As I mentioned in the previous post, I am interested in the principles of Shambhala Art. This blog begins to clarify my understanding of these teachings, specifically on the point of directness. I hope this writing will be of some benefit to others also investigating these principles.
Page one of True Perception: The Path of Dharma Art describes dharma art as art that springs from
“…an attitude of directness and unself-conciousness in one’s creative work.”
I readily understand what is meant by “attitude”. My attitude refers to my thoughts; my thoughts establish my attitude toward experience and activity.
The term “directness” is not immediately clear to me except as a tautology. But I reread the section on Great Eastern Sun and can understand directness to be the Eastern direction or “the place you see when you can open your eyes and look fearlessly ahead of you.”
I understand directness to be characterized as precise, as concerned with what is pertinent, and as not entertaining extraneous thoughts. Directness also implies accuracy, being able [...]
A couple of weeks ago I was in Boston for a weekend of Shambhala Art taught by Acharya Arawana Hayashi. I’ve been reading True Perceptions: The Path of Dharma Art since the beginning of the year, and this workshop came just at the right time.
The program was concerned with using our senses to realize our connection with the phenomenal world. The mind is creative and very naturally connects with the world. From the beginning of our lives we connect with our world. Our brains are optimized to establish direct connection with the phenomenal world. It’s what we do.
Human beings also have the ability to assign meaning to phenomena. This is a handy tool but inhibits our ability to directly connect with the world. Assigning meaning is not same as perception, but we tend to treat it the same. During the workshop we practiced separating these two activities by focusing on how each of our senses perceives the world. This is a practice of which [...]
In a public talk about dharma art, Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche described how the ruling monasteries in Tibet were funded before the Chinese took over. He refutes the assertion that peasants were flogged and forced to work for the monks. Instead, he says that land and resources were set aside to support certain festivals enjoyed by monastics and lay persons alike. The purpose of his economic digression during an art lecture was to raise the basic question: “How are we to organize our life so that we can afford to produce beautiful things, not at the expense or suffering of others?”
I have chosen a funding model typical among artists and writers I know; I am an educator. Teaching seems to be the common method for artists to support themselves so that they may continue to practice their craft, “not at the expense or suffering of others”. While this isn’t ideal, the alternatives are no more attractive. I would not enjoy being subject to the whim of a wealthy [...]
Yesterday afternoon I arrived in New York. The plane ride was nice and quick. I had a chance to listen to a couple of dharma talks by Gil Fronsdal on “loving kindness” or metta. I’ve practiced metta mediation a few times before, but as I step into the world of New York public education I’m going to make metta part of my regular meditation practice.
I was welcomed by my dear friend Isha and will be staying at her place for a week or so. She gave me a hug, helped me with my bags, and offered me juice. We talked a while, then she said she wanted to take me somewhere special.
After a short walk through Spanish Harlem and a ride on the 2-train, we met her brother Sanjog near Central Park. She took both of us to Strawberry [...]
Yesterday I had some extra time off from work, so I was able to take care of a few things that I’ve been letting slide.
First thing I did was search craigslist.org for summer housing in NYC. I need a room for June and July. Finding housing in NYC is a challenge, but there are some pretty good leads out there. I’m not picky on location, as long as I’m near a subway.
The next thing I did was work in my notebook. I used a brainstorming technique called mind mapping or clustering. In the center of the page I wrote a word (the setting for my next project) with a circle around it. Next, I drew a line from that circle and wrote a new word. From the second word I drew another line with a new word. I continued [...]
Recently I discovered one of my teachers from Naropa Boulder has started to blog: jackkerouacispunjabi.blogspot.com. Bhanu Kapil blog is very close to being in her class at the Jack Kerouac School, except as a web page, it’s even more a School of Disembodied Poetics. In one recent post she quoted Rilke:
“Ask yourself, must I write?; and if you cannot answer yes, then maybe you should not write. Maybe you’re not a writer.”
So I’ve been asking myself that question: Must I write? At this very moment, must I write? It reminds me of a Shambhala teaching on the primoridal dot:
There’s always the primordial dot: that spark of goodness that exists even before you think. We are worthy of that. Everybody possesses that unconditioned possibility of cheerfulness, which is [...]
I’ve been listening to a lecture series recently that has me inspired/excited about writing. The speaker is Joan DePaoli, author of Transparent Thread. Her talk is Buddhist Art as Buddhist Practice, but I think it would more aptly be called Modern Art as Buddhist Practice.
The first two lectures give an overview of 2500 years of dharma art history. When the Buddha was alive he told his followers not to make any art with his image. For the first few hundred years his instructions were followed and Buddhist art were primarily meditation sites, like stupas. Then things changed and people started to make statues of the Buddha. DePaoli discusses this change and other changes as Buddhism spread into various cultures.
This discussion was interesting and informative. But in the third and fourth lecture, she begins talking about western art. Her thesis [...]
In the past couple of years I’ve noticed many people interested in meditation using the word “story” as if it was a bad thing. This came up more than once during my Shambhala Training weekends. I also remember talking with some Buddhist students at Naropa Boulder about what we would be without a “story”. And this week I was listening to one of my favorite dharma podcasts where a participant spoke very dismissively about “his story”.
I’m not sure most people understand what “story” really means.
For me this is very troubling and not just because I’m a writer of stories. But also because I believe that stories are essential for living as a human being.
From websters the word story is
podcast of David Lynch at UC Berkely
In this hour and forty-minute podcast, filmmaker David Lynch answers questions from the audience and talks about meditation. Many of the questions concern Lynch’s film making. While I am not a big David-Lynch-fan (I missed the whole Twin Peaks craze), I did think Blue Velvet was cool and appreciate him as a skilled story-teller. Before listening to this talk, I had no idea that Lynch practiced mediation regular and says that many of his creative ideas come directly out of his mediation practice.
The meditation that Lynch has been doing for 30+ years is transcendental meditation, which he says expands his consciousness and grows his intuition. He says it is [...]
I’m a little late in posting this but with end of the semester I’ve been swamped. The school work is not too much but I’ve picked up a bunch of hours at my job.
But I wanted to finish writing about the the zen intensive with John Daido Loori.
The second assignment was to:
Express things for what they are, their suchness. “This-very-momentness.” The thing that makes it unique, that makes it stand out. Our of all the things in the universe, this particular thing is unique.
The last line I have written in my notes is great: “Intimacy is the non-dual dharma.
So the next day I [...]