Tuesday, August 28, 2012

"Same As Me:" Recent Developments

As previously reported in the following links, since 2009 we've been working to recreate Samye's famous "Same As Me" statue of Padmasambhava, destroyed during the Cultural Revolution, using high technology from the motion picture industry:



We, of course, are not the only ones. Several groups are approaching this project, not only in the United States, but Europe, and Asia. This is a worldwide cooperative effort, where we all share our findings. Quite recently, we heard from the Museo di Arte e Cultura Tibetana, in Italy, sharing with us their latest effort to extrapolate the head of Guru Rinpoche from the famous photo, above, using 3D modeling software. Below, you see some of the results.

Here is an excerpt of our reply to Italy, which I include here for the possible interest of all other parties to this effort:
"....the consistent problem we have is in finding another photograph of the original statue. We are quite certain more than the one photograph, i.e. the Queen of Sikkhim's photograph from the 1930s, exists somewhere, but despite an exhaustive worldwide search -- four years now -- we have been unable to locate anything.
"So, from that point, we set out in three directions:
"(1) We began collecting every photograph of every statue of Guru Rinpoche we could find, up to an arbitrary cut-off date of 1950. There are many such photographs in existence. We did this because we believed that the statue may have inspired duplicates, and we believe we found one such duplicate in the Potala, depicted in a photograph dating to the 1920s. We also wanted to established iconographic "baselines" from which we could extrapolate a homogenous iconography, i.e. the chin is commonly this way, the forehead is commonly that way, etc., etc.
"(2) We hit upon the method of placing the Queen of Sikkhim photograph in a stationary position, and then using a boom camera to photograph the photograph from extreme left to right, and extreme right to left, then from top to bottom, and bottom to top, describing a crossed arc in front of the original. This is similar to the modern x-ray machines that dentists use to x-ray the whole of your teeth in one shot.
"This last approach is, I think, promising. In your efforts, as depicted in the photos you sent me, you will for example notice how the nose width seems to be a problem. I believe you could cure that problem by using the technique described above. Basically, you want to find as many legitimate planes of the face as possible to use as your data set, and let the software extrapolate what is missing.
"(3) The third thing we did was to examine as much 8th century regional sculpture as we could possibly find, in order to establish a certain "logic" of the face. Although of divine origin, Guru Rinpoche took what by all historical accounts was a very pleasing human form. We wanted some sense of how pleasing male faces from the region may have appeared in the period, or at least how they were idealized. Some examples from Ghandara proved extremely useful in this regard."

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Thursday, August 16, 2012

The Lion's Roar

"The usual problem we have when emotions arise is that we feel we are being challenged by them. We think that emotions will take over our self-existence, our credential of existence. We are afraid that, if we become the embodiment of hatred or passion, then we won't have any personal credentials anymore.

"So usually we react against emotion, because we feel we might be taken over by it. We feel there is a strong possibility that we might freak out, lose our heads. We are afraid that aggression or depression will become so overwhelming that we will begin to lose our general functional level, forget how to brush our teeth, how to take a shit in the toilet or whatever. There's some kind of fear that the whole thing might become too much, so that we might get hooked into it. Then we will lose our dignity, our ability to function as ordinary human beings like the others. That seems to be the problem.

"So transmutation in this case means going through such fear or whatever else might be, or occur. Let yourself be nuts. Go through it, give into it, experience it. And when you begin to experience this process of going towards emotions rather than emotions coming towards you, then you begin to make a journey. You are making an effort towards them, therefore some actual relationship is involved, and a sense of dance begins to evolve.

"This means that the highest forces of energy, any kind of extraordinary energies there might be, become absolutely workable rather than taking you over. This is because, if you are not offering any resistance, there's nothing to take over. Whenever there's no resistance, there is a sense of rhythm happening. The music and dance happen at the same time.

"So that is what is called the lion's roar: whatever occurs in the realm of samsaric mind is regarded as the path, and everything is workable. It is a fearless proclamation-lion's roar.

"But as long as we patch over what we feel are unworkable situations, as long as we try to put the patchwork of metaphysical, philosophical or neat religious ideas over the holes, then it ceases to be a lion's roar. It turns instead into a coward's scream-which is very pathetic."

                            --The Lion's Roar, Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche

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Sunday, August 12, 2012

White Shell

Over the past three or four days, I've been spending time on the 'Net chatting about this and that with my friend. We began by discussing the "even when you are wrong, you are right" school of learning from mistakes, and this somehow segued -- you know how talk bounces around -- into discussing Yeshe Tsogyal as an historical personage, who loved Guru Rinpoche.

It is certain he loved her right back; at once ordinarily and extraordinarily. Together, they made of their love an enormously liberating experience for all sentient beings.

After these conversations, I chanced to come upon the following by Yeshe Tsogyal, and it seemed appropriate. From the text, it would seem she is quoting Padmasambhava, but who is to say where one of them began and the other ended, so to speak?
"An individual who knows that there is no delusion in the primordial ground of being and then goes astray establishing sentient beings and their worlds: this is like a white shell appearing yellow to a jaundiced eye. Although a variety of seemingly conflicting passions manifests, one knows that there is no delusion in the ground. Fully realizing this, then whatever one does, one knows there is no cause for delusion. Knowing this, primordially there is the freedom of self-generating pristine awareness; at the time of delusion there is the freedom of self-generating pristine awareness; and in the end there is the freedom of self-generating pristine awareness."
So, this seems like a beautiful way to love, doesn't it? A relationship based upon this sort of view is almost certain to be gentle, and beneficial to all parties. Imagine: you love someone, and the nature of your relationship is such that it becomes a source of refuge, a source of instruction, and a source of realization for others. 

Here it is, centuries later, and we continue to receive the benefit of their relationship.

I think from now until my dying day, I will remember this little comment about a white shell appearing yellow, and just leave a white shell as a white shell, without too much tinkering. In this fashion, one can almost certainly benefit from mistakes without actually making them.

Dakini Day, August 2012

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First Ever Tibetan Olympic Win

"Choeyang started to smile when she was passing the Tibetan flags 
and somehow, her smile never left her beautiful face... ."

A 22-year-old young woman named Choeyang Kyi made history in London by becoming the first-ever Tibetan to participate in the Olympics... and, she came away with a Bronze medal, finishing 14 seconds behind the new world record in 20km women's race walking.

"I'm extremely honored to take part as the first representative of the Tibetans at the Olympic Games and to win a medal," she said, adding that she was deeply encouraged by Tibetans cheering her on as she ran along the course.

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Friday, August 10, 2012

Free Pussy Riot

Three young artists in Russia -- known by the collective name Pussy Riot -- have been tried and are now awaiting sentencing on a charge of hooliganism. The offense arises from their performance of a song -- a song, mind you -- and carries a potential punishment of seven years' imprisonment.

As someone who has been imprisoned for asserting freedom of speech as a vehicle of social transformation, my heart goes out to these three courageous young women. I have been where they are sitting, and I know what is involved.

It is said that their song offended the President of Russia, Vladimir Putin. President Putin is held in considerable esteem by the Russian Buddhist community, and indeed, the world Buddhist community at large. It is known that President Putin has considerable reciprocal respect for Buddhism, and that he has been specially honored with recognition by Russia's Vajrayana Buddhist community in particular. As a general proposition, it is fair to say that Buddhists worldwide support feminism, freedom of expression, and constructive social activism. Clearly, there is some breakdown in communication here.

Please, President Putin...with all respect...  use your powers to let these women go free. 

What does a man like you have to fear from a song?

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Sunday, August 05, 2012

Stupa Project Makes Progress

In addition to our outdoor stupas, we also have an indoor stupa project here, in the manner of a "stupa room." Seen here, in the library, are fifteen of the first twenty-two stupas delivered last week, inclusive of a special set created on Chokhor Duchen, and another special set created for the people who have helped us stay operational during turbulent times. After a bit more preparation, these will be primed, gilded, packed, consecrated, and installed, and then we will be ready for the next batch. 

These stupas also take us a step forward on my "Everybody Should Build One" project. I will be using one of these as a model for a computer-controlled mold apparatus. It is my goal to devise a means by which everyone who wants to make a stupa can do so with relative ease, whether for indoor or outdoor application.

Many thanks to the people who helped realize the creation of these first twenty-two precious stupas. The merit associated with your efforts is quite simply beyond description.

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Friday, August 03, 2012

Rabbit Rescue: Update X2

Little Stinker has been moved out of triage to Intensive Care. He has a lavender bed to roll around, a jump step to reach his water and food, and a little cave to play hide and go seek. He has vitamins in his water -- which he thoroughly enjoys -- and plenty of food. This is a rare photograph of him, playing in his cave, with his nose temporarily out of the fool bowl. He said he wants the hat, the t-shirt, the bumpersticker, and the FOOD. Things are looking up for Little Stinker.

The Two Sisters are both eating and watering now. I introduced Timothy hay into their diets for long fiber, and vitamins into their water at therapeutic dosage. They are high traumatized and tightly bonded. I gave Big Sister a candy treat today. She ate half of it, then fed Shy Sister from her mouth. Absolutely beautiful. I am praying for the Two Sisters.

The Big Bum sits around like a defeated king, but he is slowly coming around. He got hay and vitamins today, and he allows me to pet his nose. He watches everything very carefully, and in his sad way, it seems as if he said "Thank you," this afternoon.

I am very happy to report the first binky. When Little Stinker got his lavender bed, he gave three or four binkies. If you don't know what binkies are, ask a rabbit person. Basically, a bink is a sideways leap in the air, signifying great happiness and joy.


I been played.

Did I say "defeated king?" Crafty old king is more like it. Somehow, and nobody knows how, he managed to get himself out of a locked cage last night and proceeded to incite a rabbit riot. The whole room was wrecked. When I woke up and went in there, he charged at me like a dog, and tried to push me out of the room with his nose: "Nothing to see here...all under control... move along nicely, now." Papers were torn up, poop was all over the place, the Two Sisters were cowering in their corner, and he was singing love songs --- if you can call Rabbit Rap "music."

I learned an important lesson: that rabbit does need any more vitamins.

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