It is one of the most iconic images from Sandus: the view of the Buddha sitting in the Office of the Sôgmô at the Palace of State. It has been shown to the world as a feature of Sandum national identity and has been a focus of Sandum identity since Sandus’s early history. The Sôgmô in 2010 stood before it as Governor of the Territory of Sandus, member of the St.Charlian Commonwealth, and stands before it now as Sovereign in our own right. It has even been the receiver of gifts from the Sôgmô’s former consorts. But, now, the State’s national Buddhist altar is to receive something of a renovation: a new Buddha.
The new Buddha is a gift from the father of the Sôgmô who recently purchased the carved wooden Buddha in Cambodia while on a trip there to research the Buddhist and Hindu temples of the ancient Khmer. It replaces the faux-stucco looking Buddha that currently sits on the National Altar and has a greater significance than the former Buddha. The previous Buddha statue was intended for use in gardens, while this new Buddha statue is intended for spiritual use inside. And, this new Buddha has support from many of the Sôgmô’s friends and family, while the Sôgmô himself said, “I think he looks rather magnificent — and what a wonderful pose: ‘Calling the Earth to Witness!'”
The pose, known as the “Calling the Earth to Witness” mudra, is one of the most iconic symbols of the Buddha. This posture symbolises the Buddha’s enlightenment as, according to tradition, the Buddha touched the Earth for it to witness his enlightenment. It is also known as the “Subduing Mara” pose because it is with this touching of the Earth that Siddhartha Gautama dispelled Mara, the demon who attempted to prevent Gautama from achieving enlightenment, as in the 1993 film Little Buddha.
The possession of the Buddha is an important feature of Buddhist spirituality because of the Buddha’s “three bodies,” or trikaya. In this philosophy of Buddhism, the body of a buddha represents the accumulation of both merit and wisdom represented by dharmakaya, sambhogakaya, and nirmanakaya. The dharmakaya represents the ceaseless wisdom of enlightenment that has no boundaries or limits. The sambhogakaya represents the Buddha as a body of bliss and peace. And, the nirmanakaya represents the physical body of a buddha as it is manifested in space or time. For Buddhists, it is important to have an image or statue of the Buddha either in their mind or in their realm of sight in order to meditate on the three bodies of the Buddha.
The old Buddha will remain with the Sôgmô. When the Sôgmô moves into his new apartment later this month, the Buddha will accompany him.