“Share Peace” is the 2014 theme for the Hongwanji temples of Hawai’i. A few months ago there was a photo/art contest for the upcoming 2014 calendar put out by Honpa Hongwanji. The contest asked, “Can you picture peace?” I thought long and hard about the different ways that peace can be manifested, and in the end decided to illustrate a path to finding peace within.
Inner peace is an essential component in being able to share peace with others. When you have peace in your heart, it radiates outward. The Nembutsu can not only lead to inner peace through entrusting Amida Buddha, but can also inspire compassion to share with others. The Japanese characters radiating outward are 南無阿弥陀仏 Namo Amida Butsu – mindfulness of Amida Buddha.
Hawai’i is the first state in the US to officially recognize Peace Day (September 21st, same as the United Nations International Peace Day). Peace starts as an idea, powerful enough to transcend all boundaries. A day when people of all backgrounds can come together to share their dreams of peace is very powerful. There are many roads to peace, but they all start with what you choose to share with others.
Hibiscus flowers are some of the most popular flowers here in Hawai’i, and one of the most iconic. I’m no plant expert, but I think that this is the species Hibiscus rosa-sinensis which is native to East Asia but now very common in Hawai’i. However, there are also many Hibiscus varieties that are native to Hawai’i in a full rainbow of colors. And yes – tourist and local women alike occasionally tuck a blossom behind our ear (although it can be hard to get them to stay!)
This is a digital oil painting I did inspired by one of my photos. I painted it in Photoshop using digital brushes designed to simulate real oil-painting brushes on a canvas texture.
Eight is a special number in Buddhism, most notably used to refer to the Eightfold Path. This lotus flower has eight petals on both the inside and outside, and 64 petals (eight x eight) in the middle. Different colors of lotus blossoms have their own meanings, and a purple lotus is symbolic of spirituality and mysticism. Purple lotus flowers are not as commonly depicted as other colors like pink and white, and are traditionally associated with esoteric Buddhism. This association of purple and spirituality is also common in color theory, because it is a combination of both soothing (blue) and stimulating (red), and promotes inner reflection. It also happens to be my favorite color.
Would you like to see other lotus colors & designs?
Meditation by a waterfall is not only a peaceful and picturesque way to meditate, but the sound of the water itself is one traditional way to enter Samādhi. It is a powerful way to still the mind. The most renown figure to enter Samādhi through this method, and therein gain the ability to “hear the cries of the world,” is Guanyin (观音). The Śūraṅgama Sūtra describes how she disassociates herself from the sense of hearing, and thus gains mastery over it.
“I began with a practice based on the enlightenment nature of hearing. First I redirected my hearing inward in order to enter the current of the sages. Then external sounds disappeared. With the direction of my hearing reversed and with sounds stilled, both sounds and silence cease to arise . . . . Coming into being and ceasing to be themselves ceased to be. Then the ultimate stillness was revealed . . . . All of a sudden I transcended the worlds of ordinary beings, and I also transcended the worlds of beings who have transcended the ordinary worlds. Everything in the ten directions was fully illuminated, and . . . . I was then able to go to all lands and appear in thirty-two forms that respond to what beings require.”
Many other Buddhists have followed this example throughout the centuries, particularly within Chan Buddhism / Zen Buddhism (禅). This video clip shows one example at Dharma Drum Mountain (法鼓山), a monastery in Taiwan, and their connection to the nearby streams. Look for a mention of Guanyin / Avalokiteśvara around 13 minutes in:
This watercolor painting illustrates the glow of a temple light up in Kyoto, Japan. Arrays of lights shine up onto the multi-colored leaves of the trees and upon the various buildings on the temple grounds. This view is from Kiyomizu-dera, looking up at the surrounding mountains towards a small part of the temple near the mountain peaks. The landscape feels otherworldly, and although logic knows that there are hidden lights shining on the trees, it seems as if the light is radiating out of the trees themselves – perhaps as if an inner light was illuminating the landscape and bringing it to life. Although the technique of the light show is modern, the scene before me felt quite ancient and as timeless and the changing seasons.
Japan celebrates the richness of each season in a way that is unique amongst the countries I’ve visited thus far. Even in this age of jet-imported fresh foods from half-way around the world, the Japanese still retain an emphasis on what is local, seasonal, and fresh – the uniqueness and beauty of what is right in front of them at the moment. The same is true for the arts – it is often apparent which season is depicted in each Japanese painting, as that momentary fleeting beauty is represented. It’s a celebration of impermanence, and of being present and living in the moment. Where else do people, as an entire society, go out together just to see the autumn leaves? Seeing Kyoto that November gave me the most appreciation for the potential benefits of having four seasons that I’ve ever had, being a woman of the tropics at heart.
Are there other parts of the world that have such autumn light ups? Let me know in the comments!
Inspired by my Illuminating Lotus photo, but with a very different feel from my similarly-inspired Rainbow Etching Lotus, this art piece has a glow that radiates outward. Of the three, this one seems the most otherworldly and mysterious, akin to a latent inner nature just waiting to shine.
Benten and Attendant Riding a Dragon by Seas Reflecting Starlight
This piece was inspired by an ivory carving from Japan’s Meiji period entitled “Benten and Attendant Riding a Dragon,” which is currently owned by the Museum of Fine Arts in Saint Petersburg, Florida. In Japan she is considered to be one of the Seven Gods of Good Fortune (七福神). Benten (also called Benzaiten 辯才天/弁財天) represents knowledge, beauty, art, poetry, and music. She is often depicted playing a biwa (琵琶), a type of Japanese stringed instrument, and she is included in both Buddhism and Shintoism. Her origin is in the Hindu goddess Saraswati, who came to Japan with the spread of Buddhism.
This is actually an old sketch of mine that I created 7 years ago, and only recently rediscovered. The original sketch was done in pencil while viewing the statue on display. After rediscovering the old sketch, I decided to add color to it. Since the original was ivory, all of the colors are of my own design.
Jizo (地蔵) is a Buddhist bodhisattva known as the guardian of travelers and children, particularly children who die before their parents die. He is one of the most popular figures in Japan, with statues commonly found along roadsides and in graveyards. Parents praying for the health of a sick child, or grieving and seeking protection for their child’s spirit, often clothe the statues. This art piece was inspired by a stone statue of Jizo at Daihonzan Miyoshinji (大本山妙心寺) in Kyoto, Japan.
Jizo is also popular in other parts of Asia, where his names include:
– Sanskrit: Kṣitigarbha क्षितिगर्भ
– Chinese: Dìzàng 地藏
– Korean: ji jang 지장
– Tibetan: sa yi snying po ས་ཡི་སྙིང་པོ
– Vietnamese: Địa Tạng Vương bồ tát
– Thai: Phra Kasiti Khappha Phothisat พระกษิติครรภโพธิสัตว์
I’ve recently added a new Gallery page to make it easier to browse through my art and photography, with all of the thumbnails linking to their respective pages (preview below). I’ve also heard rumor that Zazzle will be offering a major Black Friday sale, which means that there will be great deals on everything in my Inner Bodhisattva store. So if you’d love a poster, t-shirt, mug, messenger bag, mouse pad, stationary, greeting card, or anything else with my art on it, you can find a bargain this Friday. If you have any specific requests, leave me a message and I’ll get back to you.
Browsing for a specific piece of my art? This gallery of thumbnails link to the individual pages about the images. Art available at my Inner Bodhisattva store: