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Thus Have I Seen: Art and Images as Guides on the Path to Awakening
Dates: Jul 03, 2020 - Jul 07, 2020
Days: Fri - Tue (4 Nights)

Instructor(s): Mu Soeng, William Edelglass

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The figure of the Buddha, in literature and visual art, has been a source of inspiration and teaching for all Buddhist traditions. As an inscription on an eighth-century Chinese statue of the Buddha Amitābha states, “while highest truth is devoid of any image, without images there would be nothing to make visible its [being the] truth.” Indeed, visual culture has always played a significant role in Buddhist thought and practice. One of the most inspiring visual models of practice is the oxherding pictures series, which originated in China as part of the early Chan tradition and became more prominent in medieval Japanese Zen. Today, the oxherding pictures continue to inspire contemporary Buddhist practitioners in the West and resonate with a psychological understanding of how Buddhist thought and practice addresses conditioning and leads to awakening. In this course, we will explore the role of visual aids on the path to awakening in several Buddhist traditions and experiment with contemplating and making images as forms of practice. We will be particularly attentive to the oxherding pictures and how these images express the dharma.

This course will be open for registration on October 1st.

Learning Intentions:

To understand some of the diversity of Buddhist traditions and practices; develop a sense for some of the many kinds of Buddhist visual art; and explore contemplating images as a form of dharma practice, and the joy of sharing this practice with others.

Noble Silence and Mindful Speech:

Noble silence will be observed following the evening session through breakfast the following morning.

Experience Level:

Some meditation and retreat experience suggested.

  • Mu Soeng is Scholar Emeritus at BCBS. He trained in the (Korean) Zen tradition and was a monk for eleven years. He is the author of Thousand Peaks: Korean Zen (Tradition and Teachers); The Diamond Sutra: Transforming the Way We Perceive the World; Trust in Mind: The Rebellion of Chinese Zen; The Heart of the Universe: Exploring the Heart Sutra, and co-author of Older and Wiser: Classical Buddhist Teachings on Aging, Sickness, and Death.

  • William Edelglass is Director of Studies at the Barre Center for Buddhist Studies. He is a scholar-practitioner with a background in several Buddhist traditions. William’s writings explore a wide variety of questions in Buddhist studies, environmental studies, phenomenology, ethics, literature and aesthetics, climate change, well-being, and the science of meditation. He has taught in diverse settings, including dharma centers, higher education—he is currently Professor of Philosophy and Environmental Studies at Marlboro College, VT—a federal prison in New York, the Institute of Buddhist Dialectics, in Dharamsala, India, and for many years William led wilderness trips for Outward Bound and other organizations.