The Samadhi Buddha statue at the New Jersey Vihara (a Buddhist temple) is nestled amongst houses and foliage on Route 27, and even though the statue is 25-feet tall, it is easy to miss simply because one does not expect an enormous Buddha to appear on the way to Princeton, NJ. “Samadhi” refers to the mental state where the thinker becomes indistinguishable from the object they are concentrating upon; the Vihara hopes that its statue will help visitors achieve this high level of meditative consciousness.
I first saw the Samadhi Buddha by chance when I was driving at night. The monument was luminous and looked too magical and powerful to be on a thoroughly ordinary road. I was shocked that this statue was here in New Jersey and not in an impressive Japanese historical site, or at the very least in a hippie sanctuary in California. After interviewing people at the Vihara, though, I admonished myself for being so taken aback by the depth of diversity in New Jersey.