Sunday, March 2, 2014

The Arts as Buddhist Practice

The talks last night went very well.

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.

white tara by Sanje

Then came Sanje Elliott offering insight on Motivation in practice, both of Dharma practice and Art practice. Sanje is an accomplished Thangka painter and teaches thangka painting here in Portland. He demonstrated the initial drawing of a Buddha head following the traditional form built on a thigse or diagram. Kim accompanied on the harp as he drew.

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.

 Tarawaya Sotatsu - Waves at Matsushima - 16th c

Bibliography – The Arts as Buddhist Practice

Abram, David. 1996. The Spell of the Sensuous: Perception and Language in a                     More than Human World. New York: Vintage Books, Random House.

Baas, Jacqueline. 2005. Smile of the Buddha: Eastern Philosophy and Western          Art from Monet to Today. Berkeley, Los Angeles and London: University of          California Press.

Baas, Jacqueline and Mary Jane Jacob. 2004. Buddha Mind in Contemporary          Art. Berkeley, Los Angeles and London: University of California Press.

Berger, John. 1986. The Sense of Sight. New York: Pantheon Books.
         2001. The Shape of a Pocket. New York: Vintage Books, Random House

         2007. Hold Everything Dear: Dispatches on Survival and          Resistance.          New York: Pantheon Books.

Binyon, Laurence. 1911. The Flight of the Dragon: An Essay on the theory and          Practice of Art in China and Japan. London: John Murray

         1959.Painting in the Far East: An Introduction to the History of Pictorial Art
         in Asia Especially China and Japan. New York: Dover Publications, Inc.        

Catoir, Barbara. 1991. Conversations with Antoni Tàpies. Munich: Prestel-         Verlag.

Crane, George. 2000. Bones of the Master: A Journey to Secret Mongolia.
         New York: Bantam Books

Coomaraswamy, Ananda K.1956. Christian and Oriental Philosophy of Art. First          published 1937 as Why Exhibit Works of Art? New York: Dover          Publications.
         1956. The Transformation of Nature in Art. First published 1934.
         New York: Dover Publications.

Dufwa, Jacques. 1981. Winds from the East: A Study of Manet, Degas, Monet          and Whistler 1856-86. Stockholm: Almqvist & Wiksell International.

Ecke, Tseng Yu-ho. 1988. Wen Jen Hua: Chinese Literati Painting from the          Collection of Mr. and Mrs. Mitchell Hutchinson. Honolulu: Honolulu          Academy of Arts.

         Some Elements of Modern Art in Classical Chinese Painting. Honolulu:          University of Hawai’i Press.

Fischer, Felice. 2003. Mountain Dreams: Contemporary Ceramics by Yoon          Kwang-cho. Philadelhia: Philadelphia Museum of Art.

Heine, Stephen. 1997. The Zen Poetry of Dogen: Verses from the Mountain of          Universal Peace. North Clarendon, Vermont: Tuttle Publishing.

Hinton, David. 2006. trans. The Selected Poems of Wang Wei. New York: New          Directions Books.

Hisamatsu, Shin’ichi. 1971. Gishin Tokiwa, trans. Zen and the Fine Arts. Tokyo: Kodansha International

Holmes, Stewart W. and Chimyo Horioka. 1973. Zen Art for Meditation.          Rutland, Vermont: Charles E. Tuttle Co.

Klee, Paul. 1948. On Modern Art. Introduction by Herbert Read. London: Faber          and Faber.

La Plante, John D. 1992. Asian Art. 3rd Ed. Boston: McGraw Hill

Larson, Kay. 2012. Where the Heart Beats: John Cage, Zen Buddhism, and the          Inner Life of Artists. New York: The Penguin Press.

Linroth, Rob. 2004. Paradise and Plumage: Chinese Connections in Tibetan          Arhat Painting. New York: Rubin Museum of Art.

Lipsey, Roger. 1988. An Art of Our Own: The Spiritual in Twentieth Century Art.
         Boston & Shaftsbury: Shambhala Publications, Inc.

Little, Stephen. 1991. Visions of the Dharma: Japanese Buddhist Paintings and          Prints in the Honolulu Academy of Arts. Honolulu: Honolulu Academy of          Arts.

Loori, John Daido. 2005. The Zen of Creativity: Cultivating your Artistic Life.
         New York: Ballantine Books and Dharma Communications.

Maezumi, Hakuyu Taizan. Photographs by John Daido Loori. The Way of          Everyday Life: Zen Master Dogen’s Genjokoan with Commentary. Zen          Writing series; 5. 1978. Los Angeles: Center Publications.

Nakamura, Tanio. 1957. Sesshu Toyo. English text by Elise Grilli. Rutland,          Vermont: Charles          E. Tuttle Co.

Okakura, Kakuzo. 1956. The Book of Tea. Rutland, Vermont: Charles E. Tuttle          Co.

Pine, Red. 2000. The Collected Songs of Cold Mountain. Port Townsend: Copper          Canyon Press.

Poshyananda, Apinan. 2003. Montien Boonma: Temple of the Mind. London:          Asia Society, Asian Ink.

Rose, Barbara Stella. 1975. Art as Art: The Selected Writings of Ad Reinhardt.
         Berkeley, Los Angeles and London: University of California Press.

Sirén, Osvald. 1963. The Chinese on the Art of Painting. New York: Schocken

Sullivan, Michael. 1979. Symbols of Eternity: The Art of Landscape Painting in          China. Stanford: Stanford University Press.

Suzuki, Shunryu. 1999. Branching Streams Flow in the Darkness: Zen Talks on          the Sandokai. Berkeley, Los Angeles and London: University of California          Press.

Trungpa, Chogyam. 1996. Dharma Art. Judith Lief, ed. Boston & London:          Shambhala.

Tseng Yu-ho. 1963. Some Contemporary Elements in Classical Chinese Art.          Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press.

van Briessen, Fritz. 1962. The Way of the Brush: Painting Techniques of China          and Japan. Rutland, Vermont: Charles E. Tuttle Co.

Watson, Burton. 1994. Selected Poems of Su Tung-p’o.  Port Townsend,          Washington: Copper Canyon Press.

Yanagi, Soetsu. 1972. The Unkown Craftsman: A Japanese Insight into Beauty.
         Tokyo: Kodansha International.

Stone and Light - 2001