of Three times
(tib. dus gsum sangs rgyas)
This painting is showing Buddhas of three times: Mahakachyapa (tib.'od-sruhg
chen-po), Shakyamuni (tib. ston-pa shkya-thuba) and Maitrey (tib.
mi-pham mgon-po). In the very center of the painting it glorifies
the image of Shakyamuni and his two great disciples, Shariputra
and Maudgalyana. Above the central triad are small figures of Mahakachyapa
and Maitreya, as Buddhas respectively representing the past and
future. There is clear and precise explanation of the term Buddha
in "Wisdom and Compassion" the Sacred art of Tibet: "Shakyamuni
is the Buddha of our historical period. To understand the omnipresence
of his icon in Tibetan culture, we must understand what "Buddha"
(tib. sangs-rgyas) means to Tibetans. A Buddha is a being-both human
and divine, either male or female-who has "awakened" (tib. sangs)
from the sleep of ignorance and has purified all evil, a being who
has "expanded" (tib. rgyas) limitlessly the power of his or her
compassion and accomplished all goodness. A Buddha is a form of
life that has achieved the highest evolutionary perfection possible.
He or she is perfect wisdom (the experience of the exact nature
of reality) and perfect compassion (the embodiment of the will to
others' happiness). Buddhahood transcends suffering and death and
incorporates the perfected abilities to experience and communicate
happiness to all living beings. A Buddha is not a creator god, so
Tibetans do not blame Buddhas for the evil in the world. Evil is
part of the existing order of things, produced by bad habits and
persisting since beginningless time. Its root is ignorance or misknowledge
of the nature of reality, which is the self's misperception of its
own status as absolute, its own position as central, its essence
as ultimately separated from others. This misknowledge leads to
greed and hate, as one wants to take things away from others and
fears that they will take things away from oneself. Greed and hate
cause negative evolutionary actions, such as stealing and killing,
and these inevitably cause suffering both to perpetrator and victim.
For Buddhists, evil is suffering and good is happiness. The purpose
of life is to get rid of all suffering and find real happiness."