The painting was inscribed by the abbot of Jingde Temple 景德寺 of Mount Tiantong 天童山 near Ningbo 寧波.
Shakyamuni emerged from the mountains after years of ascetic practices, which anticipated his sermon in Deer Park and attainment of enlightenment under the bodhi tree. However, this figure of Shakyamuni can be interpreted as having already achieved enlightenment and reentered the earthly world to spread the dharma (Buddhist law). Chijue Daoching’s inscription mentions his indifferent glance at the morning star, suggesting nonattachment:
Entering the mountains he was much too thin and withered. The snow is overlaid with frost—it is cold. Casting an indifferent glance, he saw a [morning] star. Why should he once again emerge among the world of men.
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