A perhaps surprising figure has emerged as a gently dominant presence on the southern area of Chicago’s Grant Park Skate Park: the Buddha.
“Be the flower, not the bee” is a fifteen-foot tall sculpture of a Buddha that its creator, Tashi Norbu, explains as “a silent speech addressed to every bystander, and a message of awareness about environmental issues like: global warming, palm oil production, and tropical deforestation in Amazonia and Tibet. The icon of Sakyamuni calling the Earth as a witness, in the gesture of Bhumiparsa, [has been] realized by the assemblage of recycling wood marked with sacred and ritual signs.”
Noting that “in Nature all is related, often with invisible and sacred links, and the interdependency of all things shows how dependent we are on Her,” the sculpture, in the shape of “Sakyamuni calling the Earth as a witness, in the gesture of Bhumiparsa,” has been built from recycled wood and “marked with sacred and ritual signs.” Accordingly, the statue has a natural, living component to it: flowers and vines have been planted to grow on the sculpture to protect it from sun damage.
For more about the sculpture and Tashi Norbu, who says his work is about “visual communication and image representation, with an emphasis on the artistic culture of Tibet across the globe,” follow Norbu on Facebook here.
Some people may be surprised by this meeting of Buddhism and skate/city culture, but it’s hardly the first. In “Dropping In Again,” as published in the November 2016 issue of Lion’s Roar, Buddhist teacher Michael Stone shares his experience of picking up skateboarding again at age 42 — this time as a spiritual practice. And for still more, check out the earlier LionsRoar.com pieces linked to below.