The tiny plant grew so big with my mom's TLC that when I brought it back into my house after my mom moved into a nursing home, I ended up transplanting it to the backyard--it had grown into a tree. It thrived outside for a year but then last winter the temps plummeted and he didn't survive.
This spring, when I reluctantly pulled the leafless, dry stalk out of the ground I noticed the twirl of roots at its base. It reminded me of Gandalf's staff, magical and inspiring, just like my mom. I didn't know what I would do with it but it seemed destined for something grand and mystical so I set it aside.
Last month, while searching for inspiration from my collection of branches, driftwood and rootballs, this ball of roots that represented a bond between me and my mother found its way into my hands complete with a vision--I saw the Buddha sitting in contemplation under the Bodhi tree. How fitting!
I've been chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo for 25 years, as a practicing Nichiren Buddhist. Statues of the Buddha and images of the Buddha and, yes, this Spirit Doll of the Buddha can imply the worshiping of a deity, outside oneself.
Nichiren Buddhism, however, teaches the belief that every individual is equal and has the power and responsibility to shape their destiny through bringing out their own enlightened nature and ability to create their reality based on action, hope and determination.
I don't worship this Spirit Doll nor would I want anyone else to. For me this doll represents Nichiren Buddhism's philosophy of basing one's actions on compassion and a sense of appreciation. The golden oversized lotus blossom on this doll represents the simultaneity of cause-and-effect because a lotus flower blooms and seeds at the same time. The hanging pearl on his face represents the Buddha's teardrop of compassion. The rhinestones on his forehead represents purity of thought, spirit and actions and his golden face represents the eternal nature of life.
This doll is a humble representation of my life philosophy and aspirations and brings me much comfort. I hope it instills in you some kind of feeling, positive or negative that allows you to awaken to some new part of yourself.
I'll leave you with the Buddha's words:
Shariputra, you should know
that at the start I took a vow
hoping to make all persons
equal to me, without any distinction between us,
and what I long ago hoped for
has now been fulfilled.
(The Lotus Sutra, ch. 2, p. 39)