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Contents of Religion of Art

by Sangharakshita

Seminar Discussions Based on “The Religion Of Art” by Sangharakshita

Held at Madhyamaloka, Birmingham, UK in the Spring of 1999


1 Not to be inspired by dead artists!
2 Should artists just represent contemporary situations?
3 Is there a Buddhist view of things getting better with time?
5 Is Bhante’s view of human evolution infinite?
6 You cannot predetermine sources of inspiration
7 Copying another artist’s style and work
8 Musicians generally not liking to perform modern (post 1920) pieces
Why, in 1953, Bhante wrote “The Religion of Art”
Was there a conflict between Sangharakshita the poet and Sangharakshita the Buddhist?
10 Finding Time for art or other interests
11 Poetic truth. Were Buddhists creating art in earlier times?
12 What is a masterpiece?
Where does inspiration come from?
13 The difference between creating art and ‘dabbling’
Seeing the craft in art
15 Poetry. Prosody, Rhyming couplets.
Being born as an artist or becoming an artist?
What is genius?
Saint Catherine of Siena
17 Can genius be karmically inherited?
18 Genius and talent
19 Great artists and good/minor artists.
You can still enjoy artists who are not great!
20 Bhante’s interest in Neo-Platonism
Neo-Platonism as the leading spiritual tradition of the West
21 Fear as hatred of death
23 Neo-Platonism and the arts, Michelangelo and Neo-Platonism
24 Rudolf Steiner and the visual arts
Goethe and Steiner’s colour theories
27 The Pre-Raphaelites were not always dreaming and seeing visions
Ruskin’s criticism of Whistler
30 What is the aesthetic and aesthetics?
32 The eight rasas/tastes
33 The horrific as an aesthetic experience.
Pleasure is not essential for the appreciation of art
Samuel Beckett, Jackson Pollock. Francis Bacon
34 Depicting hell and Depicting paradise
35 What is beauty?
37 Disinterestedness, egolessness
38 Archetypes
40Coming up with a basic definition of beauty
41 Do all people like bright colours?
Rembrandt’s use of dark pigments.
46 “Whatever we love, we adorn”
48 Is content/subject matter relevant to art?
Spiritual Beauty
50 Beauty as the third vimoksha
52 Veronese, Titian and Tintoretto in the National Gallery, London
54 Bhante’s use of the term ‘egolessness’
55 The need to express me
‘Deeper understanding’
56“It’s not necessarily a good man that has a great mind”
57 In what sense did Coleridge have a great mind?
Shakespeare and Wordsworth as characters
60 Does ‘self-expression’ have to be gloomy?
Expressing joy? Is sorrow more profound than joy?
Often not realising the depth that friendship has reached until it is gone
62 Bhante’s definition of art
63 From abstract pottery/ceramics to representational pottery/ceramics
64 Sensibility
66 Does art need an audience?
67 A sense of values Sense and sensibility
71 The Won sect in Korea doesn’t use a Buddha image, but a circle
Beethoven’s Late String Quartets.
72 Culture is not enough
Annotating a brief biography of figures from history featured in pictures in art galleries as many people
no longer know the cultural references used.
75 The ennucleating ego
76 Do FWBO Buddhist artists need to rise to the challenge of Bhante’s definition of art?
77 Can the work of Jackson Pollock/abstract art communicate a sense of values?
78 Looking at the assumption we bring with us when we look at a work of art.
79 “You can’t deny feelings as feelings or experiences as experiences”
People in the FWBO do not have to share Bhante’s tastes!
80 Other Buddhists’ views of the place of art in Buddhism
82 An FWBO Institute for the Religion of Art?
Artists taking on apprentices?
Synthesizing the aesthetic absolute and the religious absolute
84 Bhante as a potential film maker!
Discipline in relation to the arts
85 Defining creativity and the creative process
Is contemplating higher than creating?
Rilke and the statue of Apollo
86 Can absolute music really communicate a sense of values?
87 Tennyson’s ‘The Lotus Eaters’ as the Pre-Raphaelite poem
‘The Lady of Shallot’ and other Tennyson poems
89 The phrase ‘art for art’s sake’
Perspective in paintings
90 Learned and acquired perceptions
The ease with which children can learn languages
92 Why is there more poetry in Islamic and Christian traditions than there is in Buddhism?
94 Ryokan, Japanese and Chinese Buddhist art
Art or religion as a bearer of spiritual values?
The fact that some people get more from works of art than from Pujas and rituals, and vice-versa
95 Symbolic Buddhist art - representing teachers etc. The FWBO Refuge Tree
96 Ashvagosha’s Buddhacarita - is it great art?
98 The Buddhist path in terms of stages of beauty?
Devotion in Islam to the teacher
99 The close connection between sexual love and hatred
Sublimation with the help of the arts
101 Muses and sexual partners - not to confuse the two!
102 “In love and in friendship there needs to be trust and freedom”
103 Arranged marriages compared to ‘falling in love’
“For one with no feeling for ritual and puja, the arts would become almost a necessity”
Artistic temperament?
105 What does it mean to ‘be relevant’ in art?
106 How does art ‘stretch the mind beyond the limits of its own rationality’?
Artists that still thrill Bhante
107 The first artworks that excited those on the seminar
Artworks that have impressed Bhante in his travels
109 Is the first thought the best thought? Revising and rewriting
110 “The Lord of the Rings”
111 Does Buddhism view art as indulgent as it is a sense experience?
113 The Puritan’s rejection of art. The lack of representational images in Judaism and Islam
Portraying the divine through abstraction? The origins of Western abstract art?


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