Bonsai Spirituality

Bonsai Spirituality

Bonsai Spirituality?  Most people hear that and ask how is Spirituality connected to little trees in pots.  I will say I have learned about my connection to nature especially during my years practicing bonsai.  I feel we can learn more about our spirit through our connection with nature than listen to a bunch of rich old white guys rant and rave about how I should experience my own divine nature.  I am going to use this very old blog section of our site to Post some of my experiences with different spiritual concepts and I would love to hear some of yours.  Please feel free to post anything relating to your spiritual views, experiences or opinions

This is something I wrote during college about my experience at a Shambala Buddhist Center.  It’s fun reading this and looking back on what I have learned about myself and who I am as a eternal being having a human experience.  I have experienced certain things over the years since writing this paper which as really taught me who and what I really am.  It has a funny nature about it because as soon as you try to describe it it looses it’s truth.  I know that concept comes from Lao Tzu and the Tao te Ching but it really applied.  I feel like this is where the inspiration for all art comes from.  Humanity trying to describe the in-describable.  If I had to describe the spirituality of bonsai – bonsai spirituality in a nutshell would come down to this…  There are three words for beauty in Japanese.  The first type of beauty is that which is created by man such as a painting, sculpture, or a beautiful piece of architecture.  The second is beauty found in nature mountains, rivers, trees.  And finally the third is an interaction of the two, man manipulating with nature to create beautiful art.  This is why bonsai is so important in Japanese Culture because this third form of beauty is considered to be the most impressive.  Going back to the spirituality indescribable beauty that we find only with our connection to the divine is what all of us try to express in any art form we take on.

The sweet scent of incense filled the air as I walked into the Austin Shambala Buddhist Center. The experience itself was fascinating and very pleasant; I left with a feeling of rejuvenation. For the purpose of this writing I am not going to go into my religious background but I will say that I am not currently a practicing Buddhist, or have ever attended a Buddhist service. Since only the two meditation instructors and one other student from my Comparative Religious Studies class were present for the service the experience was very personal. The leaders of the class were very willing to answer any of the many questions we had about Buddhism. After a brief explanation that most Buddhists don’t have a supreme deity that they believe in or worship, I began to contemplate what made Buddhism a religion. Despite the lack of a deity Buddhism is full of notions of sacred power. I would go as far to say it’s almost like the teacher I spoke to hinted that hell and heaven are states that can be achieved on earth during our lives. I will describe through the course of this writing, my experience at the Shambala Buddhist center, as well as how this form of Buddhism ties into the notion of sacred power. A basic understanding of the Shambala Buddhist tradition is necessary to understand my full experience. The In the mid 1970’s founder Chogyan Trungpa introduced the teachings of Shambala vision based on his encounter with the western world, and on the specific wisdom from the Buddha to King Dawa Sangpo the first sovereign of the kingdom of Shambala. Tibetan Buddhism describes the Kingdom of Shambala as a mythical kingdom, known as a Buddhist pure land, were all people are on a path to becoming enlightened. Keep in mind, the word mythical in common usage is known as a false story, myth’s technical meaning in religious study, is a story some people would call sacred. These stories may be literal or symbolic, however believers feel these stories reveal some truth to the meaning of human life. Practitioners describe the tradition of Shambala Buddhism as one that teaches how to live in the secular world with courage and compassion (Cite Needed). “Meditation is Central to everything we do here at the Shambala Buddhist Center” the teacher made this statement within minutes of me entering the temple. These words rung very true as the service at the temple consisted of roughly fifty five minutes of meditation preceded by about ten minutes of chanting. Sitting still and clearing your thoughts for only an hour, seems quite easy. However, I underestimated the challenge of finding peace in a sea of thoughts, the time seemed to stretch. Somehow, I thought the first ten minutes was the whole hour of the Shambala service. The teacher described the process as learning to become friends with yourself, your true self at that. This self was described as free from attachments to worldly things, according to the teachers this only comes through meditation and following teachings. Note that according to the teacher, Buddhist teachings are still relevant, meditation is rather empty without some understanding of what’s behind it. Does it seem like the sacred power in Buddhism is that of a blank canvas to paint on? Slightly it does, sacred power does not directly correlate with an all powerful deity who will decided the fate of all people in a life after death. It seems to me they would describe humans, as being tied into suffering and having many negative emotions in the course of life. It was described to me during the service that enlightenment was freedom the illusion we live in.  The Hindu’s call this illusion Maya, I kinda look at it like the Matrix. If you analyze other well known world religions, including Christianity, Judaism, and Islam freedom from suffering is still central most of them just don’t take any action to achieve this.  Buddhists actively work toward enlightenment, transcending the illusion.


Bonsai Spirituality

 

It’s fun reading this and looking back on what I have learned about myself and who I am as a eternal being having a human experience.  I have experienced certain things over the years since writing this paper which as really taught me who and what I really am.  It has a funny nature about it because as soon as you try to describe it it looses it’s truth.  I know that concept comes from Lao Tzu and the Tao te Ching but it really applied.  I feel like this is where the inspiration for all art comes from.  Humanity trying to describe the in-describable.  If I had to describe the spirituality of bonsai – bonsai spirituality in a nutshell would come down to this…  There are three words for beauty in Japanese.  The first type of beauty is that which is created by man such as a painting, sculpture, or a beautiful piece of architecture.  The second is beauty found in nature mountains, rivers, trees.  And finally the third is an interaction of the two, man manipulating with nature to create beautiful art.  This is why bonsai is so important in Japanese Culture because this third form of beauty is considered to be the most impressive.  Going back to the spirituality indescribable beauty that we find only with our connection to the divine is what all of us try to express in any art form we take on.