Sunday, March 26, 2017

Quan Yin




I've made a number of sculptures dedicated to Quan Yin *** and this is the most ambitious one in progress. Quan Yin, the manifestation of Divine Compassion throughout Chinese Buddhism, represents the Bodhissatva - the Great Being who "hears the cries of the world" and returns, again and again, to aid the suffering of the world.  She is often shown, like Tara of Tibet, with many arms, and has been called "thousand armed Quan Yin"....the arms being the many ways she can help and assist those in need.  

I don't know why I have felt the need to create so many Quan Yin images, exactly.  I have felt so much this past year the hardening of hearts, division, anger, and mean spiritedness in my country, and have become quite political with the rise the far right agenda and the election of Trump.  As above, so below - in the process I have seen a lot of anger and division coming out of me as well, not all of it manifesting in a good or wise way.  So making masks, making art about Quan Yin (and I am also making a painting about the Archangel Micheal), whether I realize it or not consciously, is an act of invocation.  For the world, but most especially for myself.  

As I love to tell my students, but don't always remember myself.........art making can be a great act of invocation, a great act of healing, an act of magic if you will.  When my model and I were working on the sculpture above, we both felt a kind of light in the room, a yellow, calm, serene light/sensation.  The Goddess was with us as we invoked Her through our creative process.  And it really doesn't matter if you even "believe" in the Goddess Quan Yin.   I'm not sure that "believing" is anywhere near as important as simply wanting help, wanting guidance, opening the heart.  I don't "believe" the Divine Ones care what we call them or what form we give them.  But making art can thus be an act for us of devotion and spiritual practice or transformation.  The art object, finished, becomes an icon, a talisman to remind us.  
I wanted to make a Quan Yin that, instead of the idealized and beautiful, but iconic, representations, looks like a real woman in the real world of today -  Bodhisattva walking among us, working among us, hearing and responding to the pain of the world, bringing healing and love.  And not a beautiful young woman either, idealized, but a woman in her middle years, reflecting the experience that comes with embodiment.  

***


Kuan Shih Yin - Avalokiteshvara Bodhisattva

The Bodhisattva of Great Compassion

The Sanskrit name "Avalokiteshvara" means "the lord who looks upon the world with compassion".  Translated into Chinese, the name is "Kuan Shih Yin"or Quan Yin.

Kuan: observe
Shih: the world / the region of sufferers
Yin: all the sounds of the world, in particular, the crying sounds of beings, verbal or mental, seeking help

Avalokiteshvara Bodhisattva is the embodiment of great compassion. He has vowed to free all sentient beings from suffering. Avalokiteshvara Bodhisattva is has great powers and can help all sentient beings. His skilful means are limitless and he can appear in any form in all the six realms of existence to relieve the suffering of the sentient beings who live there. He vowed to rescue those who call on him when they are in suffering, for example, when caught in a fire, shipwrecked or facing an attack.

In the Lotus Sutra, Shakyamuni Buddha said that if a suffering being hears the name of Avalokiteshvara Bodhisattva and earnestly calls out to the Bodhisattva, Avalokiteshvara will hear the call and relieve that being from his suffering.

According to the Huayen Sutra, Avalokiteshvara Bodhisattva transforms himself into forms that suit the nature of those to be helped. His manifestations or transformation bodies are countless.  e.g. if a boy or girl is about to gain some enlightenment, Avalokiteshvara Bodhisattva transforms himself into a boy or a girl to teach the child.
e.g. If a monk is about to attain some enlightenment, Avalokiteshvara Bodhisattva transforms himself into a monk.

In short, he can appear as a monk, a nun, or a normal person like you and me. The purpose of such transformations is to make people feel close to him and willing to listen to his words.

In China, Avalokiteshvara Bodhisattva is represented in female form and is known as Kuan Yin. Probably because of Kuan Yin's great compassion, a quality which is traditionally considered feminine, most of the Bodhisattva statues in China since the Tang Dynasty (A.D. 618 - 907) have appeared as female figures. In India, however, the Bodhisattva is generally represented as a male figure.

In her hands, Kuan Yin may hold a willow branch, a vase with water or occasionally, a lotus flower.  The willow branch is used to heal people's illnesses or bring fulfillment to their requests.  The water ( the dew of compassion) has the quality of removing suffering, purifying the defilement of our body, speech and mind, and lengthening life.

In Buddhist art, Avalokiteshvara Bodhisattva is sometimes shown with eleven heads, 1000 hands and eyes on the palms of each hand (Thousand-Armed Avalokiteshvara Bodhisattva). The thousand eyes allow the Bodhisattva to see the sufferings of sentient beings, and the thousand hands allow her to reach out to help them.

Sometimes, he is represented with one head and 4 arms. This is the Four-Armed Avalokiteshvara, worshipped by all Tibetans as "Chenrezig", the Holder of the White Lotus. It is in the male form which has two hands in the praying gesture while the other two hands hold his symbols, the Crystal Rosary and the Lotus Flower.

There is a sacred place for the worship of Kuan Yin in China - the Putuo Mountain. It is actually an island located near the city of Ningpo, in Zhejiang Province. There are many stories of Kuan Yin's miraculous appearances at Putuo Mountain.

Actually, anyone can be like Kuan Yin. You may say that you don't have a thousand eyes or a thousand arms or that you lack skillful means, but it is your compassion that can transform you into a Kuan Yin. With your eyes and hands, you can help others. With your compassion, you can bring peace and tranquility to this world.

The Mani Mantra (The Mantra of Universal Protection) : OM MANI PADME HUM

from:  Buddhanet


Monday, August 15, 2016

3 Day Mask Arts Intensive Workshops in Tucson in 2016 and 2017*

Picture
THE MASKS OF THE GODDESS 


 3 Day Mask Arts Intensive Workshop 
                        for women

November 11 - 13, 2016   and 
April  7 - 9,  2017  

$300.00.
Limited Housing**  is available  for $50.00 extra.  

Introduction and check in begins Friday evening,  and Workshop ends at Noon  with a potluck lunch on Sunday.  In this workshop we'll  draw on our mythic imaginations as we explore ways to invoke the Goddess within through the creation of durable theatrical masks. We will also discuss ways to use these  masks for storytelling, ritual, community performance and personal exploration.  You take home the means to continue the work, alone or with your community.  


 To learn more, please visit:  the Masks of the Goddess Project.

 Note: There is a $20 fee for supplies. Bring  a story about a Goddess archetype you wish to explore.   


 "The masks of the goddess workshop was a pivotal event in my life.....I have been feeling
 the Goddesses waking up ever since.  They  were there, definitely there."

Lorraine Hogan, Kripalu Participant 

To read more about making  masks:
 http://laurenraine.blogspot.com/2011/04/working-with-masks.html 

**As available.

Picture
MASK AND MYTH 

3 Day Mask Arts Intensive Workshop
for Men and Women

November 18-20, 2016  and
April 14 - 16, 2017

$300.00  
Limited  Housing**  is available  for $50.00 extra

Introduction and check in begins Friday evening,   and Workshop ends at Noon with a potluck lunch on Sunday.  Although masks can be experienced as art objects,  by their very nature they are active rather than passive.  They are  "vessels for our stories".   We'll draw on our “mythic imaginations” as we explore the creation  of  durable theatrical masks.  Is there a Persona  that awaits a face, a story, a voice?  Creating a mask is a way to open the conversation.   We'll learn:

·         To sculpt masks from our faces,  creating durable theatrical masks.
·         Explore personally significant stories of  mythic Archetypes.
·         Discuss approaches to working with masks  for  performance, community,  and   
           educational purposes.

Note: There is a $20 fee for supplies.   Bring  a story, and art materials that you might wish to include in a mask. 

 To read more about making masks:  http://laurenraine.blogspot.com/2011/04/working-with-masks.html

                    "Myth comes alive as it enters the cauldron of evolution,
  drawing energy  from the storytellers who shape it." 

Elizabeth Fuller,  The Independent Eye Theatre ​



**As available.​​

*A $100.00 deposit is required for workshops, which can be purchased via Visa, Mastercharge, Paypal, check or money order.

Thursday, December 10, 2015

New Websites and "Threads of Spider Woman" Blog


I have not been active on this Blog for quite a while, sharing work instead on my other blog:

(www.threadsofspiderwoman.blogspot.com)

I've also created several new websites:


My  Site:    www.laurenraine.com

The Masks of the Goddess Project: www.masksofthegoddess.com

Rainbow Bridge Oracle: www.rainbowbridgeoracle.weebly.com

and the Mythic Masks Catalog:  www.mythandmask.com


Thanks for visiting!




Friday, August 28, 2015

Masks for the Parliament of World Religions: White Buffalo Calf Woman



WHITE BUFFALO CALF WOMAN

As a beautiful young maiden I appeared bearing a sacred pipe,
And inside the village’s big medicine tipi,
together we conducted ceremony.

I showed the people
How to lift the pipe up to the sky,
toward Grandfather,
And down to the earth,
toward Grandmother.
And to the four directions of the universe.

I told them the smoke rising from the bowl
Was the living breath
of the great Grandfather Mystery. 

“With this pipe,” I said,“Walk a living prayer.
With your feet resting upon the earth
And the pipestem reaching into the sky,
Your body forms a living bridge between
The Sacred Beneath and the Sacred Above.
Now we are one:

Earth, sky, man, woman,
And all living things.
We are all relations,
The pipe holds them all together.” 

Next I instructed
In the seven sacred ceremonies of the pipe: 

The first was the sweat lodge purification ceremony.
The next was for naming the children.
The third was for healing,
The fourth was  the adoption ceremony.
The fifth  the marriage ceremony.
The sixth was the vision quest.
And the seventh  was the sundance ceremony.

As I walked away, I became a Buffalo, and I rolled over four times:

First I turned into a black buffalo;
Second  into a brown buffalo;
The third into a red buffalo;
And the fourth time I became a white buffalo calf.

 As soon as I departed that day
Great buffalo herds appeared from beyond the horizon
And some of their number allowed themselves to be killed
So the people might live.

I have not forgotten you.
That white buffalo calf born not so long ago,
Is but one glimmer from the beyond
Of My imminent return.

To grant your people
who are My people
another bridge
To knit the world above
And the earth below
Together again.


by Mary Kay Landon

Friday, February 13, 2015

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Prayers for the Dying

"Form Is Empty" (2009)
    Do not stand at my grave and weep,
    I am not there; I do not sleep.
    I am a thousand winds that blow,
    I am the diamond glints on snow,
    I am the sun on ripened grain,
    I am the gentle autumn rain.
    When you awaken in the morning’s hush
    I am the swift uplifting rush
    Of quiet birds in circling flight.
    I am the soft star-shine at night.
    Do not stand at my grave and cry,

    I am not there; I did not die.
    Ann Frye


In 2008 my brother suffered a brain stem stroke.  Because he did not have a living will, since then he has been on complete life support.  In 2009 he was pronounced brain dead.  My other brother has finally agreed to allow me to withdraw life support for Glenn, which we will do on the 15th of this month.  

 "We have been raised to think that our body ended here, with this bag of skin, or with our possessions or education or house.  Now we begin to realize that our body is the World."  ...... Joanna Macy

"Form Is Empty" is one of the sculptures I made for Glenn, honoring his long interest in Buddhism. All of them have tiles with words and phrases pressed into the clay, symbols and antique designs, all of them, like pottery shards, broken, disordered, "de-constructing".  In this realm of being, words and symbols are what we construct our ideas of life from, the "shells" we create our identities from.  In  "Form is Empty" I saw the hand of the dying reaching through the shattering of form toward the offering hand of the Divine, the greater Self. 

"The Heart Sutra" (2009)

 In the 2nd piece, "The Heart Sutra",  I used the hand of a 90 year old woman and a 9 year old child.  The Heart is what lies between.



"Holy Mother Take Me Home" (2009)

"Then in the Arctic half-light of the canyon, all existence fades to a being with my soul and memories and the sounds of the Big Blackfoot River. Eventually, all things merge into one, and a river runs through it. The river was cut by the world's great flood and runs over rocks from the basement of time. On some of those rocks are timeless raindrops. Under the rocks are the words, and some of the words are theirs. "
Norman MacLean, "A River Runs Through It"

The last piece, "Holy Mother Take Me Home",   is a prayer to the Goddess, the Source.  I used a child's hand again, and the broken shards, with all the words, float down the river of light.  We're all children, really, all children.  She reaches out Her hand to take us Home.  It doesn't matter what you've done, where you've been, what kind of life you think you've led or not led.  She waits.  

It's been a long journey Glenn.  Be at peace. 

Descanso for Glenn
 

Sunday, June 1, 2014

New Mosaic - "Our Lady of the Summer Garden"


My exploration of mosaic work continues.............I like that they're kind of irregular, vaguely Byzentine looking and hopefully, suggesting a little bit a long-ago time.