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“Thus Have I Seen”: Art and Images on the Path to Awakening

Residential Program
Dates: Feb 03, 2023 - Feb 06, 2023
Days: Friday - Monday
Number of Nights: 3 nights

Instructor(s): William Edelglass

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Course Description:

The figure of the Buddha, in literature and visual art, has been a source of inspiration, practice, and teaching for all Buddhist traditions.  Contemplating or recollecting the Buddha—visualizing the Buddha so that one feels oneself to be in the presence of the Buddha—has been a primary practice across Asian Buddhist traditions from the very beginning.  In some traditions, simply seeing a representation of the Buddha’s body could result in significant spiritual development.  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.”  This “making visible,” seeing, or direct perception, is a widespread metaphor for liberating knowledge, insight, and wisdom in Buddhist traditions.  This is one reason why images of the Buddha’s eyes are so iconic and why images of the Buddha permeate Buddhist cultures.  Images of awakened beings and artistic representations of what and how awakened beings see were regarded as supporting practitioners themselves to see with awakened vision.

In our time together, we will explore the role of visual supports on the path to awakening in several Buddhist traditions and experiment with contemplating and making images as forms of practice.  Each session will focus on a particular Buddhist artistic tradition and specific images.  We will explore the doctrinal, practice, and aesthetic meanings of these images.  And we will be making some of our own images with materials that participants will bring with them (such as watercolor or oil painting, charcoal, pen and ink, clay, etc.).

Noble Silence:
Noble silence will be observed following each evening session through breakfast the following morning. Additional silent practice periods will be scheduled throughout the program.

Experience Level:
Suitable for beginning and experienced practitioners.

Cancellation Policy:
During the pandemic, there is a cancellation fee of $50 for all residential programs longer than two nights and $25 for weekend programs. 2023: If you need to cancel your registration, please contact us as soon as possible. If you cancel two or more weeks before a program begins, cancellation fees are $50 for all programs longer than two nights and $25 for weekend programs. If you cancel less than two weeks before your program begins, your full deposit is forfeited. If you have requested financial assistance, cancellation fees are $50 for all programs longer than two nights and $25 for weekend programs. All cancellation fees support our Scholarship Funds.

Covid-19 Safety Protocol:
Please review our Covid-19 Safety Protocols here: https://www.buddhistinquiry.org/covid-19/.

As we work to become a more diverse, equitable, and inclusive community, we invite feedback/suggestions you may have regarding ways that we can make participation in the program more accessible and welcoming. Please email us at contact@buddhistinquiry.org.
    About the Instructor(s):
  • William Edelglass is Director of Studies at the Barre Center for Buddhist Studies.  He publishes broadly in Buddhist studies, environmental humanities, and philosophy.  William has practiced in several different Buddhist traditions and has taught widely in dharma centers, academia, as a wilderness guide, and at the Institute of Buddhist Dialectics, in Dharamsala, India.  William is chair of the board of directors of the International Association of Environmental Philosophy and co-editor of the journal, Environmental Philosophy. His most recent publication is The Routledge Handbook of Indian Buddhist Philosophy (2022).