In Tibetan buddhism, heart and mind are not separate entities, they are one.
This collage came out of a Five Warrior Seed Syllables practice with the emphasis on HUNG- the sound associated with the heart chakra- and DZA- the sound asso-ciated with the secret (sacred) chakra. In the top center of this collage, out of a bril-liant blue sphere representing boundless space, the three primary channels, or med-itative pathways of light, travel downward, disappearing into the heart chakra.
This collage is a visual meditation on the transformational work associated with OM- one of the Five Warrior Seed Syllables. These syllables are termed ‘warriors’ because they have the power to control and overcome negative emotions, prob-lems, and dilemmas that we face in our daily lives.
There is a buddhist metaphor that describes the “luminous mind” as the relationship between the sky, the sun and the clouds. The sky is the space of being that has no boundaries. The sun is the clear light of awareness. The clouds are thoughts, feelings, and challenges or blockages.
While immersed in a week long retreat practicing the Five Warrior Syllables, we were asked to extend the sound healing to our ancestors and any karmic traces that might have appeared. Within the non-judgmental space of the seed syllable A, the seed syllable RAM was sung, over and over again, to extend the warmth of its illuminating fire to all those in need whether alive, dead, known or unknown.
This meditative experience, and a trip to Joshua Tree in California shortly after, were the inspirations for this diptych.
This triptych encompasses the Five Elements (Earth, Water, Fire, Air and Space) that are used in the Bon causal meditative practices. These elements are always present within us to varying degrees and if needed, by doing speciﬁc practices, can be increased or decreased, to restore harmony and balance physically, mentally and spiritually.
In The Midst Of It All - Finding The Space - h:42” x w:49.75” x d:3”
This collage depicts the experience of being caught deep in the fires of reactivity where the ‘me’ and the ‘you’, become ‘fixed states’. Reactivity (emotionality) propels each person to hold on even tighter to the entrenched patterns of their perceived personas and realities.
The two main figures in brown, are engaged in an intense interaction. Between them reactivity swirls around in energetic shapes. As we come to know in meditation practice, unbiased space (the blue shapes) and light/clarity (the yellow shapes) are always present, even in the heat of the moment.
While meditating one day during a vacation to Newfoundland, it felt like the wind would blow me off the island, it was so fierce and forceful. The waves of the sea were dashing against the rugged cliffs and even the seagulls were having a hard time staying airborne. Then, within an instant, the weather changed - the wind vanished, the sea became calm and a clear stillness emerged.
This collage arose out of a Guru Yoga practice that begins a session of traditional meditation. The student in pure devotion and trust connects to and unifies with the enlightened essence of the master (teacher) and all those who have gone before him/her.
Using inspiration from images in my mind of waterfalls and the folds of monks’ robes, I began carving out a remnant piece of cardboard. Folds spontaneously turned into lotus buds attached to long stems.
This collage depicts a modern rendition of a much revered, Bon Buddhist tantric practice of connecting to the all-encompassing Mother of Wisdom and Love: Sherap Chamma. The practice involves visualizing and embodying through the visualization, the qualities of loving kindness and wisdom in order to heal and help oneself or others.
The Illuminating Fire Of Ram - h:48.5” x w:40” x d:5.25”
RAM is one of the Five Warrior Seed Syllables that represents the burning fire of potentiality. It is associated with the navel chakra. In the teachings, the navel chakra is often referred to as a rice cooker where negative emotions are slowly ‘cooked’ and transformed into the ripened qualities of the heart.
“Bring the demons of your conflicting emotions to the fire of RAM.” (Tenzin Wangyal Rinpoche)
THE ART OF GROUNDLESSNESS - h:48" x w:45.5" x d:3"
The origins of Bon’s causal roots are in the shamanistic practices of ancient Tibet. For the Bon practitioner there are varying practices directed towards “harmonizing the relationship between the individual and the environment by working with non-physical beings and the sacred energies underlying nature”. (Tenzin Wangyal Rin-poche)
Donde El Cielo Y El Mar Se Unen (Where The Sky Meets The Sea) - h:39” x w:27.50” x d:2.25”
This collage combines 2 meditative practices in Bon buddhism- that of the primary Dzogchen practice of abiding (resting) in the Inner Refuge, and of the Five Elements practice of connecting to, retrieving, and embodying the essences of the elements found in nature.
This collage is about attachment (clinging/grasping) and non-attachment; and the courage and trust it takes to begin the journey in meditation of looking at and dismantling the seemingly solid structures and identities that make up so-called ‘ME’.
In the central panel of the collage is a shaman that is both male and female representing transformation. He /she, set in a cradle of chaos composed of hexagonal shapes and body parts, is suspended in the ‘mother space’.
This triptych was inspired by a retreat I did on the coast of Massachusetts where the emphasis was on the Five Warrior Seed Syllables. We had been focussing on the sound syllable DZA- which supports spontaneous manifestation of positive ac-tion in the outer world. As soon as I returned home, I started working on this col-lage.
Holding On To Summer's Last Kiss - h:40.50” x w:28.75” x d:2”
While working on this piece, I found myself thinking about meditation practice and some of the obstacles one is cautioned about. For example; when the practitioner experiences a ‘good’ practice, the tendency can arise, to want to prolong the ‘good’ feeling for as long as possible or effortfully and intentionally try to reproduce the same feeling the next time one practices.
While looking at a beautiful picture of a Buddha that I had taken in Thailand, I remembered the story of the moment of Buddha’s enlightenment while sitting in meditation under a bodhi tree. The demon Mara challenged his spiritual accomplishment and cried,“Who will speak for you?” and at that moment the Buddha touched the earth with his right hand and the earth roared, “I bear you witness”.
According to the buddhist teachings, we all have karmic imprints. These imprints, comprised of traces of energy, thoughts and reactivity remain within the mindstream of the individual influencing every moment of experience positively and negatively.
In the self-transformative journey, the practitioner embraces and ‘hosts’ one’s imprints in the protected sanctity of Inner Refuge. These traces can show up as an habitual tendency, desire or aversion to something or, a blockage of some sort.
A prolonged autumn- glowing colours, mounds of leaves and bare trees- were the inspiration for this piece.
As these ‘bare trees’ took shape for this collage, they reminded me of how in specific Bon practices one is instructed to “nakedly observe” one’s pain body, pain speech and pain mind (ego). To “nakedly observe” means, that the meditator does not become enticed by the drama and stories that are attached to one’s pain. In meditation practice, you practice to “leave things as they are” by not engaging, not elaborating, and not pushing away what is occupying the mind.
There are 4 sections to this diptych. The first layers that were applied to all setions were the blues, greys and greens to depict what is referred to in meditation practice as the mother space- kunzi (tibetan)- the base of all.
In the bottom left quadrant, the ego’s drama is represented by a conglomeration of colourful shapes and a map that has an ‘X’ on it. The map represents the feeling of being lost or disconnected. Hovering on top of this structure that represents “me” (you), is an outline in the form of a Buddha, encouraging the practitioner to embrace one’s challenges (pain) by ‘taking them to the cushion’ in meditation.
Often our confused states of mind and reactivity can cloud and obscure our natural wisdom and clarity. One thought or moment of confusion can quickly multiply into another and before one knows it, the mind (our so-called ‘reality’) has become an overcrowded, ‘bounded’ space.
While beginning this collage, the image of a shaman or minotaur came to mind and I kept thinking about how a shaman is able to transform one state of reality into another.
Snorkelling off the Yucatan peninsula in Mexico, I was transfixed by the brilliance of the turquoise waters and the hidden world of the coral reefs below the surface that teemed with life.
At the time, I was reading a book by my Bon Dzogchen teacher Tenzin Wangyal Rinpoche called Form, Energy and Light. He described Dzogchen (an advanced from of the meditative state) as the great knowledge of space and light.
The inspiration for this collage came out of a personal retreat I did on the sacred land of “Chamma Ling”, in the Sangre de Christo mountains (Crestone, Colorado). In meditation practice, I had been working with the Warrior Seed Syllable RAM, bringing all of my doubt and scepticism to the ‘cooking pot’ in order to transform it.