In the “Hasu” painting the woman’s shaved head would perhaps suggest that she is some sort of buddhist nun. At least a bit holy or enlightened or at least getting there sooner than later. Yet she reveals herself to us rubbing her pussy against a lotus bud. Obviously it is a pleasurable thing to do so. She is looking back at us over her shoulder not caring at all that we are her voyeurs. There is nothing to hide and nothing to be ashamed for. As it should be.
Let me explain my intentions with this Shunga painting. Besides the obvious erotic connotations of course. Many years ago I took a crash course in Zen buddhism. This was a basic easy hard thing to get involved in. It meant jumping straight into monastic life for 5 days. Quite a shock but a very sweet one. Zen monastic life can be challenging at first but naturally it grows on you. At this crash course there was a man that perhaps felt a bit confused and threatened that Zen buddhism is an actual religion and not just a philosophy as he might have read in some book or article.
At this point I ask you to keep in mind that Zen is a religion without prayer, gods, sin etc. It is the systemization that makes it a religion. And the belief that yo can save yourself from a lot of emotional suffering through stilling your confused mind. Sound easy? It really is. And of course is not.
On the first night of our stay this man wanted to question the idea of bowing to the Buddha statue placed on the altar when entering the Zendo (meditation hall). I guess he felt uncomfortable bowing to things. So the Zen master kindly explained to him that, since we are all Buddhas since birth (we just forgot about as we grew up and people and society filled us up with confusing ideas) the image of the Buddha is really an image of your self. Like a mirror. So wen entering the zendo you basically bow to yourself, acknowledging that you are about to work hard on returning to your original self. Now, that is simple!
So this Shunga painting is something like that if you give it some thought. As a sentient being you are perfect as you are. It is only ideas that make you otherwise. Shaved head does not make you holy or spiritual in itself. Neither should it be regarded as neither normal or not normal. It is simply a shaved head. The rest you add yourself.
When it comes to the human body, sex and intimacy we are really falling into thousands of immediate little traps based on ideas. Thought patterns inherited, learnt….. very seldom are any of these things something that we ourselves have arrived at after careful deliberation. They just simply appear out of thin air. Like menstruation is gross, breastfeeding in public is inconsiderate and equally gross, the female naked body drives men in to fits of horniness and therefore should be covered, same-sex sexual encounters are wrong by “nature” (hey, in that case cars, bicycles, trains and planes should deliver us to hell as well. We are born with two feet, god damn it!), fucking will send you to “hell” and so will masturabtion too! Well, all of these ideas are at the best idiotic but mostly tragic and also tremendously dangerous. Millions of people have been killed over ideas no one really know where they picked up.
So the figure in the “Hasu” shunga painting is you (yes it really is), rubbing your self against the lotus that is your original and perfect mind as it was when yo first arrived in this world. Bow to yourself. Love yourself!