This life-size sculpture ‘Chunda’ (Junda in Japanese) pictured below was created in 2005 to portray lay Buddhism by Shinnya Nakamura. He is still producing dynamic works despite his age of 90. It is owned by a Buddhist Denomination Shinnyo-en, Tachikawa, Japan and I have special permission to display this photograph even though it is a sacred Buddhist object.
This is highly significant in the Buddhist world because Buddhism was dominated by monasteries and monks throughout the Buddha’s lifetime. However, when Buddha was on his deathbed many illustrious followers, Kings and enlightened monks, visited him to bring him lavish offerings. To everyone’s amazement, he refused everything.
Then, a local blacksmith, Chunda, arrived with his 15 rough friends offering a modest pot of homemade food which the Buddha accepted to the disgust of the assembly. Chunda was uneducated and had received no spiritual training whatsoever, but became enlightened on the spot!
This signifies that all beings can become enlightened only through their sincerity and that spiritual training is perhaps not necessary. Chunda represented a new direction for Buddhism away from the domination of the pious monastics. He has given all beings hope of being enlightened in their lifetime.
I am deeply grateful to be able to bring this work to those outside Japan.
I have just published an article about Chunda, the first lay Buddhist, at Ancient History Encyclopedia, a wonderful non-profit platform where experts share their knowledge at no cost – http://www.ancient.eu.
cover image: Buddha’s Head + Buddha’s Parinirvana https://www.megapixl.com/juliengrondin-stock-images-videos-portfolio, Chunda and 15 friends – Linden Thorp