In Berlin, in 1922, during the first post-war period, Nikos Kazantzakis wrote and then destroyed the first version of his Buddha. He revisited it in 1941, under the Nazi occupation of Greece, and did not complete it until a year before his death, in 1956.
Action and meditation, flesh and spirit, co-existing, not contradicting one another. They only guide to freedom, the only word that Buddha leaves behind for Man as his most precious gift at the moment of his death.
This unparalleled masterful tragedy unfolds in a single scene set by Nikos Kazantzakis as the upper and lower diptych of a Byzantine icon:
On the upper part sits the Buddha, and in the lower, there is the Earth and its people where a battle is being waged between the powers of logic and ancient tradition. Logic and Progress is embodied in the young Chinese rebels, Young Chung and his sister Mei-Ling, and the ancestral traditions and the feudal rule, in his father, Old Chung with his farmers. Where else can anyone find a Greek tragedy set in China, overseen by Buddha, with references to the Greek pantheon, God Dionysus and Helen of Troy?
GREEK MAN B’
“Ah, if only I could affix his face to Pentelic marble! I can see the entire Pantheon of our 12 gods glistening on the fluidic flesh of Buddha’s face.
His whole face is a drop of water dangling, and in it the whole sky at once lights up and goes dark, the Earth lights up and goes dark, the Universes weep; I have never experienced such abundance in any Greek God!