This yet-to-be untitled piece has finally been finished! Right now, I am referring to it as the Bell Shrine, a shrine for all the elephants lost to poaching.
Ironically, parts of it was made from old gunstock – the wood was from a rifle factory that had gone out of business and these were blanks that were made of beautiful old growth claro walnut. Because of the stock’s odd shape, I designed this piece to be made of slats and sections of this material.
Kudos goes to Joyce and Bill Teague, members of the San Diego Buddhist Temple, who taught me the meaning of the obutsudan. I would like to share Bill’s information with you because I found it to be especially meaningful.
The most basic elements of the obutsudan are
The Central Object of Reverence or Worship (Gohonzon). The Elephant.
Flowers. Always on the left, representing impermanence.
Candle. Always on the right, representing unchanging truth (Dharma). We see the candle as a symbol of transience as the burning flame consumes the candle. But the candle works as a symbol of unchanging truth because the flame persists, even if transferred to another candle.
Incense Offering/Burner. In the middle, in front, as it relates to our spiritual state in the present moment, as a kind of living synthesis of transience and permanence. Sometimes our transient life is identified as horizontal time, and unchanging truth as vertical. Burning incense brings us to the current moment in which we experience the intersection of horizontal and vertical time.
The cast bronze bell was made by Sophie Glenn – and rings every 15 minutes, which is when an elephant is killed by a poacher. (that’s right: an elephant is killed every 15 minutes for its ivory).
The piece will debut at The wildLIFE Project exhibition, which opens in September at the Houston Center for Contemporary Craft.