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This piece explores the idea of enlightenment and the different paths taken to reach it. Enlightenment, or great awakening, is reached primarily through inward reflection; an effort to expose ignorance and emerge, free from desire or suffering. It is a prevalent idea in religion and mythos, and whilst stories of this concept vary, with varying significance, the general precept is the same.
The route to enlightenment, whilst revolving on looking inward, is moulded through experience. Although each archer’s arrow hits the same target, each will be fired from a slightly different perspective. The target may be the same, but no two arrows that hit will have done so in the same way. This idea is represented through the different staircases and unalomes, that whilst differing superficially, all lead to the same target: the eye in the sky (symbolising awakening), depicted above Mount Kailash, and grouped ascent to the upper eye (enlightenment).
The fish is a reference to the hunt for the mythological Salmon of Knowledge, an ordinary fish who resided in the Well of Wisdom. When this salmon ate the nine hazelnuts that fell into the well, it gained all the knowledge in the world. Should a person persevere on the long and arduous task of finding and eating the fish, it was said that this knowledge would be transferred to that individual. This fish is flanked by a dorje thunderbolt and a ringing bell. These represent the two major facets of a journey to enlightenment, skilful activity (the dorje) and wisdom (the bell).