Friday, August 18, 2017

I'm With Stupa


A stupa is a Buddhist artifact that combines aesthetics, sculpture, symbolism and celestial content. A stupa’s architectural symbolism is to spaciality as what myth is to verbality. Myth comes from the word “mu” which means “to speak silently.” Mute or mu, or the Greek word muein means to close the eyes or mueo to initiate silently. The stupa contains an ecosystem of information that is transmitted through history, construction, design, location and spiritual significance rather than words. Stupas can be found throughout Asian countries including Thailand, Japan and India. Stupas have pre-Buddhist origins as they were sometimes a mound covering the remains of sages, nuns or “muni”, ancient ascetics who performed acts of austerity.

A stupa is an object made to stand up vertically from the ground with architectural details not only marking a location but representing directions of the earth, seasons, the pole star and both the moon and the sun. A stupa is built in several sections with it’s square base placed into the ground with each side marking a direction of north, south, east, and west. The design of a stupa has constant characteristics of centrality, axiality astronomical  movements and orientation. The prime essence of a stupa is verticality. Verticality has symbols aligning the stupa in other visual motifs and imagery such as the tree of life, the mast of a ship, a mountain, a pillar, Cosmic Person, a crucifix, a wheel spoke, vajra, ladder/lattice and the smoke that rises from a fire. Janinism, Buddhism and Hinduism all share design symbols of the stupa. Buddhist art-historian Adrian Snodgrass describes the ritual surrounding the construction of a stupa as “the ritual orients and delimits space and in so doing renders it meaningful. It creates special order from disorder, cosmos out of chaos. It sacrileges space, establishing a sacred area, in the midst of profane environs. The periphery of the square separates a frame area, a space with form, from an amorphous surrounding; it marks out a defined, and therefore knowable, space, from an indefinite and inconceivable extension; it specifies a relevant area, a field of ritual operation, from an irrelevant space.” Snodgrass continues, “ The ritual of site demarcation and orientation is to be understood in this context of significance. By means of the ritual the builder identifies the center of his structure with the axis of the universe, by measuring out from the centre he repeats by analogy the process of cosmogony. The space he delineates is a reflected likeness of the total cosmos, its area made meaningful by way of its connection with the supra-physical realms located along the axis that centers it.”

Not only does the stupa represent a marker for location and time but it is also a figurative representation of the Buddha. The square base of the stupa represents the crossed legs of the meditating Buddha and the circular top of the stupa represents the head of the Buddha. What does this design begin to tell us about who or what is Buddha? And what is the purpose of designing a sacred object that marks seasons, the moon and the sun and represents the Buddha? A stupa is a Buddhist building and it’s simple symbology can give us insight into more complicated forms like towns, tombs, palaces and temples. I love to do volunteer work in sacred spaces in part because of studying the the construction of stupas. The logic behind a stupa offers  insight into directionality,  and practical operations in a  church or temple. One of the possibilities of doing service in a sacred building is the design helps expedite (upaya) comprehension and experience.

A boat also has a design that derives and relates to nature, location, verticality, time and astronomical movements aligning some of it’s symbology in literature with a stupa. I grew up on boats and as a kid I used to catch salmon and crabs to bring home to feed our family. No matter how much fun it is to to be out on the ocean or a lake to sail, or swim or fish, my family always instilled a serious attitude towards the practical side of boating and the design and outfitting of a boat. The ocean is beautiful but it is also dangerous. The next selection for movie night is a Robert Redford film called All Is Lost. Remember the root of the word of myth being “mu” mentioned earlier? Mu means to speak silently. This Redford movie filmed in 2013 is basically a contemporary silent film. Redford is outstanding and every bit as profound and monumental as Charlie Chaplin and Buster Keaton. Redford brings a similar pathos to his clown living alone on the ocean on his expensive sailboat. Is he stupid or entitled or full of grace? The premise of the film is that for some unknown reason to the audience Redford is sailing alone in the Indian Ocean and we meet him the day his boat has been rammed and seriously damaged by a shipping container. In the same way that Keaton or Chaplin captivated their audiences with brilliant physical work and the pure charisma of their personas, Robert Redford does the same here. It’s difficult to believe only one actor in a  limited setting can produce so much angst, passion and fear in an audience but this film does so. Both a boat and a stupa are like proto-gps units. The idea of location and direction are powerful survival needs and their different designs depend and contain ways for the human to navigate and live with directionality. They are both a literal manifestation of the Dharma path and powerful symbolic objects of the Dharma path. The stupa is literally and metaphorically the embodiment of the Buddha. A boat is literally and metaphorically the embodiment of the human. I hope you will join us exploring how a boat can symbolize the human body, the womb of the Great Mother, a journey, a moving home and the human condition in an unlikely adventure story. 

Please join us for movie night on August 22 at 6:30. 
at The Buddhist Temple of Chicago
1151 West Leland Avenue
Chicago

Friday, June 02, 2017

Double Standard

 So Matt Groening and RR Martin can depict beheaded presidents with almost no reaction. (at least not from politicians)
 Did Kathy Griffin get all this heat because she is a woman?
Yes. This is the country-wide, liberal and right wing reaction of a religious and oppressive regime.

Two signs of fascism....

- Disdain for Intellectuals and the Arts -- Fascist nations tend to promote and tolerate open hostility to higher education, and academia. It is not uncommon for professors and other academics to be censored or even arrested. Free expression in the arts is openly attacked, and governments often refuse to fund the arts
-Controlled Mass Media -- Sometimes the media is directly controlled by the government, but in other cases, the media is indirectly controlled by government regulation, or through sympathetic media spokespeople and executives. Censorship, especially in wartime, is very common.
http://www.rense.com/general37/char.htm

Thursday, June 01, 2017

What Is Censorship?

 "Judith Slaying Holofernes" is a painting by the Italian early Baroque artist Artemisia Gentileschi completed between 1614–20. The work shows the scene of Judith beheading Holofernes, common in art since the early Renaissance, as part of the group of subjects called the Power of women, which show women triumphing over powerful men. The subject takes an episode from the apocryphal Book of Judith in the Old Testament, which recounts the assassination of the Assyrian general Holofernes by the Israelite heroine Judith. The painting shows the moment when Judith, helped by her maidservant, beheads the general after he has fallen asleep drunk. Wiki
Two aspects of Fascism
- Disdain for Intellectuals and the Arts -- Fascist nations tend to promote and tolerate open hostility to higher education, and academia. It is not uncommon for professors and other academics to be censored or even arrested. Free expression in the arts is openly attacked, and governments often refuse to fund the arts
-Controlled Mass Media -- Sometimes the media is directly controlled by the government, but in other cases, the media is indirectly controlled by government regulation, or through sympathetic media spokespeople and executives. Censorship, especially in wartime, is very common.
http://www.rense.com/general37/char.htm



Wednesday, May 31, 2017

The eye and missing eye motif is pretty cool. In film noir there is a recurring motif about the femme fatale's eyes. In the descriptions or dialogue special attention is paid to their eyes. This occurs in Maltese Falcoln, Bladerunner and Chinatown for example. The eyes are what we know. So in film noir the femme fatale actually knows what's going on, or has seen something behind what the detective can see and is trying to learn. In classical mythology warriors have lost or sacrificed an eye. In seeking wisdom the eye is symbolic for perception. Also....one is trading in one mode of seeing for another. The meaning is that a "lower self" has been traded for a "higher self"....so the warrior has more vision in another format. One mode of perception is traded for a another form of perception. In the collage below Laura Palmer is looking inside with one eye. As an audience we are trading in one mode of perception for another. We are trading our intellectual or rationale perceptions for the aesthetic or artistic and spiritual perceptions. Lynch is showing us our own sacrifices for wisdom, the time we spend following narratives.

Friday, April 28, 2017

An Acting Family

 I am participating in another group online discussion of HENY VIII. I started looking at one thing or another during Act 4. I was curious about performances in the U.S. because the political game playing in the play reminds me of contemporary politics. I found there was a 63 week performance on Broadway produced by English actor Herbert Beerbohm Tree in 1916. I looked around at his biography and his whole family is so fascinating. Above photo is him, below is his wife Helen Maud Holt, also an actor.

 Their three daughters were also actors and poets...and one a bohemian. Above Violet, below Felicity.

 And here is their daughter Iris, a poet, bohemian and artist's model, for no less than Modigliani.
Mr. Tree had seven illegitimate children.I almost fell over....when I read... His grandson was Oliver Reed. I adored Olive Reed he is really one of my favorite actors. When I looked at his Wikipedia page...I was shocked that he died so relatively young. In theory, he could be in his 70's right now...and still working. Oh that feels sad. I just loved him!