ASIA212Varley

Amida is shown descending to earth on a great swirl

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Unformatted text preview: n courtiers. In the Òjò Yòshû (Essentials of Salvation), for example, the Tendai priest Genshin (942–1017) urged the practice of the nembutsu and vividly pictured the attractions of the pure land: After the believer is born into this land and when he experiences the pleasures of the first opening of the lotus, his joy becomes a hundred times greater than before. It is comparable to a blind man gaining sight for the first The Court at Its Zenith 71 time, or to entering a royal palace directly after leaving some rural region. Looking at his own body, it becomes purplish gold in color. He is gowned naturally in jeweled garments. Rings, bracelets, a crown of jewels, and other ornaments in countless profusion adorn his body. And when he looks upon the light radiating from the Buddha, he obtains pure vision, and because of his experiences in former lives, he hears the sounds of all things. And no matter what color he may see or what sound he may hear, it is a thing of marvel. Such is the ornamentation of space above that the eye becomes lost in the traces of clouds. The melody of the wheel of the wonderful Law as it turns, flows throughout this land of jeweled sound. Palaces, halls, forests, and ponds shine and glitter everywhere. Flocks of wild ducks, geese, and mandarin ducks fly about in the distance and near at hand. One may see multitudes from all the worlds being born into this land like sudden showers of rain.21 One of the favorite themes in Fujiwara art was the raigò, a pictorial representation of the coming of Amida at the time of death to lead the way to the pure land (fig. 23); and among the most famous raigò paintings is a triptych traditionally attributed to Genshin, who was a fine artist as well as a scholar (even though this work was obviously done by someone else a century or more after Genshin’s death). Amida is shown descending to earth on a great swirl of clouds in the company of twentyfive bodhisattvas, some playing musical instruments, some clasp...
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