Art and Buddhism

Whether you're exploring Buddhism for the first time or you're already on the path, feel free to ask questions of any kind here.

Art and Buddhism

Postby swampflower » Tue Oct 04, 2011 2:26 am

Buddhist inspiration may be seen in many expressions of Art including painting, calligraphy, sculpture, song, dance, and architecture.
I have just begun reading a book describing the history and techniques of sumi-e which is the art of ink line and wash painting. There was mention in the book of the strong influence the spread of Buddhism had on the development of arts in China and Japan.
However there seems to be a wide perception in the West that to embrace Buddhism means to turn away from material things which may include the arts. There are precepts of Buddhist conduct wherein song, dance, and music are to be abstained.
May these disparate views be reconciled as one tries to follow the Path of the Buddha?
Oṃ Tāre Tuttāre Ture Svāhā
User avatar
swampflower
 
Posts: 98
Joined: Wed Aug 25, 2010 9:18 pm
Location: Bellefonte, PA

Re: Art and Buddhism

Postby ground » Tue Oct 04, 2011 3:10 am

Art relates to dharma as do sense pleasures because delight in art is a sense pleasure. There are crosser and more refined subtle sense pleasures. The pleasure of art is commonly experienced in the sphere of the 2 physical senses eye and ear (in case of oneself dancing and singing the body is included) and the 6th "sense" "mind consciousness".
IMO delight in art is heavily biased towards deva realms (in case of the physical senses being dominant the desire realm and in case the 6th sense being dominant the form realm).


Kind regards
User avatar
ground
 
Posts: 1782
Joined: Mon Nov 23, 2009 8:31 am

Re: Art and Buddhism

Postby Adamantine » Tue Oct 04, 2011 3:35 am

Contentment is the ultimate wealth;
Detachment is the final happiness. ~Sri Saraha
User avatar
Adamantine
Global Moderator
 
Posts: 2680
Joined: Tue Feb 08, 2011 7:09 am

Re: Art and Buddhism

Postby PadmaVonSamba » Tue Oct 04, 2011 4:21 am

I have never known of any perception in the west suggesting that to embrace Buddhism means to turn away from material things which may include the arts. However, there are rules for monks and nuns to abstain from various types of entertainment. But then, a lot of people think that everybody who practices dharma has to shave their head.

I have some friends who are Thai monks. A few years ago, a group of Gelugpa lamas on a fundraising tour stayed at their wat for a few days. One Thai monk mentioned to me the fact that lamas were allowed to "sing and dance" and that they weren't, and he found this to be very interesting.

Of course, in every country where Buddhism has flourished there are extensive artistic traditions connected with the dharma. But I think, and of course this is a very coarse generalization, that in the "mahayana countries", particularly where Pure land Buddhism has had significant impact the lay population and the ordained sangha are traditionally not seen as separate as they are in the "theravada countries" and I think the arts reflect this, so you have thinks like archery and the tea ceremony in japan in which the meditative mind is applied to cultural phenomena.

Of course, the temples in Southeast Asia are exquisite and there are many rich traditions in which "dharma art" --painting and sculpture, are highly developed, but generally these are specifically liturgical arts. They enhance the temples, and also the shrines in peoples homes. There isn't the same kind of crossover into popular culture to the degree that you find in China, Korea and Japan.

I always laugh when I go past a Gas station or mall parking lot where a few feet of space has been devoted to a "decorative" mound of gravel or wood chips, a tree, and one or two boulders, usually surrounded by a border of railroad ties, because this is really an attempt at creating a zen garden landscaping although the perpetrators may not be fully aware of that.
Attachments
zen-gas.jpg
zen-gas.jpg (16.94 KiB) Viewed 250 times
Profile Picture: "The Foaming Monk"
The Chinese characters are Fo (buddha) and Ming (bright). The image is of a student of Buddhism, who, imagining himself to be a monk, and not understanding the true meaning of the words takes the sound of the words literally. Likewise, People on web forums sometime seem to be foaming at the mouth.
Original painting by P.Volker /used by permission.
User avatar
PadmaVonSamba
 
Posts: 2800
Joined: Sat May 14, 2011 1:41 am

Re: Art and Buddhism

Postby Quiet Heart » Tue Oct 04, 2011 6:24 am

swampflower wrote:Buddhist inspiration may be seen in many expressions of Art including painting, calligraphy, sculpture, song, dance, and architecture.
I have just begun reading a book describing the history and techniques of sumi-e which is the art of ink line and wash painting. There was mention in the book of the strong influence the spread of Buddhism had on the development of arts in China and Japan.
However there seems to be a wide perception in the West that to embrace Buddhism means to turn away from material things which may include the arts. There are precepts of Buddhist conduct wherein song, dance, and music are to be abstained.
May these disparate views be reconciled as one tries to follow the Path of the Buddha?

-------------------------------------
:smile:
As I am sure others will point out much of Chinese and Japanese Buddhisim has a long relationship with art...sumi-e drawing in Japan being one form as you mentioned.
Calligraphy is also another example in Japan.
So any perception in the West that Art (capitalized) is somehow not Buddhist is a misunderstanding...or should we say a incomplete understanding based on a misperception of the true nature of both.
In Zen Buddhisim also Art is often NOT intended to make a "pretty" object but often a dliberately simplified repersentation of that object ... not made to be pretty; but to show as clearly as possible the essential nature of that object... the object in it's "suchness as such it is", by "pointing directly" at the object's true nature for mindful consideration of that true nature.
Calligraphy in Japan often has that purpose.
(Words are poor vehicles to describe the meaning here, but I hope you get my meaning.)
At any rate...the subject of "Buddhist Art" is a varied and fascinating one. I hope you enjoy it and learn from it. There is a lot there.
:smile:
Shame on you Shakyamuni for setting the precedent of leaving home.
Did you think it was not there--
in your wife's lovely face
in your baby's laughter?
Did you think you had to go elsewhere (simply) to find it?
from - Judyth Collin
The Layman's Lament
From What Book, 1998, p. 52
Edited by Gary Gach
User avatar
Quiet Heart
 
Posts: 269
Joined: Thu May 19, 2011 10:57 am
Location: Bangkok Thailand

Re: Art and Buddhism

Postby swampflower » Wed Oct 05, 2011 12:13 am

Thank you all for these insightful replies and to Adamantine for the book recommendation Dharma Art.
I have just purchased the book.
I have taken up Sumi-e which requires a meditative state and development of Chi.
I hope this practice will help me further along the Path of Buddhism.
Oṃ Tāre Tuttāre Ture Svāhā
User avatar
swampflower
 
Posts: 98
Joined: Wed Aug 25, 2010 9:18 pm
Location: Bellefonte, PA


Return to Exploring Buddhism

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 21 guests

>