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In the 1980s, 'Independent Arts' ran an ambitious and extremely impressive Arts program through the Croydon Buddhist Centre in London. Here's a first offering from the archive of recordings - an open conversation between Sangharakshita, founder of the Western Buddhist Order, and the renowned poet and scholar Kathleen Raine, one of the founders of the Temenos Academy.
The occasion was the launch of Sangharakshita's book 'The Religion of Art' - and the discussion ranges widely and, at times, controversially through the subject of the Arts considered as a vehicle for spiritual truths. It's full of talking points and challenges to contemporary orthodoxies around art theory. But whatever one's take on the views of the participants, this is a marvellous record of a unique meeting of minds.
|1.||Introduction by Satyadeva - forthcoming events at Independent Arts (1988) (3:14)|
|2.||Kathleen Raine on Buddhism and the world; the origins of Temenos and a change in the culture (2:42)|
|3.||Buddhism as a way of supreme beauty; experiences of religious beaauty in India; beyond words (7:25)|
|4.||Great art and literature in the modern West; Yeats and writing 'The Religion of Art'; changing times and art (6:42)|
|5.||The turning gyre of Yeats; poetry, silence and communication; William Blake on art and religion - comments on the Laocoon (7:54)|
|6.||The Buddha as poet; the Theragatha and Therigatha; poetry as the natural language of the 'soul'; Sri Aurobindo - levels of poetry and consciousness in Indian tradition; poetry readings in India; literacy, literature and oral traditions (12:11)|
|7.||Unsigned works; Yeats on the Arts as a vehicle for spiritual knowledge; depictions of the Buddha and the Shroud of Turin (5:46)|
|8.||Jesus and contemporary Buddhism; archetypes and historical individuals; incarnation, descent (avatars) and duality; trying to express Buddhism in Christian terms; favourite Christian mystics (5:14)|
|9.||Religion as cultural or transcendent expression; more on Christian mysticism - Russian and Greek Orthodox; St Jerome and Buddhist translators; St John of the Cross (4:48)|
|10.||Symbols of religion - depictions of the Cross through the ages; Kathleen Raine in Washington; Yakshas (kindly demons); the Renaissance, human selfhood and the spirit; Ravenna mosaics; the Stations of the Cross considered as art; the stupa; the Peace Pa (7:13)|
|11.||Art and spiritual reality - a strong critique of contemporary art; Tarkovsky on the Vatican Museum of Modern Art; the interiorisation of symbols; the Ajanta caves and the caves at Bhaja (6:20)|
|12.||Questions from the audience - why do you think the interiority won't want to be expressed? The externalisation of symbols and making a religion of art rather than art being a vehicle for religion (3:42)|
|13.||Sangharakshita's complaint about non-Buddhists being considered authorities on Buddhism; a defence of animism; marigold garlands for the sacred; the destruction of trees in India (6:02)|
|14.||'Memory of Sarnak' by Kathleen Raine (small gap in recording) (1:33)|
Total running time: 1:20:46