Thangkas for Compassion!
A well known feature of Vajrayana is the use of visual art to elevate consciousness. Such art is considered to be the natural expression of the ‘light’ of buddha's wisdom.
Embracing Compassion is an international touring exhibition of Vajrayana paintings that aims to:
- raise awareness about sacred art but also,
- actually make viewers more compassionate!
Melissa Dolese, a psychology professor of art and aesthetics, is using this as an opportunity to research the effect of thangkas to show that simply looking at them makes people act with more compassion after leaving the exhibit.
These thangkas were commissioned by His Holiness the Dalai Lama. They depict the lives of the Dalai Lamas, the successive incarnations of Avalokiteshvara, bodhisattva of compassion.
Created at the Norbulingka Institute in India over a period of thirteen years, no detail was spared to execute them exactly as they would have been in Tibet, three hundred years ago. But, one aspect is very different: in Tibet, such thangkas would have been rarely displayed (if at all), whereas now, they are touring the world to instill compassion in the hearts of their beholders!
A limited edition of reproductions, treated in the same way as the originals—with mantra syllables on the backside and consecrated— is also available for purchase online.
And finally, a beautiful website offers excellent images, close ups and a synopsis of the life of each Dalai Lama.
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