Tuesday, February 28, 2012


afrom Dhamma Musings, Saturday, February 4, 2012

Animals played a role in several events in the life of both the historical and legendry Buddha. Usually their appearance is incidental – the white elephant in Mahamaya’s dream, and the steed Khantaka carrying Prince Siddhattha away into the night, being examples of this. In a few other incidents they play a more important role – Prince Siddhattha rescuing the goose from Devadattha, the Buddha being looked after by an elephant (and a monkey according to the commentary) during his stay in the Parileyya Forest, and his calming of the infuriated elephant Nalagiri.
This last story has long been a favourite with artists and the earliest depiction of it is to be found on a a medallion from the railing of the Amaravati Stupa built in about 200 CE. The sculptor shows the elephant first charging and then bowing before the Buddha, thus giving a sense of movement. The terrified onlookers are realistically depicted highlights the drama of the scene. The next piece is a carved 4th century CE fragment from Gandhara showing the Buddha stroking Nalagiri’s head, a detail mentioned in the Tipitaka account of the story. Likewise the people watching from the balcony above are specifically mentioned in the text. The third picture is an illustration of the same incident from a 19th century Thai manuscript.
According to the Mahaparinibbana Sutta, some of those gathered around the Buddha broke into tears when he died while others remained composed. Such people usually appear in depictions of the Buddha’s passing. In Japan however, artists illustrating this event often included animals amongst the mourners. I’m not sure why this is so but it is probably because the Mahayana Maraparinirvana Sutra says that ‘all beings in the Triple World wept and wailed’ as the Tathagata passed away. This gave artists the opportunity to use their skill and their imagination to paint a wide variety of beautiful and interesting animals. The first picture below is of a 16th century (Monoyama Period) scroll painting. The next picture is an enlarged section of a similar depiction of the Parinibbana from around the same time. It is clear that the artists delighted in the painting creatures as diverse as centipedes, crabs and molluscs as well as several mythological beasts. The third picture, from a Tibetan thangka, shows two snow lions (gang shenge) morning the Buddha’s passing, an element unusual in Tibetan art.
After the biography of the Buddha himself, the Jataka stories have long been most Buddhist’s main knowledge of and contact with the Dhamma. Consequently there are numerous depictions of Jatakas in the art of all Buddhist cultures, and they are depicted in the earliest Buddhist art. The first picture illustrates the Mahakapi Jataka (No.407) in which a monkey king risks his life, and eventually looses it, to save his troop. The piece is a medallion from the Barhut Stupa dating from about 150 BCE. Being one of the earliest examples of Buddhist art the treatment is naive and awkwardly conceived but the story it illustrates would have been immediately identifiable to the viewer. The Alambusa Jataka (No.523) tells of a doe who falls in love with the ascetic who shared her forest. One day he urinated in the river, passing out semen as he did so, the doe later drunk from the river, became pregnant and in time gave birth to a boy. The kindly ascetic accepts the child as his own and helps bring him up. A sexual misadventure in the boy’s subsequent life and his father’s advice concerning it makes up the core of the story. The ascetic, the doe and their child are depicted in a panel from northern India dating from the 4th-5th century CE. Below this is a painting from Dunghuang Cave in western China dated 450 CE depicting the Nigrodhamiga Jataka (No.12). In this story a stag’s willingness to give his life to protect his herd from a king’s frequent hunting expeditions, moves the king to give up hunting and eventually, at the stag’s request, to ban all hunting throughout his realm. The final picture is an illustration from an early 19th century Thai manuscript of the Vessantra Jataka (No.574). It shows Vessantra on his wondrous rain-making white elephant which he is about to give away.The Buddha taught that there are six realms of existence, one of which is the animal world. (tiracchana yoni). All of these realms constitute samsara, the continually process of birth and death. Indian artists illustrated this doctrine diagrammatically as a wheel of six segments, each showing one of the realms. A single very fragmentary painting of the six realms survives from India, but they are common in Tibet and are painted on the walls at the entrance of most temples. Depictions of the animal world usually show a variety of creatures, domestic and wild, actual and mythological. This is a typically illustration of the animal world from a contemporary Tibetan thangka.As in other religions Buddhists saw certain animals as symbolizing particular things; e.g. the lion nobility and courage, the monkey an undisciplined mind, the goose detachment, and the elephant patience and calm deliberation. They also included animals in their folk tales. One example of this is the story of the three animals who teamed up to reach the fruit none of them could reach individually and who as a result became friends. The story is unique to Bhutan although it was probably a local development of the Jataka (No.37). An animal symbol from China and Japan, and probably of Buddhist origin is the three wise monkeys, now familiar the world over. The most famous and charming depiction of these hear no evil, speak no evil, see no evil creatures is found under the eaves of the on the Toshogu Temple in Nikko, carved when the temple was built in the early 17th century.
The use of animals as decorative elements in Buddhist art and architecture is as rich as that found anywhere. One of but many examples of this is the procession of animals that the ancient Sri Lankans decorated the semi-circular door-steps (patika) of their temples with. Many different animals are used and in different combinations but perhaps the most common is a continual line made up of elephants, horses, lions and bull. The elephants in these door-steps and elsewhere in Sri Lankan art are depicted most realistically. The example below from Anuradhapura dates from about the 9th century. Under the row of animals is a row of geese (hamsa) with flower buds in their beaks, a motif originating in India.

One Buddhist monument that depicts numerous animals, actual and mythological, in most of their roles, as participants in the Buddha’s biography, symbols, as decorative elements and in illustrations of Jataka stories – is the great stupa at Sanchi, a huge repository of early Buddhist art. Below is a small selection of these.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Religion students learn to live like monks

MATT ROURKE | ASSOCIATED PRESS Associate professor Justin McDaniel gestures Feb. 10 towards an artifact during a class trip with his religious studies students at the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology in Philadelphia. McDaniel's course on monastic life and asceticism gives students firsthand experience of what it’s like to be a monk. At various times during the semester, students must forgo technology, coffee, physical human contact and certain foods.


Associated Press
Published: Friday, February 17, 2012 at 6:01 a.m.

PHILADELPHIA — Looking for a wild-and-crazy time at college? Don’t sign up for Justin McDaniel’s religious studies class.

The associate professor’s course on monastic life and asceticism gives students at the University of Pennsylvania a firsthand experience of what it’s like to be a monk.

At various periods during the semester, students must forgo technology, coffee, physical human contact and certain foods. They’ll also have to wake up at 5 a.m. — without an alarm clock.

That’s just a sample of the restrictions McDaniel imposes in an effort to help students become more observant, aware and disciplined. Each constraint represents an actual taboo observed by a monastic religious order.

“I’ve found in the past that students take this extremely seriously,” said McDaniel, who has taught the class twice before. “I’ve had very few people who try to get away with things, and you can always tell when they are.”

The discipline starts with a dress code for class: White shirts for the men, black shirts for women, and they must sit on opposite sides of the class. No makeup, jewelry or hair products. Laptops are prohibited; notes can be taken only with paper and pen. And don’t even think of checking your cellphone for texts or email.

The course, which focuses primarily on Catholic and Buddhist monastic traditions, stems in part from McDaniel’s own history. An expert on Asian religions, he spent a portion of his post-undergraduate life nearly 20 years ago as a Buddhist monk in Thailand and Laos and says he’s both a practicing Buddhist and a practicing Catholic.

Restrictions outside class are introduced gradually: Students sacrifice caffeine and alcohol during one week, then swear off vegetables that grow underground in another. The latter rule stems from an extremely non-violent sect that eschews such produce because uprooting the food could kill insects, McDaniel said.

The real test is a full month of restrictions that begins in mid-March. Students can only eat food in its natural form; nothing processed. They can’t eat when it’s dark, nor speak to anyone while they eat. They must be celibate, forgoing even hugs, handshakes and extended eye contact. No technology except for electric light. They can read for other classes, but news from the outside world is forbidden.

So why would anyone sign up? It could be because McDaniel requires no term papers or exams. But Madelyn Keyser, 20, of Castro Valley, Calif., said that’s misleading.

“In reality, it’s much harder because your grade is based entirely on your participation and your integrity,” said Keyser.

Freshman Rachel Eisenberg said she enrolled because it’s important “to figure out yourself before you can really help other people.”

“It would give me a chance to really listen to myself and focus on my needs and feelings,” said Eisenberg, 18, of Miami.

Keyser and Eisenberg are among 17 students in the class, a group carefully chosen from among nearly 100 applicants. McDaniel said he winnowed the list by contacting each student to make sure they understood what they were in for.

The numbers thinned quickly. One cited an inability to be without Facebook, McDaniel said, while another said she couldn’t go a day without talking to her mother on the phone.

There are some exceptions, such as if another class requires students to watch a film. But any other infractions require confessions and acknowledgement in their journals.

McDaniel stresses he’s not advocating for a total lifestyle change. He uses technology as much as the next person and is now married with children.

But if someone is forced to just listen for a month, he is more aware of how he speaks, McDaniel said. If someone can’t talk while she’s eating and has to count each chew, she’ll think more about her food, he said.

“It’s not about individual restrictions,” said McDaniel. “It’s about building hyperawareness of yourself and others.”

sourse:Buddhist art news

The True Torch!

The True Dhamma Makes U Safe!
The Buddha-Dhamma is a
Torch, since it guides beings through the Darkness!
The Buddha-Dhamma is a
Boat, since it brings beings across to the far Shore!
The Buddha-Dhamma is a
Mirror, since it shows beings, how they Actually are!
The Buddha-Dhamma is a
Medicine, since it cures beings from deep Diseases!

More on this genuine Law (Dhamma):
Dhamma_Contemplation, Dhamma_Presence, Supreme Triumph
Simple_Core123, Ontology, No_Substance_'Out_There', Be_Good!

Have a nice & noble day!

Friendship is the Greatest!
Bhikkhu Samāhita _/\_ ]

Saturday, February 25, 2012

One becomes Calmed by Stilling all Agitation!

The brahmin Māgandiya asked the Buddha about how to become calmed:

Not dwelling in the past, stilled in the present, one prefers no kind of future!
Without irritation, without agitation, without regrets, without worry, neither
boasting, nor proud, but humble and modest, one is indeed a restrained sage...
Withdrawn, not opposed to anything, not wanting anything, all unconcerned,
aloof, gentle, independent, for such one there exists neither craving or fear
for any kind of existence, nor craving or fear for any form of non-existence...
Such calmed one is indifferent to sense pleasures, detached, not clinging to
any kind of property! For him there is nothing more to take up or lay down!
For whatever others might accuse him, he remains tranquil and not agitated!
Neither opposing anything, nor attracted to anything, with nothing of his own,
perturbed by what does not exist, such tranquil one is truly calmed!
Sutta-Nipāta 849-861 Edited excerpt.

More on Calm (Samatha) = Tranquil Ease:
Forest Bliss, Calm, Calm_and_Insight, Calm_Power, The_Tranquil_One,
Breathing_Calm_and_Insight, Silenced, Forest_Bliss2


Have a nice & noble day!

Friendship is the Greatest!
Bhikkhu Samāhita _/\_ ]

In the garden of Shigemori’s mind

Indoor gardens: An installation depicting the Hokuto Sichisei (Big Dipper) garden of Kyoto's Tofuku-ji Hassou Gardens. SACHIKO TAMASHIGE


Japan Times, Thursday, Feb. 17, 2012

The Zen gardens of Kyoto have attracted countless admirers and served as inspiration to many artists, designers and other creative people. Steve Jobs, for whom Zen Buddhism was an inspiration, praised Kyoto’s gardens, and the minimalism of Zen aesthetics became a strong inspiration behind the design of Apple Inc. products.

The association of a traditional, disciplined minimalism with Japanese rock gardens, such as that of Kyoto’s Ryoanji temple, has become so familiar worldwide, it is virtually a cliche. But there are also great examples of Japanese gardens that go beyond traditionalism to provide tranquility and space for contemplation.

Mirei Shigemori (1896-1975), a self-taught garden designer and historian of Japanese gardens, challenged the conventional design of Japanese gardens. He refused to imitate the style of a specific master or school of landscape gardening — a way of teaching that in Japan was common to traditional art and craft forms such as painting, ikebana or pottery.

Born in the Kayo, Jobo District, Okayama Prefecture — where he grew up surrounded by the grand landscapes of Goukei ravine, which remained an inspiration throughout his life — Shigemori moved to Tokyo in 1917 to study nihonga (traditional Japanese-style painting) at the Nippon Art College, then called the School of Japanese Fine Arts. To deepen his understanding of Japanese aesthetics, his studies led him to explore a broader spectrum of Japanese culture, including art history, philosophy, calligraphy, the tea ceremony and ikebana.

Instead of pursuing nihonga, however, Shigemori joined the avant-garde debate on ikebana, criticizing the art form and attempting to create a new style of flower arranging. It was around this time that he also became interested in traditional Japanese gardens. Though he had actually completed a garden and tea room on his family’s property in 1924 — working on them with his father — it took another 10 years before Shigemori chose to settle on designing gardens as his profession.

After the 1934 Muroto typhoon left a path of destruction across western Japan, Shigemori, worried that more gardens could be lost without a trace in the future, began to survey and document the country’s most important ones. Within three years, he researched, measured, photographed and sketched more than 400 gardens, and in 1938 he published the 26-volume “Illustrated Book on the History of the Japanese Garden.” It was an unprecedented documentation of Japan’s major gardens, which also provided Shigemori with the comprehensive and profound knowledge of landscape gardening that helped his career take off.

Chisao, Mirei Shigemori’s grandson, also a garden designer, said in a recent interview that through the extensive research, his father learned that “each significant garden was created with the cutting-edge spirit of the time.”

Shigemori’s first major work was for Kyoto’s Tofuku-ji Temple in 1939. He used geometric shapes and forms in designs for four gardens that are now considered some of the earliest examples of the modern Japanese garden.

“My goal is to create a modern garden, not by replicating traditional gardens of old times,” he once said. “But by studying carefully and learning from them.”

It was a unique approach from someone who lived in an era when artists in Japan were confronted with the tension between the post Meiji Restoration (1868) modernizing influence of the West and the promotion of Japanese tradition by a growing resistance to such cultural change.

Mirei chose to follow neither Western style nor stick to conventional tradition. Instead, his gardens retained the quintessential element of a Japanese garden — the primordial power that the Shinto tradition attributed to nature — while advocating the modernist spirit.

He designed more than 200 gardens throughout his life, most of which were karesansui (dry landscape or rock gardens).

Nothing can match visiting a Shigemori garden, but Tokyo’s Watari Museum of Contemporary Art (Watarium) has found a way to bring Shigemori’s garden to the viewer.

As well as a comprehensive visual history of Shigemori’s work, including photographs, projections and drawings, three replica sections of the Hassou Gardens of Tofuku-ji have been reproduced as large-scale installations: Hokuto Sichisei (Big Dipper) of the eastern garden, the Eiju and Horai stones of the southern garden and part of the checkered northern garden. For authenticity, each installation has been made to scale — the abstract composition of “Checkered Garden” is even recreated with real moss.

The exhibition also presents some of Shigemori’s paintings, calligraphy and interior design work, reminding us that he was a multidisciplinary artist who brought ideas and skills from different disciplines to garden design — something that helped assert gardens as an integral part of the modern art form.

The large film projection of the top floor of the museum, shows viewers other representative works, such as the avant-garde geometric gardens of Kishiwada Castle in Osaka and his prehistoric-inspired garden of Matsuo-Taisha temple.

Chisao said his grandfather, “focused on the avant-garde garden and devoted himself to the renewal of the garden as art, keeping roots in tradition but relevant to modern life.”

The Watarium takes that even further by turning Shigemori’s gardens into exhibits outside of their actual location, and giving them the artistic respect that they deserve.

“The Garden of Mirei Shigemori” at The Watari Museum of Contemporary Art runs till March 25; open 11 a.m.-7 p.m. (Wed. till 9 p.m. ¥1,000. Closed Mon. www.watarium.co.jp

sourse:Buddhist art news

Purification by Knowledge & Vision of the Way!

As one repeats, develops and cultivates that equanimity about constructions,
faith becomes more resolute, energy better exerted, awareness much better
established, and mind better and deeper concentrated, as a consequence of,
that this equanimity around all phenomena & formations grows more refined!
This insight, leading to emergence, is called aloofness, which itself can eclipse
even the delicate unified equanimity gained from a subtle mental unification...
Experiencing disgust makes greed gradually fade away. With the fading away
greed, clinging evaporates. One is thereby liberated by this mental release.
Purification by knowledge & vision of this way is the principal factor of purity!
It is conforming to what is mentally utterly unpolluted... It is for this precious
integrity, that this Noble life is lived under the Blessed Buddha!
DN III 288, MN I 139, 147, III 220

The Greatest Sage did thus proclaim:
This insight stilled, refined and purified!
This round of rebirth's abysmal pit of pain,
Is vast, entangling, deceptive and terrible!
Any wise man should strive all the best he can,
When hoping emergence from suffering to gain.
Vism 671

More on Mental Purification (Visuddhi):
Mental_Purity, Levels of Leaving Behind, The_7_Purifications,
The_purpose_of_purification, The_7_stages_of_Purification,
Ability_Purification, The_8_Understandings.

Immaculate Integrity!

Have a nice & noble day!

Friendship is the Greatest!
Bhikkhu Samāhita _/\_ ]

Thursday, February 23, 2012

BUDDHIST Art attacked

The Indian Express : Fri Feb 17 2012, 03:14 hrs

Vandalism of Male museum is an erasure of its layered legacy. It must not have political legitimacy

Cultural icons are soft but specific targets when political convulsions take place. Sometimes the act is particularly dastardly — like in Bamiyan a decade ago when two colossal Buddhas carved into sandstone cliffs were smashed into smithereens by the Taliban under orders of Mullah Omar. Last week, as president Mohamed Nasheed left office in the Maldives, something similar happened in the capital city: the National Museum of Male was raided and about 30 Buddhist statues, a few from sixth century, destroyed. One of them was a six-faced coral statue that beautifully twinned in it the geological charms of the atoll and its pre-Islamic iconography. All of them, archaeological heritage, were reduced to shards and dust.

The Male malevolence was not in the same scale as the Bamiyan where an intense callousness was in evidence over weeks of dynamite explosions, but it certainly invokes the Taliban action in the intolerance it showed for the remnants of the country’s pre-Islamic tradition, for its layered legacy. The fear is in what it portends politically also. Nasheed had heralded democratic change in the archipelago and paid a heavy price for his liberal agenda, with the opposition accusing the former president of being, among others, unIslamic.

The loss of these treasures — almost all of them irreparable — is huge. It is an erasure of a slice of history, culture and art. But the vandalism of these artifacts, regrettable as it is, should not be a sign of things to come in the island. The new dispensation in Male must ensure that the vandals are not sheltered and that their intolerance does not have political legitimacy.


Rare seal of Indus Valley era unearthed in Pakistan

Times of India, Feb 8, 2012, 06.03AM IST

LAHORE: Pakistani archaeologists have discovered a rare Indus Valley civilization-era seal in steatite dating back to 2,500-2,000 BC from the Cholistan area of Punjab province.

The seal features the carved figure of an ibex with two pictographs.

It was found at Wattoowala, located near Derawar Fort and along the ancient bed of the Hakra river, by a six-member team of archaeologists led by Punjab University archaeology department chairman Farzand Masih.

Masih said the discovery would open new dimensions for scholars. The seal has a perforated boss on the back and varies from the style of Harappan seals.

This shows a regional influence and perhaps a separate identity in the Harappan domain, he said.

The seal is almost square in shape and slightly broken on the right side but the figure of the ibex is almost intact.

The muscles, genitalia, hooves and tail of the ibex were engraved artistically with a high degree of skill and craftsmanship. The Punjab University team also conducted excavations at Sui-Vihar, which was the only existing example of Sankhya doctrines in Pakistan.

Masih said the excavation revealed a circular platform at Sui-Vihar built with sundried bricks and supporting walls to hold the platform and the cylindrical structure.

The remains of a votive stupa suggested that the place might had been converted to a Buddhist establishment when Kanishka-I embraced Buddhism. In spite of this, Kanishka had great respect for other faiths and beliefs. Masih said Sir Aural Stein and Henry Field had conducted a survey in the region in 1941 and 1955, respectively.


Daily Words of the Buddha:

The Blessed Buddha once said:
Sabbadānam dhammadānam jināti
Sabbarasam dhammaraso jināti
Sabbaratim dhammarati jināti
Tanhakkhayo sabbadukkham jināti.

The Supreme Triumph:

The gift of Dhamma surpasses all other presents.
The taste of Dhamma excels every other flavour.
The delight of Dhamma exceeds any other happiness.
Eradication of craving conquers any and all suffering...

More on the Dhamma:
Discrete_States, No_Substance_'Out_There', Omniscient_Quantum_Mind,
Ontology, Dhamma_Contemplation, Dhamma_Presence, Momentary_Consciousness,
The_Boat, Gradual_Teaching, Simple_Core123, Be_Good, Supreme_ Triumph

The Supreme Triumph!

Have a nice & noble day!

Friendship is the Greatest!
Bhikkhu Samāhita _/\_ ]

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

International Buddhist Film Festival 2012

New festivals are set for Hong Kong, London, and Bangkok as we launch the tenth anniversary season of the International Buddhist Film Festival. IBFF 2012 HONG KONG starts things off at the new Asia Society Hong Kong Center, with a ten day event March 16–25 sponsored by The Robert H. N. Ho Family Foundation, the first-ever IBFF in Hong Kong.

“We’ve screened several hundred films from submissions, archival research and invitations. These include dramas, comedies, documentaries and animated works from over a dozen countries,” said Gaetano Kazuo Maida, IBFF Executive Director. “In each city we will be presenting compelling new selections of the best Buddhist cinema together with some wonderful guests—it’s world cinema with a Buddhist touch.”

A five day IBFF 2012 LONDON is set for April 11–15. Hosted by the Apollo Piccadilly Circus and presented by The Robert H. N. Ho Family Foundation, this will be the first time the peripatetic IBFF has been to the UK since 2009. The first-ever IBFF in Bangkok is sponsored by the nonprofit Buddhadasa Indapanno Archives (BIA) June 5–10 and will be hosted at a number of cinemas in Bangkok. Other cities will be announced as details are confirmed.

Previous IBFF events have been held in London, Amsterdam, Singapore, Mexico City and a number of cities in the U.S. including San Francisco, Los Angeles and Washington, DC. IBFF has presented nearly three hundred films from over twenty countries in its first ten years.

IBFF 2012 HONG KONG is one of several inaugural year events at the brand-new Asia Society Hong Kong Center, including a major art exhibition, Transforming Minds: Buddhism in Art, February 10-May 20, 2012, curated by Dr. Melissa Chiu with co-curators Dr. Adriana Proser and Dr. Miwako Tezuka.

IBFF 2012 LONDON is being held in conjunction with the presentation of the first Buddhist Art Forum which takes place at the Courtauld Institute of Art, Somerset House, April 10-14. The Forum addresses the philosophical issues concerning Buddhism and art, and it is also sponsored by The Robert H. N. Ho Family Foundation.

IBFF 2012 BANGKOK is one element of the BIA’s extensive Buddhaleela Bangkok series of events in celebration of the 2600th anniversary of the Buddha’s awakening, a national holiday in Thailand. Film, music, youth programs, dharma talks and a variety of community outreach projects are being presented in Bangkok and other locations throughout Thailand.


Buddhist mysticism rides the cutting edge in “Contemporary Mandala” at Emory’s Visual Arts Gallery

Review: Buddhist mysticism rides the cutting edge in “Contemporary Mandala” at Emory’s Visual Arts Gallery

Don Cooper's "Indigo Wheel"

from artscriticatl.org
By JERRY CULLUM | Feb 7, 2012

Carl Jung introduced the mandala to mass culture almost singlehandedly more than three-quarters of a century ago through his analytical psychology, but it is only in the past 50 years that Americans’ embrace of Asian religions and New Age beliefs has given rise to the idea that anything circular and/or internally symmetrical might be a mandala.

The idea is given full expression in “Contemporary Mandala: New Audiences, New Forms,” at the Emory University Visual Arts Gallery through April 15 as a complement to “Mandala: Sacred Circle in Tibetan Buddhism” at Emory’s Michael C. Carlos Museum.

The works in “Contemporary Mandala” run the gamut from indisputably belief-ful to open to mystery — and to archetypes. One of the loveliest, and least beholden to Buddhist origins, is Marcia Vaitsman’s video “Study of Strange Things, part 3,” in which a single image of a bright-colored stocking pulled onto a leg transmutes kaleidoscopically into a moving circular form that opens like the petals of a flower.

The image rotates like the Wheel of Time, which is the subject of deep contemplation in the Kalachakra mandala encountered in the Carlos exhibition. But as its title implies, Vaitsman’s video is tied neither to any particular belief nor any specific psychological model, but only to its own exploration of what these “strange things” might mean.

Faith McClure’s spectacular wall installation, “How Deep the Waking in the Worlded Clouds,” is made in a similar spirit of respectful and semi-visionary exploration, as its independent cutout monoprints of biomorphic, quasi-cellular shapes arrange themselves in loose clusters around a vacant center. Whether the void in the middle is transcendent mystical emptiness or the gap left by the death of God as proclaimed by Nietzsche is for us to interpret, though McClure takes her inspiration both from bodily process and from Buddhist traditions.

“Mandala of the B-Bodhisattva II,” Sanford Biggers’ equally spectacular floor mandala and potential dance space, is more directly titled to situate its circular geometries squarely between Buddhist and hip-hop dynamics. (A bodhisattva is an enlightened being who refuses to enter into the condition of nirvana until all sentient beings have been similarly rescued from their imprisonment.) Tentative plans are afoot to use the piece for at least one contemporary performance.

Andra Samelson’s wall piece “Kunkhyab” (Tibetan for “all-encompassing”) consists of eight mirrored domes arrayed in a circle around a larger mirrored dome. Each dome thus reflects both the room (and the viewer) and parts of the adjacent domes. It becomes a lovely metaphoric illustration of Buddhism’s belief in the intrinsic interconnection of all of human history and natural processes and the meditational tools through which the practitioner comes to understand those connections.

Two decades older than the newest works in this exhibition, the mandalas produced by the late King Thackston are mandalas by virtue of axial symmetry rather than circularity. In some ways these contemporary mandalas are a gloriously mystical mess as all-encompassing as Thackston’s imagination was. The title of “Mandala #48: Beauty Is Re-Established” is based on a Native American prayer to the four directions and on the mapping of the seven chakra energy centers vertically arranged in the human body.

The florid excess of the eclectic imagery — a swinging pendulum arcing over a color spectrum, a turned wooden ball and an astrolabe — reflects the multiple sources of our latter-day spirituality as well as confidence in the discernment of cultural parallels that Jung was one of the first to express in contemporary terms.

Don Cooper’s wall of spectacularly rendered circles (independently created watercolors arranged as a single unit) take their titles and their inspiration from both Buddhist and Hindu sources. The “bindu” referred to in a number of the titles is the circle or dot or “drop,” which, depending on whether the word is used in Indian tantricism or Hindu philosophy, has many possible meanings: the source of male and female generative capacities; the site on the body that generates either the nectar of immortality or the poison of death; the single point through which the universe takes its origin or through which the many become one. Though Cooper has long been in dialogue with Asian spirituality, his particular expression of this peculiarly potent traditional form is distinctly his own.

Christopher McNulty’s circles and sphere (the latter formed with hot glue but looking more like carved bubble wrap) are based on a form of secular accounting that lends itself to the classically Buddhist themes of suffering, old age and death. McNulty determined from actuarial sources the age at which he is regarded as likely to die. Insurance rates are based partly on this sort of statistic, but McNulty has used it as the source for numerically based mark-making in media ranging from burnt paper to traditional etching, with titles referring to how many days he still has in his life.

The 71-inch circle of densely repeated black-ink rectangles that constitutes “20,045 Days” forms a particularly fine source for reflection about transience and mortality, though it requires the aforementioned background knowledge to see anything more in it than an exquisite example of minimalist formal geometry.

The overall message of “Contemporary Mandala” is this: although we live in an era in which the mathematics and psychology encoded in the world’s religions have been separated out into secular academic disciplines, the investigations of a relentlessly analytical academia may not have exhausted the possible meanings, and the possibilities for transformation of self and world, that were and are contained in those religious beliefs, practices and forms of art. The forms, and the beliefs and practices, are there to be rediscovered or re-invented, as the contemporary artist chooses


Tuesday, February 21, 2012

2012 Buddhist Film Festival.

Film Competition

The Call for Entries invites film submissions for the International VESAK 2012 Buddhist Film Festival.

The International VESAK 2012 Buddhist Film Festival will be held from the 5th to 6th of May, in Colombo Sri Lanka


Light of Asia Award is presented under each winning categories

General Rules

We Exhibit films continuously throughout the year during each Poya Festival. Once accepted for Buddhist Film Festival presentation, your film is eligible for all Festivals in the season. Submissions are accepted year round; we will promote your Films worldwide and in our website .www.buddhistfilmfestival.com


Short Film - Films which convey a Buddhist theme . (Recommended duration is 12 minutes).

Documentary Films- Documentary Films on Buddhist themes, Monuments , Art , Artifacts ,Festivals ,Events ,Places of interest Etc .(Recommended duration 10-20 minutes).

Feature Films- Feature Films on Buddhist theme. This will be an exhibition ( There is no time limit).

Animation Films- Animated Films on Buddhist themes.(Recommended Duration 3-12 minutes)

Mobile Films- Movies made using Camera phones with a Buddhist Theme.(Recommended duration is 3-5 minutes).

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by Bhikkhu Khantipalo

"Who are not heedless, they

Dig up the root of suffering

By day and night give up things dear,

Deathly, sensuous and very hard to cross."

Most people in this world fall among the class of persons known as ’heedless’—and for most of their lives at that. What is this kind of person like? A heedless man, one who dwells sunk in this mud of heedlessness, does not care to develop in himself any of the virtues in this life, and instead drifts about controlled by the currents of his desires, which lead him to do all sorts of things which are evil. He does not care to develop wisdom, which in the beginning means the ability to distinguish what is skilful, profiting oneself and others, from what is evil, poisoning oneself and others. He does not call to mind that this life is a short span between birth and death and that within it lies the experience of many bitter and unwelcome things. He is lazy, making no effort towards self-control. He does not aspire to any high ideal and thinks only to get his sense-desires fulfilled. He is bogged down in the slough of materialism and selfishly grabs for himself whatever he can get out of this world. O this heedless man! How much of sufferings he makes for himself and others! He is, in other words, a man who does not know where his own good, or the good of others lies. He helps forward strife and dissension, and because he is firmly attached to possessions, relations, people and places; he can never find the happiness for which, so vainly, he looks. This heedless man is not some strange and abstract character but veritably in myself and in yourselves whenever we do not guard ourselves and make no efforts in the Dhamma-training. And we are the people who in proportion to our heedlessness suffer the thorny fruits of evil which ripen for us, and of which, though bitter, we must partake.

Therefore, this heedless man is the very opposite of the true Buddhist who is well described by the adjective ’heedful’. The quality of heedfulness has been praised many times by the Exalted Buddha, just as the opposite, heedlessness, has been condemned. In this Dhamma, there is much to be practised and there is practice suitable for every posture of the body and every minute of the day. There is practice to be done concerning the stream of thoughts racing in the mind, there is more practice connected with the thousands of words spoken every day, and there is Dhamma-practice for the body, whatever it is doing. Now none of this can be accomplished without heedfulness, without making effort, without employing mindful awareness, or without wisdom. Heedfulness implies the conscious cultivation of these three aspects of Dhamma: effort, mindfulness and wisdom. These three mark the true Buddhist, one who is really trying to practise what the Exalted One has taught. So then, by way of contrast with that heedless fellow who is our untrained and unrestrained selves, let us take a look at the heedful Dhamma-practiser, whom we may occasionally resemble. A heedful man does take care to develop in himself all the virtues according to his ability and his need, and he does not drift about from desire to desire but lays some restraint upon his mind, speech and body with regard to this. As he does so, he is able to distinguish the wholesome from the evil, and he knows clearly why certain actions are harmful while others are helpful to Dhamma-training. He is aware of the short span of this life which may at any moment, and in countless million ways, come to an end. Therefore, he is not lazy and does put forth effort towards self-control. He knows of higher ideals than mere materialism, and he does aspire to attain them for himself, thus benefiting others as well. He knows full well that to be the prey of desires all the time is the most potent way of increasing all kinds of sufferings and unhappiness. So then, he is a man who knows the good of himself and the good of others whom he can help in various ways. From the store of goodness and wisdom cultivated by him, he becomes happy and can show the way of true happiness to others. This heedful man is also no abstraction but truly ourselves whenever we see the I in our own hearts, smeared with greed, aversion and delusion, disturbed by the boiling-up of so many desires, there is much to be done. So we stir up energy within ourselves to practise Dhamma, that is, to be generous, helpful and kindly, to keep pure the Precepts, to develop the heart in calm and concentration by appropriate ways, and to wield the sword of wisdom within our hearts for the purification which should be made there; and again, through this effort, we become mindful, we become aware of the body in all its aspects, we develop awareness of feelings as they arise and pass away, we become aware of what sort of state the mind is in, and finally we know clearly the different constituents or the mind as they arise and pass away; and with this mindfulness goes wisdom and cleansing. No one can claim to be truly a Buddhist unless he is heedful, that is, he is making effort in training himself in Dhamma, to the extent possible for him.

Now we can turn to the verse spoken by the Exalted Buddha and consider its meaning for ourselves. In the first line are mentioned those people “who are not heedless” and they form the subject of this instruction. Those who are heedless are not mentioned directly but it is clear from the verses that they, whether by day or by night, do not “give up things dear” and so make no efforts to dig up the root of suffering which, as we shall see, is called craving. So these heedless people are trapped in things bound up with death, things which appeal to the senses and desires and seem to increase pleasure, thing, which are as an ocean, very extensive and perilous, which are difficult to overcome. The sufferings of the heedless will become clearer by contrast with the happiness born of Dhamma-practice by the heedful, of which this verse speaks.

This “root of suffering”—let us look into the meaning of it. Roots are commonly the tough and deeply penetrating underground parts of trees and plants. Towards their tips they are much divided and very fine, and they seek constantly for nutriment. But the root spoken of here, though it has these characteristics, is found in the heart of every unenlightened person. The root of suffering is tough, for craving and desire are not easy to pull up but strongly resist the efforts of those who try. And this craving root is certainly deeply penetrating. lt has not only been planted and grown in this life but over innumerable existences before our present birth; it has established itself in the very depths of our hearts. And this root, like others, is underground, for it cannot easily be seen. Some people are not even aware that they have any craving at all, and most people have little idea of its extent. The network of fibres of this craving become very fine, very subtle towards their ends, and even those who have long been heedful and practised Dhamma with devotion, may find it hard to root out the finest threads. But if they are not removed like twitch, bindweed or dandelions, this wretched craving springs up again. So it is that the Exalted One has said: “So dig up craving by its root”. This root of suffering called craving also seeks for nutriment of many kinds, as do the roots of plants. For instance, there is ordinary food which is craved for its pleasing appearance, its subtle aroma, its delicious taste, its delightful texture, its allaying of hunger-pain, and its way of increasing one’s sense of well being by fullness. So, in this way, craving is expressed through eye, nose, tongue and bodily sensibility. Then there is craving in the mind by thinking about the desired nutriment. Now, people “who are not heedless” look upon this craving as a parasite which has a stranglehold but must be destroyed as quickly as possible. And why do they think like this? From the clear understanding born of their not being heedless, they see that craving is the root of suffering. All the kinds of sufferings are all born of craving, or suffered because of craving. Whether those sufferings are slightly disagreeable, or whether they are very grave; whether they are physical, or whether they are mental; all kinds of sufferings are born of desires. How can this be? When one desires and gets, one suffers from keeping, from maintaining; when one does not get what is craved, one also suffers. Desires are never fulfilled entirely and if you look into this, you will find that the thing desired never quite lives up to expectations. We expect stability in the desired people or things. But neither ourselves nor those desired things whatever they are—people, places, experiences—neither subject nor object has any stability. Instability marks this world and when we grab at something desired, thinking it stable, we heap up this suffering for ourselves. Nor does a heedless man understand that unstable things are unsatisfactory or dukkha. Not living up to expectations, they disappoint him. Not being permanent or remaining in the form desired, they cannot be but unsatisfactory. That heedless fellow also has no idea about the non-self-nature of things. The most important ’things’ to explain here are the physical and mental aspects of oneself. Though ordinarily thought of as self, as belonging to self, a little reflection will prove how far from being ’owned’ this mind and body are. The heedless man never thinks whether ’my body’, ’my mind’, ’myself’ could really be true. But neither body nor mind obey a self, they just work governed by certain laws and conditions. There is no possibility of a self who is the owner of mind and body—such ideas are born of craving for security. And where there is craving, there is bound to be suffering. So this root of suffering spreads its battening rootlets both deep and wide.

Obviously, the heedful man, knowing the direction in which happiness should be sought, will readily try to “dig up the root of” suffering. Now, in digging, one has to have some tools and one has to know the method in which these should be used. The land, in this case, is one’s own heart, which is a bit of rough ground if ever there was, hardly ever cultivated, and besides the odds and ends of rubbish tipped on the surface which can be seen, the whole plot is riddled with every sort of weed and pest lurking underneath. Not the sort of ground a gardener would choose perhaps? But then we are not in the position of being able to choose. Unlike worldly gardeners, we ourselves have dumped the surface-rubbish just recently, and in past times we have allowed the thistles, twitch and bindweed to grow luxuriantly. So we have only to blame our own heedlessness that in the past we allowed things to get in this state. For our cultivation in Dhamma, the Exalted Buddha has provided us with three principal tools with which to “dig up the root of suffering”. These tools are called: Moral Conduct or sila; Collectedness or samadhi; and Wisdom or pañña. They may be rusty from long neglect in which case ’elbow-grease’ will be needed for polishing them up. This elbow grease is called ’effort’ or viriya and we shall never be able to wield these tools successfully unless we can see to it that the mental factor of effort is always present. And effort, of course, is one aspect of this heedfulness praised by all the Buddhas and Arahants, praised by all wise men everywhere.

Now that we know what the tools are, we must get to know the method. Digging is something of an art and digging up craving is the very subtlest of all arts. The method to be used is called “practising Dhamma according to Dhamma”. Here the word, Dhamma has two meanings. In the first case, it means the various methods and ways adopted while training oneself. These methods may be given one by a Teacher in this tradition but one still has to apply them for oneself. But ’Dhamma’ in the second case means both the Law and the Goal. The way is to practise whatever one knows of Dhamma in oneself. This is the work which the heedful man sets himself to do. He has the tools of Moral Conduct, Collectedness and Wisdom and he has the instructions on how these are to be applied. If he lives far from Buddhist lands, these instructions will be the recorded words of the Exalted Buddha as preserved in Pali and translated into various modern tongues. But if he stays in a Buddhist country, these ancient instructions can be supplemented with living example and teaching of those who partly or wholly, have dug up “the root of suffering”.

This root of suffering, this craving, goes down very deep, and like a gardener, the heedful man will have to dig deep using the three tools provided. With each tool he can clear the ground to a certain depth. For clearing the surface of rubbish he will want to use Moral Conduct or sila, for when this is used, the surface rubbish of bodily misconduct and verbal misconduct can be carted off. The Five Precepts or the Eight Precepts which are guides for the practice of Dhamma upon special days of training such as the Uposatha, or the Ten Precepts of a novice, or the many rules practised by monks, all these have as their function, the restraint of the body from evil acts and the restraint of the tongue from evil speech. This outward rubbish may be swept away by sincerely keeping the Precepts, whereby a certain gladness will be experienced born of making effort and from seeing the success of one’s efforts. By digging deeper with the tool called Collectedness, which means all sorts of meditative practice, the fibres of this craving-root, called the five hindrances, may be removed. These five hindrances block the way to the experience of the states of concentration (jhana) and must be removed before the concentrations can be experienced. These five are as follows: sensual desire, ill will, sloth and torpor, distraction and worry, and lastly, scepticism. The heedful man is one who can suppress these at will and enter into the far-ranging concentrations. The tool of wisdom or pañña, is needed to dig out the finest and deepest of roots connected with this craving. These fine roots ranging very deeply are called the pollutions or asavas. Three of them are usually listed: the pollution of sensuality, the pollution of becoming, and the pollution of unknowing. Craving here takes these three forms—that is, the attachment to even subtle sensuality, the attachment to more and more of life—more and more of and pollution of not knowing the truth about this mind-body, not knowing that they are unstable, unsatisfactory, and do not make up a selfhood. These pollutions are a stench in the hearts of all beings who have not experienced Enlightenment and they flow into and infect all the operations of the mind, giving rise to the polluted-mind, unable to know correctly and certainly.

Very briefly here the range of “the root of suffering” has been outlined. Everyone can make a start with this digging, while if one has made a start already, then what about making greater effort? It is important though that this training in Dhamma must be undertaken in the right way, in the way according with Dhamma and this means not according to what one thinks and wishes to do for oneself. As this idea of ’self’ is born of unknowing and craving, it will be no good training in Dhamma according to one’s own ideas. The whole training must be undertaken in the spirit of Dhamma which leads away from craving. Indeed, in the third line of the verse above we see this clearly: “By day and night give up things dear”. This is the way of the heedful man who wishes to practise Dhamma according to Dhamma, for the overcoming of craving, for digging up that root of suffering. This is called ’renunciation’, the very opposite direction to the craving driving most people in this world. In starting to practise renunciation, charity and generosity should be cultivated, thereby freeing to some extent tile heart from meanness. But here, more than this is implied, for it is said: By day and night give up . . . “ This does not refer to the beginning of renunciation but this teaching reaches up to Enlightenment, to the final goal of Buddhist endeavour, that is: ’Who are not heedless, they dig up the root of suffering”. These are the instructions to arouse one to do something about oneself and the method to be used follows in the next line: “By day and night give up things dear”. Before we can do this, we must know what the Exalted Buddha means by “things dear”. By this he means everything for which we have attachment, beginning with the six sense bases themselves: eye, ear, nose, tongue, body and mind; to the six sense objects; sights, sounds, smells, tastes, touches, and mental stimuli, and then on through the six impressions upon these senses, and so to the six kinds of thought about these sense impressions, and finally to the six sets of craving arising with respect to the six objects. All this and more, for it has been simplified here, and all the world known to us, including all of what is thought of as ’self’, all this inside and outside, is called “things”.

If we would “dig up the root of suffering” then it is obvious that we must be able to renounce attachment to these senses and sense-object and so on. To the heedless man, indeed, this must seem like total annihilation but then he revels in this world and plants in himself “the root of suffering”. He has no deeper view, he has no path to make progress on.

But for the heedful man who has Dhamma as his guide, Dhamma as the lamp which lights his life, this renunciation can be made since he views the things of self and of the world in the light of the last line of the verse: “Deathly, sensuous, and very hard to cross”. Because of this the heedful man thinks that it is worthwhile to train in Moral Conduct, Collectedness and Wisdom and makes efforts with his own training accordingly. The instructions have now been given and the method also, and now to spur us onward, there is the warning: that “things dear” are “Deathly, sensuous and very hard to cross”. We should understand what these terms mean so that we feel roused to practise Dhamma wholeheartedly. There are first, the dear things of death, meaning that wherever craving has its roots, with attachment and clinging, there death will also take its toll. For there is no birth and death if there is no craving, while the more that things are dear to us, whether internal or external, sentient or insentient, the more of birth and death with all its accompanying dukkha we make for ourselves. By clinging to people, places and experiences, even people near to the end of their lives ensure that they will be born again. But this process of craving goes on for most people day and night and they thus ensure for themselves an endless round of birth and death, that is, unless they take up this path of renunciation. To practise Moral Conduct, one must renounce the pleasures which some people seem to get from bodily misconduct such as killing sentient beings, and from verbal misconduct which means such words as lying and slandering. And more renunciation is necessary if one would cultivate one’s mind One cannot develop in mindfulness and concentration and at the same time indulge to the full in worldly pleasures. These have to be given up if the deep states of collected meditation are to be experienced. And the cultivation of wisdom means the renunciation of attachment to the various sorts of defilement which afflict the heart. The more one is able to renounce the influence of the passions and defiling tendencies of the mind, the more will wisdom grow in the heart. In this way, renunciation of “things dear” by the heedful man leads away from the snare of death and leads him towards the Deathless State of Nibbana.

Then again, these dear things are described by the adjective “sensuous”. This is an imperfect translation of the Pali: “amisa”.

This word cannot be rendered by any one word in English but could be defined as “material objects, internal and external to ourselves as perceived by our senses and stimulating various feeling.” Thus the word covers both the external stimulus and the internal reaction to it. That heedless fellow is bogged down in a morass of amisa, of all this enjoyment, of all this bewailing due to materialism. But the heedful man takes care not to be drawn into the bogs of attraction and repulsion and by his heedfulness, his heart need not be spattered by even drop of mud. The heedful man, praised by the Buddhas and all wise men, well knows the dangers in amisa, that entangled with it men’s views are distorted and restricted, and that they are driven to birth and death as dry leaves driven along the ground by the wind.

Lastly, these dear things are called “very hard to cross”. The heedless man has no hope of finding a way beyond those dear things of death and materialistic pleasure. Even if he wished to find some way beyond his restricted and petty existence bounded by these things, there would be no way for him to go until he abandoned heedlessness, and practising became vigorous, mindful and of increasing wisdom. But those who are heedful and practise whatever they can of Dhamma, their crossing over the ocean of this involvement with things and pleasures their crossing-over the ocean of birth-and-death, becomes quite easy. As they cultivate renunciation so heedfulness grows in them with its three aspects of effort, mindfulness and wisdom, and they come through this to the Other Shore which is called the Secure or Nibbana. Heedfulness is the way to Deathlessness, for Nibbana is the experience of No-death, no birth and no dukkha. It is as the Exalted Buddha has said in another verse: “Those heedful ones they do not die, the heedless are like unto the dead”. Now, concerning ourselves, in this matter we are free to choose whichever class we like. No one can compel us to be heedful, or to be heedless. The Exalted One has certainly never ordered people to be heedful rather than the opposite. His own life is the best example of this heedfulness. Let us look at it.

After He left the comforts and security of His palace and took up the ascetic life, he was an unrivalled example of heedfulness. No one has ever made such great efforts as He made in the six years during which He practised extreme austerity. And when He turned away from this course and attained Perfect Enlightenment, He became known as the Buddha. Effort, mindfulness and wisdom were among the qualities which He had brought to perfection. He had no need to make effort and so on for these were revealed as intrinsic characteristics of the Enlightened State. To the highest degree He displayed effort, mindfulness and wisdom for forty-five years—and why? Out of compassion for people that they might learn the path of happy Dhamma-practice for themselves and in time be able to bring help to others. He walked in stages all the length and breadth of Northern India helping people who wished to be helped with this wonderful Dhamma. His whole life was one displaying effort, teaching all people who wanted to learn until His body was exhausted at the age of eighty. But even upon His deathbed, He has taught those who want to know how to practise the Dhamma way and so find in themselves the Dhamma truth. What words are so stirring as those last phrases uttered by Him as He lay beneath the sweetly scented Sala-trees: “Listen well, O bhikkhus, I exhort you: Subject to decay are all compounded things: with heedfulness strive on!” Even when His body was near to death, He did not forget to exhort His followers to practise heedfulness. His last utterance impresses us that all the compounded things of this life, interior, and exteriors, our minds and bodies themselves are all running down, deteriorating, bound to scatter and fall apart, to be lost.

All things dear and beloved are like this—including ourselves. It is only by making an effort that we can escape from the slime of attachment to all this deterioration. We are deteriorating, our families and friends are deteriorating, our material possessions are deteriorating, nothing that is put together can hope to be permanent. All must fail, all must fall apart, wither and die. So we should not bask in a pleasurable lethargy in this life. There is much to be done. All the time, on every occasion, there is heedfulness to cultivate according to the words of the Exalted One: “By day and night . . .” Not just sometimes, not just when we remember, not just on Buddhist Holy Days, not just in temples, not just in front of Buddha-images, but by day and by night. Day and night we are slipping towards death. And we never know when it will be or how. “Tomorrow death may come—who knows?”, as the Exalted One has said, and it may be only a matter of minutes or seconds away. One who has made efforts to grow in Dhamma, who has secured for himself the riches of heedfulness, the coin of effort, mindfulness and wisdom, has nothing to fear, whenever death may come. But the heedless man, what indeed will help him who has not helped himself? All the time, NOW, is the time for effort, mindfulness and wisdom. Only when Dhamma is practised all the time is there any chance to “dig up the root of suffering”. All the time we can try to “give up things dear” and so cross over Death and materialistic pleasure, over the ocean of craving so “very hard to cross”.

Let us then, call to mind frequently this precious instruction of the Awakened One, that it may be the Dhamma to guide our lives, In Pali the inspired words of the Awakened One are:

Ye ve diva ca ratto ca

Appamatta jahanti piyarupam

Te ve khananti aghamulam

Maccuno amisam durativattam.

And in English they have been translated:

Who are not heedless, they

Dig up the root of suffering

By day and night give up things dear,

Deathly, sensuous and very hard to cross.

May we, through heedfulness, all cross over to the Further Shore.

(Source: BPS, Sri Lanka, BL98. For Free Distribution)