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ORGIN: Tibet

“Art for the Tibetans is well accepted as a precious window into an alternative reality, into the enlightened dimension. In a special sense, it is not human-made, but is a gift of enlightened beings themselves. For example, it was said that when Tsong Khapa and his disciples were making the gold and silver three-dimensional mandalas in 1415, the artisans never had to consecrate or polish a single statue. As soon as the iconography of the image was correct, following both the traditional iconometry of the texts and the visionary styling of the master, the images would begin to shine by themselves, as what the tantras call “wisdom duplicates” of the actual deities descended from their heavenly abodes and merged within the icons. Every Tibetan was quite aware of the difference between an icon and a real Buddha or Bodhisattva, and many experienced frequent visions of them. Still, due to the sense that even icons are by extension part of the actual Body of the Buddha, Tibetans feel that icons transmit a living presence. They feel that this can be ritually and contemplatively enhanced by rituals of consecration and even by the attention of an accomplished lama.”

Wisdom and Compassion
Marylin M. Rhie
Robert A.F. Thurman