High-end jewelry stores typically hide the price of their merchandise. Jewels are beautiful and price tags are functional. A dangling tag reduces the visual value of what it prices. Moreover, high-end jewelry costs might scare potential buyers from entering the store and deny its salesmen the opportunity of negotiation. Then there is a certain mystique in hiding a price well-known to be exorbitant, a kind of “avoiding the obvious,” implying that the jewel exists for its own sake regardless of its sale.

Buddha-Detail-Northern-Qi-550-577-AD-Shanghai-Museum-300x200Displays of the Buddha follow exactly the same pattern, whether for aesthetic reasons, to facilitate negotiation, or to generate mystique. The enlightened prince is typically shown like an immaculately-cut diamond popping out of its gold setting. We recognize the other-worldliness of his state as we would recognize an ethereal jewel. This recognition is significant: we could not value the Buddha’s contentment, compassion and concentration unless we had experienced them ourselves.

How much would it cost to regain this lost Paradise and make it as permanent as it seems on the stone sculpture?

Typically, the price is not listed. Few Buddhist artisans acknowledge on their storefronts that the Buddha’s pearl comes at the price of braving the Assault of Mara. Typically, those who enter the store sooner or later discover that the price exceeds their expectations. Typically, so does the reward.