David Jones, artist and poet (1895-1974) begins his PREFACE TO THE ANATHEMATA :

'I have made a heap of all that I could find.' (1) So wrote Nennius, or whoever composed the introductory matter to Historia Brittonum. He speaks of an 'inward wound' which was caused by the fear that certain things dear to him 'should be like smoke dissipated'. Further, he says, 'not trusting my own learning, which is none at all, but partly from writings and monuments of the ancient inhabitants of Britain, partly from the annals of the Romans and the chronicles of the sacred fathers, Isidore, Hieronymous, Prosper, Eusebius and from the histories of the Scots and Saxons although our enemies . . . I have lispingly put together this . . . about past transactions, that [this material] might not be trodden under foot'. (2)

(1) The actual words are coacervavi omne quod inveni, and occur in Prologue 2 to the Historia.
(2) Quoted from the translation of Prologue 1. See The Works of Gildas and Nennius, J.A.Giles, London 1841.

14 February 2009

An Allegory of Mind

From eighth Century Japan comes this image of a projection-space held at arm's length and a loaded brush at the ready.

The first character is a movement across then down.

The second mirrors the first: down and across.

Together they form a new double character variously known as two-by-two; the prisoner and the guard; projection-space; self-grasping; dualism; self and other and so on. As a character that shows no sign of its cause and appears to know (echo) only itself, it is also sometimes translated simply as ignorance.

The image above is a detail of a larger image in which a brightly garbed calligrapher looks at this character he has drawn.

The journeyman projectionist is mounted on a galloping horse. Distracted from the uncontrolled rush of his charge, he faces backwards and looks at his projection-space with painted double. His vehicle, meanwhile, gallops on with its wild determined look.

Bound in the distinctive red harness of afflictive emotions, the horse is the untamed mind. Rider and vehicle alike: wild, divided, distracted and unstable.

A white-robed bodhisattva looks with compassion at the horse and rider as they career by. He is diligent awareness, and carries a rope, symbol and reminder of interconnectedness. He offers the rope to the rider.

"Samsara is mind turned outwardly, lost in its projections;
Nirvana is mind turned inwardly, recognising its true nature."
Tulku Urgyen Rinpoche