Riding the Tiger: At one with our demons

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Normally we empower our demons by believing they are real and strong in themselves and have the power to destroy us.  As we fight against them, they get stronger.  But when we acknowledge them by discovering what they really need, and nurture them, our demons release their hold, and we find that they actually do not have power over us.  By nurturing the shadow elements of our being with infinite generosity, we can access the state of luminous awareness and undermine ego.  By feeding the demons, we resolve conflict and duality, finding our way to unity.

Lama Tsultrim Allione

Getting friendly with powerful instinctive forces is easier said than done.  I took the photo above during the Lotus Lantern Parade during the festival of the Buddha’s birthday in Seoul.  I haven’t found the exact story it corresponds to as there are numerous myths about befriending tigers in Korea.  I trust its symbolic message is universally vital.

Lama Tsultrim’s quote speaks to befriending “demons”, those aspects of ourselves and our world that frighten us.  The girl riding the tiger is at ease with a beast we normally consider terrifying.  She has learned to work with powerful energies and align herself with  natural forces as she moves in the world.

We can learn with the innocence of a child to trust our “wild” nature.  I imagine the young girl represents feminine intuition – something available to both men and women.  As an aspect of our Buddha-nature, it is something we are born with and can be revealed as we re-train in our natural goodness…demons and all!

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The Female Buddha book

The Female Buddha book – now on sale at Amazon – click on book!

http://www.thefemalebuddha.com

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Responding to Nature: What the Video Editor saw

When I first started imagining a video for my Indiegogo campaign to promote The Female Buddha book a good friend suggested I work with Bill Woolery, an accomplished editor of film trailers.  Lucky for me he had switched to making trailers for documentaries after many years working commercial films in Hollywood.  Some of them quite well known!

I sent him most of the photos from my book and he immediately began seeing a nature theme and used most of my work from Japan, where gardens were the best place to get a stunning shot of the Bodhisattva, Kwannon or Guanyin as she is known in China.

For me, nature has a feminine quality, a place where you are inspired and have to yield to her whims.  In Japan, a temple is always surrounded by the beauty of the natural world.  In the garden is where Kwannon always resides, to welcome you and offer you peace of mind.

I feel very blessed to have Bill’s creative mix of images to show you here.  Please take the time to watch the trailer and if you are inspired buy a book or contact Bill to make your own video.  I learned a lot from what he chose to use to tie the piece together and feel very blessed to have a nature loving man on my team.

Steps to the Temple

Kyoto Temple Steps

For more information go to http://www.thefemalebuddha.com

Guanyin: One with Nature

Guanyin on a Lion

Sit like a mountain. Sit with a sense of strength and dignity.  Be steadfast, be majestic, be natural and at ease in awareness.  No matter how many winds are blowing, no matter how many clouds are swirling, no matter how many lions are prowling, be intimate with everything, and sit like a mountain.

                                                                      Sharon Salzberg

Sitting on a Lion, Marble Mountain, Vietnam

Outside the Marble Mountain caves many large sculptures of Guanyin stand along the roadside, commissioned by temples or waiting for potential buyers.  This fifteen-foot sculpture shows her in the royal ease posture, calmly sitting on the back of a ferocious lion, confident and at one with all of life.

Guanyin and Parrot, Phouc An Hoc Quan Pagoda, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam

Carrying Guanyin’s beads, the parrot flying next to Guanyin vowed to forever accompany her after she relieved him of consuming grief after the death of his mother.  He has become a symbol of filial piety, an attitude of deep respect towards one’s parents and ancestors. In most depictions the parrot is white and in a few tales the parrot represents Guanyins loyal husband.

Horse Mounted Guanyin, Wat Indravihan, Bangkok, Thailand

Guanyin is depicted in meditation posture on the back of a horse, her power in harmony with the natural world.  She tames and subdues dangerous outer circumstances as well as painful inner emotions run amok.  Behind her is a framed image of Guanyin with squares of gold leaf placed on her in acts of loving devotion by visiting practitioners.

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Don’t miss…..

DISCOVERING THE FEMALE BUDDHA:  The Heart of Liberation and Love

by Deborah Bowman, Ph.D.

  Slide Presentation & Lecture:   Fri., Nov. 2, 2012
    7  – 9 p.m.

Sponsored by Boulder Friends of Jung  $15.00

The First Congregational Church, 1128 Pine Street  
Boulder, CO 80302

On the altar of the most visited temple in Taipei sits a fire-haloed Guanyin, one hand holding a sacred scroll and the other in a teaching gesture. A few years ago, I photographed her among a throng of worshipers hoping to add her to my book.

Over twenty years ago, I had a dream of walking in a garden surrounded by three immense sculptures of female Buddhas. My dream has manifest in ways I never would have imagined.

Pursuing her image across Eastern Asia, I’ve discovered she is the representation of wisdom and compassion in several countries. In Vietnam, when asking directions to the temples of Guanyin, people would say, “you mean the female Buddha?”  This is when I was inspired to entitle my book, The Female Buddha.

Looking at Guanyin through the lens of Jungian psychology, we see a feminine figure distinct in her all-knowing capacity and power to transform through lovingkindness. She is a guiding light, completely free yet thoroughly relational. In this slide presentation, we will look at her unique iconography and well as the evolution of Guanyin throughout history and what she means to us today.

Deborah Bowman, Ph.D. is a psychologist, photographer and professor of Transpersonal Counseling Psychology at Naropa University. She has been in private practice as a psychotherapist for 25 year and is a trainer with the Boulder Psychotherapy Institute. She is author of When Your Spouse Comes OutThe Luminous Buddha and The Female Buddha.

Deborah Bowman with Guanyin statue

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see more images at www.thefemalebuddha.com  or  www.luminousbuddha.com

More Poems from Rengetsu: Touching in and Letting Go

To forget the chill of

The frozen hearth

I spend the night

Dreaming of gathering

Violets in a lush field.

 

The Japanese nun Rengetsu gathers violets in every poem she writes.  In the poem Winter Dreams she captures moments by plucking the petals of her memories one magic moment at a time.

 

To recall the verdant colors of spring in the depth of winter is an expression of faith in the seed of Buddha-nature and the lush field of our heart and mind.

 

When the Dalai Lama describes emptiness as fullness he helps us grasp the fertility of space.  The violets arise against an empty palette, fill the canvas as we gather them in a beautiful bouquet and disperse in the next sweet, sad lapse of time.

 

The evanescence of

This floating world

I feel over and over:

It is the hardest

To be the one left behind.

 

In Thirty Years After my Husband’s Death we enter into a loving sanctum as she reflects on her loss and feast in the vastness of her broken open heart. Her words dance on the razors edge of bliss and emptiness, one image a flash of ecstasy, the next of letting go.

 

 

Clad in back robes

I should have no attractions to

The shapes and scents of this world

But how can I keep my vows

Gazing at today’s crimson maple leaves?

 

Set against the autumnal blaze of the maple leaves Rengetsu’s non-attachment to the effervescent floating word is reflected in her black robe. We see through her contemplative eyes the brilliant juxtaposition of the longing of the human heart and clear awareness.

 

Who else but a poet could evoke the bounty of the void so well?  As a sky dancer her word play evokes a tango.  The seduction is so acute and the beauty so sublime. In this last poem, As a Nun Gazing at the Deep Colors of Autumn she touches in and lets go.  Touches in and lets go.    

 

(Photos by Deborah Bowman, Kyoto, Japan, 2010)

For more photos and inspirational words go to www.thefemalebuddha.com

Japanese Nun Rengetsu: A Poetic Movement of Mind


Western Kyoto temple grounds

Taking up the brush

Just for the joy of it,

Writing on and on,

Leaving behind

Long lines of dancing letters.

To escape into the world of writing is no escape.  I’m sitting in a plane about to launch for Japan reading Rengetsu’s word play.  She is one of the reasons why I endure long flights to see through the imagined eyes of another time and place.

Her five-line waka poem, The Pleasure of Calligraphy celebrates a rhythmic moment of flow, a movement of mind expressed in beauty.  She writes blissfully as ink captures the grace of nature at work in her discipline.

I write as if awkwardly learning a new language, two phrases forward and the next, scratched out.  I’m slowly learning to trust the flow of my mind: noting what thoughts pop forward, which get edited out.

The calligraphy of Rengetsu is masterful.  Her brushstrokes confident and rounded as if they were grass bending sensuously in the breeze.  Her hand is steady into her eighties.

I write in fits and starts. Pleased in the end that I’ve gotten anything coherent on paper.  Her genius is her total alignment with nature pure and direct.

She shatters my stereotype of the nun divorced from delight.  Her joy breaks all bounds as she fearlessly leaps off the page and into my heart.

The roar of the waterfall,

The howl of a

Mountain storm—

Will they shout out to me

Until morning?

In Mountain Retreat her words plunge over the abyss of my insomnia.  She implores us to pay attention to the deafening roar of our inherently wild nature.

I must listen to the terror lurking in my sleepless heart.  Rengetsu powerfully frames awakening with awe struck wonder. Here she portrays life in relentless yet captivating terms.

Her question points to our all too human fear.  Do I have the capacity?  Can I reside in the storm moment-to-moment?  Or will I contract into a dreaded future?

The choice to shout-out the beauty and the terror is ours.  In her poetic howl we can guess Rengetsu embraces the night with valor. I cannot resist her invitation to celebrate it all.

(Photos by Deborah Bowman, Kyoto, Japan, 2010)

For more photos and inspirational words go to www.thefemalebuddha.com