Robert Beer’s article on the history of thangka painting appears here. He states: “So many people have told me how they were initially drawn to the Buddhist teachings through the iconic beauty and mystery of its art. It has been my privilege and destiny to devote my life to the study of this subject. What began as a ‘cloud of unknowing’ has now transformed into a magnificent ‘cathedral of light,’ where the outer, inner, and secret meanings of its complex imagery continually reveal themselves as pure intuition into the deepest levels of the human heart. In constant humility, I gaze in awe at the beauty and sophistication of the ‘enlightened mind’ that conceived this immaculate vision.
Stephen Schettini“describes his motivation for writing “A Sense of Belonging“: “I wrote this piece in part to understand why I left the Buddhist scene so abruptly. I was initially drawn to the teachings of Buddha because they struck me-and still do-as antithetical to any belief system. I studied hard to become a teacher, but when the time came to get up in front of others I found myself ambivalent. I’d become uncomfortable about being a part of a tradition, and particularly distrusted the intellectualization of Buddhist practice. I’m back now, teaching and writing, but it took me twenty years of isolation to find my voice-and my audience. During that long period of digesting and growing up, I gained firsthand experience of what it’s like to struggle for meaning without a belief system to lean on. Am I still a Buddhist’ What do I believe?”
Clearing Clutter‘ began as an excuse to get some professional help straightening up my disheveled office,” says West Coast editor Anne Cushman. “It turned into a year-long journey of reexamining my entire life, item by item.” The coauthor of From Here to Nirzana and a contributing editor to Yoga Journal, Cushman writes regularly about the intersection of spiritual practice and everyday life. She teaches yoga at Spirit Rock Meditation Center and lives in Mill Valley, California, with her four-year-old son, Skye, and her cat, Tahini. She still hasn’t started on the boxes in her garage.
Norman Fischer, whose essay on balancing spiritual practice with artistic practice is here, writes, “I have been making art (in the shape of poetry) and doing practice for a very long time. The two have always gone together for me: Poetry has saved me from becoming too narrow-minded in my Zen practice, and Zen practice has kept me from becoming excessively self-absorbed, as poets too often are. I’ve spent my life thinking about this issue of art and spiritual practice, and have written about it more than once. Because my son, Noah, is an artist, I have gotten to know a lot of young artists and poets, and a lot of them have serious spiritual interests. They see art as a way of practice, and a way to humanize the world. So I look forward to the future-or at least as much of it as I might be lucky enough to see.”
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