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Japanese Garden


Botannical Print
The stones in the Japanese Garden were collected from the hills bordering the Connecticut River Valley. They include metamorphic, plutonic igneous and the oldest rock, the reclining Buddha in the Death Scene, a billion-year-old gneiss from Leverett.

Each stone in the garden has a deeper spiritual meaning based upon events in the life of the Buddha and important Buddhist teachings. The following descriptions are taken from the brochure The Japanese Garden at Smith College, published by the College in 1986.

Please click any image for a larger version.
1. The Birth Scene at Lumbini Garden
Legend states that the infant Buddha at birth took seven steps, symbolizing the transcendence of the six realms of delusion and the affirmation of dignity for each form of life. The central rock is the infant Buddha, flanked by representations of his mother, Queen Maya, to the right, and the god Indra to the left.
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2. Renunciation of Worldly Life
The youthful Buddha leaves the luxuries of the palace at the age of 29 in the quest for enlightenment. He is accompanied by his faithful servant, Channa, and his favorite horse, Kanthaka.
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Click for Larger Version 3. Enlightenment Scene
Amidst the craggy rocks and mountains representing the insatiable desire for fame and fortune, the Buddha, seated on the meditation rock, attains liberation and enlightenment at the age of 35 in Buddhagaya.
4. First Sermon at Benares
(Turning of the Wheel of Dharma)
The Buddha gains his first converts, the five ascetics who abandon their practice of self-mortification and follow the Middle Way.
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5. Parinirvana, or the Great Death
The Buddha passes away at the age of 80 in Kusinagara, lying on his side with his head facing North and surrounded by lamenting disciples and animals of the forest.
6. The Three Gems
The Three Gems-Buddha, Dharma-(teaching), and Sangha (community)-are basic to all schools of Buddhism. The Buddha Triad-the Buddha flanked by bodhisattvas of wisdom and compassion-is a common motif in Mahayana Buddhist art.
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7. The Four Noble Truths
The Four Noble Truths teach:

  1. Life is suffering ("life does not go according to one's wish").
  2. The cause of suffering is insatiable greed.
  3. In reality, life is fulfilling and meaningful.
  4. The path to this reality is the Middle Way and Eightfold Noble Path.

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Last updated on Thursday, May 12, 2005.