Saturday, May 01, 2010

Seattle receives new Refuge Tree painting by Aloka

Aloka, an Order Member and life-long artist, writes to say -

“I was wondering if you could 'publicise' the completion of the recent version of the Order's "Tree of Refuge and Respect" that I sent to Seattle.....? I thought it might be good to announce a new image plus the fact that reproductions can be purchased from Padmaloka.

“Along with the picture itself Vicki Oyadomari (who asked me to paint it) has sent me a few words she would like included (below)......  She says -


"I first laid eyes on the FWBO Refuge Tree at my first Going for Refuge retreat in August 2008. The prostration practice and the Refuge Tree image became immediate sources of inspiration and devotion. After that retreat, I knew I wanted Aloka to paint this image for me. I had been waiting for years to find a rupa for my shrine and now this image had finally found me. My vision included the hope that the Refuge Tree painting could find a place at annual GFR retreats in America.

“ After another 18 months, the Refuge Tree arrived in Seattle, Washington. On February 20, 2010, I opened up the huge crate it was shipped in. Words cannot adequately describe my experience of unveiling it, but in an email I sent Aloka that day, I said - "The painting is perfect, whole, complete. There is nothing left, nothing missing. I feel it captures everything that is precious to me." It is a privilege to be caretaker, for now, of something this magnificent and important for our Sangha. I want to thank Sangharakshita for giving us the Refuge Tree, and thank Aloka for bringing this image to life from somewhere that is beyond this world".

Aloka continues -

“This version follows Bhante's revised lay-out used in the 2002 version of the Tree (that resides at Padmaloka) where in the 'teachers of the past' section Milarepa, Atisha, Padmasambhava and Tsongkhapa are more evenly positioned, unlike the original 'version (shown left; which lives at Guhyaloka) where Padmasambhava was more central on the row.

"The more painted versions there are of Bhante's "Tree of Refuge and Respect" the better , as it emphasises the fact that no single image is definitive with regards to what one is attempting to create during the actual "Going For Refuge and Prostration Practice"

“Hopefully one experiences one’s own wholehearted involvement in the process of Going for Refuge to the Three Jewels and on the basis of that experiences a vision of all of existence from that perspective - something far beyond the ability of any painting to capture although different versions of the same image may help different people to connect with a vital and essential practise whilst at the same time offering an antidote to literalism.

“Interestingly enough, to help illustrate this point further, yet another version is currently being painted by Chintamani to enrich the growing iconography of the movement!"

The story of Chintamani's image can be found on Triratna News; and further details of the actual figures on the Tree can be found in Kulananda’s excellent book Teachers of Enlightenment: The Refuge Tree of the Western Buddhist Order, available from Windhorse Publications.

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