Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Last chance to Enter the Mandala! (SF)

CC Liu, Dhr. Seven, Amber Larson, Wisdom Quarterly; Sherrie Thai; SF Asian Art Museum
Buddhist goddess, bodhisattva, one of the Taras (SF Museum/Sherrie Thai/flcikr.com)
Sherrie Thai (shairproductions/flickr.com) photographs the wonderful SF Asian Art Museum
"Enter the Mandala: Cosmic Centers and Mental Maps of Himalayan Buddhism" until Oct 26, 2014 then "Roads of Arabia: Archeology and History of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia"
The Buddha (Sherrie Thai)
Mandalas are maps of Buddhist visionary worlds.
Minutely detailed and saturated with philosophical meaning, these works (most often paintings or sculptures) are a feast for the eyes and the mind -- nested squares and circles arrayed to represent the center of the cosmos and the four cardinal directions, north, east, south, west).
For Buddhist practitioners (particularly in Vajrayana), however, mandalas are not just images to view, but worlds to enter. After recreating the image in their mind’s eye, meditators imaginatively enter its realm (the cosmos, space world, mandalas represent).

Dagchen Rinpoche holds vajra drawing lines to close the Hevajra sand mandala after empowerment initiation at Tharlam Monastery, Boudha, Kathmandu, Nepal (Wonderlane)
But is it possible to have this experience without years of meditative discipline?
Om Mani Mandala thangka (cgi/ebay.com)
“Enter the Mandala” says yes. In this exhibition, 14th-century paintings align a gallery with the cardinal directions, transforming open space into an architectural mandala -- a chance to experience the images in three dimensions, to dwell in the midst of the cosmic symbols and be transported to another world.

Visitors can literally “enter” the mandala in the SF Asian Art Museum lobby, exploring places in the cosmos -- and perhaps ourselves -- that might otherwise remain invisible.

On September 2, the curator of “Enter the Mandala,” Jeff Durham, spoke with visual artist Saya Woolfalk at UC Berkeley's Center for the Study of Religion about creative influences and religious content in the exhibition and the performance made in response to it. (Don't let a Halloween demon prevent a visit). More

This is the last chance to "Enter the Mandala" at Dr. Jeff Durham's SFAAM exhibition!
Western students hearing instruction, Tharlam Monastery, Boudha, Nepal (Wonderlane)
Lamas wearing Five Dhyani Buddha crowns, holding blessing string, during high yoga tantra initiation, Sakya Lamdre, Tharlam Monastery (Wonderlane/flickr.com/boomsbeat.com).

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