“After painting my Refuge tree, I subsequently found that Aloka HAD in fact painted an alternative version to his Refuge tree: This included Dr Ambedkar and Dharmapala in the way that Bhante had wanted it. I have often see this used on shrines in India. In painting mine, I was in any case strongly influenced by Aloka's Refuge tree image - as we all have been. For many years, his image was the only one around, and I am very grateful to him for painting it.
“If you look closely you’ll also notice the Teachers of the Past (or at least some of them) are in a slightly different position on my Refuge Tree to the exact position Bhante placed them and Aloka originally painted them. This is to do with 'authenticity' and my practice. My Refuge tree has come out of my experience of the practice, undertaken at Bhante's inspiration and guidance. However, for some reason I simply cannot understand, the figures at the back simply INSISTED on positioning themselves in the way they do - in my practice. So I stopped trying to visualise them in their 'right' place, allowing them to be where they are. When painting the tree, I felt I needed to paint it as faithful to my own experience of the practice, so that's why they are positioned the way they are. However, I realise that may lead to some confusion for some people who see the thanka.
“I'm very happy for you to mention my refuge tree painting in Triratna News, and publish images of it. Please feel free to use it anywhere, anytime. I'm very happy for it to be distributed as widely as possible.
“With much metta, Saddharaja”