Thursday, April 26, 2012

Bodhisatva Vows- #2

These series of sketches were taken from a journal of mine done in 1983  while i was in transition in between Green Bay, Wisconsin and Sandpoint , Alaska. Most of these were random doodling of whatever the mind had to puke out at the moment in time. Some reflects time and space while others were done from a head filled with liquor of dope. but all were done just to fill the empty spaces of my imagination or to simply justify my existence. I tried to never let a moment go by without a sketch to remind me of it.. if nothing else it cures boredom..
The second of the Bodhisatva vows states; DELUSIONS ARE INEXHAUSTABLE, I VOW TO  END THEM!

'The doctrine of Buddhism is a finger pointing at the moon. Do not mistake the finger for the moon.' Or so we might say in the West, the idea of God is a finger pointing at God, but what most people do is instead of following the finger, they suck it for comfort. And so buddha chopped off the finger, and undermined all metaphysical beliefs. There are many, many dialogues in the Pali scriptures where people try to corner the buddha into a metaphysical position. 'Is the world eternal?' The buddha says nothing. 'Is the world not eternal?' And he answers nuttin'. 'Is the world both eternal and not eternal?' And he don't say nuttin'. 'Is the world neither eternal nor not eternal?' And STILL he don't say nuttin'. He maintains what is called the noble silence. Sometimes called the thunder of silence, because this silence, this metaphysical silence, is not a void. It is very powerful. This silence is the open window through which you can see not concepts, not ideas, not beliefs, but the very goods. But if you say what it is that you see, you erect an image and an idol, and you misdirect people. It's better to destroy people's beliefs than to give them beliefs. I know it hurts, but it is The Way. ( Alan Watts ) 
According to most religious belief we are living in a dream a world of illusions and fantasies . A world that our deluded minds have a hand in creating and this has been going on for a long long time since ...Well sometimes we wake up from this ignorance through one form of help or another like getting a kick in the butt or winning a lottery or having someone very close to one dies on you. Then fo a moment in time you become wide awake to the reality that has confronted you and all your perception or the mind created ideas you have accumulated to be the truth falls apart at least temporarily and what you have is an awakening, rude or otherwise.
It is usually the job of the Bodhisatva to show you the way like a guardian angel making sure that you do not fall too deeply into the illusion created by this deluded mind of yours a mind that mistakes the finger for the moon. This is the mind  that is trapped with the idea of a 'self within' somewhere, a self that is experiencing this life that is reading and writing, that is making all kinds of judgments and clinging on to all kinds of thoughts and ideas. The Bodhisatva is the guy who shift your gear into the right speed so that you do not grind your engine to a halt. He is the guy who hand you a napkin when you are about to make a mess throwing up in public, he is the guy who slap your back so you dont choke to death. 
The Buddha has already pointed out to humanity that life is  suffering and that  suffering is because of desire  but most of us fail to see the connection or refuse to accept the truth of the matter and we would rather go about our business as though there is not a thing to worry about until there is... this is true especially if we are on a roll. We are well off and everything seems as it should be for us and we become attach to who we are simply because of this, until again shit happens as it often does in this fleeting life of ours. 
Delusions or ignorance are in-exhaustible  , like weeds ever sprouting  as soon as  the field is left alone and I vow to end them, I aim to root them out by their roots so that there is no chance of them ever sprouting again. To put the mind to rest is a lifelong effort and by Buddhist standard would take many a lifetimes of incarnation. But the Buddha suggested three basic methods of Dyana or meditation, contemplation and cannot remember the third one but its there. 
 But the great vehicle shows people that nirvana is not different from everyday life. So that when you have reached nirvana, if you think 'Now I have attained it, now I have succeeded, now I have caught the secret of the universe, and I am at peace,' you have only a false peace. You have become a stone buddha. You have a new illusion of the changeless. So it is said that such a person is a pratyeka-buddha. That means 'private buddha.' 'I've got it all for myself.' And in contrast with this kind of pratyeka- buddha, who gains nirvana and stays there, the Mahayanas use the word _bodhisattva_. 'Sattva' means 'essential principle'; 'bodhi,' awakening. A person whose essential being is awakened. The word used to mean 'junior buddha,' someone on the way to becoming a buddha. But in the course of time, it came to mean someone who had attained buddhahood, who had reached nirvana, but who returns into everyday life to deliver everyday beings. This is the popular idea of a bodhisattva--a savior. 

"So they revere those bodhisattvas as the saviors, come back into the world to deliver all beings. But there is a more esoteric interpretation of this. The bodhisattva returns into the world. That means he has discovered that you don't have to go anywhere to find nirvana. Nirvana is where you are, provided you don't object to it. In other words, change--and everything is change; nothing can be held on to--to the degree that you go with a stream, you see, you are are still, you are flowing with it. But to the degree you resist the stream, then you notice that the current is rushing past you and fighting you. So swim with it, go with it, and you're there. You're at rest. And this is of course particularly true when it comes to those moments when life really seems to be going to take us away, and the stream of change is going to swallow us completely. The moment of death, and we think, 'Oh-oh, this is it. This is the end.' And so at death we withdraw, say 'No, no, no, not that, not yet, please.' " Alan Watts
"So the bodhisattva saves all beings, not by preaching sermons to them, but by showing them that they are delivered, they are liberated, by the act of not being able to stop changing. You can't hang on to yourself. You don't have to try to not hang on to yourself. It can't be done, and that is salvation. That's why you may think it a grisly habit, but certain monks keep skulls on their desks, 'momentomori,' 'be mindful of death.' Gurgdjieff says in one of his books that the most important thing for anyone to realize is that you and every person you see will soon be dead. It sounds so gloomy to us, because we have devised a culture fundamentally resisting death. There is a wonderful saying that Anandakuri- Swami[?] used to quote: 'I pray that death will not come and find me still unannihilated.' In other words, that man dies happy if there is no one to die. In other words, if the ego's disappeared before death caught up to him."
Alan Watts  

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

All My Ancient Twisted Karmas...

All my ancient twisted karmas, from beginninngs time, Greed, Hate and ignorance, I now fully avow. This is the first of the Vows taken for the purification process of a practitioner towards becoming a Bodhisatva and later a Buddha. This was what i had learned while a resident at the Green Gulch Farm or also known as The green Dragon Zen center which is  located in Marin County California. Why am I bringing this out now? Well it just happen to pop up when i was looking for something to bicker about..
All my ancient twisted Karmas, all the sins of my past, my wrong doings, my  wasted  time spent in this form from the  moment of creation of who i am or the moment when i came into being. From beginningless time, since the begining of time itself, my original Buddha Nature, that before my parents conceived me to be. Greed, Hate and ignorance, the three Klesas or illnesses that every sentient being are in inflicted with. The three flaws that  are the causes of human suffering or Sansara. I now fully avow. I now acknowledge and repent or surrender or something like that...
I am the master of my own destiny and I write my own  story . It is a story about who i am and what it took to discover my own being throughout this sixty odd years of my life. It took my from the east to the West and a brief stop in between and it took me many a sleepless nights, many a broken relationship, and untold  number of sins and falling by the roadside to get to me here where i am. 
So i took the Bodhisatva vow  at Green Gulch Zen Center and i was and still am serious about having done this and it has had a profound affect on my life and what are the vows? I will try and share a little of what i stood it to be but it is best if you make the effort to read it from the original sources which are readily available on the internet. This is my version, that of the Cheeseburger Buddha so it can be full of holes and erroneous views.
The first of the vows goes: BEINGS ARE NUMBERLESS, I VOW TO AWAKEN WITH THEM.  I vow to awaken with them, what does it means? Lets head back some two thousand five hundred years ago in Indian where the one called The Buddha was awakened after sitting under the Bodhi tree by a river. He was said to have uttered, "I am Awakened and the Universe is Awakened with me." .Many great Buddhist intellects and scholars will have many great explanation of what this meant, but I have had my own and have held on to it as such. i understood it to mean that the Buddha upon waking up from his deep Samadhi after having sat for forty odd days in meditation realized that His awakening was directly related to the awakening of the Universe itself, liberated from darkness. This is the ultimate goal of the Bodhisatva, the one who swore to never become a Buddha until all suffering is being eliminated. The Historical Buddha, the Prince of the Shakya clan was a Bodhisatva incarnate of the Nirmanakaya Buddha who returned for the last time to fulfill the besiege and request of  the Dharma Kings for the sake of humanity in this Dharma ending age.    
So the Buddha came back as one who lived the life of a prince and later as a mendicant monk to seek the truth  abut this, birth and death and rebirth, the cyclic phenomena the all sentient beings are subjected to. In short why are we alive in the first place. Being alive why do we go through so much pain and suffering? Why is life sometimes seem unfair and full of loopholes for some and dark holes for others. These are questions that most mankind have given up hope of finding answers to while many who does lack the inkling to teach or share with others. Thus a vast section of humanity today live in darkness and most have become immune to its negative effect it gets worse as we drift towards the dropping of the curtain for this our little planet.
GREED, HATE AND IGNORANCE OR DELUSIONS!  The flip side of which is  WEALTH, POWER AND KNOWLEDGE as Alvin Toffler  wrote in his book "The Third Wave"?? Those who have these three attribute will rule the world like America for example So what is wrong with this picture? Why cant we exist in harmony and less destructive having wealth, power and knowledge?  BALANCE. The Buddha upon awakening also had a realization about taking the Middle  Way where life is concern, not to be extreme; like the strings on an instrument, too tight it is out of tune and may even break, too lose, well  off course not in tune: JUST RIGHT.
These to me were insights that Buddhism has imparted to  humanity in order that we can cope with what is looming ahead of us, the impending disaster we are all headed for due to our Ignorance, Greed and Hate. It is the Boddhisatva's altruistic vow that has brought me to write what I write for the sake of the few who read what I write disguised in the form of a blog, in the form of Art and Humor. It is only the beginning and as I venture deeper into the meanings my transformation will transform the those who are ready to transform.
We are all Buddhas! Our original Nature was Buddha Nature, Perfect, Strong and Powerful, we somehow fell from this grace just like we fell from Heaven through Ignorance. Instead of acknowledging our Buddha nature we have succumbed to out beastly nature.: We are back to our Dark Ages. It is the vow of every Bodhisatva in this Bharma ending age to rescue as many a soul as possible from being sucked into the cyclic rounds of Birth death and Rebirth and hence your teachers, you loved ones your elders and whoever that preaches Peace and Harmony or who endeavors to show you the Right Path in whatever form it may be. he or she is the Bodhisatve. He may not wear the saffron or the yellow or black robes but so long as he shows you the right way he practices the Bodhisatvic vow. His motive is to bring you back toward the path that leads you to your original Divine Nature. A Nature of Compassion, of Peace and Love, Being Human.. Being a Buddha Nature. 
So we were awakened at one time or another and somehow through our lack of understanding and attachment to this illusive world of Maya we are slowly drifting like in a dream towards a nightmare that will be a rude awakening call at the end of the day. The Buddha unraveled the mystery of life, he 'Untangled the Tangles" for our benefit but not many of us today are will to even acknowledge the fact that we are living in Ignorance or merely sleep walking through life.
All religions and all teachings of our forefathers  are for this same purpose and that is to lead us out of this darkness into light. To awaken us from our sleep into wakefulness to remain  awake once and for all!

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Alphe Utara Gallery Solo Exhibition.

My solo exhibition at the Alpha Utara Gallery on China Street in downtown Little India area looks like it is set to go. One or two minor glitches in the form of the man who is suppose to officiate the opening will not be present on account of being not well. What I had in mind for the show is also is not being fully carried out as the  gallery owner had his own perception of how the show would be. The show will concentrate solely on my mono prints which according to Mr. Sui Hoe, the gallery owner are my more powerful or expressive works.
It is never an easy task to figure out what the general audiences' taste is when it comes to artworks. Just when you thought that so called abstract art sells and start to produce your version of it you are wrong.
I have always been reluctant to hold exhibitions of my works in the past as i found it demeaning to my effort and original intention. What is creativity to me is not exactly what it is to the general public at least I have been finding it out more and more as i get older. Most of my fellow artist here at least are geared towards making a lucrative income over what they create and I envy them for their success. I cant seem to get my act together when it comes to making a living out of my works. I always find myself falling short of my mark for a complete success at least in the monetary sense. I am a very poor salesman when it comes to selling my works and I'd rather give them away as gifts than have to haggle with a buyer.
Most of my friends in the art circle frown upon my aptitude in this matter but i feel somewhat torn between my feelings and the reality of my needs. It is altruistic to create works simply to share with sentient beings or to use them as a tool for sharing the Dharma but the reality is I need to live too at least pay my dues where and when needed. Not having an income despite my hours of spending time over my artworks has been a source of embarrassment and sometimes it is dehumanizing when I have to borrow just to see mt through the day. I do not deserve this i keep telling myself but a part of me keeps telling me otherwise and rightfully so. I am not greedy enough or not hungry enough that I take it easy when it comes to profiting from my own creations.I hope this will change and my financial luck will to even if it is too late in time given my age.
However I am indeed please to be able to yet have another show and there is one person to be thankful for in this and that is my brother Lee Khai who practically sponsored this whole event. I owe this man more than I should but it is as it is, this is my lesson in humility; to be indebted to someone out of sheer trust and compassion.