Just Published: from Ratnagarbha, an in depth essay of comparative mythology in the spirit of Joseph Campbell, comparing the foundational cosmic mythos of Buddhism, Platonism and Gnosticism. A fascinating look at how ancient stories about the origin of the cosmos have influenced different civilisations.
Contemporary composers who are strongly influenced by Buddhism are not often featured in the music press, but there are several very talented figures working currently. Here are four to note:
Akashadeva – David Earl
We feature the fascinating mythic art work of Marek Hapon based on the ancient slavic beliefs of his pagan ancestors.
“My first contact with ancient Slavic beliefs occurred while spending summers at my grandmother’s farm in eastern Poland. It was there that I discovered the world of supernatural beings — some frightening and others wondrous. One such scary demon was the Licho…. ”
Just posted a talk given by Ratnagarbha on the art critic John Ruskin and his relevance to people who believe in the power of art to transform self and world.
Find the talk here: Ruskin’s Seven Lamps
The face I had before the world was made: Why art, Buddhism and beauty go hand in hand – a major new essay which sets out the values behind Urthona journal of Buddhism and the Arts, a journey in the company of James Hillman, Sangharakshita and W. B. Yeats by Urthona editor, Ratnagarbha.
The first book to be written from a Western perspective on the subject of Buddhism and the arts was Art and Meditation, by the well known German devotee of Tibetan Buddhism, Lama Govinda, and originally published in 1936. In this he says:
Art and meditation are creative states of the human mind. Both are nourished by the same source, but it may seem that they are moving in different directions: art towards the realm of sense-impressions, meditation towards the overcoming of forms and sense-impressions. But the difference pertains only to accidentals, not to the essentials.1
Read the rest of the essay on our Culture and Society pages:
Simon Millward looks at a new book of poems ‘in conversation’ with the late, great American poet William Stafford, and the music of Meg Hutchinson. Both of these artists show a strong feeling for silence and the value of listening…
In the last issue of Urthona there was an article entitled ‘Hearing the wilderness listen’, taken from an essay written by Manjusvara that looked closely at William Stafford’s poem ‘Travelling through the dark’. It is strange how things can interconnect unexpectedly. I read this article again at a time when I had become increasingly interested in the albums of an American folk singer songwriter Meg Hutchinson. On her website I discovered that she also loved poetry, quoting William Stafford, Mary Oliver, Yeats and Frost among her influences, as well as Greg Brown and Joni Mitchell on the music side. Continue reading “What the Silence Meant – Poems and Music that Celebrate Stillness and Listening”
The dictionary says that a disciple is ‘the follower of the doctrines of a teacher or school of thought’. But this doesn’t really convey the experiential flavour of that ancient institution. In days gone by, when you took up a trade or a course of study in guild, church or university, you were apprenticed to a master. You followed their teaching in craft, curriculum or philosophy closely. No doubt you were aware that as a human being they were far from perfect, but you knew that your future success in life depended on learning as much from the master as possible in a very broad sense. This aspect of education and human development is something we have largely lost in the modern world. In the Buddhist movement I am part of we are taking some steps to reinstate this ancient tradition, in ways that suit these times. I think we have a long way to go. Not everyone likes the idea. This may be because the second, religious, meaning of the word ‘a follower of Christ’ has been widely used by analogy in our times to apply to the often gullible devotees of eastern or new age gurus. This usage tends to imply a complete self surrender to the teacher on the part of the disciple. The result is that the more ‘secular’ meaning, of being a follower of someone’s teaching, which only implies a reasonable human respect for the teacher, has been drowned in the colourful, melodramatic history of religious and esoteric cults over the last hundred years or so. Think of the Golden Dawn, Madam Blavatsky, Rajneesh – all had their so called disciples – but how much did these followers really learn? Continue reading “Discipleship – an idea worth ressurecting?”
Blake is virtually unique in European art for the way in which image and poetry are married in his visionary prophetic books. Early in his professional life Blake hit upon a novel method for printing his own books from etched copper plates, where hand written text and images could be combined. Continue reading “William Blake and the technology of publishing”
Without water no Buddhas!
Zen Master Hakuin says: ‘All beings from the very beginning are Buddhas, it is like water and ice, without water no ice, without living beings no Buddhas’. This suggests that metaphorically living beings are water and the Buddha ice. In one way this is appropriate because liquid water is the general case, the form we normally find, and ice is a special case under particular conditions. A Buddha is a special case of a sentient being, a sentient being who is awake and knows who they really are. However, there is much to be gained from reversing the metaphor. Continue reading “Zen and Ice”