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Building Your Own Buddha Bus

Photo: Mark Fischer, Flickr Creative Commons
Photo: Mark Fischer, Flickr Creative Commons

Thank you for your interest in creating your own Buddha Bus. Each of these installations is a unique expression of its artist, so please consider the following as no more than suggestions to get your Buddha Bus rolling, so to speak.

Any vehicle will do, of course, but we recommend a school bus for several reasons. Those big yellow buses remind us of childhood, a time when we were eager to explore new ideas. Nothing was more exciting than loading up in the morning and rolling toward new knowledge that we could hoard like treasure.

Next is the sheer mass of those lumbering dinosaurs. You’ll be able to fit a lot of stuff into an old school bus, and that’s essential to these projects. A Buddha Bus is a sort of three dimensional collage of everything that you can’t do without, after all. You’ll need room for your big screen televisions and your piles of electronics–your smartphones, laptops, tablets, and Bluetooth thingamajigs; for your books and furniture and the art hanging from your walls; your closet filled with designer labels and dusty secrets; your motorcycles, jet skis, treadmills, and spin cycles; your journals, sketchbooks, and family photos. You’ll find that it takes a substantial vehicle to contain the many things that act like levees holding back your sadness.

You’ll need a Buddha, of course: It wouldn’t be a Buddha Bus without a stone Buddha somewhere on board. The size of your statue is irrelevant, as are its lineage or ethnicity. What kind of stone your statue was carved from doesn’t matter much, either: onyx, marble, granite, quartz–precious or common it’s all the same. What matters is that the beating heart of your moving sculpture is no more than a little stone Buddha.

Perhaps you wonder why we refer to your Buddha Bus as a moving sculpture, but maybe not. After all, once you decorate your vehicle however you choose and stack upon its vinyl-covered seats the things you’ll love forever you need to drive your finished artwork to its remote gallery. After that, though, how can a bus abandoned in a forest be described as a moving sculpture? Your finished Buddha Bus seems more of a stabile than a mobile.

This is a question upon which you might meditate while visiting your Buddha Bus, and you must visit it every day no matter the weather, no matter your mood or your health. Sit quietly facing your Buddha Bus, eyes focused on its stone heart regardless of whether you can actually see the little carved figure hidden among your things. Watch the water wash away your carefully laid paint and watch moss, rust, and mold dapple the vehicle’s metal surface. Enjoy the sunbeams leaking through the forest’s canopy and combining with the molecules in the air to harden and crack your sculpture’s rubber tires. Listen closely and you’ll hear rodents skittering away with seat cushioning and other plunder, and the snakes slithering about in hopes of catching those rodents.

Leaves flutter from the towering trees and land softly on the domed roof of your Buddha Bus. Years pass and old leaves turn to fresh compost. Tender green shoots thrust skyward from the new soil in this makeshift bed raised several feet above the forest floor. Vines creep through gaps that once held windows, curious tendrils probing for light, water, places to root. Inside your Buddha Bus all cloth, paper, and wood teem with more industry than the busiest city. Some of the microorganisms and insects turn what you loved most into shelter, others into food. Either way the most perishable items in your Buddha Bus vanish quickly. The more durable items rust, crack, fade. Plastics give up their gases in silent, dying breaths. Circuit boards and hard drives are irreversibly corrupted. The roof of your Buddha Bus sags beneath the weight of the life and soil gathered upon it and its floor rots away.

Don’t let death stop you from visiting your Buddha Bus. Come every day to sit and meditate. Watch the levee holding back your sadness break away. Visit once per day for 10,000 years until everything that you thought you couldn’t live without–the treasures, the thingamajigs, the vehicle that contained and guarded it all–is no more.

And then sit and face the stone Buddha heart of your mobile and think about what just happened and why it matters.

Categories: Uncategorized

2 replies »

  1. This is so very beautiful. I hope I’ll eventually realize the most I can. 10,000 years is much less than even a second in time. I think I have a good headstart.

    Liked by 2 people

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