Sunday, May 31, 2009

T-Shirts Have Power!

A few days ago, I ordered two of these t-shirts, designed by our friend Annette, for me and Sharon. I didn't cry over the recent California Supreme Court's decision to uphold Prop. 8 until I saw that a local church was having an Ecumenical Service of Consolation. The word 'consolation' hit home. I realized how badly I needed to be consoled.

After a weekend with the Venerable Tibetan Lama, Lobsang Tsultrim, I am questioning whether I am 'attached' to having equal legal rights, 'attached' to the outcome of ballots and court decisions. The answer is that the Tibetan monks, in their own fight, are our role models. We will carry on our fight, but with love and compassion in our hearts, not anger or bitterness. It is, after all, about love.

You can order your t-shirt from (This is one of several designs.) You don't have to be one of the 18,0000, a resident of California, or even gay to take this viral!

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T-Shirt Synchronicity

The Venerable Choeze Lotsel Gyamtso (Lobsang Tsultrim) and me

A day and a half of work on the Compassion Mandala, with plenty of mistakes!

I wore my Gaden Shartse College t-shirt today, which I had gotten from the monks in 2005, hoping it would help me to have more patience. To my surprise, it turned out that Lobsang Tsultrim was the artist who had designed it back in 2001! I was touched that he was the designer, and he was touched to see it worn... a happy synchronicity for both of us. He is not only a Master of traditional mandala sand painting, but also a contemporary painter of Thangkas. I didn't look at his website,, until after the workshop ended today.

We didn't have time to add color to our mandalas today, but got to see a picture of what it looks like fully colored: overwhelming after experiencing it deconstructed, at the micro level. As performance artist Rachel Rosenthal would say, it was "doing by doing."

Lobsang didn't want to teach certain things about the inner meaning of the mandala, saying this can't be done without initiation and vows, or is otherwise dangerous. On one hand, I would not have learned what little I know of Kabbalah had Jewish Renewal teachers not bent the traditional rules in order to teach people under forty, unmarried, and/or female. On the other hand, those teachers knew me over time. It wasn't hit-and-run. So I appreciate his caution, within which he is most generous.

I'm very glad that Lobsang was granted asylum in the United States in 2002 and is teaching workshops all over the world. I'm happy to be on his email list!

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Saturday, May 30, 2009

Not Quite Creatively Renewed

I spent a lot of today's workshop telling myself that I don't have to go back tomorrow. It felt like geometry class, measuring with a little piece of paper in units of 8, 4, 2, and 1, re-learning how to use a compass, ruler, pencil, and eraser. There was nothing freehand about drawing the structure for the Compassion Mandala. Having to get it precise didn't feel very compassionate to a dyslexic like me. It seemed like a fine line between obsessionalism, tedium, and meditation, with the emphasis on tedium.

As we broke for lunch, Lobsang told us he spent ten years learning what he had just showed us in two hours. Some things can't be condensed that much.

I had spent time with other monks from from the Gaden Shartse Monastery in South India, Lobsang Tsultrim's home, when they were here in 2005. (My photo above, taken at the local internet cafe, is from that time.)

The strange chanting with horns and cymbals, bells and drum, filled the garden of the Center for Creative Renewal for a special program. Tulku Lobsang Jinpa Rinpoche, an elder with big ears and glasses with yellowish tinted lenses, was the head teacher. I sat in the second row, almost center, but slightly to his left. There was a healing and purification ritual, followed by lecturing and more lecturing. The repetition was boring. My seat grew harder. My mind wandered. Blah, blah. I wondered when it would be over.

Suddenly he was talking about meditation. I started to pay attention. Listening to the translator I realized he was guiding us in a short one, without actually saying so. I did as he said. And then I focussed/unfocussed on the Rinpoche and whoever/whatever he had become at that point. It was dusk. The moon was almost full, and had been rising and getting brighter and brighter in the darkening sky. Rinpoche seemed to be looking in my direction. He was looking at me. I felt as if he was addressing me. I started listening to him. I let the sounds of the Tibetan language wash over me. The message was coming through without translation. The translator’s voice was like a distant addendum to the real event.

The tears flowed and kept flowing, meeting under my chin and wetting my neck. Something got planted/transmitted directly. (Oh yeah, I remembered later. That happened last time I was around these guys too, the White Tara Initiation time. Not the kind of thing you can really talk about...)

Then I heard the translator say something about how to end meditation, “so you are free to do other things.” I appreciated the help, since we were in so deep that it was important to remember how to end. Or to end. I looked up and we were both smiling - by then it was so dark that his teeth shone like a Chesire cat.

So - it is good to remind myself that if I endure the boredom, the repetition, and desire to flee, that something might actually happen (or not). I think I will go back tomorrow... Besides, that is when we will finally add color to our Compassion Mandalas.

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Creative Renewal

Today and Sunday I will be at The California Center for Creative Renewal,, at a workshop on "Tibetan Mandala: Introduction to the Art of Mandala as Meditation and the Hidden Symbolism of Tibetan Sacred Art", taught by The Venerable Lobsang Tsultrim. "The map hidden in the mandala is not of external paths, rather the map is an internal path of consciousness."

In the lunar Hebrew calendar, today is also the second day of the holiday in which we remember standing at the foot of Mount Sinai, accepting and receiving the revelation of Torah.

It rained last night and the plants are sparkling with moisture. The garden at the Center will be beautiful. I'll let you know how it goes...

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Sunday, May 24, 2009

I learned about, the simple video program which created this 30 second video, from the Arts Media Lab of Palomar College Blog. The 30 second format is free, so it is a good exercise in brevity, and letting go of the images that got edited out. This is my first attempt. Next time I'll try fewer images.

This is a good example of why I am starting to follow other people's blogs. I am unashamedly asking all of you to follow mine as well. I want to be networked with all of you. I want to learn from you, laugh with you, and see your art. I would never have heard of if I hadn't been a follower of Arts Media Lab's blog.

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Sunday, May 17, 2009

p.i.c.a.s.s.o. : Guernica in a new way...

The pictures in this video are originally by Picasso and they all lead to his main painting - Guernica. Sound was written especially for this movie. This is Guernica like we have never seen before. I have spent much time with the original Guernica, as well as with sketches and studies for it I that I saw recently in Spain. There is something however about the combination of animation and music in this brief video that conveys drama and emotion in a completely unique and impactful way.

It was sent to me on Facebook from iArt Galeria de Arte, in a format that did not indicate it was a YouTube video. It was so remarkable that I posted it on my Facebook profile page. My Facebook friend Karen Keimig Warner saw it there and posted it on the Arts Media Lab blog of Palomar College, When I saw it on the AML blog I realized she had somehow located it's YouTube provenance, which then allowed me to post it here.

I am trying to grasp the webness of the internet. I may never understand it. All I know is that videos like this one are important to keep circulating!

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Thursday, May 14, 2009

Why I love Nam June Paik

Need I say more? I received this wonderful image because I subscribe to Vasili Kaliman's Art Patrol, at It is my virtual way of scoping out contemporary art exhibits world wide, this one of Nam June Paik's work at the James Cohan Gallery in New York. It's easy to subscribe to artpatrol - just plug in your email address. I enjoy anticipating what artpatrol will send next, and especially enjoy exhibits from cities I have never been to and may never get to. Some work appeals to me more than others. And then there are the moments of joyful surprises, gems like this one, that will stay in my brain cells forever! Thank you Vasili Kaliman!

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Saturday, May 9, 2009

Didn't Go

Only one day in the Big Apple - a few precious hours! I headed first for the American Folk Art Museum , a little jewel. I then planned to spend the rest of the day at the Museum of Modern Art. Alas, it was closed on Tuesdays to the public. I asked the guard in the lobby who all the people were who appeared to be gathering to go in. She told me that on Tuesdays it is open to autistic children, there by the busload, with increased supervision and an acceptance of noise. What a wonderful idea! This subway poster is a sad reminder of the exhibit that I didn't go to, that I almost got to. I traveled all the way from San Diego to New York City, stood in the lobby and couldn't get in. I only hope that other museums in other cities also have these kind of special closed-to-the-public days!

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