the arts

“The painting paints itself”

The maker of a brief documentary sent me a link to this video. It’s worth setting aside the six minutes or so that it takes to watch it.

It shows Gert Johan Manschot — a Dutch artist who meditates — in action, creating beautiful Zen calligraphy–inspired paintings. Manschot lives in Texas, which I wish had been mentioned earlier in the video since at first I was baffled at his otherwise out-of-context references to longhorn cattle and cowboys.

Anyway … Monschot discusses his creative process, which involves waiting until the painting paints itself. This is a beautiful way of describing how the creative process involves an absence of clinging to self. This certainly matches my experience that the less there’s a sense of “I” involved in creation, the more effortlessly the creative process flows.

Art of the Moment from Travis Lee Ratcliff.

This is a painter I’d love to know more about, and I hope that a longer documentary gets made about him.

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Life as a glowstick

Nora Meiners sent me a link to this video of herself performing “Glowsticks” at the Women of the World Poetry Slam. It deals with the familiar parental situation of dealing with a child who can’t get his head around the impermanence of a toy, and makes the connection with the impermanence of our own lives. We’re more like glowsticks than not…

Nora graduated from Emerson College with a BFA in Creative Writing but started writing poems fairly only recently She has competed in the National Poetry Slam for Boston Poetry Slam (2013) and Lizard Lounge Poetry Slam (2014). She lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

I like the poem, although I’d love to see it performed with more warmth and tenderness, which I think would heighten its emotional effect compared to the more declarative style shown here.

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The second arrow

Harakiri by American artist Seyo Cizmic

San Diego–based Seyo Cizmic is a surrealist artist who creates bizarre objects whose everyday uses have been subverted. This particular work is a striking reminder of the “two arrows” teaching, in which the Buddha points out how we take an initial instance of hurt and replay it over and over in our minds, magnifying and intensifying our pain. In other words, most of our suffering is caused by ourselves.

Also see

(Thanks to Caroline Hagerman on Google+ for bringing this image to my attention!)

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Sweet Nirvāna!

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I found this sweet hymn in a book by Paul Carus, called Sacred Tunes for the Consecration of Life: Hymns of the Religion of Science. Carus (18 July 1852 – 11 February 1919) was an early German-American translator, compiler, and popularizer of Buddhist texts.

Carus seems to have been fond of hymns, since he published an entire book of settings of Buddhist texts. This is available online, courtesy of archive.org.

Unfortunately my sight-reading skills have atrophied through decades of disuse, and I’m only able to guess at what the tune is.

Here is the rest of the song.

Sweet Nirvāna,
Highest Jhāna!
Rupture sweeter than all pleasures,
Thou the measure of all measures,
O, immortal Buddhahood!

Sweet Nirvāna,
Highest Jhāna!
Balm that all our ailments curest.
Thou alone for aye endurest!
O, immortal Buddhahood!

Sweet Nirvāna,
Highest Jhāna!
State where thoughts are truest, purest;
Where our wisdom is maturest,
And our hearts in love securest,
O, immortal Buddhahood!

Sweet Nirvāna,
Highest Jhāna!
Of all jewels thou the rarest,
Him thou fill’st with radiance fairest,
O, immortal Buddhahood!

Sweet Nirvāna,
Highest Jhāna!
Overcome all selfish clinging,
Let love’s harmonies be ringing,
While all join the chorus, singing:
O, immortal Buddhahood!

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The Monologue of Ice, by Atta Kim

The Monologue of Ice: Four Days, Spring Picnic, by Atta Kim.

This is from 2011, but you may have missed it. The installation, in the Rubin Museum, NYC, was by Atta Kim, who is a South Korean photographer (born in 1956) who has been active since the mid-1980s.

As the work melted, visitors were encouraged to touch the ice and take away non-potable water from the pool on their way out of the museum, using small glass containers that were provided. It was the artist’s intention that the collected water be used to continue the cycle of renewal by watering a plant.

This installation was a beautiful illustration of impermanence, insubstantiality, and interconnectedness.

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Appearance/Emptiness, by Sukhi Barber

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Sukhi Barber was born in Hertfordshire, England. From an early age she was drawn to the classical and ancient traditions of art and philosophy, which led her to undertake a traditional sculptural training at The City and Guilds of London Art School. There she gained a firm grasp of figurative clay modeling and life drawing, graduating in 1995 with the prize for sculpture, and a scholarship from Madame Tussauds.

After graduation Sukhi traveled to India, captivated by the timeless quality of peace and balance that she found in Asian art. Settling in Kathmandu, Nepal, she spent the next twelve years studying Buddhist philosophy and producing sculptures based on the traditional techniques of stone carving and lost-wax bronze casting.

Sukhi’s sculptures are intended to bridge the cultures of East and West. Embodying the peace and compositional balance of ancient devotional art, they represent complex philosophical ideas with a simplicity and clarity that renders them accessible on an intuitive level. Exploring themes of hidden potentials, and the transcendence of our limiting view of a solid reality, her work often represents the negative space as being as important as the material itself, implying the dance of form and spirit, a constant state of transformation.

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Images of mindfulness

Phatarawadee Phataranawik, The Nation: BACC show communicates the truths of dharma.

Fashion photographer and avid dharma practitioner Punsiri Siriwetchapun believes there is little difference between working on his art and meditation.

“The teaching of Lord Buddha seeks to achieve the cessation of suffering. The way to undo suffering is to explore the causes as they manifest themselves in our own bodies and minds in order to understand their origins. It’s the same with my art. I search within myself to convey my thoughts. My art presents my inner self,” says Punsiri who has been practising dharma for more than a decade.

Punsiri has teamed up with three fellow artists for the devotional exhibition “No Absolute Truth in the Universe”…

Read the original article »

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A vision of peace in Burma

Meditation on peace, by Alamsyah Rauf (Alamsyah)) on 500px.com
meditation on peace by Alamsyah Rauf

 

There’s been so much bad news from Burma recently, with Buddhist monks advocating violence against the Muslim minority and being attacked by security forces as they tried to prevent the expansion of a Chinese copper mine, that I thought I’d post this lovely image of a Burmese boy monk meditating.

The photographer, Alamsyah Rauf, says that he used a 1/5th second exposure on a tripod to blur the water a little yet keep the monk sharp. Do visit his page, and if you like the photograph then consider supporting the artist by buying a copy.

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A symbol for mindfulness

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A symbol for mindfulness

A symbol for mindfulness

 

A graphic designer called Giedrius recently wrote to me from Lithuania, telling me that he had created the symbol above to represent “being here and now – the idea of mindfulness.” He said:

This is an open source symbol that can universally represent mindfulness. It can also work as a reminder that can help people to be aware of the present moment.

His website gives more background information on the symbol:

When you see this symbol, anywhere – in public, personal or virtual spaces – it will work as a reminder for you to become aware of this present moment.

Firstly, this symbol is presented like a physical representation of present moment.

Vertical forms represent time – past and future. Horizontal forms represent space – 360 degrees. And the one is always in the center – being here and now.

Secondly, you can see a symbol of a water drop. This is the most often used metaphor to represent the idea of mindfulness. Only this water drop symbol is presented in a kind of mirrored way. But do not think about it, because as mentioned above, this is time – past and future, both are illusions, stay centered in the present.

This is an “open source” symbol that can be used by anyone in order to spread the message. The symbol can be used in different ways and in different media. It can also be interpreted creatively. Please send us your photos or your creative designs with this symbol and we will showcase them in our page.

When you use this symbol, you will represent the movement. So please be responsible and stay on the message.

You can download high quality files here: jpg

I’m curious what you think of this symbol. Please do leave a comment below.

Update on the Mindfulness Symbol

Since I originally wrote this article, nine years ago, the mindfulness symbol really seems to have taken off. Giedrius’s Tumblr site has many photographs of ways that people have used the symbol, including this tattoo:

mindfulness symbol tattoo

Here’s a compilation of various photographs people have submitted of their own mindfulness tattoos:

mindfulness symbol tattoos

And various people have played around with the symbol, adapting it in various ways. Here’s one variation, which resembles a traditional Indo-Tibetan vajra or dorje:

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