Last year at the Order Convention, I was so struck by the amazing Amitabha thangka in the shrineroom in Wymondham. Having just come back from my ordination retreat in Guhyaloka, I was overjoyed to see such a beautiful image of Amitabha in exactly the form that I visualise in sadhana.
In the thangka, Amitabha is holding up the lotus. The origins of that image are fascinating and mysterious: the image has come down to us from a vision that Bhante Sangharaskhita had in the Virupaksha Guha cave in India in 1949:
”One night I found myself as it were out of the body and in the presence of Amitābha, the Buddha of Infinite Light, who presides over the western quarter of the universe. The colour of the Buddha was a deep, rich, luminous red, like that of rubies, though at the same time soft and glowing, like the light of the setting sun. While his left hand rested on his lap, the fingers of his right hand held up by the stalk a single red lotus in full bloom and he sat, in the usual cross-legged posture, on an enormous red lotus that floated on the surface of the sea.”Excerpt From: The Rainbow Road from Tooting Broadway to Kalimpong, Complete Works, p.345
Bhante’s vision cave was life-changing. His vision of Amitabha holding up the lotus convinced him that it was time to seek formal ordination and join the lineage of the Buddha. Later he founded the Triratna Buddhist Order, in which we are continuing the lineage of the Buddha to this day.
To honour our teacher Bhante Sangharakshita and to mark his fifth death anniversary Suvajra, Vimaladasa and Maitripa have commissioned a beautiful painting by Chintamani. This painting will depict Bhante’s vision in the cave and will be hung in Adhisthana. Additionally, prints of the painting will be made available in Adhisthana’s bookshop.
We need 4000 pounds for this project and we’d like to ask you for your help. You too can participate in this gift to honour Bhante! Indeed, you can participate firstly by giving generously to the project and secondly by sharing it with your friends in the movement.
Here’s the link to give and to share: https://www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/honouringbhante