Shoots and Leaves

If you ever get a chance to come to San Francisco, screw the flower in your hair but definitely bring a sweater.  Put on said sweater and head to one of my favorite museums in the city, the Asian Art Museum.  Every kind of Buddha and Hindu art is there along with some of the best special exhibits in the city.  There can be some lively debate about the artifacts in the museum, because technically many of the pieces were not created for aesthetic purposes, but instead for use in either religious festivals or as part of religious architecture.  Either way, it all rocks.

In 2012, the Asian Art Museum had an exhibit called “Phantoms of Asia.” One piece from the exhibit, Charwei Tsai’s Bamboo Mantra blew me away.  Tsai wrote the Heart Sutra on bamboo shoots and leaves (see pictures below). Sutras are the sacred texts of Buddhism and this Heart Sutra is one of the most frequently discussed. For more information, check out this link that I think does a great job at describing the Heart Sutra in a somewhat straightforward manner: http://buddhism.about.com/od/mahayanasutras/a/heart-sutra.htm.

The point of a sutra is that it is to be meditated about, thought about, and brought into your life.  So as you look at the Bamboo Mantra, your engrossed by just how much patience it took for Tsai to write the sutra on a bamboo plant and how writing it must have been an act of meditation in and of itself.  Then that feeling of calmness gets combined with the Buddhist concept of impermanence as the bamboo wilts and dies.

I held such deep admiration for this piece, I felt like crying and watering it with my tears.

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