|Dr. Robert Puff|
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Issue #1332 - Monday, January 27, 2003 - Editor: Jerry
Yin Yu Tang, a late Qing dynasty merchants' home, was originally located in southeastern China. Re-erected at the Peabody Essex Museum, Yin Yu Tang opens to the public in June 2003. Explore the house to discover this rare example of the region's renowned architecture and to learn about the daily life of the Huang family, who lived in Yin Yu Tang for over 200 years.
...from the writings of Dr Jim Dreaver, Author of The Ultimate Cure: the Healing Energy Within You:
It was at a Krishnamurti talk under the oaks in Ojai some
twenty years ago that he revealed the "secret" of living
to the several thousand of us who were there listening to
him. He even used the word "secret," and that he spoke of
it at all was unusual, because he rarely talked about
himself. Partway through the dialogue, he suddenly paused, leaned
forward and said, almost conspiratorially. "So you want
to know what my secret is?"
We all sat up, even more alert than we had been, if that
was possible. Almost as though we were one body. We
leaned forward, our mouths and ears opened in hushed
anticipation. Did we want to know his secret? Heck, yes!
That's why we were all there, wasn't it? That's why we
came to Ojai every spring: to listen to K. in the hope
that we would "get it," that we could figure out what his
He paused. And then he said in a soft, almost shy voice,
"You see, I don't mind what happens."
I don't mind what happens. The great man's words
reverberated silently in by mind. They shook me to the
from Daily Dharma
The patient person is one who can see the overall event, that things change, move and flow. What seems so terrible today may seem quite all right tomorrow or next month or next year. What was so urgently required and needed a year ago makes absolutely no difference today. In this manner one pays non-judgmental attention to whatever is happening. If it isnt exactly as one had hoped it could be, all of it is looked upon as just part of the flux and the flow.
From the book, Being Nobody Going Nowhere, published by Wisdom Publications - Boston
The desert is next to you in the
train in the heart of your brother, says
the poet thinking of the faraway desert
solitude of those who long ago went there
beyond the edge of their world to see the
dawning of the world that is coming.
The man next to me in the metro, the
Moscow subway, is , I observe, very small
and smaller hunched in perhaps alcohol aided
sleep, his hair from under his cap lies
ragged along a faded sweater collar...
(If you will travel with me for a stop or two
on the metro...)
We are coming from the school which occupies
half of the first floor of a building just
a bit behind the world's largest Macdonalds where
our community has a School where young people
on evenings and weekends take a broad course
of subjects in theology and in culture.
It is one, with a new center called "Rainbow"
which we have opened, of the hubs of activity
of our small community.
This morning, after some sleepless hours during
the night in which the mind works but aware of
its inablity to work, of its inoperancy, perhaps
you know the feeling, I asked Andrey,
"What do you think the Elder Silouan meant
when he said 'keep your mind in hell and
do not despair.'"
"There are various ways to understand it
but perhaps he means that hell is where we
are, the gray city where people drift farther
and farther from each other without limit and
where a spell of perpetual winter is on the
land, and to remain aware of being there and
not pretend something else, but in the heart
there can be joy and the beginning of Spring..."
At the School there was a pot of bean soup
to which people would help themselves as they
came on various business in the afternoon.
Grisha is there to work on the accounting and
is at one computer. Sveta is making the layout
for the next issue of our youth magazine "doroga
vmeste", 'the way together', on another computer.
In one room are bright plastic bags with food
for needy families.
In a classroom some have already arrived for
the evening classes...Alexandra is happy to have
completed her examinations in biochemistry, and
here is Stas who is struggling with Arabic for his
thesis on the Islamic brotherhoods in Egypt,
many of them reactionary and violent, but the older
Sufi brotherhoods of course not like that...
A book rack has Schmemann and Meyendorff and
Chesterton and the architect of Barcelona Antonio
Gaudi and Theophan the Recluse and Maria Skobtsova
and Thomas Aquinas...
Now there are more young people greeting each
other, obviously happy to see each other, and
here are the teachers for the evening classes...
Fr Vladimir Lapshin, rugged face . turtle neck
sweater, who will teach Liturgics, and the Old
Testament teacher Vladimir Sorokin, bearded
softspoken, smiling, his interest focused somehow
on the ecstatic aspect of prophecy and of the
"schools of the prophets".
I suppose this school and the creativity that
is there and the happiness of being together could
be one indication that our world is not merely
a gray city of people drifting without realizing it
farther and farther from each other...
In the Metro looking at the little man hunched
beside me, poor and worn by life obviously and now
sleeping, I see how his hands are open, palms up,
in his lap, hands poised in relaxation like that
of a child or a saint in an icon, not clenched
but open and innocent... I do not know what he has
found in the desert of his heart, probably heat
and sudden cold and loneliness, but maybe the open
hands promise already the beginning of that realization
which may yet be...
Father Alexander Men liked to sing to the guitar
a short verse to the effect that 'there is only
the moment for us, poised between past and future,
let us be there in this moment our only treasure.'
This maybe is what Silouan was saying too, and
this which we have, this present, this reality, is
gray but also shot with light...
In the desert how brilliant the sudden sunrise and
the coming of a new day...and even in the metro maybe
in the heart of the small and poor it can be...or for
us after the desert of five in the morning emptiness
facing the sky to see what will be...
Or as they sing at Taize in one of their simple, haunting,
songs repeated over and over inscribing itself within...
"Wait for the Lord,
His day is near
Wait for the Lord
Be strong take heart..."
Ice-Cube & The Cult of Personality
Once I watched an ice-cube melt.
Time stood still
and a radical transmission of truth
was transmitted to and through me.
I was so deeply affected.
The experience taught me more than anyone or anything ever
I couldn't help but chisel an idol out of this experience
to present to everyone I met thereon after.
Because instantly I knew that
'Ice Cube' was the best guru ever,
...better then anyone else's hood-ornament of a guru.
Though the essence of Ice Cube's transmission
transcended all shallowness and immaturity
of brand-name loyalty,
I myself did not,
and so became somewhat addicted
to his various sculpted words and forms.
Actually, I don't like the word addiction.
I prefer the word, "devotee".
Anyhow, since I have been so gracious enough
to have been blessed with the wonderful and pure love
I have decided that from now on
I will quote Him to all my dear sisters and brothers
so that they too may come to love and embrace
the all-transcendental message that Ice-Cube transmits
oh so directly and clearly!
Ice-Cube Quote #1
"When you are cold,
surrender and die to the Heat of the Heart.
Allow all forms and names to melt..."
Ice-Cube Quote #2
"Do not hold onto any preconceived notion
of who I am.
For who you think I am
(along with anything else I may say
that you might attribute to a personality worth perpetuating)
is not me.
...may we all just melt."
(That's one of my favorites. Unfortunately it is too long to put on a bumper-sticker)
This Sunday I went to a Satsang of 'Frozen H2O'
who is of the lineage of 'Ice-Cube'.
'Frozen H2O' imparts all the sacred teachings
of 'Ice-Cube' with such purity
that it brings tears to my eyes.
I highly recommend to everyone
that they go see 'Frozen H2O'
if she happens to cross their town.
I really enjoyed myself and found the peace radiating there
to be extra special.
(well worth the $10.00 admission charge to cover the cost of keeping 'Frozen H2O' solid)
There is no one like 'Ice-Cube'
In fact, by comparison all other gurus
Here is another great and loving quote
that the great and wise Ice-Cube once said:
"You know, many who claim to be my followers
keep on quoting things I have said or talking about things
I have done. But they have utterly missed the point of my message.
My message is beyond the endless repetitions of what I have said
or brand-name loyalties or
making me out to be some sculpture to be placed on
some delusionist's shrine...
Heck, my message boils down to,
When it comes to 'Ice-Cube' there is no other with respect
to simplicity, directness
and radical transmission of Truth.
Ice-Cube never beat around the bush
(he was an ice-cube for god's sake)
He'd just sit there in complete silence
Which reminds of another Ice-Cube satsang
I once read about
where there were lit torches so close to Ice-Cube
that he began to melt.
One of his beloved devotees noticed and motioned
to the one in charge of torches,
when Ice-Cube stopped him and said,
"No. That's ok. That's the point!"
(solidly immature but ever so slowly melting)
Maddness & Rapture Justified at
Samadhi: The Contemplation of Space
Robert C. Morgan
(Click on link to view the graphic. The file is too large to include here.)
The Sanskrit term "Samadhi" is often used in Zen Buddhism to describe the condition of meditation in which the focus of concentration resides in the undivided self. One Chinese scholar, Garma C. C. Chang describes the experience of Samadhi as "putting things together" or "the union of the mediator with the object meditated upon." In visual terms, Samadhi may allude to a specific image or thought made manifest in material form. For example, Chang describes the one who meditates as being "absorbed in perfect concentration on the object upon which he is meditating." The experience of Samadhi could be described as "a state of fusion" that produces "an intensely blissful sensation, which is both physical and psychic."
Another, more recent text by Benjamin and Amy Radcliff suggests that "in Samadhi, one is completely involved or absorbed with life rather than idea about life." The relinquishment of a conventional cause and effect analysis of events in the everyday world is necessary in order to attain a blissful state of mind. Samadhi is less about rational categories than about a closeness to life where separations between the perceiver and the object being perceived begin to dissipate. Samadhi occurs when one leaves the realm of self-consciousness and discovers a connection between what is held within the mind and what is simultaneously being processed through ones sensory organs.
In organizing an exhibition for the new Chelsea Art Museum in New York, I chose eleven works by eleven artists that would somehow connect with one another. I did this not according to a visual theme or a method, not according to a process or even a discipline, but instead I relied on a kind of felt experience between the diversity of the various works. Whether a reductive concrete painting by John McLaughlin or a gestural painting by Jean Miotte or a series of wire-mesh cubes by Rakuko Naito, each held its own in the space of this large gallery. I was interested in the kind of visual conversation the works might have with one another. My criterion for the selection had something to do with the singular space of the object or the visual consistency of the form according to its materials, wherein one might contemplate the form not simply as a type of formalism, but as a form in space, where a feeling for the space might preside over disturbance, and resolve itself as a kind of imperfect abstract purity.
Realizing that this approach is diametrically opposed to the kind of images so often seen in West Chelsea today -- images appropriated from the commercial media or complex assemblages presumably "loaded" with the weight of an intertextual meaning -- I wanted to go in another direction. I began searching for art from the present and from recent past where the condition of space was both static and continuous, where the sense of structure was visible and open, and where the potential viewer might engage with the implications of the space. In essence, I wanted to feel the space moving from the outside to the inside in either direction and to converse visually and conceptually with other works in the exhibition, including the space of the physical interior in the buildings first floor.
What does all of this have to do with the Zen principle of Samadhi? I am neither an Asian artist or scholar, but an American art critic and writer. I have read about Zen Buddhism, Taoism, and some aspects of Hindu philosophy for over thirty years. But I am not a practitioner. My nature is simply not there. I dont have the patience or the inclination. I live in the center of an urban environment where I lecture, travel, and write about contemporary art. Many of my Asian friends are Buddhists. I am not. Thanks to the painter Jean Miotte and his wife, Dr. Dorothea Keeser, I was given the opportunity to organize and curate an exhibition that had a special meaning for me. When I took the concept of Samadhi and applied it to contemporary art, I got excited and became more energized than I would if I had thought about meditating. But as the monks say: if you think about meditating, youll never get there. "There" being the bliss of Samadhi.
I wanted to do an exhibition that went beyond the gravity of
appearance, yet where no foregrounding of a text was necessary. I
am very much against the idea of foregrounding a text in relation
to the experience of art (another notion that has put me at odds
with many of my colleagues. In todays cynical world,
emphasis is given to appearances and separations between mind and
body, between text and image, and between space and time. I chose
work for my exhibition that exceeded the limitations of a single
medium, but gave attention to a quality of stasis -- the state of
being without movement. Each work in the exhibition would be
given the contemplation of space through the phenomenology of
Rather than the duality of consciousness -- the subject-object relationship -- normally understood in Western terms, this exhibition proposes another kind of sensibility: Samadhi. Would it be possible to give viewers a sense of participation in the blissful experience of Samadhi, even if only for a moment? I was intrigued by the possibility that somehow by engaging with the physical presentations of these eleven works that the visual connections and the conceptual affinities would become clear -- not as formalism, but as experience. Would it be possible that the viewer could enter the physical space of the gallery without rational determinants? Could the condition of ones perception be given over to an intuitive and sensory understanding of the works structure?
The concept for this exhibition evolved over a period of several months while thinking in terms of the renovation of a former factory space in West Chelsea. The former function of this fallow space was as a toy factory, but this was several decades ago. What could this space represent now? What could it mean beyond the constraints of a mundane functionalism? The thought that art could expand ones awareness of space from a Buddhist perspective became an obsession. In looking for a connection between reductive form and the gesture -- an opposition that also interested the late sculptor Donald Judd -- the concept of Samadhi came into being. In curating such an exhibition, one may aspire for certain results, even though these hypothetical results remain outside the control of ones projected vision. Duchamp used the term "art co-efficient" to describe the process whereby the viewer ultimately completes the work. In Samadhi, many viewers will complete the exhibition.
In organizing this exhibition, I became interested in artists who dealt with space in a singular, focused way -- not as a maximal exegesis, but as a distillation, as a process of an emptying-out the environment. I selected artists whose works would complement one another within an active (though static) visual field. I wanted to emphasize the notion that space was not a given condition, but a created one. The participating artists include: Renee Pierre Allan, Robert Barry, Boem Moon, Frederick Eversley, Tadaaki Kuwayama, John McLaughlin, Jean Miotte, Joan Mitchell, Rakuko Naito, Kazuo Shiraga, and Mimmo Roselli. The unique aspect of each artists vision is what contributes to the whole.
During the installation process I became interested in how a 1969 painting by Joan Mitchell -- painted in blue and brown patches on a white field, using her well-known gestural mannerisms -- related to an expansive floor installation of aluminum cylinders set in a grid by Tadaaki Kuwayama. On another wall, a silvery blue monochrome --- painted with automobile lacquer -- by Korean artist Boem Moon related visually to a bright red painting in a heavy steel frame by French-Canadian Rene Pierre Allain. I saw a connection, if not a resemblance, between these works even though the artists came from vastly different cultures. Mimmo Rosellis triangular configuration of brown cords, strung between three walls, appeared like a floating harp above eye-level, and related implicitly to the reductive organization used in John McLaughlins painting of two black horizontal bars floating against a white ground. This provoked another conversation between John McLaughlin and a nearby sequence of discrete sculptural cubes, constructed of wire-mesh and folded paper, by the Japanese artist Rakuko Naito.
On another wall, Kazuo Shiragas brilliant foot painting, made in Japan in 1961, evokes the action of the body in the act of painting while conversing with a recent, large-scale, black and white abstract gestural painting by Jean Miotte. Frederick Eversleys opaque convex disc, cast in plastic, and situated in the far corner of the large gallery, coincide with the abstract words and phrases printed diagonally on glass at the entrance of the exhibition by the American conceptualist Robert Barry. The contrasting and complementary components in the exhibition offer an effusive and ineffable sensibility to the large open space on the first floor, thus creating an open visual dialogue between the various artists works.
And Samadhi? Where can it be found? Perhaps, less in the objects than in the viewers willingness to become a participant. In this way, the art can be put together and constructed as a mental image, an intentional concept, forever in transition as one moves physically throughout the gallery space as ones thoughts move within the space of the mind. It is possible, of course, that my intention has little or nothing to do with the conventional meaning or use of the term Samadhi. The appropriation of the term may be misguided. Even so, the exhibition will be given another reference point, being one of experience as absence -- what Samadhi strives to attain. Here is another way coming from an Eastern point of view into the West, or a Westerners attempt to deal with Eastern thought as a viable means toward understanding art on another level less given to the repetition of secular misrepresentations.
After all the Western theory, Samadhi offers another look at advanced art where privilege is given to experience by way of spatial continuity instead of the self in relation to the Other.
Robert C. Morgan is a writer, international art critic, curator, poet, lecturer, and artist. His recent books include Art into Ideas: Essays on Conceptual Art (1996), Between Modern and Conceptual Art (1997), The End of the Art World (1998), Gary Hill (2000), and Bruce Nauman (2002). He writes for Art News (New York) and Art Press (Paris) and is a Contributing Editor for Sculpture Magazine (USA) and Tema Celeste (Milan). He holds both an MFA in Sculpture and a Ph.D. in Art History. He is currently Adjunct Professor of Fine Art at Pratt Institute. In 1999, he was awarded the Arcale Award for Art Criticism in Salamanca
Sometimes I hate myself so much that I wish I were dead.
I have recently discovered that it is because of every
day abuse by my mother that I have this feeling, and it
has been arising many times in me very strongly lately. I
don't even know it sometimes that I am having this
feeling until I have already been very cruel to myself,
or am thinking (or even behaving) in a mean way toward my
daughter (who never deserves it!). I keep on having to
apologize to her for things that I am doing
unconsciously, and I want it all to stop!
I have amazing beauty, truly amazing beauty, all around
me in my life but I am not able to enjoy it because I am
still believing what is false.
I think you may be the only person on the earth who can
help me, because I was free of this when I was in your
physical presence and for a long time afterwards. I so
crave to experience my natural freedom that I know is
always available! I crave it for my children the most. (I
have attached a picture of Ananda and Zachary so you can
see them again.)
I love you. I am crying so hard right now. I know I must
love and trust my self the most. Please help me.
P.S. I just remembered that you may be in India right now
but I still feel that if I send this to you, your help
will come to me anyway. I can imagine you are having an
incredible visit to Arunachala!
Have some tea? Cookies? Oh, listen, I know how you feel.
But I do also know that in time you will grow beyond your
past and the treatment your Mother dished out. I know
because from the age of 14 until my mid-forties I hated
my Mother. Of course I stuffed those feelings. Repressing
my feelings started at a young age - it was a survival
Somehow, I convinced myself that I was a forgive and
forget kind of guy - a real nice guy. What I didn't
realize was that stuffed and smothered emotions fester. I
would surprise myself and others with explosive episodes
of anger. Yup, I punched holes in the walls, threw things
and was very scary and out of control - not a nice guy.
This reached a peak from about the age of 25 to 27.
Fortunatly I had married a pretty smart woman. She sent
my ass packing to therapy! I am not saying that you
should have therapy, just get some help. Find someone who
can help you to understand the psychological and mental
health aspects of being raised in an abusive home. It
could go a long way to you being back on top. Perhaps
there is a support group in your area?
What I have learned is that there are triggers
(situations) that spark and rekindle old, old emotions.
And until we learn to identify those triggers we will
continue to react strongly when those situations appear.
Ha! I just remembered my sister's first husband, Stanly.
He was about 6' 4" and weighed somewhere over 300 pounds.
But all you had to do to reduce him to a retching
miserable mess was to dunk something in your coffee! He
would seize up, pale chalk white and moan, "Stop it stop
it." You only did this once with Stanly. After he
'composed' himself he would be very angry.
With time I learned to find my triggers. It took patience
and caring for myself. I had to develop a habit of
awareness of my emotional state in any given situation.
Eventually I was able to identify the internal programs
of frustration and fear and the resulting anger.
No one is quite as powerless in the way a child is. And
no one need stay a victim all thier lives.
That you are able to cry. Able to see that something,
some part of you needs your love and attention speaks of
hope and success. You will be healed in your heart. Your
love of life and family is a great, wonderful gift - it
is serving you well.
peace and loving care,
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|Dr. Robert Puff|