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                                                                  Notes on Blessings-Enlightenment

'Good sons, all hindrances are none other than ultimate enlightenment. Whether you attain mindfulness or lose mindfulness, there is no non-liberation. Establishing the Dharma and refuting the Dharma are both called nirvana; wisdom and folly are equally prajna; the method that is perfected by bodhisattvas and false teachers is the same bodhi; ignorance and suchness are not different realms; morality, concentration and wisdom, as well as desire, hatred and ignorance are all divine practices; sentient beings and lands share the same dharma nature; hell and heaven are both the Pure Land; those having Buddha-nature and those not having it equally accomplish the Buddha's enlightenment. All defilements are ultimately liberation. The reality-realms's ocean-like wisdom completely illumines all marks to be just like empty space. This is called 'the Tathāgata's accordance with the nature of enlightenment.'

-- from ‘The Sutra of Perfect Enlightenment* (sutra trans by Charles Muller)

In the spring of this year I began to study the <Sutra of Perfect Enlightenment>. In the process of reading it over many times, I experienced a deep sense of enlightenment and inspiration in both my spiritual and creative practice. This in turn gave me the energy and inspiration to continue to develop my ‘Blessings’ series of paintings. In my portraits of the Buddha, everything is contained within their countenances— bodhisattvas, people, landscapes, all emerge from the realm of the Tathagatas. Just as the Zen master Xu Yun wrote: “The mountains, rivers, and great earth itself are all just the Tathagatas.” The Buddha nature is equally shared by all things, it exists in a single tree and in a blade of grass and, just as it exists inside of you and me.

The Blessings-Enlightenment series incorporates symbols of the Bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara’s six-character mantra “Om mani Padma hum”, evoking the blessings and enlightenment I have experienced in my life-long devotion.

The artist Marcel Duchamp once said: “...if you wish, my art would be that of living. Each second, each breath is a work which is inscribed nowhere, which is neither visual nor cerebral, it's a sort of constant euphoria.” This statement of Duchamp’s touched me deeply, and I have always admired the wisdom and tranquility with which this great Western master approached both art and life.

Too many people are fettered by their attachments to outer things, and do not know how to find happiness within themselves. The Buddha’s teachings bring us the gifts of wisdom and liberation. They are not simply a part of religious culture or religious scholarship: they are a vehicle that teaches us how to authentically put the dharma into daily practice. It is not a question of blindly following a religion dogma, but of making the dharma an integral part of one’s life.

As an artist and as a practioner of the dharma, my goal is to use my artwork as a vehicle to express the deep truth and awakening that I have found, and to share with my friends my deep sense of existential joy.

                                                         Moving through the fog of sorrow and joy

                                                         Living in harmony with heaven and earth

                                                         Listening attentively

                                                        To the inner awakening


                                                        Where the heart-mind is reunited with joy


                                                                                                                                                                                                         Sun Guangyi

                                                                                                                                                                                                     1.1.2012 In Dali



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