Word Prompt: Arrive | Story Prompt: from the book “Anil’s Ghost” by Michael Ondaatje

Write It Out: Instruction Video – coming soon!

“Without the eyes there is not just blindness, there is nothing. There is no existence. The artificer brings to life sight and truth and presence. Later he will be honoured with gifts. Lands or oxen. He enters the temple doors. He is dressed like a prince, with jewellery, a sword at his waist, lace over his head. He moves forward accompanied by a second man, who carries brushes, black paint and a metal mirror.

He climbs a ladder in front of the statue. The man with him climbs too. This has taken place for centuries, you realize, there are records of this since the ninth century. The painter dips a brush into the paint and turns his back to the statue, so it looks as if he is about to be enfolded in the great arms. The paint is wet on the brush. The other man, facing him, holds up the mirror, and the artificer puts the brush over his shoulder and paints in the eyes without looking directly at the face. He uses just the reflection to guide him — so only the mirror receives the direct image of the glance being created. No human eye can meet the Buddha’s during the process of creation. Around him the mantras continue…

His work can take an hour or less than a minute, depending on the essential state of the artist. He never looks at the eyes directly. He can only see the gaze in the mirror.”


It’s hard to imagine an event that has taken place since (at least) the ninth century. This tradition of painting the eyes on the Buddha – such a unique role for anyone, in any age. Would this be a role that someone would aspire to? Would one think one had “arrived” if they had been asked to do this?

Arriving. To me it suggests the destination rather than the journey, and I’m still feeling like it’s all about the journey. The experiences, the lessons along the way.

Thoughts? Feel free to share them here.

2 thoughts on “Word Prompt: Arrive | Story Prompt: from the book “Anil’s Ghost” by Michael Ondaatje”

  1. Arrive … it is about the journey. All those decisions, actions, causes/conditions, in and out breaths that brings me to this point in time. To be truly present in this moment is that moment of arrival. It’s not about accomplishments, awards, money, collections and so on. It’s about being humbled … experiencing moments of awe with a sunrise or sunset, the scent of lavender or lily of the valley, celebrating the mystery of fog (dragon breath), laughing at jello or enjoying a cold glass of water on a very hot day. Here in this moment is the opportunity to acknowledge the preciousness of life. Even on my worst day, I am grateful for being alive. Knowing what we know … that life ends in death … then it’s important for me to arrive in this moment, bear witness, care about the health and happiness of myself and others, share the good and help bear the difficult. Arrive at a place of Truth … my Truth … and honour the soul work. I feel like I’m opening up like an umbrella and how important it is to be open to others’ stories, feelings, well-being and more. It’s helping me understand empathy, compassion, and love for self and others. I’m living my day through vignettes … beginnings and endings. Just arrive and breathe.

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