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Lions Roar : January 2013
SHAMBHALA SUN JANUARY 2013 60 should be the only way to work with art. The purpose of a work of art is bodhisattva action. This means that your production, manifestation, demonstration, and performance should be geared toward waking people up from their neurosis. The name artist is not a trademark. The problem of the modern age is that everyone has become merchandised, every- body is a mercenary, and everybody has to have a label: either you are a dentist, an artist, a plumber, a dishwasher, or what- ever. And the label of “artist” is the biggest problem of all. Even if you regard yourself as an artist, I request you not to write “artist” for your occupation when you fill out a form. From my way of thinking, and from what my training tells me, when you have perfected your art and developed your sensitivities, you cannot call yourself anybody at all. Being an artist is not an occupation: it is your life, your whole being. From the time you wake up in the morning, when the buzzer in your clock rings, until you go to bed, every per- ception you experience is an expression of vision—the light coming through your window, the hot-water kettle boiling to make tea, the sizzling of the bacon on the stove, the way your children get up with a yawn and your wife comes down in her dressing gown into the kitchen. If you limit that by saying, “I am an artist,” that is terrible. It is showing disrespect for your discipline. We could safely say that there is no such thing as an artist. There is just art—dharma art, hopefully. 3. Heaven, Earth, and Humanity The principle of heaven, earth, and humanity seems to be basic to a work of art. Although this principle has the ring of visual art, it also could be applied to auditory art such as poetry or music, as well as to physical or three-dimensional art. The principle of heaven, earth, and humanity applies to calligraphy, painting, inte- rior decoration, building a city, designing an airplane or an ocean liner, organizing dishwashing by choosing which dish to wash first, or vacuuming the floor. All of those works of art are included completely in the principle of heaven, earth, and humanity. This principle comes from the Chinese tradition and was developed further in Japan. It has been connected with the tradition of ikebana, Japanese flower arranging, but we should not restrict it to that. If you study the architectural vision of a place like Nalanda University in India, or if you visit Bodhgaya, with its stupa and its compound, or the Buddhist and Hindu temples of Indonesia, you see that they are all founded on the heaven, earth, and humanity principle. In horseback riding, the rider, the horse, and the performance are connected with the heaven, earth, and humanity principle, which can also be applied to the disciplines of archery and swordsmanship. Any discipline, whether Occidental or Oriental, contains the principle of heaven, earth, and humanity. To begin with, let’s consider this principle from the artist’s CALLIGRAPHIESCOURTESYOFMARKNOWAKOWSKI(TOP)ANDSHAMBHALAARCHIVES Above: Great Eastern Sun Left: Jam, the seed syllable for wealth Below: Kami (spirit)