For a while I've wanted to make my body into a living Manjushri thangka so that it may serve as a reminder to myself, gather additional merit, and perhaps even serve to inspire others.
Since then genesis of the initial idea, the seed has germinated and grown, taking on a very personal quality beyond what I'd originally envisioned.
Since my last post on this blog, there have been many changes. And not just in my life. I am now a father of a 6-month-old little girl. Due to the immense amount of merit accumulated over her past lives, the very first name this little being received was from His Holiness the 17th Karmapa---while she was still in the womb. He named her "Karma Yeshe Lhamo":
As I write this, I am currently separated from my 6-month-old daughter, whose English name is Lily Tahra in honor of the utpala (or "water-lily) which Tara always holds. I am confident that Tara will always hold her close and care for her, even when I cannot be there in person, as is the case right now.
In that same vein, just as Tara holds the utpala, I would like to always hold my daughter. Thus the first tattoo I would like to get is of Tara & Manjushri's blue utpala going up my left arm, starting the stem at my wrist and having it bloom at my shoulder.
It will be made of Drutsa calligraphy, with the list of the Ten Perfections from "Jinpa" (generosity) to "Yeshe" (primordial wisdom), which will become the center of the flower, flanked by both "Karma" and "Lhamo." The blossom will be composed of my daughter's Tibetan name :)
The artist who will be designing this is Jamyang Dorjee Chakrishar. I stumbled upon his artwork online recently, and immediately knew I had my man. He is able to take the various Tibetan scripts and masterfully draw the bodies of Buddhas & Bodhisattvas out of the prayers to them. His take on the 21 Praises to Tara is nothing short of Liberation Upon Seeing, and served as the latest bit of inspiration.
If anyone would like to contribute towards helping me fund the calligraphy and the tattoo, I would greatly appreciate it. As of right now, my finances are tied into sponsoring a White Tara statue in Lily's name and in saving up money for the legal avenues which I will have to take to be involved in her life, as well as support her. If nothing else, please hold my daughter and my ex in your prayers. Between the two of them, I have come to live and breathe the Four Thoughts which turn the mind to Dharma.
First meditate on this precious human body,
So hard to attain and easy to lose.
I shall make this life meaningful!
Second, the world and living beings are impermanent.
Our lives in particular are like water bubbles---
Who knows when we will die and become corpses?
Since Dharma will help then, I'll practice diligently.
Third, there is no freedom at the time of death.
In order to take control over karma,
I give up misdeeds and always do virtuous acts.
Thinking thus, I examine myself every day.
Fourth, the places, friends, pleasures, and riches of samsara
Are always stricken with the three sufferings;
They're like a feast before being led to execution.
Cutting the ties of attachment, I'll strive and reach enlightenment.
The Daily Recitation of the Mahamudra Preliminaries
by the Ninth Karmapa, Wangchuk Dorje
Remember: all beings have Buddha-nature, even those who we find difficult, frustrating, and with whom we have troubled relationships. Feeling unsure or uneasy about our connections to other beings doesn't mean we can forsake them... Quite the opposite. We should expend that much more of our energy in overcoming such negative emotions and in learning to love all beings, including ourselves. Buddhas love all beings as a parents love their only child; with an unconditional, ultimate love. If we ever hope to become like them, then maintaining love is paramount.
"Even if your friend decides they want nothing more to do with you, and you go your separate ways, keep love in your heart. It is okay to lose a friend, but not to lose love."