MANDALA’s graphic design came to me almost in a dream. I had several other ideas for the album, but nothing resonated as much as this one.
The challenge: track down a suitable mandala image.
I researched images online and also began reading books to find images that might be available from publishers. In the process, I found not only many images, but many text quotes that would later find their way into the design.There are all kind of mandala’s out there on the Web. Few of them truly looked real, as many were digital reproductions. Others were poor photographs, or Western attempts at drawings.Thankfully, via the internet, I was able to contact Martin Brauen, a photographer in Switzerland who had photographed the Dalai Lama performing the Kalachakra ritual. Within a matter of a months I had the image I was looking for.
“The Kalachakra Sand Mandala is a two dimensional representation of the five-story palace of the deity Kalachakra. It is one of the colored-particle mandalas, a generic term used to describe any mandala made of crushed materials such as jewels, flower petals, rice, or, most commonly, sandlike stone ranging in density from soapstone to marble.
The Kalachakra Sand Mandala consists of five square mandalas, one within the other, surrounded by six concentric circles. Each square mandala represents one of the five levels of Kalachakra’s palace. The largest is known as the Mandala of Enlightened Body.””The dismantling of the sand mandala may be interpreted as a lesson in non-attachment, a letting go of the “self-mind.” The ceremony reflects the Buddhists’ recognition of the impermanence and transitory nature of all aspects of life. The monks believe that the dismantling of the mandala is the most effective means of preserving it.””In the Buddhist tradition, mandalas are objects of meditation with a specific purpose: to transform our ordinary perception of the world into a pure perception of the Buddha nature which permeates all phenomena.”
Bryant, Barry. The Wheel of Time Sand Mandala: Visual Scripture of Tibetan Buddhism. New York: HarperCollins, 1992. © 1992 Samaya Foundation
“Comma Graphic” – What are those comma-like figures at the bottom of the inner CD tray?It’s likely I’ll get a lot of questions about that. In anticipation of such questions, I’ve provided the background for their meaning. As you browse through this site and learn more about the album, it will make sense… I promise. Here’s the story:
In medieval Japan lived Rikyu. Rikyu had angered the shogun, and was ordered to commit ritual suicide. The day it was to happen, Rikyu did tea for his best friend and oldest student in a small, dimly lit tea room. We don’t know what they talked about, or if they said anything at all. But we could imagine the power of it — the profoundness of every movement, every moment, knowing that it would be the last time he ever did the ceremony, the last time they would ever sit together. At the end of the tea, he gave the chashaku (the tea scoop) the poetic name “Tears.” And then he went to the temple and killed himself.
The scoop is carved from bamboo, and usually has some kind of poetic name that expresses an idea or image; the scoop is chosen to represent the theme of the tea. It can also serve as a metaphor for tea spirit — students are said to be “carving the chashaku inside themselves.”This CD to represents an ending to all that had happened before, and I wanted to make it a gift to some people that helped me on the way, so that they could put it behind them as well. That’s the meaning of the tears.
My portraits were taken at the Archives in downtown Harrisburg, PA by photographer Sean Simmers (717) 540-0358.
Learn more about Buddhism
Through a variety of discussion groups, I have found that many people are confused by Buddhism. This page lists resources for those interested in clarifying their understanding of basic concepts. Please note I am not a Buddhist teacher. I am a humble practioner, primarily of the Soto Zen school, but I have been influenced by many branches. I seek only to show resources that have helped me. Each student must make their own assessment. Below are some recommended Buddhist resources that I’ve collected during my travels. I’ve had life-shaping experiences with all of the organizations below, and hope others will as well.
Shasta Abbey has a very straight-forward audio tape program that helps bring the dharma to people who may not have access to a physical zendo or teacher. Donations are required, and well worth it.
“The rocks are where they are — this is their will. The rivers flow — this is their will. Human beings talk — this is their will. The seasons change, heaven sends down rain or snow, the earth occasionally shakes, the waves roll, the stars shine — each of them follows its own will. To be is to will and so is to become.” — D.T. Suzuki
I and all sentient beings until we achieve enlightenment
Go for refuge to Buddha, Dharma and Sangha
Through the virtues I collect by giving and other perfections
May I become a Buddha for the benefit of all
OM MANI PAME HUM