Saturday, September 18, 2010

new painting of the Triratna Buddhist Order’s Refuge Tree

In May this year Triratna News reported on Chintamani’s new painting of the Triratna Buddhist Order’s Refuge Tree, on its way to Seattle. Now Saddharaja, from Cambridge UK, has created another, this time for use in India. He writes to say -

“I painted it specifically for the Indian Sangha, and you’ll notice the figures include Dr. Ambedkar and Anagarika Dharmapala in addition to the other figures. The reason is that I noticed on my trips to India that people were sticking Dr Ambedkar pictures on to Aloka's Refuge tree image, so I decided I wanted to paint a Refuge tree that specifically had him on it - if Bhante was happy with that. By chance Bhante had included a piece in Shabda in the early 2000s about this very subject, stating exactly how they should be represented, and the principles by which they could be included on the tree. So my thanka followed his wishes. However, I'm happy for Triratna Buddhists everywhere (not just in india) to have it around - if that is helpful to them and their practice.

“After painting my Refuge tree, I subsequently found that Aloka HAD in fact painted an alternative version to his Refuge tree: This included Dr Ambedkar and Dharmapala in the way that Bhante had wanted it. I have often see this used on shrines in India. In painting mine, I was in any case strongly influenced by Aloka's Refuge tree image - as we all have been. For many years, his image was the only one around, and I am very grateful to him for painting it.

“If you look closely you’ll also notice the Teachers of the Past (or at least some of them) are in a slightly different position on my Refuge Tree to the exact position Bhante placed them and Aloka originally painted them. This is to do with 'authenticity' and my practice. My Refuge tree has come out of my experience of the practice, undertaken at Bhante's inspiration and guidance. However, for some reason I simply cannot understand, the figures at the back simply INSISTED on positioning themselves in the way they do - in my practice. So I stopped trying to visualise them in their 'right' place, allowing them to be where they are. When painting the tree, I felt I needed to paint it as faithful to my own experience of the practice, so that's why they are positioned the way they are. However, I realise that may lead to some confusion for some people who see the thanka.

“I'm very happy for you to mention my refuge tree painting in Triratna News, and publish images of it. Please feel free to use it anywhere, anytime. I'm very happy for it to be distributed as widely as possible.

“With much metta, Saddharaja”

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