Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Elephant Training and the Tibetan Thangka

Collage by Lani and textures from FlyPaper
While away on vacation, we were staying with a friend who happened to have a Tibetan thangka with elephants all over it.  It looked like the traditional ox herding images from Chinese and Korean Buddhism where the ox turns white by the end of the series.  So what was going on with the elephants?  My friend didn't know what the story was behind the thangka to when I got home I checked with Google and found a whole wonderful web page of material!  I do love this metaphor! Check out the story behind the Tibetan Elephant Taming Picture here.

The short version of what is happening is this: At the bottom of the thangka you see a new meditator whose mind wanders so much in its own directions that it resembles a muddy elephant led by a distracting monkey. The meditator has to chase after the elephant and monkey. Half-way up the thangka, the elephant is starting to turn white and it is the meditator who is now leading it – although the monkey is still interfering by pulling the elephant’s tail from behind.  At some point a rabbit also appears representing lethargy.  Further up, the elephant is now white, the monkey goes off to eat fruit in a tree by itself and the meditator alone is in charge.  Finally the meditator is meditating and the elephant is able to lie down. The meditator can now easily ride elephant. At the top of the thangka the meditator is fully in charge of the elephant (his mind) and is now riding down to put its powers to good use.

Want to train your elephant?  Take a look at Elephant Training on Lulu!

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Flypaper has done it again, Christmas in July!

Collage by Lani, textures by FlyPaper,
girl from PaperWhimsy  
So it's Christmas for my computer, here in Prospect, because  FlyPaper has been hard at work. (Thank you Paul and Jill!) Do take a look if you have a moment.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Things are beautiful...

"Things are beautiful if you love then" -Jean Anouilh (collage by Lani textures by FlyPaper
susanna suchak said this collage reminded her of the Sweet Honey in the Rock song, "No Mirrors in My Nana's House," which comes as no surprise to me, since Dr. Ysaye M. Barnwell, author of the song, is one of my greatest inspirations!  Her ideas are very helpful in working in a multicultural art room and in a multicultural world, in countering racism and internalized racism, and in helping us move in the general direction of "learning to love us more every day".

Ysaye Barnwell tells two related stories about her song, “No mirrors in my Nana’s house.” She had a friend who lived with her grandmother. There were no mirrors in her grandmother’s house. "How did you know how you looked in the morning," Ysaye asked. Her friend told her, "I looked into my Nana's eyes and I knew I look just fine, the beauty that I saw in everything was in her eyes. I never knew from her that my skin was too black, or my nose was too flat, or that my clothes didn't fit." The second story was about a distraught child who went to her grandmother after being teased in the school yard. “Someone called me such and such” the little girl said. The grandmother responded, “If you want to know who you are you look into my eyes.” Ysaye suggests we should get our perceptions of ourselves from people who love us, by looking into their eyes, by listening to them describe us.

I would take that a step further and suggest that we get our perceptions from our internalized Nana's, from that kindly part of the self that can comfort and reflect back to us that we are really alright just the way we are.

If there's a part of you that can smile at this song, there's a part of you that can be your internalized Nana.  

For more on racism, internalized racism, and colonialism, please see this video on "Lateral Violence"!!!