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Exemplars of bodhisattva Samantabhadra (continued)

Mayumi Oda

Mayumi Oda is a Japanese artist who has lived most of her adult life in California. A prolific painter, she is a longtime Zen and Tibetan Buddhist practitioner. Her works have been displayed in museums and exhibitions worldwide. She paints bright-hued visions of everyday life, like vegetables and flowers growing in the garden. But she is best known for her playful and colorful paintings of buxom, seminude goddesses, including depictions of some of our bodhisattvas in female form.

When she visited Japan in 1991, Oda learned about her country's reckless nuclear energy program, which included the reprocessing, global transport, and production of plutonium. The Japanese plutonium program included the new fast-breeder reactor ironically named Monju, after Manjushri, as well as another nuclear reactor named Fugen, or Samantabhadra. Fast-breeder technologies have been abandoned by most other countries as too dangerous, but Japanese policy makers imagine that plutonium can fulfill their energy needs. Oda was aghast when she learned about this from a Japanese environmentalist friend.

Oda visited a shrine in Japan dedicated to the goddess of the arts, Sarasvati (called Benzai Ten in Japanese), and asked what she could do. In meditation, Oda heard a voice saying, "Stop the plutonium" and "Help will be provided on the way." She and some friends in California founded Plutonium Free Future, dedicated to opposing the Japanese plutonium policy and to global abolition of all uses of plutonium.

Like Samantabhadra, Mayumi Oda has applied her artistic vision to activism in the world. And help has appeared, from scientists as well as from other artists. She has used sales of her art to support Plutonium Free Future, which helped publicize the first shipment of reprocessed plutonium from France to Japan at the end of 1992. Global demonstrations resulted, forcing the Japanese to seriously reconsider their policies. As Japan's perilous nuclear programs continue, Oda perseveres with both her art and her antinuclear work. She has also been active in promoting use of safer renewable energy sources, such as solar, both in Japan and worldwide.

Other Samantabhadras?

What other people can you think of who work in the world with Samantabhadra's traits of creative expression, devotion, and radiant presence?

Samantabhadra and you

How does hearing these stories awaken Samantabhadra, your vision and love for the world, in your own life?