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The Buddha, Imagination and The Artistic Process - Page 2 - Dhamma Wheel

The Buddha, Imagination and The Artistic Process

Exploring Theravāda's connections to other paths. What can we learn from other traditions, religions and philosophies?
meindzai
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Re: The Buddha, Imagination and The Artistic Process

Postby meindzai » Mon Feb 01, 2010 6:12 pm


pt1
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Re: The Buddha, Imagination and The Artistic Process

Postby pt1 » Tue Feb 02, 2010 4:17 am

Still, wasn't there a sutta which warns that the sasana will decline when people start paying more attention to the works of artists than to the deep dhamma discourses?

So, I have to ask myself - even if I make a work of art with best possible intentions of not appealing to sensual craving but only expressing the truth and doing it effectively, will it ever be quite as good in expressing the truth as a dhamma discourse by the Buddha? Most probably not. So perhaps a better use of my time would be to learn dhamma discourses and somehow relay them to others (whether by transcription, translation or however) instead of making my own works of art. And further, I feel that if I'm using up other people's time with my own works of art (which are most certainly inferior to the Buddha's discourses) then I'm also inadvertently contributing to the decline of the sasana, as per the sutta.

One situation that might seem as an exception is when a creative process is used for meditation - e.g. playing a bamboo flute. However, I feel playing here simply aids one's insight and therefore has nothing to do with art really, nor is it intended to be for an audience. So, imo, it makes no difference here whether the outside activity as labeled as "playing a flute, riding a bike, or meditation while walking".

The only role for a work of art that I can honestly see is if people are skeptical to religion in whatever form. Such people will therefore never want to listen/read a dhamma discourse, so it is at this point where a work of art might be useful in conveying/expressing the truth in a non-dogmatic fashion. Outside of this though, I struggle to find any justification for spending my or other people's time on (even the highest) art.

(Unless of course the idea is to satisfy my/other people's sensual cravings, which can sometimes be the only way to temporarily escape the aversion to unpleasant feeling/dukkha - i.e. since we as puthujjanas don't really know how dispassion as the escape from dukkha really looks like in experience, the only remaining route for us is to seek temporary escape into the temporary clinging to temporary pleasant feeling supplied by a work of art for example, though of course that won't solve the problem of dukkha in the long run).

Best wishes

MayaRefugee
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Re: The Buddha, Imagination and The Artistic Process

Postby MayaRefugee » Wed Feb 03, 2010 3:18 am

chownah,

What I meant by proper utilization of the artistic process was a certain way of going from the enlightened/deathless/nibbanic state to making the decision to use ones volition to undertake the production of a work of "art" through to the completion of the production of this work of "art".

I ask myself:

What's the motivation?
What's the need?
Are the ends the artist seeks justified?
According to who or what are the ends the artist seeks justified?

I'm still deliberating on the intricacies involved in all of this but it's clear a series of decisions/choices/assumptions have to be made and if one's mind is incongruent with truth/has defilements/not fully awakened this would influence the decisions/choices/assumptions that an artist/individual makes throughout this summoning of action i.e. engagement in the "artistic process".

If I identified with hedonism for example my truths/beliefs would be different to the truths of those inherent to practitoners of the dhamma and therefore the decisions/choices/assumptions I made if I chose to partake/indulge in the artistic process wouldn't resonate with the decisions/choices/assumptions a practitioner of the dhamma would make if they chose to partake/indulge in the artistic process an as a result the karma accrued by the hedonistic artist and the dhamma practicing artist would be different.

What I'm trying to point out is if the cessation of suffering caused by ignorance wasn't one's imperative the rules/factors that arise to govern/guide the outcome of the artistic process i.e. a piece of art and it's intended results/repercussions totally changes.

In regard to what you said about the Greeks, the depictions of the human body by the artists of that time display what the artists and presumably what the Zeitgeist of that periods/that cultures/that civilizations imperative was.

The Greeks thought form was the bees-knees, Punks think rebellion is the bees-knees - imperatives come and go but the changeless/deathless doesn't.

pt1,

If ending suffering and ignorance was your imperative putting the dhamma in or translating the dhamma into "your own words" so to speak while maintaining the integrity of how the messages in the dhamma were intended to be comprehended would be the way to go I'm reckoning - sort of like the same messages but different modes of communication - What do you think?

In saying this the intended recipient of the message/teaching your communicating would have to be watching for the message and not be simply gratifying/treating their senses with/to appealing colours/vibrations/textures/etc. - the trickiness of getting them to look for a message among the colors/vibrations/textures/etc is probably why The Buddha said what you mentioned about the decline of sasana if people payed more attention to artists then the dhamma.

I've got some other stuff I'd like to bring up but I'll leave it for later.

Peace.

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Kim OHara
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Re: The Buddha, Imagination and The Artistic Process

Postby Kim OHara » Wed Feb 03, 2010 4:34 am


chownah
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Re: The Buddha, Imagination and The Artistic Process

Postby chownah » Wed Feb 03, 2010 2:08 pm


meindzai
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Re: The Buddha, Imagination and The Artistic Process

Postby meindzai » Wed Feb 03, 2010 4:14 pm


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tiltbillings
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Re: The Buddha, Imagination and The Artistic Process

Postby tiltbillings » Thu Feb 04, 2010 12:11 am

MayaRefugee,

In reading over this rather difficult thread, I think I understand your questions and concerns, but rather than trying puzzle this all out, it might be better to simply do the practice and do your art and let things play out. These things will find a balance without forcing the issue.

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zavk
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Re: The Buddha, Imagination and The Artistic Process

Postby zavk » Thu Feb 04, 2010 12:28 am

With metta,
zavk

MayaRefugee
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Re: The Buddha, Imagination and The Artistic Process

Postby MayaRefugee » Thu Feb 04, 2010 10:44 am

zavk,

I agree "art" is a very ambiguous term and have myself observed the things you point out - I'm more concerned with the process/art of how an "artist" goes from having a "vision", deciding that their "vision" is worthy of realisation and then going on to realise that "vision".

As an example, The Buddha had a vision to end suffering which he had learned/witnessed was caused by ignorance.

He used words and their associated meanings to put together speeches/discourses and performed them in the hope they would be interpreted/received/understood/agreed with by the ignorant and thus contribute to the realisation of his vision i.e. the cessation of their suffering.

The "art" in this IMO is knowing and choosing the right words then arranging them in the right way i.e. fabricating the word-arrangements that are going to contribute to the realization of his vision.

This fabrication of word-arrangements got the wheel of dhamma spinning and gave rise to the sasana so it was pretty good "artistry" IMO.

tiltbillings,

Thanks for your post - this is just stuff I like to ponder - it doesn't keep me awake at night or anything. I will continue to do my art and practice as you advise.

chownah,

I'd agree with what meindzai said about the difference between the artistic process and the creative process but i'll add that IMO a lot of it boils down to the mind controlling the body/volition that is doing the creating. It's like what meindzai said about practicing - cultivating the discipline to practice helps build the mind in it's ability to control the body/volition at a certain skill level - he picks up a guitar and it's more "artistic" then when the regular joe who doesn't practice picks up the guitar and tries to get "creative" - I find meindzai more "artistic" then the regular joe cause his mind/heart contains discipline.

That's it for now, Peace everyone.

meindzai
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Re: The Buddha, Imagination and The Artistic Process

Postby meindzai » Thu Feb 04, 2010 4:08 pm


MayaRefugee
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Re: The Buddha, Imagination and The Artistic Process

Postby MayaRefugee » Thu Feb 04, 2010 10:09 pm

I agree meindzai, when you look at the qualities involved in displaying "artistry" a lot overlap with the qualities of a good meditator i.e. discernment, concentration, inginuity, etc.

Would you agree the meditators "artwork" would be his/her mind and the decision to share/portray an aspect of their mind would then make them an "artist"?

Peace.

meindzai
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Re: The Buddha, Imagination and The Artistic Process

Postby meindzai » Thu Feb 04, 2010 10:56 pm


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Kim OHara
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Re: The Buddha, Imagination and The Artistic Process

Postby Kim OHara » Fri Feb 05, 2010 12:14 am


MayaRefugee
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Re: The Buddha, Imagination and The Artistic Process

Postby MayaRefugee » Fri Feb 05, 2010 5:12 am

Kim,

I apologise if I have offended you by not meeting the standards of "word-smithery" you expect in a discussion.

Untill recently I never spoke what I thought and I just parroted what I thought I was supposed to say, behind this parroting I was developing my own understanding/intuition of things, I'm now making an effort to bring this understanding to the forefront/learn to speak what I really think/have intuited and this forum has become an avenue for me to do this - please recognise this is a learning tool for me to see what's going on in my and other peoples minds in relation to certain objects/concepts of meditation.

You say I'm not using words the way they were intended, intended by who and what authority do they have?

Words are labels and transcending labels or the labeling part of the mind, I have read, is integral on the path to enlightenment.

You say you're a music teacher, if one of your students learnt to play the piano using their intuition and developed a degree of competency they were happy with and, using their own language, called A-Sharp "this key here" would you tell them they are making things less meaningful by not calling A-Sharp A-Sharp like you think they are supposed to do?

Have you read about the illiterate arahants or idiot-savants or other enigmas - there are other ways to arrive at competency then just through the absorbtion and adherence to convention.

Adherence to conventions, in this case the conventions of a "language", as meindzai alluded to, is a burden - the dhamma also says stuff about rites, rituals, traditions, ceromonies, etc and how they're not worth following - this all ties in with the question I raised about ones attitude when engaging in the artistic process, I find an attitude that emphasizes convention to be inhibiting - each to their own I guess.

meindzai,

I used to work in a bar when I was at Uni, not tooting my own horn but I got pretty good at the tasks involved and eventually it took very little conscious thought to carry them out.

Having my body occupied with activities that had become habit/took very little conscious thought allowed me to contemplate other things and work on attainting peace of mind.

Giving the body something simple to do or letting it indulge in a habit it likes I've found can help bring about peace of mind.

Not that I know much about it I've read Zen monks do walking meditation - walking is pretty simple and requires little thought.

Peace.

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Kim OHara
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Re: The Buddha, Imagination and The Artistic Process

Postby Kim OHara » Fri Feb 05, 2010 6:52 am


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appicchato
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Re: The Buddha, Imagination and The Artistic Process

Postby appicchato » Fri Feb 05, 2010 9:06 am


MayaRefugee
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Re: The Buddha, Imagination and The Artistic Process

Postby MayaRefugee » Sat Feb 06, 2010 2:40 am

Kim,

I agree with your sentiments.

I think it's already been pointed out but as you say the desire to communicate does require adherence to mutually agreed upon conventions.

The desire to communicate was prevalent from The Buddhas enlightened perspective so I guess freeing yourself from this desire is not neccessary to become enlightened.

How does one choose what to communicate though?

Hitler chose to communicate his vision/idea/dream, Buddha communicated his vision/idea/dream - isn't it vain to believe your vision/idea/dream is deserved of communication?

appicchato,

Nice saying - here's another.

"We are all born artists, the trick is staying one when we grow up"....Picasso

Peace.

pt1
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Re: The Buddha, Imagination and The Artistic Process

Postby pt1 » Sat Feb 06, 2010 6:03 am


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Kim OHara
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Re: The Buddha, Imagination and The Artistic Process

Postby Kim OHara » Sat Feb 06, 2010 12:17 pm

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pt1
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Re: The Buddha, Imagination and The Artistic Process

Postby pt1 » Sun Feb 07, 2010 5:00 am

Hi Kim, not sure what you're trying to say. I mean, if the mind turns to examining the picture behind the text, I'll most probably either like the picture or dislike it, and both of these would be unwholesome cittas, what would exclude the possibility of wisdom arising at these moments of liking/disliking (at least), so it would be impossible to wisely consider the dhamma verse in these moments (at least). On that basis, I'd say the verse would have a better chance of being wisely considered without the picture behind it. Though of course, yours is a pretty innocent case, e.g. if the verse was also sung in a melody, like Christian psalms for example, there'd be a lot more room for unwholesome cittas arising on account of dis/liking the singing, music, etc.

Best wishes


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