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This image strikes me as a representation of the first jhana (a type of samadhi I will be teaching in the 3 webinars). In the first jhana, five activities of the mind are at work: seclusion (freedom from hindrances), rapture, happiness, discursive thinking, and focused thinking. The playful lion cub pulling at the Arhat’s ear (leaping for joy) is a metaphor for meditative rapture. Though we have no indication regarding what the Arhat may be thinking, his down-turned gaze conveys inward focus and his happy smile radiates joy.

The statue is made out of a distinct kind of soapstone found in China. It is just over 6 inches tall. There are no markings to indicate when it was made or by whom, but it is most likely from the middle to late Qing Dynasty and was made by a master sculptor.