My two part piece on Art & Spiritual Practice has been published in Buddhist Door

Part One

Part Two

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In much of reading, I struggle to reach the intelligence point to really comprehend. But, in my case, my arts, especially my ekhprastic poetry, i feel are my total practice right now. I can't do more in my hopes of a good life or afterlife. David, I appreciate how you drew me in with a place i can enter in my nature


At the start of last year I began an art project which I expect will take a couple of years to complete, though in fact it will never be completely finished. My outline for the project is simply use the Lotus Sutra as the theme and do roughly two pieces of art on actual pages from the sutra. Many young people approach Buddhism as an intellectual exploration or study. I've always found that approach somewhat disconnecting. The more I've read and reread the Lotus Sutra the less convinced it was ever intended to be approached strictly by the mind. There is little new doctrinally and that there is so little doctrine at all has caused my thinking to shift. When I began writing the several book I've done it came to me that's the Lotus Sutra is about the heart and not the head. The Lotus Sutra is meant to be felt not simply thought about. It isn't that the intellectual perspective or approach is inferior nor the heart/feeling approach superior, rather that for this teaching there is the invitation to join the heart and mind and be truly integrated.

In a way this also began to shape a different understanding of why the Lotus Sutra even was written and of the new doctrine what might be the motivation for that.

The concept of the Three Vehicles into the single Buddha Vehicle makes sense at least From a Nichiren perspective. It why? Why does this teaching exist, what problem might have needed addressing? Then I considered what was happening in Buddhism and we see the fracturing of the Sangha, there was a need to deal with it and either justify a position or try to mend the Sangha. And so the Lotus Sutra approach is that all the various ways in which a person would practice the all are important yet none more important than any others. That Buddhahood contains all manner of practice and understanding. Yet if we approach it with a mindset of exclusive and single focus turning from one way of understanding or practice and being selective then there will be a part of the Dharma we will not be able to have/understand/experience. I hope this makes some sense I'm typing from my phone.

So the art project is for me and for others also engaging on this to express from our heart in any artistic way what a feeling was when you read this and that those feelings may change and how might we then be able to enter into the sutra more deeply or certainly differently. As part of the project I am offer a few probing questions in a second someone is stuck or can't pick something. So far I have received many drawings, two music compositions, a few poems and then my own pieces which will be published on a book and when I am done I'll have all of my illustrations printed onto fabric and then made into a quilt (or it may become my cremation robe, lol).

I welcome others perspective. I have e found generally there is little interest or even respectful interest, and generally only distancing. I think some of that's comes from my own failure to help understanding happen. Though there has been a gradual shifting sine I first began.

It is a great project. Yes, I think that many of the writings in Buddhist history have been attempts to "mend the sangha" or correct for misunderstanding, either things that are popular but woolly on the one hand or overly hard and narrow on the other. Yes, how does this or that passage make you feel - a very good way in - and then express that feeling as art - excellent.

While I have never been drawn to writing poetry, I found a 3-day art-making retreat with Jnanamati 2 weeks ago to be extremely rewarding. It is surprising what comes up when the distractions of daily life are removed.

Namo Amida Bu

I mostly write creative non-fiction and to do that well it's necessary for me to engage in Buddhist practice. To truly receive what is being given to me, I must take refuge, let the ego shrink and be open to what is coming my way. Namo Amida Bu


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