GREAT MOTHER  BUDDHISM
also called
Ekayana or Original   Buddhism


Big Womb Borobudur


Watching Buddha-Guard

      
Goddess Hariti

VIVA! JAVA
* Javanese mysticism (Kebatinan) & Traditional Javanese religious tolerance: a model to the world?
*The Yogya Kraton Myth
*Taman Sari 
*The Gunungan 
*Tutup Ngisor
*Java: Land of Kala, its Candi's (Temples):
*
Borobudur 1
*Borobudur 2

*Borobudur 3
*Borobudur 4

*Borobudur 5
*Borobudur 6
*Candi Mendut

*Candi Pawon
*Candi Ngawen
*Candi Sari
*Candi Kalasan
*Candi Sambisari
*Candi Prambanan
*Candi Lumbung
*Candi Bubrah

*Candi Sewu
*Candi Plaosan
*Candi Gebang
*Candi Ijo
*Candi Banyunibo

 

 

 

 

 

Borobudur: World Holy Site
(An introduction)

What unites people all over the world nowadays is their search for the Origin. All existing belief systems are being broken down, including those of Buddhism. Since Sakyamuni proclaimed his Awakening under the Bodhi Tree, the Dharma has only become more and more degenerated, culminating in modern times, in which the ultimate treasure - Enlightenment - has turned into a commodity. The "tool" of liberation has become an object of greed, hence it lost its saving potential. Now, the first important step towards a new orientation is acknowledgement of the breakdown of the existing paradigm. Rather than clinging to empty practises, we should have the courage to admit our confusion e.g. disorientation. Re-interpreting the times we live in, we come to understand that the outer decay has a (hidden) meaning.     

If the existing belief-system doesn't satisfy anymore, we have to start the quest for the Beyond. To "cooperate with the decay" reflects true wisdom. Because what is broken down nowadays? Right: it is the ego with its accumulations. Burn-out is the condition of ego-collapse. Rather than considering this as a "loss", the breakdown of self-centered attitude can bring you to your center, your True Self. The more thorough this destruction is taken place, the greater the chance, that you will realize your innermost core. Your deepest Self proves to be Absolute Nothingness in which everything old, sick and ugly is broken down, while simultaneously giving birth to the new, fresh and young. Hence, Nothingness is called the "Cauldron of Regeneration". In pre-Buddhist times this was called the Cosmic Womb or Great Mother.

This was reflected by the way people build their burial grounds. Often, these were shaped as a womb. Newgrange in Ireland is the supreme example of that. It consists of a huge womb-like structure. In the front is an opening (vulva), through which you enter the secret inner space. Apart from burial ground, these spaces were increasingly used as a "passage tomb", used for symbolic rituals in which people were initiated in the mystery of "death and rebirth". With the arrival of patriarchal religion (e.g. Buddhism) the function of these spaces changed. Isn't it the main aim of Buddhism to "escape from the cycle of birth and death?" It thus can be considered as a reaction to the practises of the Great Mother religion. Men refused to "play the role of annual victims" anymore (in which they had to "die" as Vegetation Gods) and escaped from the dominance of the Feminine. It is thus, that they started their quest for immortality.

Generally - as far as we know of - the stupa is a later development of pre-buddhist burial tumuli, dating from archaic e.g. matriarchal times. It was considered a symbol of the Cosmic Womb ("Egg"), out of which everything alive was (re)born and to which everything returned: indeed an object of ancestor (mother) worship. Terms like Void, Emptiness, Nothingness and Nirvana are corresponding with those early notions. The striking thing about Borobudur, the "mysterious" Buddhist temple in Central Java, near Magelang, dating the 9th century, is its huge Main Stupa, together with its 72 Buddha statues, each equally surrounded by a stupa-like structure. It is the most striking thing about Borobudur. Countless reports are describing the various mudra positions, held by the Buddha's, almost none seem to be focussing on the stupa's the Buddha's are sitting in, though, to begin with. What is so special about them?


1989 HMS Sermes (Servant/Messenger to the Cosmic Mother)
alone (6 am) at Borobudur

First of all, all Buddhas sit in small bell-like stupa structures covering them. It is corresponding with what the Prajnaparamita Sutra calls "the Womb of the Buddhas", symbolizing their Enlightened State. Enlightenment is equal to Emptiness. It is called (relative) Emptiness because the ego disappears into it. The fascinating thing about Borobudur is, that it doesn't end here. For in the center of this huge mandala-building the Main Stupa is situated. It is symbolizing something (much) bigger than (individual) Enlightenment. It goes beyond personal attainment. This Universal Stupa corresponds with "Emptiness beyond Emptines" or Absolute Emptiness in which Relative Emptiness (Enlightenment) disappears, also called Nirvana or Absolute (Dark!) Bottomlessness of the Cosmos. In Buddhist temples throughout  in the world the Buddha is the central figure. Borobudur transcends this by putting Nirvana (Absolute Emptiness, Cosmic Womb) into the center. Thus, the minds behind the Borobudur were aware of the fact that "individual" Buddhahood is NOT the Ultimate Reality. That's why all small stupa's are eventually culminating into the Great Stupa or Universal Womb on top of the temple.  Borobudur therefore is a absolutely unique symbol of Ultimate Truth.

The final "proof" is provided by the innumerous Kala (KalaMaka, Mahakala) faces in the temple. They are generally known as the "God of time" or guardians. However this a very late (patriarchal) interpretation. In fact Kala ("The Black One") is a direct memory of the Dark! Cosmic Womb. Kala therefore is equal to the Original Great Mother, coming from Sumeria, through the Harappa culture e.g. pre-Hindu times. She is shown in Her destructive aspect, with big "monstrous" heads. Her "function" (in these times of Kali-Yuga) is to destroy egoism, selfishness, greed and ignorance. All the several hundreds of Dyana Buddha statues of Borobudur have a Kala on top! It is the final indication, that Kala is the Supreme Principle, the deep Dark from which the Light emerges.

BOROBUDUR 2 will elaborate this further!

Add to it a typical feature of those times, in which the burial tumulus was protected by various guards or warriors, positioned around the site, all with their faces looking to all directions. Normally, in a Buddhist temple, the Buddha(s) are the central figures. The guardians at the gate are always "lower" status deities. The striking thing is, that at Borobudur the Buddhas are NOT in a central position. On the contrary, they occupy positions at the periphery. Moreover, their faces are looking to the outside of the complex. The unique feature in Borobudur is, that the Buddha's - just like all male guardians of pre-Buddhist times - are thus located - not in the center as it is commonly the case - but at the periphery, meaning that they are not the most important figures of the universe. On the contrary, they are servants, exercising their function as guardians e.g. forming a big (devotional/security) circle around the Great Stupa (Mother's Womb),* thus confirming our hypothesis of Borobudur being a relic of matriarchal times**.

* Including a huge Buddha, again not as the center of worship, but sitting as a guard (!) in a small complex - the famous Mendut temple - at the entrance of Borobudur...

** Together with the fact, that Borobudur has been built as a lotus-mandala, the lotus, as we have seen, being a symbol of the Womb in her own right! One racy detail: King Rakai Panangkaran who conceptualized Borobudur also built a Tara (Buddhist manifestation of the Great Mother) temple in Yogyakarta, "proof" of the dominance of the Feminine at those times.

** There is another surprising link. Borobudur was originally built as a Hindu (Shiva) temple. Its traces go further back though. The architecture has strong similarities with a mesopotamian Ziggurat (pyramid) temple. And Mesopotamia was the cradle of Mother Worship....

Because the womb imagery of Borobudur - in fact the whole monument is like a big burial hill - is most prominent, the origin certainly has to be located in pre-historic times. But not only that! We have explored links in the lineage, for the first time revealing the secret of Borobudur! Our discovery is the Yogacara-school being the source of inspiration on which the Borobudur has been built. Terms like "Matrix World" (together with "Diamond World", symbolizing the God-Son/Buddahood being born out of the Cosmic Womb) representing the Ultimate Reality (Dharmadhatu), together with concepts like "Womb of the Tatagatha" ("Tatagathagarbha") were greatly emphasized at that time, later to be found both in Tibetan (Tantra) as well as in Japanese Esoteric Buddhism (Shingon). Add to it that Borobudur is designed as One Big Lotus, and the Lotus standing for Cosmic Womb - think of the "Jewel in the Lotus" - then it is certainly not that wierd to suggest that not the Buddha stands at the Center, but the Cosmis Womb does. And that is indeed the Ultimate Reality! 

Mythology is giving us even more clues. Borobudur was built by a royal family, called the Sailendra's, who emphasized to be "Kings of the Mountains", something usually claimed by God-Sons of matriarchal times. Moreover, a Princess - Sri Kahulunan - is said to have played a major role, which is very uncommon in the history of Buddhism. Rather than being the accomplice of her husband, she might very well have been a central object of veneration and inspiration. Add to it the countless sculptures emphasizing a life-affirmative attitude - which again characterizes the Yogacara period in India - very much corresponding also with the indigenous Javanese lifestyle - the latter logically susceptible to corresponding influences - the conclusion Borobudur being a center of Womb worship maybe not far from the truth.

Not surprisingly thus, that the space under the Great Stupa is empty, symbolizing the Ultimate Emptiness of the Cosmic Womb.

J.L. Moens* claims that Borobudur fits very well in ancient Javanese cultural belief of "death and rebirth" of the rulers, in our case the Sailendra-rulers.  The latter were said to descend from the mountains, as said above a very ancient (pre-Buddhist) mythology. In that VERY ancient past this "death and rebirth" took place in the Cosmic Womb! Imagery of the Womb and the mountain comes together in the Main Stupa of Borobudur. It  is confirmed by spiritual Realization, where The Great Emptiness ("Nirvana") is the Supreme Realization. This is completed by later Buddhist expectations of Maitreya descending from the Tushita Heaven, who - through the Main Stupa (Womb) - will have his magical birth into this earthly realm. Maitreya thus being the "Son of the Mother", just like these most ancient God/Kings of archaic (Sumerian) times. Indeed, Maitreya (and Buddhas) of Javanese Candis are often portrayed as kings. Again proof of the fact, that to REALLY understand Javanese Hindu-Buddhist culture one has to go beyond it. For both cultures were integrated in an already existing framework of archaic tradition: that of the (Sumerian) mythology of the Cosmic Mother and Her Son/Lovers (God/Kings). It corresponds with those Kebatinan groups who try to reconnect to their original (pre-Hindu) roots.

* J.L. Moens "Barabudur, Mendut en Pawon"T.B.G. 1950. Together with T. van Erp and N.J.Krom he belongs to the most outstanding Dutch scholars of Indonesian culture and religion.

Moreover, the pilgrim at the Borobudur, the merchant Sudhana - a layman, not a monk! - from the Gandavyuha epic, is on his quest for Truth (Emptiness) e.g. Ultimate Truth (Emptiness beyond Emptiness). The latter being the Essence of the Cosmic Womb. It complies fully with the symbolism of the Borobudur as the sanctuary of the "Eternal Feminine". Sudhana is thus searching for the Great Mother!* Not surprisingly thus, that he has its most prominent encounter (in the Vairocana tower) with.....the Bodhisattva Maitreya. Isn't Maitreya the Messenger of the Mother, after all?** It is the former who initiates Sudhana into the true nature of Emptiness...... He leads him back to his True Home, the Cosmic Womb. The importance of which is demonstrated by the fact, that this stage of the journey occupies the greatest space in the Borobudur's reliefs and galleries. Once Sudhana grasps the meaning of Emptiness, Maitreya immediately shows him the entire universe as the interdependence of all things and events. This interdependence reflects Mother's "web of life". It is part of the ancient notion of the Law of the Universe: death, rebirth and permanence, as was and still is worshipped in Hinduism***. Maitreya showed Sudhana the ultimate stage of the Way: that of all-embracing love toward all beings, reflecting the All-Embracing Nature of the Mother. Eventually, he sents him to the Bodhisattva Samantabhadra, the (again feminine) embodiment of compassion and goodness toward all sentient and non-sentient beings.

* Remarkable is that the Sudhana story takes place on the third and fourth galleries close to the Great Stupa, while the tale of Siddharta/Gautama/Buddha is on the lower first and second, suggesting an evolutionary sequence from the latter to the former. Moreover, Sudhana starts his journey by visiting a Goddess! 

Borobudur: the Holy Grail of Buddhism

** This universal myth is also reflected by the Chinese concept of Laomu - the Venerable Mother - and Her Son Maitreya. See: "Origins, Prophesies and the Messenger".  

*** As we know Borobudur was greatly infuenced by archaic India.

"Sudhana beholds the entire evolutionary history of Maitreya from a self-centered, unenlightened being to a functioning Buddha. At the same time, the panorama unfolds in infinite resonant variations in every atom of the universe, each containing infinite micro-universes, which contain infinite worlds where infinite living Sudhanas enter infinite Vairocana towers and behold infinite evolutionary panoramas of infinite living Maitreyas."

From Thurmon "Mandala, the Architecture of Enlightenment"

The Sudhana story very much reminds me of the Western Medieval Parsifal Legend. The parallels are so striking, that a common source is likely. Not surprisingly, for men's spiritual Quest is ultimately related to archaic times, especially that of Sumeria when Gilgamesh started his quest for immortality......In the latter's case he failed to realize it. Instead, the Mother showed him the ultimate meaning of life: "doing good". Hence, he returned to his city Uruk, where he spent the rest of his life caring for his people. The same with Parsifal. His whole journey is characterized by his Quest for the Ultimate. Eventually he finds the Grail, symbol of the Cosmic Womb, Source of limitless abundance. However, it is only after realizing that selflessness and compassion - key characteristics of the Original Mother - are the ultimate goals of the Way, that he finds his true destination: that of becoming the Grail Priest/King. Sudhana also reaches Attainment, and like Gilgamesh and Parsifal he eventually is taught to "do good". All three are part of a universal theme.      

Gilgamesh-Sudhana-Parsifal

This is more than overwhelming. On Java, the archaic concept of the Mother and Her Son/Messenger has found its most prominent expression. Hence, Great Mother Buddhism - with Maitreya as its Green Messenger* -  is considering Borobudur, together with Candi Mendut - of course sharing it joyfully with all other Buddhist denominations worldwide - as the main earthly Center of its universal worship. It is one of the most sacred places on earth. The one that includes the promise of a New Era. Devotees are therefore being recommended to at least undertake one pilgrimage to Borobudur once in a lifetime.

Praise the Great Mother!

* See: Opening page

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Everyone may use this website as a source of inspiration. However, since it is freely given, no-one can claim, copy or derive any text, rights, position or status from this website.

However, some - mostly Buddhists - claim that there does have been found a Buddha at the centre of the Great Stupa. However, this Buddha had been intentionally left unfinished. He very much looks like an embryo.....in his Mother's Womb...What would be more acceptable, than considering a not-yet-born Buddha to be the future Buddha Maitreya?  

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