My blog has moved!

You should be automatically redirected. If not, visit
and update your bookmarks.


Saturday, March 29, 2008

The Art of Compassion

Akshobhya (Tib: Mitrugpa)

Andy Weber, The Art of Compassion, San Diego Art Department.

Friday night. I am going to the San Diego Art Department in North Park, to listen to a lecture by Andy Weber and see the exhibition “Art of Compassion”. Andy Weber is an artist who creates images of visualization for Buddhist meditation.

I enter the gallery and bright paintings and prints welcome me. It’s like I already know these images but at the same time they are new to me. They are extremely detailed and the colors very vibrant.

A few minutes later the lecture starts. Andy Weber, with a soft voice, first talks about the actual situation in Tibet. Just a few words - very emotional. Then he starts a projection of images.

In Tibet, the images displayed in the exhibition are called “objects of support”. The images here are not only for decoration or a temporary experience. They are used for meditation, for initiation. They contain Buddhist principles. You start looking at them and you build a relationship with them. They are used on a daily basis. Weber says artists like him, who paint those pictures, paint them to teach, to help people in meditation, they are a port of spirituality. Everything in the painting has a symbolic meaning. It is a tool for self development. Each picture reminds you what the essence of life is.

We are looking at a Chu Len Ma image: image based on the reflection of the image of Buddha in the water.

To draw the picture of Buddha can take a long time and students train for years before actually painting the picture. At the bottom of the image you can see offerings. They are the “entrance fee” to see Buddha. They have deep meanings. One is the visual consciousness. The most beautiful thing in the world one can think about. The second is pure thought. You cannot hide, you cannot play, this is you. Then you see a lute, you offer the most beautiful sound. Then a piece of cloth: the tactile consciousness, the most beautiful touch. You see a flower, the consciousness of smell. And food offering: the most beautiful taste you ever had.

Before starting to pray, you offer all that. It sets your mind. You start your day positively.

Everything, all the information from the world comes through the five senses. So when you walk in the street it becomes a vivid experience.

The world does not change. But we can change. This is how Buddhism works. Changing us. All the Buddhism teaching points to one thing: be aware, look at your body, look at your feelings, observe. What are thoughts? Observe the process: how the thoughts come, stay and go away. Do not judge.

Above the stairs, the snow lions: they represent fearlessness. Fearlessness holds the next platform which is a symbol for spirituality: the lotus. The lotus which blooms on the muddy pond is like the spirituality above the muddy existence. The lotus represents renunciation, feeling unattached. Inside the lotus is the sun. The sun comes in the morning and lights up the day. He is the symbol of wisdom. Wisdom is to see the reality as it is and not as we think it is. Then the moon: the loving kindness.

At last the image of Buddha which represents the meditation experience.

Weber describes several other images, the Mandala of compassion, the wheel of existence. The colors are always bright; they are made that way to stimulate something in the consciousness. They are “positive” colors.

In conclusion Weber says the world peace can only come from inner peace. If we can love, that is the most beautiful gift we can give, that is the Buddhist philosophy. He loves doing his work, he loves the people he meets and works with.

I really loved listening to him, to his calm and soft voice. I did not know all the significance of those images. It is a good thing to share such knowledge. Although in my artistic practice I am trying to find a personal way and to set myself free from tradition, I understand that someone chooses to dedicate his life to a traditional form of art, especially one which is about finding and spreading peace.

San Diego Art Department
Andrea Chamberlin, Director

3830 Ray Street

San Diego, CA 92104

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I have been recommending a book called "My Stroke of Insight - a Brain Scientist's Personal Journey" by Jill Bolte Taylor and also a TEDTalk Dr. Taylor gave on the TED dot com site. And you don't have to take my word for it - Dr. Taylor was named Time Magazine 100 Most Influential People, the New York Times wrote about her and her book is a NYTimes Bestseller), and Oprah did not 4 interviews with her.