Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Buddha Touching Earth: March Spiritual Challenge

For my March Spiritual Challenge Quilt, I chose the image of Buddha Touching Earth. The image was inspired by a photograph of Wat Yai Chai.

The story is about the Buddha seeking enlightenment under the Bodhi tree and about the demon Mara tempting him again and again. It is very similar in content to the story of Jesus' temptation in the wilderness when the Devil shows up and offers him all kinds of worldly glory, tempts his pride, and urges him to give up his spiritual quest to prove something. Like Jesus, Gutama Buddha resists Mara's temptations, but finally, the demon Mara says that since the Buddha has transcended earthly concerns, he should leave the earth. Instead of giving up or giving in, the Buddha put his right hand to the earth and called the earth to witness his right to be there. The earth replied with a rumble, proving the Buddha's right to stay on earth and defeating the demon Mara.

I first read the story in a book by Pema Chodron, and it struck me both for its similarities to the story of Jesus and for the truth it spoke in my own life. When I'm feeling ungrounded or tempted to give in to despair, taking a walk in the Glen or just lying on the grass in my backyard brings healing. I can't say the earth has ever rumbled, but I still feel the wind and the earth and the birds and worms give witness to my right to be here.

Okay, so it's a bit past my March deadline, but once I'd finished the quilt, it seemed too heavy on the right hand side. So I added the thread-painted tree just before I sewed the binding down on the back of the quilt. The pieced background of the quilt is done in Liberty cottons. A neighbor is from England, and her mum lives close to the Liberty factory where they sell seconds, so I scored some beautiful fabrics from her and couldn't wait to use them.

I bought the Quilting Arts Book when JoAnns had all their books for 40% off, and I did the machine quilting exercises that Robbi Joy Eklow has in the book and learned a lot from them (maybe I'll take pictures and post them later), so this quilt also served as a place to put some of those exercises to use in an actual piece.


Dawn said...

This quilt is awe inspiring. Good job!

Daniel Victor said...

This is such an amazing and beautiful quilt. I am very interested in buddhism and a fan of Pema Chodron. Your quilt really spoke to me. I don't know if you get this a lot on your blog but I was wondering if this quilt is for sale?