NFT Dharma

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NFT Dharma

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Dharma Rituals and rites of passage Yoga, personal behaviour Virtues such as ahimsa Law and justice Sannyasa and stages of life Duties, such as learning from teachers Dharma is a key concept with multiple meanings in Indian religions, such as Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism, Sikhism and others.

Dharma is a complex word with numerous meanings. At the most basic level, it means natural propensity, function, or property. For example, the dharma of fire is to burn, that of water is to flow and of air is to be light and invisible.

The four main classes are Brahmins, Kshatriyas, Vaishyas and Shudras. This social class system appears in an ancient Hindu book of law called the Manusmriti.

Dharma. This is related to a person's true purpose and is concerned with a person's duty and the actions the person takes. Each Hindu believes that they have their own personal dharma. Ultimately, this is about leading a righteous life.

Dharma is your unique purpose in life. It is the process by which you use your unique skills and passions to serve your community and the world.

This work is dedicated to the artistic process. Artists, art students and therapists as well as Buddhists may find this an inspiring route to creativity. Art is seen by Trungpa as a primary means of expression, and this illustrated book presents his teachings about the power of art to awaken and liberate.

Celebrating Shambhala and the Arts
story and artwork by Jack Niland

What is the Heart of Dharma Art? It is MANIFESTING the world…your world, my world, our world…an enlightened world. Why? Because this is what the universe does. It creates world systems from the elements and their stories from the skandhas. And the universe created you.

Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche said that every thing he did was dharma art. And he played and danced and laughed, and now we live in the Shambhala kingdom that he manifested. So how can we manifest our world too?

Let’s start at the beginning: when he arrived in America in 1970. Above are four examples of things he did that summer (played, danced, laughed, manifested). But they all started with the teaching of meditation on empty space. The first Dharma Art lesson is to look deep into empty space – like a piece of blank paper.

Dharma Art as a Way of Being

I think the impact of the Buddha-Dharma on my art can be best described in the words of my root teacher, Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche:

“There is such a thing as unconditional expression that does not come from self or other. It manifests out of nowhere like mushrooms in a meadow, like hailstorms, like thunderstorms . . .” (Chögyam Trungpa 1994, 20).

This statement echoes the words, written some 1,200 years before, of the early Tang dynasty Chinese calligrapher Sun Guoting (648–703) in his Treatise on Calligraphy, in which he describes the brush strokes of great masters:

“I have seen the wonder of dew glistening from a dangling needle, a shower of rock hailing down in a raging thunder, a flock of geese gliding, frantic beasts stampeding in terror, a Phoenix dancing, a startled snake slithering away . . . Some brush strokes are ominous as gathering clouds, others light as a cicada’s wing. When the brush moves forward, a spring bubbles forth; when it stops, the mountains are in repose. Its delicate trace is like a new moon rising . . . Its bright residue, like a galaxy of stars across the sky . . . Calligraphy is as varied as nature itself and seemingly beyond the powers of man when the hand is moved by the heart’s desire . . .” (Harrist and Fong 1999, 35).

I have been creating art all my life. It has always served as a powerful source of joy and inspiration for me. However, when I started meditating in 1975, I could no longer paint in the same way; meditation began to open a part of myself I had no language for. Shortly afterward, I discovered the artistic discipline of Chinese and Japanese calligraphy. For centuries, calligraphy has not only been considered an aesthetic practice, but is also deeply revered as a spiritual and contemplative practice and as the highest art form of China, Japan, and Korea. The powerful images in black and white spoke to me deeply and gave me a vehicle to experience the “unconditional expression” which my teacher had spoken of. Calligraphy offered a provocative way to join my meditative perception with artistic discipline as well as to explore joining the bamboo brush with my lifetime of work as a painter.

Originating from an ancient pictographic language, Chinese characters still have the immediacy of the old pictures embedded within them. These hidden pictures can often suggest multiple meanings. For example, I found it fascinating when I first noticed that the character for “patience” was made up of a picture of a sword over a heart. Could it be urging us to slow down and cut our discursive thought? Or is the sword a proclamation of the strength of our heart when we are patient? Thus, I found that when I drew a Chinese character, I was not just “writing” a foreign language but bringing visual symbols and their meanings to life—a combination of image and poetry. It is probably due to this combination that I am able to write and enjoy Chinese without having mastered the language.

The characters are traditionally written with “The Three Treasures”: the bamboo brush, ink, and paper. The process of drawing the strokes that make up a character does not allow any possibility of change or correction once the strokes have hit the page. This is reminiscent of the expression “first thought, best thought,” describing a practice that can arrest discursive mind and bring us abruptly into the present moment. The inherent discipline of the practice gives us no choice but to tell the truth, for each stroke is mirroring our state of mind on the spot. The contemporary Japanese calligraphy master Shiryu Morita (1912–99) described this when he said, “The brush is not merely just a tool but is blessed as a field from which we gain freedom and become our true selves.”

In calligraphy practice, we are working directly with our personal qi, or life force, and our interaction with the quality of space we inhabit. How we relate to our state of mind and space is of prime importance in giving our artwork an authentic living expression. A balance of precision, relaxation, and spontaneity with a brave and nonjudgmental heart is needed to allow the qi to flow like “a flock of geese gliding” or “a startled snake slithering away,” as described at the beginning of this article.

In conclusion, the impact of the Dharma on my path as an artist has been monumental. From my first encounter with the Dharma, I was blessed with the inspiration of many realized teachers and challenged with the opportunity to join the richness they shared with my love of art and healing. This has created a magnificent “thunderstorm” that continuously shatters any concept of myself as “the artist” and replaces it with art as a way of life; as Chögyam Trungpa said, “It is your life, your whole being” (Chögyam Trungpa 1994, 22).

References

Billeter, Jean François. 1990. The Chinese Art of Writing. New York: Rizzoli.

Harrist, Robert E., and Wen C. Fong. 1999. The Embodied Image: Chinese Calligraphy from the John B. Elliott Collection. Princeton University Press.

Terayama, Katsujo, and Omori Sogen. 1983. Translated by John Stevens. Zen and the Art of Calligraphy: The Essence of Sho. Law Book Co. of Australasia.

Chögyam Trungpa. 1994. The Art of Calligraphy. Boston: Shambhala.

Marlow Brooks is a calligrapher, painter, and Five Element acupuncturist and healer. A senior student of Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche, she has also taught in his tradition for 30 years. After establishing herself as a painter, she began her studies of Asian calligraphy in 1981. She teaches the Psychology of the Five Elements and other courses at Naropa University in Boulder, Colorado, and conducts private classes in calligraphy and healing. She has also taught calligraphy and Five Element Creative Process at Deer Park Institute in Bir, India.

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