanks for the comment and follow, Loren. Like many consumers, I’ve always been attracted to brand new shiny things, but you are right on target when you say that this broken buddha has character.
      It reminds me of a scene in Throw Mama from the Train where Danny DeVito shows Billy Crystal his “coin collection.” All the coins were ordinary, dirty, used coins, but each one was received as change when DeVito’s absent father would take him to a ballgame or for some ice cream. It reminds me that real value does not come in dollar signs, but in relationships.

  2. NIKOtheOrb says:

    I think that is what Siddhartha was saying with his attaining enlightenment (which he differed greatly from the other seekers he encountered upon his journey and before): that mindfulness is momentary, fleeting, that, like everything else, is ever-changing, just a part of the right now, present. That means, even that can also wax and wane, can begin and end.

    Good post.

    • Kozo says:

      Exactly, Niko. I used to think of enlightenment as an endgame. Just get there and everything will be perfect forever. But the Buddha said that EVERYTHING is impermanent, so rather than pursue the illusion of perfection in enlightenment, I am trying to make each moment as light as possible, if that makes any sense.

      • NIKOtheOrb says:

        Makes excellent sense. I think that is the path of real enlightenment, and is much more feasible and attainable than the idea of perfection (that enlightenment were an endgame). Yes, everything is impermanent, constantly in motion, waxing and waning, here and then there. Like a whisper, that is how I see higher consciousness, like a whisper.

      • Kozo says:

        I love that, Niko. Higher consciousness as a whisper that is easily drowned out by the din of everyday life.

  3. Purnimodo says:

    The best part of Buddha’s story to me is his death. Apparently the good man ate a piece of pork that might have been a tad bit overdue.. I think death by bacon is a good way to go. πŸ˜‰

    Lovely pictures. Sometimes perfection is in the imperfections πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚

  4. Deepali says:

    Thanks for the pingback, Kozo. Your choice of these beautiful photos of broken buddha is unique and very apt for the theme. I also loved your words..very inspiring!

  5. πŸ™ Metta and Sincerest Gratitude for the Comment and Mention. Furthermore gratitude for having made this Connection on Word Press. If I may be of service, this is my practice of Dāna-ParamΔ«ta, or Perfection of Generosity.
    In Loving Service, with Metta & Satipatthana
    Namaskar ☼ ☯
    ~Dharmamitra Jeff πŸ™

    • Kozo says:

      Wow, Jeff, how do I get those cool icons? Thanks for the comment. I too am working on Dana. I look forward to learning from your wisdom and example.

      • Thank You, and Thank YOU for sharing. Those icons are usually Under the drop-Down Menu of “Edit”, then choose “Special Characters” there’s 1,000s of them!
        With gratitude and Friendship _/|\_

    • Jocelyne says:

      mattsvoboda: Sorry it took me a few days to get back to you on this. Such a topic is a bit too large for a blog comment, so I wntaed to find a site which discussed it in a way which I felt fair to both religions. I found .

    • Kozo says:

      Love the photo of the car on a stake, Frizztext. I prefer “mudita” or happiness in another’s good fortune over schadenfreude although the German term is unfortunately more common.

  6. diannegray says:

    This post is so beautiful and inspirational, Kozo!

  7. Sometimes the most broken objects/people are the most beautiful.

  8. […] Weekly Photo Challenge: Broken Buddha (everydaygurus.com) […]

  9. eof737 says:

    Beautiful post… Deep respect for the Buddha! TY! πŸ™‚

  10. Amy says:

    Thank you for sharing the story. Beautiful images!

  11. […] Weekly Photo Challenge: Broken Buddha (everydaygurus.com) […]

  12. sofiasiberia says:

    This was a deep post, Kozo! I also read a lot about the life of Gautama and that he lead a humble living. In fact, all the great Enlightened ones did!

    I just recently comprehended the idea of ‘living and cherishing the present moment’ and now I really find much wisdom in it. Thank you so much for reminding us about it!

    • Kozo says:

      I have to keep reminding myself to cherish the present, Sofia. Part of the reason why I blog is to keep reminding myself. Thank God I have fellow bloggers like you to help me remember what is really important. {{{Hugs}}}

      • sofiasiberia says:

        Many hugs back! That’s why we are here – to create a happy supportive network!

      • Kozo says:

        Funny thing is, Sofia, that I did not originally start blogging to create this “happy supportive network.” I started because I heard that writers needed to create a platform to be successful.
        What I found was far more profound and satisfying than a platform. I found a community of love, friendship, and compassion. What a beautiful diamond in the rough.

      • sofiasiberia says:

        Exactly! πŸ™‚ It is a very rewarding experience πŸ™‚

  13. “Rock bottom provides a solid foundation to propel us into a higher consciousness.”

    Buddha was an ascetic, sitting under a tree- that’s a very simple image to me as the setting for the advent of something so profound, timeless, and world-changing.

    I have stopped looking in beautiful tall buildings, and listening to people in flowing robes for answers to my questions. I have started to seek out the truly great things in most ignoble places and people.

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