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Archive for the ‘Buddhist Concepts’ Category

Confluence of ideas – Chinadaily.com.cn – Chinadaily USA

Posted: June 14, 2020 at 10:48 am


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The National Museum of China is showcasing its collection of Buddhist art in Beijing. Artwork representing Tibetan Buddhism is a major part of the collection. Other highlights of the show include an iron sculpture from the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644), a wooden sculpture of Guanyin head dating to the Song Dynasty (960-1279) and a colored wooden sculpture of Guanyin from the Song era.[Photo by Lin Qi/China Daily]

Sculptural representations in Buddhism convey people's supreme devotion. They are also testaments to the aesthetic evolution and maturity of workmanship over centuries, promoting their status to an important department at either museums or the art market today.

There are more than 30,000 items of Buddhist art in the National Museum of China's collection, ranging from sculptures to thangka paintings in different media such as gold, bronze, textile and paper, according to Tong Chunyan, a curator at the museum.

A selection of Buddhist sculptures had been on show at the museum since the museum opened in 2011. In December, Tong and her colleagues reorganized the artwork to give this permanent display a face-lift.

The new Ancient Chinese Buddhist Sculpture exhibition gathers 265 fine examples, navigating the evolution of Buddhist art in China.

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Confluence of ideas - Chinadaily.com.cn - Chinadaily USA

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June 14th, 2020 at 10:48 am

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5 Facts To Know About The Future Of Buddhism – World Atlas

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Here are some important facts to note about the future of the worlds Buddhist population.

Buddhists monks pray in Bangkok, Thailand. Image credit: PhaiApirom/Shutterstock.com

Unlike most other major religions of the world, Buddhism is projected to witness a decline in the number of followers in the coming decades. According to forecasts by Pew Research Center, the Buddhist population will initially rise from 488 million in 2010 to an estimated 511 million in 2030. However, it will thenceforth drop to around 486 million. In contrast, the global human population is projected to increase considerably during the same period. As a result, the share of Buddhists in the population is projected to decrease from 7% to 5% between 2010 and 2050. Here are some other important facts to note about the future of the worlds Buddhist population:

Buddhists are older than most of the major religious groups of the world except for Jews. The Buddhist population has a median age of 36 that is equal to that of the religiously unaffiliated population. Muslims, Hindus, and Christians have a median age of 24, 27, and 30 respectively. Thus, an older population of Buddhists means that there will be fewer people of child-bearing age to produce children to add to the population.

Buddhist women have a Total Fertility Rate (TFR) of only 1.6 children per woman which is way low than that of Muslims (2.9), Christians (2.6), and Hindus (2.3). It is also below the replacement level of 2.1 children per woman which is the number needed to maintain a stable population given other influencing factors remain the same. The TFR of Buddhists is also lower than that of the total population of the Asia-Pacific region (2.1) where most of the worlds Buddhists live.

Currently, around 99% of the worlds Buddhists reside in the Asia-Pacific region and this scenario is predicted to remain largely unchanged in 2050 as well. However, the absolute number of Buddhists as well as their percentage share in the regions total population are both projected to fall in the coming decades. Between 2010 and 2050, the share of Buddhists in the total population of Asia-Pacific is expected to decrease from 12% to 10%. Their numbers are projected to decline from an estimated 481 million to 476 million during the same period.

Interestingly, although the share of Buddhists in Asia-Pacifics population is forecasted to experience a drop, the share of the same in most other world regions will increase. The Buddhist population in the Middle East and North Africa is expected to grow by 137% that is higher than the regions overall population growth of 73%. In Europe and North America, the Buddhist population is also expected to grow at a faster rate than the regions total population growth rate.

There is little reliable data available to predict religious switching in the Buddhist population. North America is the only region where adequate data related to this aspect of the Buddhist population has been noted. If this data were to be taken into account, then the Buddhist population is expected to experience a net loss of numbers due to religious switching. However, as the Buddhist population in North America is very low, this trend does not provide a clear picture of religious switching in the global Buddhist population.

Oishimaya is an Indian native, currently residing in Kolkata. She has earned her Ph.D. degree and is presently engaged in full-time freelance writing and editing. She is an avid reader and travel enthusiast and is sensitively aware of her surroundings, both locally and globally. She loves mingling with people of eclectic cultures and also participates in activities concerning wildlife conservation.

This page was last updated on June 9, 2020.

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5 Facts To Know About The Future Of Buddhism - World Atlas

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June 14th, 2020 at 10:47 am

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Emily Temples The Lightness Spins a Mystery Around Troubled Teen Girls at Summer Camp – Observer

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Emily Temple began writing her debut novel, The Lightness, with a desire to capture a particular placeKarm Chling: Shambhala Meditation Center in Barnet, Vermont. Raised as a Buddhist, Temple used to visit the center with her family every summer. It was my favorite place in the world, she told Observer. It felt magical. Yet writing about such a setting naturally led her to consider both the upsides and problems of Buddhism itself, and as her story sprouted from that initial inspiration, she found the location lending a more sinister tone (sorry, Karm Chling, she joked). On page 1, the writer sets her readers up for intrigue, death, and different versions of the same dark events. A suicide, they said. Nothing to suggest otherwise. If not a suicide, perhaps an accident. The steep cliff, the shifting rocks, Temple writes. But who died, and why? Temple guides her readers on a wildly suspenseful tour to finally answer these questions.

Who better to bring such serious drama to a tranquil place than four teenage girls? Temple creates a spirited young crew whose mystical and carnal desires generate haunting conflicts. Yet her narrator, Olivia, tells the story retrospectively, from a grown-ups point of view. As she obsessively pieces together the events of one summer, the book considers how we mythologize our youths. I wanted to make space for the way we process and reorganize our memories, and learn things about them as we get older, said Temple.

SEE ALSO:Naoise Dolans Debut, Exciting Times Ponders What We Learn From Language and Young Love

As the novel opens, 16-year-old Olivia arrives at a Buddhist center, which is hosting a summer program for troubled girls. Her beloved father, a devout Buddhist, has recently disappeared after his own visit to the center. While Olivia doesnt literally find him here, she discovers (hi, Freud) someone that reminds her of him: a sexy gardener with a top knot. Temple perfectly captures Olivias youthful lust and shyness as the character sees him for the first time: He stood and wiped the sweat away from his face, leaving a few traces of dirt in his beard, Olivia says. His shirt was open a little. His throat shone like a birds. I turned my face up to the sky to avoid staring. Was it bluer this far up, or was I imagining it? Thanks to a lucky chore designation, Olivia spends her summer helping Luke in the centers gardenthat most allegorical site of knowledge and threat.

Back in the bunks, Olivia swiftly makes three new friends (though rivals or co-conspirators might really be more appropriate here). Two, the tomboyish Janet and the lovely, willowy Laurel, sneak out of their bedroom every night. Olivia joins their nocturnal escapades to find Serena, a mysterious girl who stays in a tent and seems exempt from all camp rules. Serena has become preoccupied with ASMR, and the girls regularly attempt to tap into The Feeling, which Olivia describes as the shiver you get when someone massages your scalp with too light a touch and youre both enjoying it and desperately reaching out with your very skin and hair for more. Orgasmic, indeed! Yet what Serena really wants is to learn how to levitate, and for Luke to teach them. What could possibly go wrong?

In creating her coven of four, Temple said she started from archetypes, considering how we expect girls to be in pop culture, the roles that are available to them and that we give to them. Growing up, she felt that her choices were limited to being a Janet or a Laurel; she could either be rebellious or pleasing. Serena and Olivia, on the other hand, she considers hybrid characters with more power or flexibility. Through rich and surprising turns too good to spoil here, Janet becomes the most complex character by the end of the book. Thankfully, Temple relies on good plotting and character development, rather than any kind of pedantry, to rupture age-old stereotypes.

Creating four main characters also allowed Temple room to play. She shared that as she was writing, she experimented with different configurations and numbers of girls. One is the outsider. Thats the stance of the storyteller, she said. Two is too few. Thats just a best friendship youre intruding on. Three allows more of a dynamic: a ringleader and two secondary people to vie for space and status. Janet and Laurel were initially fused into a single character, whom Temple ultimately split to create a more electric group.

Temple herself is obsessed with stories of teenage girls. She told me her favorite movie is Heathers, and references to Buffy the Vampire Slayer speckle her novel. The intensity of emotion is fun to write about, Temple said. These characters have ridiculous, outsize ideas. Like: Were going to levitate. Only teenagers would decide, this is what were doing with our summer.

While it was a challenge for Temple to modulate how much her young characters would recognize or understand about their situations, she said the larger issue was external: She feared the industry would see that she was writing about teenage girls and assume her work was simply fluffy or best suited to a YA audience. Not that theres anything wrong with YA or fluffy books if theyre meant to be, but its the assumption that everyone brings when you say its a book about teenage girls. They think its for children, Temple said.

In contrast to the younger characters naivety and impulsivity, Olivia as an adult is scholarly and reflective. Instead of simply focusing on her own memories and any objects that could hold keys to her past, she fixates on psychology, religion, and language itself. Temple said she play-acted Olivia, doing all the research that her own character details. In fragments that break up the primary narrative, Olivia analyzes the term come to harm, summarizes the stories of St. Teresa of vila and the Buddha, investigates claims of levitation, and examines the rate of suicides for dentists.

Altogether, these diverse interjections reveal the older Olivias desperate desire to reclaim the past and preserve youth itself. Through her efforts, readers may recognize lost pieces of themselves in these characters turbulent, circumscribed lives. While Temples winning foursome must ultimately abandon their attempts at magic, the older Olivia clearly hasnt given up on transcendence. Her obsessive investigations and storytelling adopt an urgent, incantatory quality. Through her own aesthetic powers, Temple transports her reader, who cant help but be totally enchanted.

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Emily Temples The Lightness Spins a Mystery Around Troubled Teen Girls at Summer Camp - Observer

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June 14th, 2020 at 10:47 am

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Indian philosophy helps us see clearly, act wisely in an interconnected world – The Conversation US

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To say the world today is interconnected is a clich.

Never before have so many people been linked by their activities and consequences. But knowing how to think and act as a citizen of this small world is no easy matter.

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues and Americans worry about their health, loved ones and jobs it can be difficult to grasp that the crisis began after the coronavirus spread from animal to human on the other side of the planet.

Indian thinkers have been reflecting on interconnectedness for more than two millennia. I study Indian philosophy, and I believe this diverse tradition offers rich and timely insights about how people might better understand global interconnectedness today and act more wisely.

The Guide to the Awakened Way of Life by Shantideva, an eighth-century Buddhist monk, explores the arduous path from ignorance and suffering to spiritual liberation. For Shantideva and his fellow Mahayana Buddhists the predominant branch of Buddhism in north and central Asia this involves cultivating a wise understanding of the interdependence of things and a compassionate concern for all sentient beings.

The Hindu scripture the Bhagavad Gita, written between 400 B.C. and 200 A.D., is a classic of world literature. Through the story of the great warrior Arjuna and his friend and spiritual advisor Krishna, the text explores how ones actions in the world can become a path to spiritual freedom.

These texts, which depict the struggle to find freedom in the world, still resonate today.

In both texts, wisdom requires changing ones perception of the world and ones place in it. One must come to see the world as an interwoven tapestry of cause and effect, and see oneself as part of that tapestry and capable of spiritual freedom within it.

Buddhist thinkers like Shantideva learned to analyze complex things and recognize the network of causes and conditions that give rise to them. As he puts it: Everything is dependent on something else. Even that thing upon which each is dependent is not independent. The deepest form of wisdom is seeing that all phenomena are empty of any fixed, independent existence. The central message of the Guide is that the awakened life unites the wisdom of interdependence with active compassion for all those who suffer.

In the Bhagavad Gita, the natural world is understood to be a dynamic, evolving tapestry. Our human bodies, minds and actions are inextricable from the larger patterns of cause and effect in nature. Yet the most interesting theme of interconnectedness in the text is not causal but social and moral.

The text opens at the start of a battle between clans for the fate of a kingdom. Describing the scene to his blind king, the seer Sanjaya refers to the battlefield as a field of dharma, the spiritual and moral order that upholds the world. That is, a site of impending conflict, death and chaos is also one of relationship, duty and moral choice.

This is a central message of the Bhagavad Gita. The human world is inextricable from nature. But as a human world it is upheld by our relationships and responsibilities to one another.

The wise person must see his or her own roles as parent, child, worker, citizen in light of this field of relationships. Amid war, or the uncertainty and suffering of a pandemic, the central question is: What can I do to uphold right relationships with others?

Despite their views on the interconnectedness of the world, classical Indian thinkers were not starry-eyed romantics. They recognized that pain and loss are inescapable. They saw that human selfishness and ignorance are deeply woven in the fabric of life.

Shantideva describes the human situation like this: Hoping to escape suffering, it is to suffering that they run. In the desire for happiness, out of delusion, they cut down their own happiness, like an enemy.

For Indian philosophers, one must see the world clearly in order to act wisely in it. What, then, is the wise response to an interconnected world that inevitably includes the good and bad even pandemics?

For Shantideva, the awakened life is one of altruistic concern for all sentient beings. Spiritual freedom is waking up from the delusion of being a separate self in conflict with the world. Instead, the wise person realizes that all those happy in the world are so because of their desire for the happiness of others.

Ones own happiness arises from compassion for others. In an interconnected world, Shantideva asks: In the same way that hands and other limbs are loved because they form part of the body, why are embodied creatures not likewise loved because they form part of the universe?

In the Bhagavad Gita, the key to inner freedom in an uncertain and conflicted world is to change ones focus when acting. Krishna advises Arjuna:

It is in action alone that you have a claim, never at any time to the fruits of such action. Never let the fruits of action be your motive; never let your attachment be to inaction.

Action in the world is unavoidable. So rather than obsessing about the fruits of action for oneself, such as praise or blame, one should focus on the moral quality of the action.

The Bhagavad Gita highlights three aspects of action one should focus on. Is the action right? Does it serve the welfare of the world? Is it motivated by love? Krishnas message to Arjuna is that, even in battle, wise action consists in giving up selfishness and doing ones duty out of a sense of love and commitment to the common good.

In both texts, the world is understood as an interconnected web of cause and effect, happiness and suffering, life and death. In such a world, acting from ignorance or selfishness leads to suffering for oneself and others. Acting from wisdom and a love for the common good can lead to sense of inner freedom, even in difficult circumstances.

In our interconnected world, everyday actions can have far-reaching consequences. Moreover, as the Bhagavad Gita and the Guide remind us, we are deeply interwoven with one another and the natural world.

Wise freedom is to be found in the midst of this interconnectedness, by the grocery worker keeping people fed, the organizer serving his community, or the doctor treating her patients. Classical texts cannot teach us virology or epidemiology, but they can help us to see our deep interdependence and how to act more wisely and compassionately in light of it.

[Youre smart and curious about the world. So are The Conversations authors and editors. You can get our highlights each weekend.]

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Indian philosophy helps us see clearly, act wisely in an interconnected world - The Conversation US

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June 14th, 2020 at 10:47 am

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COVID-19 and the link between religious practices and personal health – Deseret News

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SALT LAKE CITY In April, a Virginia pastor died from the coronavirus after telling his congregation to ignore physical distancing rules. Even after the story made national news, some religious leaders continued to defy public health orders and hold services, including a Louisiana pastor who told his church members, God gave you an immune system to kill that virus.

The next month, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warned the virus can spread easily at large religious gatherings, citing a case where two people with COVID-19 infected 35 others in March at church events in Arkansas.

Stories like these show the potential danger of holding large meetings while the coronavirus continues to claim U.S. lives and could cast religious leaders who insist on public worship in a negative light. But Harold G. Koenig, professor of psychiatry and director of the Center for Spirituality, Theology and Health at Duke University Medical Center, has some positive news for people of faith. He argues that religiousness may actually reduce a persons risk of contracting and dying from COVID-19.

According to Koenig, people who participate in organized religion or have their own spiritual practices are less likely to engage in unhealthy behaviors like smoking and drinking and more likely to have good habits like eating well and exercising. Not only can religious and spiritual involvement impact peoples physical health via their lifestyle choices, but it can also have a significant effect on their emotional well-being, said Koenig. All these factors combined can give a persons immune system a leg-up in fighting off viruses of any kind, he said.

Theres no question religion has an impact on both susceptibility to viral infections and recovery from it once youre infected, said Koenig, who was raised Catholic and now practices in a Protestant church. This just makes sense when you think about it.

However, Nicole Fisher, president of Health & Human Rights Strategies, a health care and human rights-focused advising firm in Washington, D.C., warns that religion and spirituality are not protective measures against COVID-19 on their own.

Viruses dont have any respect for religion, race, gender, politics or anything else. They look for a suitable host, and that can be anyone not taking proper precautions, said Fisher, who is spiritual but does not associate with a particular religion.

Still, there are clear links between beliefs, emotions and the body, Fisher said.

Prayer alone cannot cure you, Fisher said. But, with medical attention appropriate for how bad your illness is, prayer, meditation and faith can certainly bring a person peace of mind which can undoubtedly improve mental and emotional health, which is oftentimes linked to physical health.

More than a hundred studies have found that religious people are less likely to smoke, a habit which has a large impact on coronavirus outcomes.

According to Stanton Glantz, a professor of medicine and director of the University of California, San Franciscos Center for Tobacco Control Research and Education, research shows smoking nearly doubles a persons risk of COVID-19 disease progression, which could involve the need for critical care or death.

Glantz explained that the respiratory system has a very strong natural immune function, starting with microscopic hairs called cilia in the nose that trap viruses, bacteria and toxins. Deeper inside the lungs, cells called macrophages gobble up those things that can harm the body.

Smoking disables a lot of that immune function and makes you more susceptible to getting infected. Then if you get infected, the infections are worse, said Glantz, who added that vaping has a lot of the same effects as smoking.

According to Koenig, most research involving religion and health looks at Christianity, which promotes healthy behaviors by teaching that the body is a temple. But there are a number of studies that also examine Islam, Judaism, Buddhism and Hinduism, which all espouse similar beliefs about the sanctity of the body. Vegetarianism and yoga practices associated with Hinduism and mindfulness and breathing practices associated with Buddhism can also have direct health benefits, Koenig said.

A 2017 study by researchers from the Emory Rollins School of Public Health categorized subjects as Protestant, Catholic, Jewish, other religion or no religion. The study demonstrated a link between regular attendance at religious services with improved health and lowered mortality. They found that people who attended services frequently had a 40% lower hazard of mortality compared with those who never attended. Even those who attended services less frequently had a greater protection against mortality than those who didnt attend at all, but there were no differences by religious affiliation.

Stress increases susceptibility to viral infections, said Koenig, but individual spiritual practices and the support networks that come with organized religion can promote emotional well-being.

A big part of going to church is the social support in the community that one receives, said Carolyn Aldwin, director of the Center for Healthy Aging Research at Oregon State University. Social integration has a big effect on health outcomes.

Aldwin was raised Catholic and now attends an Episcopal church. To protect against the coronavirus, religious communities can support people who are older or immunocompromised by calling and checking in on them, or providing services like grocery shopping so they can avoid going out, Aldwin said.

The benefits of emotional self-regulation are also significant, said Aldwin, who has studied the effects of religion and spirituality on people with congestive heart failure.

When you have something like congestive heart failure, which is very hard to regulate and difficult to live with, being calmer and happier, and maybe feeling supported may allow you to experience less distress and even live longer, Aldwin said.

According to Koenig, positive emotions have the opposite effect on the immune system that negative emotions and stress have.

If you have meaning and purpose, if you have joy and satisfaction with life, if you experience a sense of peace, all of that has a positive impact on the immune system in the exact opposite way seen with chronic stress, anxiety and depression, Koenig said.

Cardiologist Dhanunjaya Lakkireddy, medical director of the Kansas City Heart Rhythm Institute, has set out to test the health impacts of one particular spiritual practice: prayer.

Lakkireddys COVID prayer study is set up as a double-blind randomized control trial, where coronavirus patients who voluntarily enroll on the website will be assigned into either a control group, or a group that will be prayed for by various volunteer religious groups representing the Christian, Muslim, Hindu, Jewish and Buddhist traditions. Lakkireddy and his colleagues plan to measure whether this remote intercessory prayer affects coronavirus outcomes like mortality, number of days in the ICU and days on a ventilator.

Lakkireddy was born into Hinduism and went to a Catholic school, but doesnt consider himself to belong to one religion in particular. He said the study required hardly any funding from the institute because he and others have all volunteered their time.

I was always intrigued by this idea of a supernatural divine power that can impact what we do as human beings on this earth, said Lakkireddy. As scientific and critical as I want to be in my thinking, the question about this divine force interested me.

But Aldwin is skeptical that any one aspect of spirituality, like prayer will prove to have a large impact on health with the coronavirus.

People who are sincerely religious have multiple things going for them, its the community which provides support, almost like a social safety net. Theres the better health behaviors, the calmness and acceptance in the face of adversity, said Aldwin. Its the whole package.

While some religious practices and belief systems may be correlated with healthy behaviors, the benefits could be instantly negated if people of faith are gathering to worship in large groups without the proper precautions, like social distancing and wearing masks. Multiple coronavirus outbreaks have been traced to religious groups, like Orthodox Jewish communities in New York or the Shincheonji religion in South Korea.

Religiousness, spirituality or faith, as in all facets of life and current health challenges, can be part of the problem or part of the solution, said Jeff Levin, University Professor of epidemiology and population health and director of the program on religion and population health at Baylor University. Where there are messages coming from the pulpit, or coming from religious leaders, telling people to ignore public health messages, I just think its incredibly foolish.

With coronavirus fatalities decreasing by the week across the country, U.S. churches are beginning to open back up. But most are trying to discourage the hugging and hand-shaking that typically accompanies fellowshipping. Some are implementing rules regarding how close people can sit in the pews, or eliminating the tradition of singing hymns because exhaling air with increased force can spread the virus farther.

Levin, who is Jewish, said he thinks these precautions are reasonable and wise.

Churches and pastors and religious organizations shouldnt be a source of anxiety for people, or discouragement, they should be supporting people and letting people know we will get through this, just a little longer, said Levin. We dont want to undo the good that weve done. There is still so much we dont know about the virus, and we are still learning that things could go south at any moment. Its not time for a victory lap at all.

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COVID-19 and the link between religious practices and personal health - Deseret News

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June 14th, 2020 at 10:47 am

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Japanese art and rinpa: Buddhism, Maple trees, and a lovely stone lantern – Modern Tokyo Times

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Japanese art and rinpa: Buddhism, Maple trees, and a lovely stone lantern

Lee Jay Walker

Modern Tokyo Times

The delightful school of rinpa (rimpa) art covers a notable art form that hails from Japan. Rinpa spans many centuries and in modern times this art form continues to represent Japanese high culture. Therefore, international and internal exhibitions continue to inspire.

Nichiren Buddhism played an instrumental role in rinpa art. This applies to wealthy Nichiren Buddhist merchants from Kyoto, who financed the artistic endeavors of Honami Ketsu (1558-1637). Hence, Ketsu and Tawaraya Statsu became the founding fathers of rinpa art.

One can imagine how wealthy Buddhist merchants found inner peace in art, calligraphy, ceramics, lacquerware, literature, Japanese gardens, the tea ceremony, and other areas related to Japanese high culture. Indeed, the architecture of Kyoto and famous Buddhist temples meant a form of heaven on earth fused with continuity.

In the book by Momo Miyazaki, titled Elegance in Japanese Art, it is stated, Sakai Hitsu (1761-1829) took the Rinpa style that was developed in Kyoto and expanded it in Edo (modern day Tokyo), while combining it with a fresh painting style to match Edo tastes. For this reason, Hitsu is considered the founder of Edo Rinpa.

The spiritual footprints of Buddhism can be felt when viewing based on serenity. Equally, the imagination can feel the richness of Japanese high culture and continuity where the ego is negated. Therefore, this delightful art form still astonishes today just like yesterday!

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Japanese art and rinpa: Buddhism, Maple trees, and a lovely stone lantern - Modern Tokyo Times

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June 14th, 2020 at 10:47 am

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Montaigne to perform at the Art Gallery of New South Wales for Make Music Day – Aussievision

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Australias Eurovision 2021 representative Montaigne is set to collaborate with the Art Gallery of New South Wales as part of the Gallerys #TogetherInArt project jointly celebrating Make Music Day 2020 on June 21.

Montaigne will perform stripped down versions of her songs in front of an art piece called Cosmos - a life of fire by Lindy Lee where it will be broadcast on Facebook Live. The event is described by the Gallery an exploration of the unique power of art and music to bring people together as we look to the future in a post-pandemic world.

The bronze sculpture was created in 2014 and is describe by the Art Gallery with the following:

Lindy Lees flung bronze wall pieces stem from her deep exploration of Chan, or Zen, Buddhism. When Lee ladies pools of molten bronze onto foundry floor, she is employing forces and energies that recall beliefs about the origins of the universe that are central to Buddhism. Lees spiritual belief is that the organic bronze shapes are formed not by chance, but from the interconnection of all conditions that exist in the universe at that moment to embody its energy and totality. Lee and Gulumbu Yunupiu, whose works are adjacent, have spoken together about their cultures shared understanding of deep time and cosmos.

You can read more about the artwork here.

Make Music Day was launched in 1982 in France as the Fte de la Musique, the event is now held on the same day in more than 1000 cities in 120 countries and celebrates the joy of music-making and the ability of music to bring people together.

The performance is free to watch online and the link will be published via the Art Gallery of NSW Facebook page at 7:25pm five minutes before the broadcast. at 7:30pm (AEST) June 21.

You can find a link to the Facebook event here.

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Montaigne to perform at the Art Gallery of New South Wales for Make Music Day - Aussievision

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June 14th, 2020 at 10:47 am

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Don Farber, Visions of Buddhist Life by Andy Romanoff – The Eye of Photography

Posted: May 26, 2020 at 8:50 pm


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Don Farber is a photographer deeply influenced by his understanding of Buddhist practice. In March, Throckmorton Fine Art opened a show of his Buddhist pictures in New York and Don was heading there to be part of it when his plans were disrupted by Covid 19. The show stayed up but few got to see it and thats a shame because these are pictures worth seeing. The good news is you can view them here today and also learn something of how they came to be in this interview.

Hi Don, Lets start here. How did you start taking pictures?

When I was a kid, I had a few Brownie cameras and a Polaroid camera, too, but my main connection to photography then was spending hours poring over the great photography magazines including Life, Look, Vogue, and National Geographic and the books, The Family of Man and the 1950s Year annuals of picture history. My parents were both artists and graphic designers and we lived in Laurel Canyon. I used to ride the school bus which would stop at a corner where there was a wall with the words LET UNDERSTANDING GUIDE hand painted across it. Those words were seared in my mind. This was mainly a community of artists, musicians, and all sorts of creative, left-leaning people kind of a utopia.

The Vietnam War was raging and there was no way I was going to fight in that war. I had a friend who told me that he was going to Australia and that if you registered for the draft before your 18th birthday outside of the Western Hemisphere, you wouldnt be drafted. So, I planned to do this by going to Europe and registering for the draft in England.

In the summer of 1968 when I was 16, I took a class with photographer Seymour Rosen who brought us to see an exhibition of Dorothea Langes photography at LACMA. I was so inspired by her work that I decided right then to become a photographer. I flew to Europe and hitch-hiked around with my backpack, guitar, and cameras photographing the beauty I found myself in. I was a young hippie and I was introduced to Yoga philosophy and vegetarianism by some Western yogis I met in the south of France. I always wanted to see a bull fight, and while photographing one in Madrid, very high on weed, I witnessed a bull being killed by a matador seeing it through the magnification of a telephoto lens. This was a major catalyst for me to become a vegetarian (Ive been a vegetarian ever since).

In my senior year at Hollywood High School, I got into a work-study program to apprentice with Seymour and I worked with him every day after school to learn camera and darkroom technique. He inspired me to know the work of many great photographers and I began collecting photography books starting with the work of Henry Cartier-Bresson, Robert Frank, Eugene Smith, Dorothea Lange, and Edward Westin.

When I was 17 and had just graduated high school, I returned to Europe to avoid the draft and study at Manchester College of Art and Design. At the school, I was introduced to the photography of many European photographers less known in America and I received a solid technical understanding of photography, plus I got a lot of support to explore photography artistically.

After about ten months, I was too homesick to stay any longer, so I returned to LA. I would take my chance with the draft with the hope that I could keep a student deferment or get out of the draft through the lottery. It was the summer of 1970. My mother designed a calendar datebook for the anti-war group, Another Mother for Peace. I volunteered to do the photography for the datebook by photographing mothers and their children around Los Angeles. Then in the fall, I began studying as a photography major at the San Francisco Art Institute. Among the teachers I studied with was Richard Conrat who had been Dorothea Langes assistant, John Collier, Jr. who was Langes colleague as a photographer in the Farm Security Administration, and the historian of photography, Margery Mann. One day, I had a giant sigh of relief when I received news that I wouldnt be drafted to fight in Vietnam because I had gotten a high lottery number.

For my last year at the Art Institute, I did an independent studies project, spending 9 months photographing organic farming in North San Diego County, where I lived and worked on a communal farm. A woman I met on the farm kind of woke me up, basically saying theres more to life than being cool. Theres the spiritual life for you to discover. Someone else I met on the farm introduced me to the Vedanta Temple in Hollywood and I began attending talks and services there. While I had been listening to Alan Watts on the radio and read some of his books on Zen, going to the Vedanta temple in 1973 was my first direct experience with Eastern spiritual practices. I would listen to the talks given by the swamis and when they finished, they would chant, with their eyes closed, shanti, shanti, shanti, peace, peace, peace. As they did this, I could clearly see their auras radiating out around them, which blew me away. I moved back to LA and got a job as a staff photographer for public relations at Santa Monica Hospital. It was the beginning of my career as a freelance professional photographer.

During the 70s, I was also photographing demonstrations against the Vietnam War and the Anti-Nuclear movement of the late 70s. I became active with a group called the Alliance for Survival, designing their logo and photographing demonstrations and concerts we organized at the Hollywood Bowl. I also volunteered by doing graphic design and photography for political campaigns by Democratic candidates. While I believed and still do believe that these movements are critically important, I also found that more than a few of the people I worked with in these movements seemed to be afflicted by emotional problems and I began to think, if we are going to build lasting peace in society, we need to address the psychological and spiritual conditions of society. In the tradition of documentary photographers who were committed to making social change through photography, including those who photographed wars, famines, and all the ills humanity faces, I wanted to focus on spirituality as a path towards lasting peace.

As an extension of the Hippie movement, something of a spiritual renaissance blossomed in the 70s as people shifted from psychedelics to meditation. Seminars of the human potential movement were booming. I found great benefit from some of these seminars and attending talks given by teachers from the East including Krishnamurti, Swami Satchidananda, Swami Muktananda, and Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche. My first project to photograph spiritual life was documenting the rehearsals and performance of the Cosmic Mass, which was directed by the Sufi master Pir Vilayat Khan. People representing many faiths came together recognizing the underlying unity of the worlds religions.

In 1975, I met the Vietnamese Zen master Dr. Thich Thien-An, who had founded the International Buddhist Meditation Center in LA near downtown Los Angeles. He told me that when the Vietnamese refugees arrived in California after the Fall of Saigon, he met them at Camp Pendleton and brought many of them to stay at the meditation center. Soon after, he bought an old apartment building to serve as the first Vietnamese Buddhist temple in North America. Then in 1977, I had an assignment from a learning resource center to produce educational materials for the Vietnamese refugee children, so I met with Dr. Thien-An and asked him if I could photograph at the temple for this project and he welcomed me.

When I entered the courtyard of the temple, I saw an old Vietnamese barber giving haircuts, children in uniforms playing, and upstairs, elders, monks and nuns were chanting prayers and prostrating. It was about 1 years since the war ended and it was as if a small village from Vietnam had been transplanted or airlifted into LA intact. I was so moved, especially by the elderly women who welcomed me there that I decided that day to make a book about life at the temple. I became a disciple of Dr. Thien-An and I decided that Buddhism would be my path. I would go every Sunday for ten years to photograph, participate in the religious practices, and interview members of the temple. It was also a chance for me to heal from all the years of sadness I felt for the senseless death and destruction of the Vietnam War. This is where I developed my understanding of how to serve as a photographer in a Buddhist community. I learned to work as unobtrusively as possible and stay mindful of the sacredness of the moment while looking through the camera and carefully exposing the film.

How did you get into photographing Buddhist life internationally?

It started with photographing Buddhist life in Los Angeles. Dr. Thien-An invited Buddhist teachers from many Buddhist traditions to give teachings at the International Buddhist Meditation Center. I photographed many of the teachers who came there including the 16th Karmapa and His Holiness the Dalai Lama during his first visit to the US. Also, in those years going to the Vietnamese temple, I was photographing other Buddhist traditions including at Tibetan, Korean, Japanese, Chinese, and Thai temples. After Dr. Thien-An passed away in 1980, I spent a few years practicing and photographing at the Zen Center of Los Angeles, which was founded by the Japanese Zen master Maezumi Roshi.

In the mid-eighties, I became a student of Dr. Thien-Ans best friend, the Tibetan master Ven. Geshe Gyaltsen who had a Buddhist center in LA. I realized that the Tibetan Buddhist way of life was in great danger since China had destroyed many of the monasteries in Tibet during the Cultural Revolution and many of the Buddhist masters who had not fled Tibet were imprisoned. I decided it was critical to photograph the last of the great Tibetan Buddhist masters who had received their training in the old Tibet, so I began making portraits of these masters when they came to Los Angeles to give teachings.

In 1988, after my book, Taking Refuge in LA: Life in a Vietnamese Buddhist Temple was published and I had made two trips to Asia, I decided to move from photographing Buddhist life in microcosm in LA to photographing Buddhist life in macrocosm with the goal to photograph Buddhist life in all the traditionally Buddhist countries in Asia as well as Buddhism in the West. I took a leap of faith and gave up much of my freelance photography business and started traveling.

I had photographed the great Tibetan Buddhist master, Kalu Rinpoche, when he came to the US in 1988 and the following year, I went to India to photograph the last ten days of his 49-day funeral. Right after that, I rushed back to LA to photograph the Dalai Lama. Geshe Gyaltsen had invited the Dalai Lama to give the Kalachakra teachings in Santa Monica over a period of two weeks and he allowed me to serve as the official photographer.

After that, I began living in Japan part time. My teacher, Dr. Thien-An, had received a Ph.D in Buddhist studies in Japan, so through his friends who were fellow Buddhist priests in Tokyo, I was able to connect with people and organizations in Japan who believed in the work I was doing and they sponsored me. Tokyo became my base and from there, I would travel to photograph in many Buddhist countries.

In 1997, I received a Fulbright Scholarship to spend a year photographing and researching Tibetan Buddhist life in India and Nepal. With my wife Yeshi who is Tibetan and our daughter Palmo who was then two years old, we went to live in my wifes village, the Tibetan refugee settlement of Bir in Himachal Pradesh. I traveled to many parts of India, as well as Nepal, to carry out the work. Ive concentrated my photography mainly on Tibetan Buddhist life since then, including making portraits of more than 100 Tibetan Buddhist masters and my photography of the Dalai Lama spans nearly 40 years.

What made you want to focus on photographing Buddhist life?

I found great benefit from my experiences with Sufism, Taoism, Vedanta, and really from many of the worlds religions, including Judaism, which I was born into. I grew up in a secular Jewish family, but my parents were atheists, so I had little contact with my religion except from family Passover dinners at the home of my mothers cousin and her husband who were Holocaust survivors, which was deeply meaningful and precious. I came into life with a clean slate where I could freely find my own spiritual path. I mentioned the wall in Laurel Canyon with the words, Let Understanding Guide. As I journeyed through the various spiritual paths, somehow, I connected with Buddhism and its emphasis on direct experience. The Buddha taught not to blindly accept his teachings, but to check them out oneself through meditation and contemplation and applying the teachings in ones own life and seeing if its true or not. Then we have true understanding. Actually, I feel very connected with Sufism and its broad universal view embracing many faiths, but Ive specialized in Buddhism. Swami Muktananda said, choose one faith as though its like being on a magic carpet and I chose Buddhism. I gravitate toward Buddhist life because I find it endlessly inspiring to be a part of and I believe this way of life, which emphasizes loving-kindness, compassion, wisdom, and non-violence, can have a critical role to play in the survival of the planet.

Written by Andy Romanoff

Don Farber http://www.buddhistphotos.com

Throckmorton Fine Art https://dfarber.wixsite.com/throckmorton

Andy Romanoff words https://andyromanoff.zenfolio.com/

Andy Romanoff Pictures https://andyromanoff.zenfolio.com/

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Don Farber, Visions of Buddhist Life by Andy Romanoff - The Eye of Photography

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May 26th, 2020 at 8:50 pm

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Susy Powlesland obituary – The Guardian

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My friend Susy Powlesland, who has died aged 90, was a radical educationist. With her husband, John, she set up the alternative Kirkdale school in south London in the mid 1960s. The school adhered to principles of self-sufficiency, equality and creative learning, focusing on the particular interests of the individual child. It ran for over a decade and created a community that still exists today.

Susy was an only child born to Jewish parents, Emilie (nee Preis) and Felix Michlowitz, in Vienna, where her father ran a watchmaking and jewellery business. When she was nine the family managed to get on the last train out of Austria before the border was sealed at the approach of the second world war. They were billeted initially in London but were driven out by the blitz, and taken in by a woman in Reading, where Susy never felt fully at home.

She attended local schools, and after leaving Kendrick girls grammar school at 16 trained as a nursery nurse in Reading, then was accepted for teacher training at the residential Gypsy Hill Training College, in Kingston, Surrey. She taught at primary schools in Stratford, east London, and in Leicestershire. She met John Powlesland when they worked together at Forest School camps. They married in 1954 and later settled in London.

Susy was keenly attuned to racial and religious intolerance, and had a passion in particular for the underdog and outsider. In his 2007 book The Islamist, Ed Husain describes a terrifying incident when a group of National Front thugs threatened him and other Muslim school children in a local playground. Susy and the other teachers raced to the side of the children and roared at the shaven-headed bigots.

Susy lived in Tower Hamlets for more than 40 years. During her headship at Sir William Burrough school (1980-95) she had a huge impact on the children and families. She went out of her way to support newly arrived Bangladeshi children, especially those without immediate family. In the 1980s, she learnt some Sylheti and travelled to Bangladesh to learn more about the cultural background of her pupils.

In 1984 she was the driving force behind the establishment of the Limehouse Housing Project, whose chief aim was to improve the lives of black and minority ethnic communities through the provision of good quality housing. In 2003 she co-founded a new local charity called the Globe Community Project, which aims to provide activities for young and old residents from diverse communities. She was appointed MBE in 2007 for services to BAME people in east London.

After retirement, she became interested in meditation and Buddhism and was ordained into the Triratna Buddhist Order in 2003, taking the name Shraddhapuspa (Flower of Faith). She brought her dedication to children and families into her Buddhist life and remained active in her charity roles and her Buddhist teaching commitments until the final weeks of her life.

John died in 1977. Susy is survived by their children, Stephen, Helen, Frank and Ayen, and grandchildren, Zak, Jasmin, Zain and Zachran.

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Susy Powlesland obituary - The Guardian

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May 26th, 2020 at 8:50 pm

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Water, reciprocity, and the anthropocene in the Himalayas – Advanced Science News

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In the Himalayas, where the ontology of water is not always premised on the creations of boundaries between nature and culture, the condition of water, whether abundant or scarce, has key implications for cultural life.

What causes water scarcity when water is understood on a paradigm that does not separate nature and culture? When water is seen not only as a substance, but as an element that binds the realms of the social and the ecological in principles of reciprocity?

In the Himalayas, where the ontology of water is not always premised on the creation of boundaries between nature and culture, an approach typical of the scientific rationality, the condition of water, whether abundant or scarce, has key implications for cultural life. Water is often conceived by local populations of the Himalayas as being part of a network of reciprocity and produced through ethical actions. Its materiality, that is, waters properties and qualities, is seen as a manifestation of how people are acting in the world according to a locally-defined set of moral values. As per these values, humans have a moral responsibility to care for the animals, the land, and divine beings.

Today, water stress is increasingly putting pressure on farmers and herders of the Himalayas. Snowfall and glacial melt, two crucial sources of irrigation water, have decreased, forcing some farmers to leave parts of their land uncultivated. These changes are taking place amid intensified production activities by different states in the Himalayas, from the building of roads, the development of hydro projects, heavy militarization, state management of natural resources in minority areas, and the promotion of tourist activities. While these changes bring with them a lot of anticipation and speculation about how the region will be transformed, they are also seen by some as having implications for the production of water as they do not hold the promise of preserving values with which communities have long identified.

In a recent study, Karine Gagn of the University of Guelph reviewed empirical studies that illuminate the realm of beliefs and practices linked to water in the Buddhist Himalayas, a notion that refers both to a geography, and to the perspectives that are informed by beliefs that can be associated with Tibetan Buddhism. While this illustrates how water is seen as being made through ethical actions in the Himalayas, it also offers insights on the perceived implications that developments currently taking place in the region have on the state of water. This review contributes to narratives about the Anthropocene, the era in which human activity impacts the planet. The Anthropocene is often conceived in terms of the major ecological crisis it signals. But as scholars have argued, the Anthropocene is not just an epoch characterized by the acceleration of the loss of nature, but also the loss of culture.

These reflections have much resonance with how people experience changes related to climate change in the Himalayas, which are often interpreted along registers of loss. While farmers and herders of the Himalayas understand the changes brought about by climate change through the same observations as those conducted by science for instance, receding glaciers they see these phenomena as having a moral origin. For in the Buddhist Himalayas, the secular, the sacred, and the moral intermingle in peoples interpretation of the world. Accordingly, changes to water (such as reduced snowfall, melting glaciers, drying water sources) brought about by climate change have a specific local cultural resonance. Here, climate change is not something that transcends the local scene, but rather, is a phenomenon for which local people have a direct responsibility. It is seen as a consequence of the erosion of human values and dispositions toward nonhuman others, or changing morals defined by increasingly prevalent anthropocentric values.

Considering water as the materiality of ethics means asking how the qualities of water resonate for people in specific localities, at a specific moment in time. To do so, the review focuses on three perspectives of the production of water: how water is produced as people interact with a sacred geography, how snowy peaks are produced as objects of morality through affective attachment and encounters, and how water is produced as part of multi-species assemblages, a process that has implications for the current changes in the climate, the weather, and the environment. Together, these three perspectives shed light on some of the specificities of the Anthropocene in the Himalayas. This is important because as a planetary narrative, the Anthropocene can obscure the fact that it has specific local realities.

Written by: Karine Gagn, Assistant Professor, Department of Sociology & Anthropology, University of Guelph

Reference: Karine Gagn , The materiality of ethics: Perspectives on water and reciprocity in a Himalayan Anthropocene. WIREs Water (2020). DOI: 10.1002/wat2.1444

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Water, reciprocity, and the anthropocene in the Himalayas - Advanced Science News

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May 26th, 2020 at 8:50 pm

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