Thursday, April 22, 2010

Recent Life

I found this Vairocana (Cosmic Buddha) Marimokkori on my student's desk today. At first I was like "how sacrilege," but actually, a lot of buddhist deities are depicted with boners, so it's not so out of place.

This may be the most beautiful Shrine i have ever seen. We visited it after hanami in saijo.
Look who it is!!! Richard came to visit with his fiance! Emily and I were honored.
My new friend Daifuku.
Keiran is in town! We hiked up to temple #60.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Public bathing; what a gift.

Most all my western friends here in Japan absolutely love onsen (public bathing), and go about once a week, sometimes more. Tricia, Sarah, Ty, friend Hideyuki actually tells people his hobby is onsenning. I’ve been with him many times, we went last night, and I tell ya he is a textbook nudist: the clothes come off and he is happy as can be, dancing around, stretching, relaxing...He especially loves the outdoor baths, as do we all; sunbathing naked, or lying in the feels great on the body, doesn't it? I think public bathing also feels great on the soul.

It can even evoke a kind of spiritual (or universal) awareness, if you ask me. John Ince: “Social nudity helps erode social boundaries. Clothes are powerful visible cues of social division: between the rich and the poor, the trendy and the unfashionable. Nudity is like a uniform, signaling the most inclusive of all forms of membership—our humanity. Yet this primal uniform is at the same time ultimately individualistic, reveling the very essence of our physical idiosyncrasies. Thus the shedding of clothes simultaneously promotes social equality and personal authenticity, a sense of community and a sense of individuality.”

There is that great artist,
Spencer Tunic, who makes the news sometimes for his art happenings and photographs. Many of his volunteers say that it was the first time they had been nude in public, and with huge smiles explain how thrilling and liberating it was. Anyway, check him out, and the onsen, if you havn’t.

Ingrid Lezar - I was a bit of an apprehensive beginner, but now I love the onsen. My reflections so far have mostly revolved around ageing. So of course at the onsen you have everyone from babies to the oldest lady in the world whose bones and muscles are so contorted that it's hard to understand how she even moves around every day... and here we all are, enjoying a hot bath. It's like... whatever life throws at you, there will always be giant warm baths, and you can enjoy them no matter what.

Sunday, April 04, 2010


Well, it’s over...again. 魂--"Soul" or "Spirit" in Japanese, my third collaboration with the famous butoh dancer Yasuchika Konno, and my first experience with the swami, spiritual teacher and sitarist Atasa Sangeet, over and done. I’m happy, inspired, exhausted, sad, angry, disappointed, energetic, spacious, in love, in light, and free, not all at the same time, but in waves that kind of unfold an emotional blanket with dreamglowy seams.

20 paintings sold, I got three commissions, and about 50 people came to the collaboration. Amazing success. Go We! With this final collaboration I wanted to give Niihama a spiritual expereince, “spiritual,” here meaning Universal, or deeply human; The Soul Level, or the Human Being level. I invited a butoh dancer who breathes bushi and budo, the real deal, traditional Japanese through and through, and yet avant-garde to the max, contemporary corn-rows, contemplative outlook, his chiseled mind and trained body channeld dance from the creative void--is he acting or for real?, terrifying, people gazed transfixed; the shaman took them away, deep into themselves...god it was breathtaking. And I invited a Japanese sitarist who went to India in his twenties and met his guru Osho, who gave him his name which means "The Soul of Music." He now teaches meditation and the joy of living creatively around Japan. Together our three souls created a space where people could forget themselves, remember their Selves, and ride the crazy waves of humanness; emotion, celebration, expression, invention, and our innate spiritual awareness (unlimited compassion, the human heart and soul.) I think we succeeded. I put Tibetan prayer flags and Japanese shide around the outside of the gallery to create a kind of sacred atmosphere. Shide can designate a space open for god, and tibetan prayerflags (prayers for peace) can bring to mind the people suffering in the world, inspiring compassion. Yasuchika made everyone take their shoes off at the door, another ritual for the invocation of the sacred... While people were arriving and sitting down, I played the drums, bells, and sang the Vajrasattva mantra to purify the space and please the local gods. Then Atasa and Yasuchika came out, we all bowed, Atasa gave a little talk, made everyone laugh, and then began the performance with three chimes of the Tibetan bell. I started playing the singing bowl, and the sitar slowly began to fill the room, making everyone high. Suddenly, Yasuchika, who had been sitting like a stone in meditation, sprang into the space and began his terrifyingly controlled, breathtaking dance. “The dreadful thing is that Beauty is not only terrifying but also mysterious. God and the devil are fighting there, and their battlefield is the heart of man...” Dostoevski. Atasa went back and forth between his sitar and flutes, I played the djimbes tabla-style, lightly muted with scarves, and Konno danced for about 30 minutes. After that we took a break. The lights went up and everyone walked around looking at my series of paintings, "Subtle Worlds" Second half, Atasa led us all into an amazing tonglen meditation, hands on our heart-chakras, and then two of Atasa’s friends joined us for a final jam. They were beautiful women, one played the Hang and the other her voice. “You will love her voice.” Atasas said. “She gets all here melodies directly from...” and he gestured upwards. The Japanese woman’s voice sounded like a musical instrument, Bjork mixed with Inuit throat singers, and the Hang sounded like a haunted steel ufo, taking us to the ghost world. They were a perfect accompaniment for Yasuchika’s final dance. An excerpt from the end of Atasa’s tonglen meditation: “You know how this world is a kind of hell for many people. Many people have so much suffering. Imagine taking all of their suffering into your heart and, holding it in there, the heart is so strong it transforms it into joy, and breathe out wonderful joy and peace, sending it to all the living beings.” Promply at nine, the owner of the gallery told us to stop. My friend Hachidai’s three year old daughter gave us all flowers, we thanked everyone for coming, chatted, cleaned up, and then a group of us went to eat dinner before ending up at my house. We drank sake and stayed up till 5:00 talking about everything. Atasa spoke to Yasuchika and I about the importance of selfless art and bringing beauty into the world, “not just reflecting beauty, but actually bringing more beauty into the world.” He spoke seriously about letting the self die. “Who is dancing? There is only the dance!" When your ego dies and your art is all that’s left, then it can really heal you and others. Then is comes from a more universal demention..a soul, or subtle level, one that resonates in a more mirroring kind of way for the guests.

May all beings be Free and in Love.

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