March 04, 2011
As Chade-Meng Tan points out in his lastest blog post, enlightenment can look good. At least, that's what this first century Gandharan representation of Maitreya, the future Buddha, seems to indicate. Look at those abs! Meng writes:
But wait, it gets better. Notice that Maitreya is dressed in princely robes and wears the jewelry of a prince, meaning he is financially quite well-off, to say the least. Best of all, he is physically very fit. Just look at his abs, he has six-pack abs! How many enlightened men do you know have six-pack abs? The Dalai Lama? I don't think so, dude.
The first time I saw this representation, I was instantly and irresistibly drawn to it. It represents everything I aspire to be in this lifetime: an enlightened multi-millionaire, one who reaches perfection in wisdom and compassion, with six-pack abs.
I'll admit, Maitreya does look pretty good here—but a six-pack? More of a four-pack with a healthy pudge beneath it. It doesn't look like Maitreya skipped a lot of meals. Especially when we compare him with Siddhartha in his more austere days.
Image 1: from Mengstupiditis.
Image 2: from the Flickr photostream of hanoi 112505