The Arts as Buddhist Practice
Kim Swennes, a harpist, opera singer and thanatologist, played harp as we gathered in.
Jacqueline Mandell was MC - and she organized the event. She is a founding teacher of Samden Ling "A Sanctuary for Meditative Contemplation."
Tim Tapping, president of the Northwest Dharma Association talked about the organization, based in Seattle. The organization is unique in North America in its breadth of inclusion of all lineages of Dharma practice.
My talk came first, and as mentioned in the last post amounted to an exposition on the role that Modern and Contemporary Artists have played and continue to play in giving form to the teachings. See below the bibliography on this subject.
Jan Waldman, a long time practitioner gave a talk on Chado, the Way of Tea. Jan was deeply trained in Japan and the US, and has taught and performed tea at Lewis and Clark College and elsewhere for decades.
Next was Prajwal Vajracharya, of Dance Mandal. Prajwal and his student gave a beautiful demonstration of Himalayan Buddhist ritual dance.
Lisa Stanley is a teacher in the Shambhala tradition and a student of Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche. She gave an interesting talk on Ikebana, including insights from Trungpa, who practiced in the Sogetsu school of Ikebana. This school is known as the non-conformist flower artist school. Some of their arrangements can be wild.
(My mother, Margaret Keenan (Gunn) Lacey, was a practitioner in this school. I watched her over the years become an artist. She knew every flowering bush or tree in her area. "Oh, Jeffrey! Let's go through the arboretum to see if that azalea is blooming!" She once had to be rescued by the fire department. At about 79 years old, she had climbed into an apple tree on the edge of the property. She fell and could not get up. She was over the berm from the parking lot of her condo, and no one could hear her cries over the noise of the street far below. But someone saw her from the other condos way across the street. He called the Fire Dept. and they came for her. They left flowering apple branches on her car. She later brought an apple pie down to the Station. Art requires great sacrifice and humility.)
Lastly, Kim Swennes, the harpist, talked about Thanatology, the self effacing practice of calming the dying through gentle (not vague!) music for their final transition from this life. This was a really fine talk, and pertinent for me as my dad just this week escaped the kiss of death. His time is near, but I will have a chance to see him one more time. Death is the ultimate meditation, according to the Buddha:
Of all footprints,
that of the elephant is supreme.
Of all mindfulness meditations,
that on death is supreme.
(from Sogyal Rinpoche's The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying, p. 26)
I will continue presenting out takes from my talk over the coming weeks. Here below is the bibliography for those who like to read up on these things.