Art

Enlightenment Pocketed

Lotus Koan.
Image by Marek Studzinski from Pixabay.

“The enjoyment of art is an act of recreation, or rather of creation in the reverse direction, towards the source of intuition, i.e., an act of absorption, in which we lose our small self in the creative experience of a greater universe.”

Anagarika B. Govinda

I happen to have a small sweet book titled Art & Meditation (actually a few years back I took it from my brother), written by Lama Anagarika B. Govinda – an artist, a Buddhist monk, traveller and writer.

Sharing his paintings, poems and thoughts with us, he talks about the ineffaceable, elusive yet real, sublimely beautiful link between art and meditation; how true art merges with true religion and vice-versa.

It is not digressive or sluggishly cumbersome, this thought, rather it is stimulating for the one who is not in a hurry.

The author wishes his essays and artwork to serve as koans i.e. ‘meditative problems’ for his readers that churn our thoughts and act as an impetus for continuing the search.

I have gone through this insightful book twice now. What struck me this time was its size, how come Lama Anagarika Govinda’s lectures on art and meditation along with his artwork were capsuled in such a tiny book?

Of course, there must be other collections of his essays and pictures, surely in not-so-tiny a book.

But here I would intentionally turn this coincidence into a grand undertaking and happily say something ambitious.

This beautiful book holds, yes-yes it does, the secret to enlightenment and simply because of its humble, calm and forgiving nature, affordable price, elucidations of the artwork and colour schemes given and the profound ideas shared.

With these balmy thoughts, I will read this book again in the near future for then it will reveal a new secret to me.

Leaving you with an edifying thought –

“Art in itself is a sort of a paradox, a Koan in the deepest sense of the word, and that is why the followers of Zen prefer it to all other mediums of expression. For only the paradox escapes the dilemma of logical limitation, of partiality and one-sidedness. It cannot be bound down to principles or conceptual definitions, because it exaggerates or abstracts intentionally in such a way that it is impossible to take it literally: its meaning is beyond the incongruity of the words.”

Anagarika B. Govinda

Enlightenment, Pocketed-

Calm mind beams

Together with the heart.

Haiku – Jagriti Rumi

Also read other posts on art and meditation –

Buddhahood

I wish to SEE Tibet

Thunderous Applause… And the Warli Drama Unfolds

कलाकार/ Artist

Transient Permanence


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Leafing Through the Book of Art

From the pre-historic art to the Ottonian, Viking, Anglo-Saxon and Celtic art, covering eras and some more eras to reach the Italian renaissance, the Baroque and the Neoclassicism, Romanticism and Impressionism, taking a leap, leisurely, one day at a time, to reach the “Graffiti” modern times, we have successfully lived so many lives.

I say successfully because the story is still in circulation.

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Brushstrokes, texture and colour freeze a moment so beautifully that we often forget to read. Every painting speaks of its era and teaches sincerely. Without feeling ashamed it presents both the charming and the grotesque.

Leafing through the book of art frequently, I believe, is necessary.

For at all times it will be there, telling you about the truth and the fact, the mystery and the mystical, the mundane and the historical, the forgotten and forgiving tradition, the sinner and the redeemer, mirroring every mind and thought.

Yes, the intensity with which it glares overwhelms the hassled mind. Studying art is difficult, it asks for patience and openness, but for this very reason, we should revisit the art world, for these are values which always come handy.

Phenomenal, simple, even funny, a painting adjusts to our understanding of it. How empowering!

As I continue collecting stories, I will look into the art story again. What about you?  

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Check out – Art: The Definitive Visual Guide

All photos clicked by Jagriti Rumi.


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To The Moon And Back

Reaching for the moon, love,
In Gemini G4C suit, love,
Will bring some for you, love,
Papery pieces of the surface,
If not a piece of moon, love.

Our love affair with the moon is an open secret; waning, waxing, crescent, full, each phase has been glorified and studied by the curious minds. The silvery moonlight never fails to express.

In poems like The Man in the Moon Came Down Too Soon by J. R. R. Tolkien, Half Moon in a High Wind by Carl Sandburg, The Freedom of the Moon by Robert Frost, The Moon Was But a Chin Of Gold by Emily Dickenson, The Mother Moon by Louisa May Alcott, Mrs Moon by Roger McGough, in paintings like Caspar David Friedrich’s Two Men Contemplating the Moon (1819), James McNeill Whistler’s Nocturne, Blue and Gold—Southampton Water (1872), Vincent Van Gogh’s The Starry Night (1889), the artists reveal and revel in the moony secret.

Caspar David Friedrich’s Two Men Contemplating the Moon (1819). [Source – Wikipedia]
James McNeill Whistler’s Nocturne, Blue and Gold—Southampton Water (1872). [Source – Google Arts & Culture
Vincent Van Gogh’s The Starry Night (1889). [Source – Wikipedia]

What is the moony secret? It is the personal conversation that one has with the moon. It is intense yet quick, fierce yet soothing, honest yet an illusion.

Sidereus Nuncius (Latin for Sidereal/ Starry Messenger or Sidereal Message; published in 1610) talks in-depth about the moony secret; it is an astronomical treatise written by Galileo Galilei, the father of modern science.

Title page of Sidereus Nuncius by Galileo Galilei (1610). [Source – Wikipedia Commons]

Becoming one of the first few who used a telescope to study the surface of the moon (along with some constellations and Jupiter’s four moons) Galileo discovered that the moon was not translucent and ‘a perfect sphere’ like Aristotle had believed it to be, that it had mountains and craters which were formed after it was hit by asteroids and comets, just like our planet Earth was.

Galileo’s sketches of the moon from Sidereus Nuncius (1610). [Source – Wikipedia Commons]

The moon is imperfect (its surface is irregular), said Galileo’s theory, and this magnificent, and at the same time, tumultuous discovery brought it (the moon) closer to us mortal beings, providing exhaustive research material for the future scientists, accelerating the world towards a change.

“And yet it (Earth) moves”, a rebellious phrase at that time, allegedly spoken by Galileo, led to his imprisonment.

The Copernican heliocentric view (1543) that the Sun is in the centre of the solar system, with Earth and the other planets orbiting around it in circular paths, was a theory which Galileo studied and defended.

Centuries later, Galileo’s moony secret reached the moon when astronaut David Scott, during the 1972 Apollo 15 mission, demonstrated through the ‘Falling Bodies’ experiment what Galileo had proved long back, that the “acceleration is the same for all bodies subject to gravity on the Moon, even for a hammer and a feather” (watch the video here).

A view of the Apollo 11 lunar module “Eagle” as it returned from the surface of the moon to dock with the command module “Columbia”; the Earth in the background (21st July 1969). [Source – NSSDCA NASA]

A space race between the USA and the Soviet Union led to many successful moon exploration missions, both manned and unmanned ones.

While the US Surveyor probes (1966-1968) transmitted 87,000 pictures of the surface of the moon and measured its chemical properties, the manned missions brought back pieces of the moon; Apollo 11 alone brought 47.5 pounds (21.5 Kg) of the lunar material.

‘Papery pieces of the moon, love’
A collage of photographs of the lunar surface sent by the US Surveyor Probe 7 (1966-1968). [Source – NSSDCA NASA]
Astronaut Pete Conrad inspects the Surveyor 3 spacecraft on the Moon (20th November 1969). [Source – NSSDCA NASA]

The twelve people who have walked on the surface of the moon also left behind items, some as meaningful gifts to the moon and some out of necessity as they needed free space to carry moon rocks home.

A golden olive branch, the Bible, a silicon disk inscribed with goodwill messages from world leaders of 74 countries, American flags, a family photo, three golf balls, scientific pieces of equipment and also, bags full of human waste are some of the “artificial objects” still lying, in worn-out or wiped-out condition, on the moon.

Lying there as a symbol of victory, of advancement, of trust and of human life itself – humans, the mortal beings of the lonely planet Earth.

The silicon disc left on moon by Apollo 11 astronauts (1969). [Source – Wikipedia]
Fallen Astronaut, a statuette, and a plaque were placed on the surface of the moon by astronaut Hadley Rille in remembrance of the astronauts and cosmonauts who died in the advancement of space exploration (1971). [Source – Wikipedia]
Astronaut Charlie Duke’s family portrait left on the surface of the moon (1972). [Source – Wikipedia Commons]

Or maybe these items are just a message for the Moon Rabbit who, according to some East Asian folklore, lives on the moon, pounding elixir of life for the moon goddess Chang’e.

After all, Apollo 11 astronauts were also aware of this story; command module pilot Michael Collins had said to the NASA mission control – “Okay. We’ll keep a close eye out for the bunny girl.”

An 18th-century embroidered Chinese emperor’s robe. A Chinese dragon; a medallion above it shows the White Hare of the Moon, at the foot of a cassia tree, making the elixir of immortality (18th century). [Source – Wikipedia Commons]

We are connecting pieces, we are steadily moving towards the darkness out there, hoping to see the light. We are all reaching out for the moon with our eyes glued to the telescope, our minds calculating the numbers, our hands painting a masterpiece, our words penning an epic, our voices singing a moony melody and our hearts feeling the moony secret.

We have even smelt it (and perhaps even tasted it), the moon, yes we have. The moon dust smelt like burnt gunpowder to most of the astronauts. Quote—

I wish I could send you some, it is amazing stuff, said Apollo 17 astronaut Gene Cernan.
It’s soft like snow, yet strangely abrasive.
Not half bad (sic), said John Young Apollo 16 astronaut.
It smells like spent (sic) gunpowder, said Cernan.

Our love affair with the moon has only grown stronger with time; it is a part of our story and vice-versa, right, dear moon?

Science with its meticulous explorations and art with its colourful gravity will keep bringing us closer to the moon; it will take us to the moon and back.

Till then let us admire the only memento left on the moon that may last for millions of years, which is, the tracks left by the astronauts. Because there is no air or water on the moon, nothing will wipe it off, neither the extreme cold conditions nor the savage sunlight.

Apollo 11 astronaut Edwin “Buzz” Aldrin photographed this footprint in the lunar soil as part of an experiment to study the nature of lunar dust and the effects of pressure on the surface (1969). [Source – NSSDCA NASA]

Till then let us continue revelling in the moony secret.


Read More Moon Lovers!


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Thunderous Applause… And the Warli Drama Unfolds

 

And the Warli drama unfolds… thunderous applause… come and watch the puppets dancing, dancing to the tunes of folktales… look at, but beware, the bewitching dance movements will make you happy and take you to the wonderland. And you will dream the original dream. Ohhs and aahs and wows and wahs!
 
Hey puppeteer, where are the strings and where are you hiding? “I am over here”, said the puppeteer and added, “the strings are invisible and so am I, my dear.”
 
But the puppets were ready, the performance had started. Shush! Shush! The tale of a King heard never before by some.
 
“Where is my horse, commander?”, asked the portly King. “Sir, you’re riding it”, gasped the tired commander. The horse neighed and snorted.
 
Meanwhile his subjects went through their daily chores of dancing little more…
 

 

Let us work and dance and dance and work!
 

 

Seeing us dance, look the sun is smiling.
 

 

Look, how the tree dances!

 

 

 And the cattle dances. 
 My horse dances! He is happy (unlike the king’s).

 

 

Peeeepeeee-pepe! Dhumdhum-dhum-dhum! Jhunjhun-jhun-jhun!
 

 

The swing’s swinging.

 

 

Now the joyous peacock’s here.

 

 
It is a wedding and everyone’s dancing!

 

Uu-uu-uuuuuu! Dancing to the beat of life!

 

And the King in his kingdom, tired of the moody horse returns to his palace to attend a meeting.
Uu-uu-uuuuuu! The end!
The end? What type of story is this? It is the tale of a King heard never before by some.
 
Thunderous applause!


 

Read more about the Warli art here.
 
Photo courtesy – Google
 
Happy Earth Day everyone!
 

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