Review: “Noble Change” — The Crow Collection

[This was published in an altered format by The Dallas Morning News]

 

3.-Sarva-Buddha-Dakini-Sino-Tibetan-culture-early-19th-century

 

The Tantric art currently on view at the Crow Collection is remarkably unique. Although you see a series of figures, none are meant to represent specific deities. Nor are they intended to merely serve as beautifully crafted decorative artifacts. Instead, these pieces are meant to support seekers in their meditative practice. They offer a means of conveying the Truth that we aren’t individuals in the typical Western sense of the term. In fact, they offer aid and support to those intrepid souls willing to spend time exploring the dodgy and perplexing space between themselves and the world they inhabit. The show is an opportunity to look more closely at the “One-ness” His Holiness the Dalai Lama espouses and, moreover, it offers an opportunity to experience it in a more substantial way rather than via rigorous intellectual precepts.

In Vajrayana Buddhism, it’s posited that we’re part of a pulsing cosmos that is inextricably entwined and our bodies are vehicles for exploring ultimate consciousness by way of breathing techniques and sitting positions (asanas). Tantric art offers tools to explore that concept in a bodily and visceral way. The art, in fact, can be used to enhance our flow of energy (qi) and the array of images on display can serve as teaching aids for yogic practitioners. For example, “Dakini of All the Buddhas” is depicted drinking blood and displaying an almost wrathful demeanor. The point is: even things typically deemed lurid are part of a glorious whole and nothing should merit derision. Like the dakini, we are called to transform negativity into the stuff of creation and vitality. It’s a lesson to be learned via image.

The objects inspire a range of emotions – compassion and peace or ferocity. They’re “memory theatres” that can teach, encourage and remind us of a transcendent goal and the means by which it can be attained. This is not your usual exhibition. It’s as deep as things get. It’s not simply beautiful art. It’s meant to instigate a journey – your own.

 

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