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Arts in Amida

For discussion and promotion of the arts within the Amida community

Members: 68
Latest Activity: Aug 14, 2015

Discussion Forum


Started by Mat Osmond Jun 24, 2011. 0 Replies


Started by Mat Osmond Apr 22, 2011. 0 Replies

Eco-poetry notes

Started by richard meyers Oct 28, 2010. 0 Replies

Brief thoughts on Religion, Spirituality and Art.

Started by Kaspalita. Last reply by Kaspalita Mar 31, 2010. 6 Replies

The Sublime in Art and Spirituality

Started by Dharmavidya. Last reply by Dharmavidya Mar 8, 2010. 34 Replies

Tsa Tsa workshop

Started by Susthama Nov 16, 2009. 0 Replies

When Art Deals with Pain and Suffering

Started by Armida. Last reply by Robert McCarthy Sep 19, 2009. 5 Replies

The Function of Arts in Amida

Started by Dharmavidya. Last reply by Steve Durham Jun 4, 2008. 7 Replies

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Comment by Armida on December 29, 2012 at 16:36

Thought I would add some of my essays--this one is MOTHER.


Comment by Jnañamati on August 24, 2011 at 19:30
Comment by Simon Morley on September 24, 2010 at 15:47
Hello Matt. Good point you make about the difference between a situation when one is wanting to be moved by beauty but is not, and one when one actually is being moved. I suppose the point is that there is no guarantee that being disposed to beauty - in art or anywhere - will actually mean one is affected by it. But the readiness is all......
As for the sublime. I'm not sure Pureland has a monopoly on 'negative encounter with limits'. This is basically the Kantian position - in which the sublime addresses those moments when we are made to recognise the limits of our reasoning powers. In this sense, the western idea of the sublime is how far an ego-based ontology can go towards conceiving of a threatening and debilitating encounter with the other - with what lies beyond the ego's domain. Buddhism, as it isn't ego-centered, starts from the fundamental reality of limitlessness that the sublime seeks to define and then works backwards towards the concept of a self. In other words, it begins with the sublime, so that what is experienced as limitless isn't seen as a threat.
Comment by Mat Osmond on September 1, 2010 at 17:47
Good to hear you again Simon, and certainly no need of an apology on my account - I have myself been much more passive about contributing here than I intended, and still intend.
My own impressions on questions such as those discussed in your essays move at a glacial speed (deduced from the intermittent creaks and groans). Come back too soon and no movement can be detected - so I have no sense 'moved on'. Certainly I remain interested in hearing more, re the Sublime and Pureland especially.
In particular I am left with the comment/ idea, possibly Dharmavidya's, that in the Pureland tradition the Sublime is expressed in terms of 'a negative encounter with limits'.
I like what you say here, especially the idea that the experience of beauty is - on the whole anyway - something we actively participate in, if only through a positive disposition towards being touched by the work.
I suppose the other side of the coin, in relation to beauty occasionally grabbing one unexpectedly, is that a positive disposition doesn't, of course, necessarily open us to beauty.
I remember my intense dissapointment years ago when, after being deeply affected by a single Cezanne painting seen in a Russian collection shown in London, I went (in high anticpation) to the Tate's Cezanne 'blockbuster'. I passed through it in growing dsmay, quite dead to the 500-odd works on display. How much my expectation was itself the problem is a question, I suppose.
On leaving, I (almost lierally) bumped into an Anish Kapoor monolith, having not heard of him, and walked slowly around it to stare into its deep blueblack hollowed ineterior - and was dumbstruck.
Perhaps the way beauty is discussed here applies more to art more than it does to nature - or than it does to beauty as a quality of being, rather than as culturally contructed 'artefacts'?
Comment by Simon Morley on September 1, 2010 at 11:20
First of all, my apologies to those of you who responded to my writings about the Sublime which were posted on the Ning several months ago. I didn't enter into dialogue with you as life took an unexpected turn or two. I've read all your very interesting comments - and your essay, Mat - and so as a kind of resumption of dialogue I'd like to comment on Zee Zee's story. I'd say that on the one hand the 'experiment' suggests that, in general, even the most beautiful and crafted art depends for its success on the good grace of the receiver. I mean, unless we are open to receive it, nothing happens. So it's all about disposition,and about entering into a contract in which we are well disposed to the experience. I say 'in general' because there are also those rare occasions when the art reaches out and grabs you without your 'consent'. In fact, this has happened to me several times with musicians playing in the Underground : it was as if the sounds invaded me and transformed my emotional state despite myself. Actually, I'd say this kind of ecstatic reaction is more likely to happen in circumstances when you haven't given 'consent', when you're not expecting it. That is, when it's NOT an art-world context. So, I'd day there are two different ways to be affected by art : one is more culturally-conditioned and about affirming that one belongs to a shared and sustaining culture, while the other is about being thrown out of such a community, and as a result sensing one is alone but also MORE ALIVE. I'd also hazard the observation that the Pure Land Buddhist way explores the former possibility, while the Zen tradition explores the latter.
Comment by Mat Osmond on August 24, 2010 at 21:47
I was thinking about this today, rather repenting of what I wrote. Thinking of all those tired and hurrying souls pouring through the metro rush hour, too pressured by the busyness of their day to stop and listen, and to give the beauty of the music a minute or two to act on them. Thinking that my first response to their situation has a sort of carping edge to it, that it is so easy to fall into when discussing issues like this. I am sure they had quite enough to think about that day without incurring any criticism from me sitting here in my rush-hour free existence.
Still love the story though Zee Zee - many thanks.
Namo Amida Bu
Comment by Robert McCarthy on August 24, 2010 at 0:40
i would so love to hear that Joshua Bell just did it, i mean with no newspaper and stuff. and ponder why? i imagine it was a weekday, rush hour on a cold subway. maybe he hoped to practice his art to an environment that would not be adoring. or a statement on consumerism, or maybe he forgot his wallet that morning.
melbourne has graffiti art that draws people here to find its beauty. some people. it confronts and annoys most people living here is an impression i get.
i really love this story and generally art out of its normal context. we become more the consumer in context, and just lovers outside of it.
Comment by Mat Osmond on August 23, 2010 at 21:01
What a fantastic story, thankyou. I'm going to print it out to show friends.
I think what I love about it is the assumption that beauty is something alive and tangible. The implication in the way it is told is that the beauty was 'there', but unnoticed.
I wonder if this shows that in the world of music beauty is still commonly understood to be intrinsic to art, in a way that visual Fine Art has in large part rejected.
Many of the great halls of contemporary visual culture are thronged with objects that in any other context would be simple 'objects'. To imagine they are being thus held up so that innate beauty can be revealed by the attention we habitually bring to those places would be nice, but I think it would miss the mark - beauty itself has largely become beside the point in this context.

My wife Rachel just said 'I bet if the experiment had been repeated in a small provinical town the result might have been quite different.

I knew a lady who, in her late fifities, fell down the stairs amid a crowd rushing for a London underground, who simply flowed on and over and onto the train, leaving her lying there. The same issue at work?
Comment by richard meyers on August 23, 2010 at 20:21
Hi Zee-Zee,

I just love this story. I think the question posed is an important one. We are surrounded by beauty. It is often in the most unexpected places. I have long been moved by the very fact of our ability to percieve it at all. I see it as an expression of our aliveness.

I wonder how often I have passed by in this way unseeing, how would I know? It's a similar situation to missing the really unusual bird species that occasionally visit the nature reserve. If I'm not there to percieve them I don't!

Interesting too, that children had their attention caught by the music, but their parents hurried them on. To me this says something about a childs open being prior to being cluttered with harassed wearyness and self concern.

Many thanks for this posting.
Comment by Aramati on August 23, 2010 at 19:22
Do we perceive beauty, in a common-place environment, at an inappropriate hour?

In Washington , DC , at a Metro Station, on a cold January morning in 2007, this man with a violin played six Bach pieces for about 45 minutes.  During that time, approximately 2,000 people went through the station, most of them on their way to work.  After about 3 minutes, a middle-aged man noticed that there was a musician playing.  He slowed his pace and stopped for a few seconds, and then he hurried on to meet his schedule.

About 4 minutes later:

The violinist received his first dollar.  A woman threw money in the hat and, without stopping, continued to walk.

At 6 minutes:

 A young man leaned against the wall to listen to him, then looked at his watch and started to walk again.

At 10 minutes:

A 3-year old boy stopped, but his mother tugged him along hurriedly.  The kid stopped to look at the violinist again, but the mother pushed hard and the child continued to walk, turning his head the whole time.  This action was repeated by several other children, but every parent - without exception - forced their children to move on quickly.

At 45 minutes:

The musician played continuously.  Only 6 people stopped and listened for a short while.  About 20 gave money but continued to walk at their normal pace.  The man collected a total of $32.

After 1 hour:

He finished playing and silence took over.  No one noticed and no one applauded.  There was no recognition at all.

 No one knew this, but the violinist was Joshua Bell, one of the greatest musicians in the world.  He played one of the most intricate pieces ever written, with a violin worth $3.5 million dollars.  Two days before, Joshua Bell sold-out a theatre in Boston where the seats averaged $100 each to sit and listen to him play the same music.

This is a true story.  Joshua Bell, playing incognito in the D.C. Metro Station, was organized by the Washington Post as part of a social experiment about perception, taste and people's priorities.

This experiment asked several questions:

     *In a common-place environment, at an inappropriate hour, do we perceive beauty?
     *If so, do we stop to appreciate it?
     *Do we recognize talent in an unexpected context?

As Buddhists we would probably like to think we are more aware of what is going on around us than the average person in the metro, but I suspect if you repeated the experiment in a Buddhist setting you would find we are probably much the same as the general public.

Which begs the question

How many other things are we missing as we rush through life, if we do not have a moment to stop and listen to one of the best musicians in the world, playing some of the finest music ever written, with one of the most beautiful instruments ever made?

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