Buddha. What is Enlightenment?


This picture painted by the Mexican artist Octavio Ocampo is called “Buddha” but what is the symbolism behind the peaceful face? Isn’t it what is meant by the word “Enlightenment”? Look closer and you will see that the symbols of different religions are parts of one person. Isn’t it because all the religions are like flowers on the same tree and enlightenment means realization of the virtues which are the same in all the religions?

The chin of Buddha is made of his disciples bowing in namaskar. The lower lip is like the sahasrara chakra (1000-petal from Sanskrit). Ears are represented by Shri Ganesha and Shri Kalki. There is the tree of life constituting the forehead and the dove representing the Holy Spirit in the area of the fontanel bone. This is to name a few. May be you will also see something else.

55 thoughts on “Buddha. What is Enlightenment?

  1. Christian

    “all the religions are like flowers on the same tree”

    I think that by this statement you misunderstand the one of the main “relligions” of the world, Christianity. As does the painter. Christianity is not like any other religion and it is not like a flower on the same tree as the all other religions. CHristianity is different because the Bible says that you cannot earn your way to heaven. This is totally different than all other religions. So it is not part of the same “tree” of religion. Christianity says it is only by Gods grace that you can get to heaven. Again radically different from every other religion. The Bible says that you must repent(turn) from sins (ie: lying, stealing and hatred and blasphamy(using his name as a cuss word.)) Then he will give you grace and you can go to heaven. So I’ll say again, Christianithy is not a flower on the same tree as all other religions.

    1. Buddha


      all religion are from the same tree! the tree of life!

      For you to separate Christianity from the rest. You are no where near the level of understanding this artist has reached.

      everything you learned from the bible, I see from your statement. resist and question all, but do not judge. did your God Jesus judge you.

      I am not judging you right now. I am sharing.

    2. star

      jesuswarrior’s problem is he and thousands of other christians still believe that its all about heaven and hell. they dont understand god yet so they still see everything in punishment and reward. gods will is for eternal unity for all that is manifested

  2. That’s a beautiful painting. I am almost mesmerized by the details.

    It also appears that he has a third eye. I also really like the clouds. It appears that they are angels looking down upon.

    Very Deep. THanks for sharing this…

  3. Dear Christian,

    For millions of years, God has created so many flowers on the Earth. And it is great that you are able to see at least one of them. Many people see none.

    I recommend you to think over the following: Christ never created any religion and he never wrote the Bible.

  4. Pingback: Are religions flowers on the same tree? « Know Thyself

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  7. radha

    Looking at the picture i was immediately captivated by the ears first, anyway its so interested in his all totality! Thank u for putting it here 🙂

  8. radha

    It looks like most oof the people on the elephant-ear side are natives from ancient civilization, while the people behind the horse-ear side are from the medieval times warriors…

  9. v'ts

    buddha,, enlightment- i know not what this is. the only thing i know is that love is ultimate. may be buddha too said the same.
    what i want to tell is – start loving, and you will be buddha…………..
    get yourself into this cipher which you cant escape. the whole world is in, only diferrence is – you never know. know this , and this is enlightment…….
    go on!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  10. Human Being

    it’s interesting how the Christian commenters seem to have totally missed the point of the posting and the art. The point is to demonstrate the similarities between all of us. Harmony is a great thing, as are peace and beauty, etc. There is great value in pointing out our similarities and helping us to achieve greater brotherhood/sisterhood among we humans. It’s too bad that some people choose to dwell on differences instead. I don’t see much value in that.

    1. thefurmoonwillow

      I couldnt agree more Human. The name you choose couldnt have been better picked either. My family is christian and it seems as though that some christians are so sure that they are different (perhaps better) than others and arent open to the fact that buddhism is only a philosophy and could easily be parralel to the teachings of jesus in a way. Thank you

  11. The inner core of every being is the Buddha, because at the innermost core there is nothing but pure consciousness. Buddha means awareness. Buddha is not a person. There has also been a historical person, but that was only one embodiment of Buddhahood; many more have been there before, many more afterwards, many more will always be happening. Buddhahood is a principle — Gautam Buddha was one. the embodiments. Whenever anybody becomes aware, he becomes a Buddha… whenever inner darkness disappears and you are full of light. And that is the intrinsic capacity of every being — not only of human beings but even of animals, birds, trees, although they are very far away from it, because even human beings are very far away from it. But the potential is there. The distance may be long or short but the potential is there. Unless this whole existence becomes alert, aware, paradise cannot be found.


  12. I simply love this painting.

    that’s beautifully inspirational, almost to the point of helping me understand the Beauty of large asian temple wall paintings… which always left me overwhelmed by information, & less calm than distracted.


    thank you.

    Spread Love…

    BlueBerry Pick’n
    can be found @
    ThisCanadian com
    We, two, form a Multitude” ~ Ovid.
    Silent Freedom is Freedom Silenced
    do no harm

  13. Doreen

    Like what Christian says about religions are different is true but if you think of it flowers that make up this tree can be very different and that is what makes the tree beautiful. Different flowers coming together or even different shapes of a flower making up one or on a tree.

  14. Brigid

    Well said, Vartan and Human Being,

    The Octavio Ocampo picture is magnificent. I wish I had a full sized print to hang in my room. Glancing at it calms and focuses my mind almost immediately and looking into its details…well…that I can’t describe. But it’s useful. Very, very useful.

  15. Kenneth

    “I think that by this statement you misunderstand the one of the main “relligions” of the world, ”

    As I read this I thought the author was going to say Buddhism! To me Buddhism seems to be a path to the constant realization of pure awareness. Buddhism seems to put this front and center right from the beginning. Other practice (rather than faith) based religions such as the more esoteric forms of Taoism also focus one towards this awakened state while most other (effective religions/philosophies) seem to aim at a state of awareness in the highest levels of the conditioned, or composite world…

  16. jacob

    a marvellous blog.. i m thankful to come across it.. a word to the jesuswarriors n christianity.. i m also a christian but i cud c christianity as a flower on the tree.. y did u guys disagree?? neways it completely depends on ones thought and we cannot force any one to think alike.. may lord b wid u.. but try to broaden up ur minds.. cuz jesus also said to encourage brotherhood.. 🙂

    secondly, the painting helped me understand religion in deeper sense.. i can actually find dat all religion have same origin.. remember the penta star as mentioned in Dan Browns da vinci code!!!.. hindus use it in their rangoli, muslims and sukhs also use it and v consider it as fusion of blade n chalice (atleast i do) so all these proves dat we humans created religon but the root is one.. Jesus said there is only one god.. let us not name the god but for me the god is LIGHT… the creation of universe, the annihilation, the light.. its god..

    infact i have also heard dat when big bang occured, the sound release was OM.. i dint hear it but i can trust it.. all these sounds interesting to me.. so i pick up small little interesting things from each religion and follow a religion of my own instead of confining myself to christianity.. because this make me feel better..

    a word to eternal values.. dude.. u have made me pour my haerts content.. may god blss u for such a nice post.. lukin forward to read ur further blogs.. sorry for writing another blog instead of a comment!!

  17. Dear sir,

    It is amazing picture I have ever seen.The creator of this picture must have got some sort of insight.I pray TATHAGAT BUDDHA to shower upon him or her to give you enlightment sooooon.

  18. Aroon

    The Chill it created in my spine – entered thru my eyes, when i happened to see you (the Buddha), the clog of beliefs has been shattered, with no thinking as to what i am looking at, but what i am seeing thru’ you – the very embodiment of life that which contains in it the whole – the turmoils, the trivia, the true bliss.

    This, i write not in appreciation of art, or creativity, but to that of the true expression which leads anyone to experience the tranquility (the transcendental impact on one’s mind-heart, not the trance effect).

    The uniting force – love, emanates in every stroke of creating this marvelous, and i wish everyone who encounters this living picture will come close to be connected strong in the world of Meditation.

    Silence is what the first expression, or non-expression, happens to establish in the mind of soul-searching life, here. Thanks to the soul who shared its creation of love through this artwork. I remain…

  19. Jemsy

    This picture is so nice and I love the way it is made out of people that follow the Buddah.
    When my teacher showed me this picture I found so amazing I can`t help looking at it over and over again and I never do that so that shows how intrested I am! …x…<3…x…<3…x…

  20. A Sacred Book, held steadfast and close to the front of the eyes, will, without doubt, succeed in preventing you you from seeing anything. You might as well hit yourself over the head with it!

    On the other hand, if you stand upon that same Book, you will see much further than before.

  21. Nadee

    Hi I have accidently stumbled upon this blog and my idea (which i got from reading articles written by westerners) is that most people (not all. there are westerners who know pure buddhism) talk of buddhism without knowing it.

    * First of all Buddhism is NOT a religon. It is a philosophy. This is a interesting fact to consider before comparing Buddhism with other religons.

    * Secondly, only Buddhism states of a anithya, dukkha, anathma.
    #Anithya :- Nothings is stays the same. Everything changes, the only thing that does not change is “change” itself.
    #Dukkha :- due to the fact that everything changes it results in sorrow pain which comes from attachment. We want things we like, people we love to stay the same. We dont like to loose them. But the reality is whether we like it or not we cant change the obvious changes, once u understand the true nature the more control you have over your mind.
    #Anathma – the perception of “me”, “mine” is an illusion. There is no “me” when u refer to the physical mass (body) of a person. If the physical body is “mine” then i should be able to control it’s aging, it’s death. But we cant, what do u refer as “mine” if you cant control it? there is no “spirit” that travel from body to body. it is only the mind that hangs on to the physical body. just like thoughts, when we think of a apple we give birth to a thought there. an energy is born. the minute divert our thoughts to something else the thoughts of the apple dies and another new stream of thoughts are given birth.

    This is just like showing sand from a beach taken from the tip of a finger. Buddhism is a real deep philosophy of reality. The film “What dreams may come” is adapted from this philosophy, if you know true Buddhism you will know what i mean. 🙂

    But all religions teach good things. It is that you can train a person to be good either telling lies, using the fear for punishment, using fear for god etc. and theres the truth reality which can be used to make people good.

    Buddhism never impose rules, never say you must fear Buddha, never say you must ONLY follow buddha etc. Rather “Don’t accept things just because they come from hertance, from your parents, from teachings, or just because i tell them. But take the facts and think of them logically with brain with an open mind and accept or refuse.”

  22. Nadee

    As I see this painting depics the life story of Buddha. Before becoming a monk Buddha was known as “Siddharta” the crown prince of Baranas, India.

    * The 3 castle like pillar on the upper left corner depic the 3 castles, namely Ramya, Suramya, Subha. These 3 castles are constructed in a architenctural manner that would minimise the inconviniences of the prevailing whether. Eg: one castle was built to stand the cold at winter times, another to stand the heat of drowt etc.
    * Just below the castles you can see a man with a crown and jewels which indicate royality.
    * Below that there is a man on an elephant. The elephant symbolize the traveller is of a royal family as those days in India Kings and princes travelled on well dressed elephants.
    * Just below the elephant you can see that there is a man leaning forward towards a very weak, sick looking man on the floor. The man who is wearing jewelry is Siddharta, notice his royal army behind him (a prince does not roam around his country alone) and he has
    * taken off his crown and carrys it on his right hand. This indicates initial thoughts of leaving the prince hood and becoming a monk.
    * If you look closely at the bottom of the painting, the triggers of leaving the prince hood and becoming a monk are also in the painting. they are an old man,
    a sick man, a dead body and a monk. The painter has elaborated and continued the flow of the story from the monk figure, which is the calm monk face in the middle.
    * on the right upper corner of the painting the trim line of light blue mountains and the trees backgrounding a trail of horseman denotes the great departure of siddharta leaving his loved ones and all the royal comfort to seek the truth of life.
    * Notice that the painter has emphasized the elephant as the left ear and the horse as the right ear, denotinf the royal life he spent(the life siddharta had) and the life he’s expecting to achive from the great departure.
    * beneath the mountains of the right upper corner theres a bull denoting that there were other contemporary hindu truth seekers at the time of great departure.
    * In the monk face (probably buddha’s face) the chin is watermarked with some people bending towards ground to worship the birth of buddha. It is said that after birth of buddha he took seven steps on seven lotus flowers. the lower lip in this pic elaborates the lotus and the small human like figure in the middle of the buddha’s stomach area denotes little siddhartha.
    * the meditating monk denote the realization of niravana as the light beam which shoots up starts from this meditating buddha.
    * The upper two meditating like buddha’s denote the Dhamma Deshana (Dhamma teachings to his fellow monks).
    * The 2 meditating buddhas (on top of the eyes of the face) are sitting on clouds, which denote buddha teaching dhamma to gods so that they can attain nirvana. (gods are not a panel for ruling humans but they have achieved godness due to good things they did on previous bhawa. gods have not realized nirvana. therefore they can re born as a human or animal depending on their karma)
    * on the forehead of the face it denotes the “parinirvana” (demise) of buddha under the great sal tree.
    * the tree on the forehead denote that sal tree.
    * the birds flying free alone/towards the light beem denote the freedom and the joy of nirvana. The ever turning cycle of birth is ended here by Buddha.
    * The gloomy faces from above the sky denote the sorrow from the gods upon the demise of Buddha.
    * The end of the light beam, a saturated area of light denote the state of nirvana, ultimate happiness achieved.

    I think the whole idea of this picture is conveying the biography of buddha.

  23. Nadee

    Dear Anastasia,
    I humbly accept your appreciation. It brings me joy to hear that my comment helped anyone in anyway. And thank you for putting it up 🙂

  24. Prasanna

    @Nadee Says:
    February 25, 2009 at 10:41 am

    [quote]Before becoming a monk Buddha was known as “Siddharta” the crown prince of Baranas, India. [/quote]

    A small correction:
    Don’t want to mislead readers or corrupt minds [Little knowledge is dangerous knowledge.]

    Siddhartha was born in Lumbini and raised in the small kingdom or principality of Kapilvastu, both of which are in modern day Nepal.

    Taken from:

  25. Mohan Paudel

    Dear Artist

    Thank you very much for your benevolance by the great art of Lord Budhha. Your art reveals the greatest truth of Oneness of the different menifestations of the god in each indivisuals. So lovely.

  26. Brianna

    As a year 11 student, I am studying Buddhism in conjunction with Christianity, Islam and Judaism for my HSC, and found it fascinating to read some of the comments listed here.
    In my humble search for THE meaning of life, with all the craziness of living swirling around me, the only place I can find any kind of solitude and stability has been in a religious context. And now, after only briefly studying other religions, I am completely enthralled by the harmony with which they should operate. In essense, every religion seeks to answer the same questions; ‘Where did we come from?’, ‘Where are we going?’ and ‘Why are we here?’. In that way, we are flowers on the same tree – all branching from the human mind with which we formulate these unanswerable questions.
    I see now that my words are fast becoming inadequate to express the ideas in my head, but I will say this:
    I challenge every human being who reads this, to search for life’s meaning outside their own philosophical bubble. Take a look at the world around you. Take some time out to read up on the truth behind Islam or Buddhism or Hinduism. You might be surprised at how much light it sheds on the world around you.
    As a Christian, raised to believe a specific way and continually fighting against it, I have finally found, through the study of belief systems other than my own, that truth can be found in a multitude of places.
    May your search be fruitful and long – never give up on the truth!

  27. Arnella


    I love this Octavio Campo picture..very beautifull and peacefull.

    Is there anyway i can obtain a print of it?

  28. Ruhlmann

    The eternal comfort of the Buddha is the greatest I have known. From degradation and despair he has risen me serene.

  29. shawn

    to: Christian form june 5, 2005

    How can you really think christian religion is the only religion.
    Oh Lord, please protect me from your followers.

  30. Buddha

    I bless this artist. for this painting is the closest expression I have ever seen on one’s journey to enlightenment, the truth.

    Ones who understand feel joy and peace, others are heading at the direction of darkness.

    “Jesus loves you” I often see this sign all around. “oh, yeah? well, Buddha love all!!!”

    need I say more?

  31. Dee

    It is a painting people! It is art.
    No piece of artwork should bring people to quarrel. It doesn’t matter if it is all religions, or buddha’s life…
    If the disection of it’s meaning leads us no further to the truth, may it at least show us the diversity of humanity. How subjective this thing is that we call reality…
    Can anyone really know what the picture truly represents other than it’s creator? (same with poetry)
    Or is Art (as is beauty) in the eye of the beholder?

  32. anthony

    What a pity that some Christians fail put into practice the basic teaching of Jesus that we should love our neighbour as ourselves,he never said one group only is destined for heaven.
    He said “The kingdom of heaven is within” the Lords prayer begins “Our Father who art in heaven”
    so Jesus is saying God is within you NOW.everyone, not just Jews, Christians, etc.
    Heaven is not a place reserved just for Christians or Buddhists,etc, after they die,one can experience heaven right now even without religion.
    “Thou art That” proclaims the ancient Indian teachings.
    The Self in our neighbour is the the same Self in us.
    It is pure consciousness,that is who we are.
    Jesus was a Jew,there were no Christians until many years after his death.
    It is said with some good evidence that Jesus went to India during the 18 years which is omitted from the Bible,and that he learnt many teachings and how to heal from the Buddhists.
    People who followed the teachings of Jesus and Buddha were known as followers of the way or truth at first.
    The labels Christian and Buddhist came about much later.
    I love the painting it is extraordinary and can only be painted by someone who knows who they are.

  33. K-1

    I love to much Buddha!

    Please every body should understand who you are? believe yourself!! You do you’ll get it!!! everything comes from your heart and think?

    A great Painting!!

  34. Interesting interpretation. Utilizing the symbolism of Hinduism and Buddhism – and the story of the Buddha – I see that this beautiful painting and all it’s symbols represent the stages samsara (cycle of life and death) of the Buddha until his enlightenment and death reaching his emancipation from samsara – peace xx

  35. In honour of Bodhi Day (Rohatsu) for December the 8th – the day of Siddhartha Gautama (b. 563 BCE) awakening as the Buddha

    Octavio Ocampo illustrates the life stages of the Buddha in which there is so much symbolism in this image – it is one of my favourites:

    Starting on the left I believe is architecture and symbolism that represents the royalty and privilege into which Gautama was born, where he was naive of the realities of the world

    In the lower left is Gautama venturing outside and coming face-to-face with the three forms of human suffering previously unknown to him represented by the decrepit old man, the diseased man, and the corpse – which inspired him to embrace asceticism (all forms of indulgence) and become a monk as from then on he could not close his heart or his eyes to the realizations of the impermanence of all life, and of the vanity and instability of all objects of desire

    The elephant and horse that make up his ears represent the cycle of Samsara: birth, the development of intellect & wisdom (an elephant as envisioned by his mother that foretold his birth) and death, & the eternity of time (the horse that carried him from his old life to his new life)

    The face and head seem to then encapsulate his life as a monk and teacher until his death

    in the centre there seems to be four aging faces – a youth between the eyes, a young man and then a fully mature man sitting in meditation as atop a lotus flower

    The lotus flowers that indicate the eyes and mouth are symbols of Bodhi – representing the true nature of beings, rising through samsara (journey through the cycle of life) like the lotus blossom through the mud, into the beauty and clarity of enlightenment, above the water and in the sunlight – the two monks above the lotus flower eyes are likely represents his two teachers

    Buddha’s disciples bowing in namaskar (obeisance) make up the chin – they bow out of respect, not worship, towards the Buddha that represents the nose – the entrance of the soul for the human vessel

    The fourth face is of the reclining Buddha above the youth representing the final passage into nirvana (at 80 years old) – a state of nothingness

    These four faces could also represent the four noble truths of Buddhism: (1) Suffering (2) Desire (3) End of Suffering/Desire (4) the Eightfold path to enlightenment (perhaps represented by the eight monks under each ‘eye’)

    1. Right Understanding leads to Wisdom

    2. Right Aspiration leads to Divine Inclination

    3. Right Speech leads to Truth and Understanding

    4. Right Behavior leads to Goodwill

    5. Right Livelihood leads to Sharing

    6. Right Effort leads to Highest Outcome

    7. Right Mindfulness leads to Purposeful Living

    8. Right Absorbtion leads to Unity

    The Bodhi Tree (under which he attained enlightenment) constitutes his forehead and cranium, with many doves, symbols of the spirit and it’s infinite capacity for love

    All highlighted by the morning star (venus) above that symbolises receiving enlightenment which was seen by the Buddha after his week of Samadhi (deep awareness) meditation

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