Sunday, October 28, 2007
Thursday, October 25, 2007
We started the day off early (9am) by going to Emory University so 'Mama Jamhands' could get some work done. I occupied my time by going to the Michael C. Carlos Museum located on Emory Campus.
The Museum is housed in a distinguished building by renowned architect Michael Graves. The Carlos maintains the largest collection of ancient art in the Southeast with objects from ancient Egypt, Greece, Rome, the Near East, and the ancient Americas. The Museum is also home to collections of nineteenth- and twentieth-century sub-Saharan African art and European and American works on paper from the Renaissance to the present day. It was pretty impressive for a museum on a college campus.
Also present at the Museum, in correlation with the Dalai Lama's visit, was the Buddha in Paradise Exhibit: A Celebration in Himalayan Art. The exhibition was a display of sixteen Tibetan thangka paintings inspired by the theme of the Buddhist pure lands, or Sangyey Dakzhing, all created between the fourteenth and nineteenth centuries. This was very nice to see up close but my visit to this exhibit was cut short due to the arrival of a class field trip full of loud junior highschoolers.
After the museum, we went out for lunch and then picked up the MARTA and headed to Centennial Olympic Park in Downtown Atlanta for another lecture by the Dalai Lama. On our walk from the rail station to the park we were able to check out Philips Arena, the Georgia Dome and the CNN Center.
The Dalai Lama's lecture was entitled Educating the Heart and Mind: A Path to Universal Responsibility. He began the lecture talking about his recent installation as a Presidential Distinguished Professor at Emory University*. He seemed to relish the honor, repeatedly referring to himself as professor and laughing, "As a professor of this university, I think you should listen to me!" He then joked that he's a "lazy person" who won't assign much homework. "I will most likely be a hopeless professor!"
Later, in his address to a crowd that had to reach to more than 10,000 people, the Dalai Lama called the U.S. the world's "greatest, most powerful" democracy and said it should send more members of the Peace Corps, instead of soldiers, to other countries to spread democracy peacefully. "The concept of war is outdated," he said. "Through war, through violence, you cannot achieve what you want."
You can view the entire lecture here. His Holiness begins speaking at about the :47 mark after yet another long list of introductions from Emory Faculty and Atlanta Government Officials.
At the :51 minute mark he gets a few more laughs by correcting one of his introductions saying, "while you introduce me, in the subject of which I study, you also mentioned 'medicine' ... that I don't know. I know how to take medicine but the technical and philosophy side, I do not know!"
A picture gallery of the event can be viewed here.
His lecture was preceded by two musical performances, a Tibetan Music Group and a Jazz Trio.
*Earlier in the day, the Dalai Lama was installed as Presidential Distinguished Professor at Emory University in a vibrant ceremony including music, readings, and academic ceremonial traditions. Following the formal installation, His Holiness delivered his inaugural lecture as Presidential Distinguished Professor entitled "Reality as Interdependence," based on Je Tsongkhapa's rten-'brel bstod-pa, "In Praise of Relativity." I was not able to attend this ceremony since it was limited to Emory Students, Faculty and Staff only. The ceremony and lecture can be viewed in it's entirety here.
Wednesday, October 24, 2007
Sunday afternoon we attended the First Emory Summit on Religion, Conflict, and Peace building.
This 3,000 person event featured on-stage, His Holiness the Dalai Lama—in conversation with religious leaders from Hindu, Christian, Jewish, and Muslim communities, including Rabbi David Rosen, Sister Joan Chittister, Professor Rajmohan Gandhi (the grandson of Mahatma Gandhi), and Professor Abdullahi Ahmed An-Na'im.
The Dalai Lama seemed, as might have been expected, to not talk too much about peace building through religion and conflict but rather through brain development, warm heartedness, peace of mind and parental/friend affection. He was his usual joyful self ... full of humor and innocence. it was such a great experience to hear him speak.
Each of the religious leaders also spoke on how the religions of the world could work together to reduce violent conflict and build peaceful, pluralistic societies.
The whole event was incredible and deeply moving, hearing each of these religious 'icons' speak. I especially enjoyed the speeches given by Rabbi David Rosen and Sister Joan Chittister, the latter getting the most reaction and applause from the crowd.
The summit concluded with a short ceremony of the concencration of the Sand Mandala for Peace and Compassion that the Drepung Monks had been working on all week.
The entire summit can be viewed in Realplayer by clicking here (it is very well worth it if you have 2 1/2 hours to spare)
The first 1/2 hour is mostly introductions from Emory Faculty. At the :41 minute mark you can view Rajmohan Gandhi giving the Dalai Lama the Peace Pilgrim award from the Gandhi Foundation. The Dalai Lama's lecture begins at about the :47 minute mark. His description of affection from animals by mimicking their actions is worth viewing.
Rabbi David Rosen can be viewed at the 1:07 mark.
and Sister Joan Chittister can be viewed at the 1:27 mark.
In the evening we attended our first event on Emory University Campus, Mystical Arts of Tibet: Sacred Music and Sacred Dance for World Healing performances. The show was about two hours long and consisted of Drepung Loseling Monks chanting (multiphonic), dancing and playing various instruments. The performance is endorsed by His Holiness the Dalai Lama (and produced by Richard Gere ... no, seriously) as a means of promoting world peace and healing through sacred performing art
On a side note: I wasn't at the venue more than 10 minutes before I already ran into someone from Pittsburgh.
As we were approaching the venue, looking around for a line, etc., a woman standing by herself smiled and offered info that the doors to the place had just opened and that they were letting people in. She mentioned that she was waiting for her niece to return from taking her camera to the car since they were not allowing any photography within the place. We talked for a bit then said goodbye and as we turned to walk away I saw a familiar face walking towards me, pointing and saying, "That is my Aunt you are talking to! How do you know her?!" Here it was a friend from Pittsburgh, wondering how it was that we were talking to her Aunt out of the blue like that ... my friend and I had known that each of us would be down in ATL for the events but made no prior contact to meet up or anything. Great synchronicity that we would run into each other that way.
Here is what we saw:
First Performance (1 Hour):
1) Nyen-sen: Invocation of the Forces of Goodness
In a tapestry of instrumental and vocal sounds, the monks invoke creative awareness within themselves and the audience. They enhance the spirit of goodness in the environment as a prelude to the performance of Sacred Music Sacred Dance.
2) Man-del: Purifying the Universe
As they sing in the multiphonic style typical of Drepung Loseling's dominant role at the annual Monlam Chenmo Festival, the monks create a world as seen through the eyes of inner perfection. This is sent forth as an offering for world healing and is symbolized by the raising of a silver base on which mounds of rice are poured in a geometric pattern.
3) Sha-nak Gar-cham: Dance of the Black Hat Masters
This ancient dance for the elimination of negative energies and hindrances is in the style known as drak-po, or "wrathful." The implements held by the dancers symbolize the transcendence of false ego-identification on the outer (the environment), inner (the emotions), and the secret (thesubtle body-mind link) levels. Their movements symbolize the joy and freedom of seeing reality in its nakedness.
4) Tak-tsey Tong-ya: Intense Encounters of the Third Degree
A demonstration of the tradition of Tibetan monastic inquiry. Two monks engage one another in a process leading to the deeper levels and implications of spiritual experience, thus enhancing the mind of enlightenment.
5) Seng-geh Gar-cham: The Snow Lion Dance
In Tibet the snow lion symbolized the fearless and elegant quality of the enlightened mind. When a healthy and harmonious environment is established by the creative activities of human beings, such as through the performance of sacred purification and healing music, all living beings, here represented by the snow lion, rejoice.
Second Performance (40 minutes)
1) Dur-dak Gar-cham: Dance of the Skeleton Lords
To remind the world of the ephemeral nature of all things, and of the liberating and balancing impact of an awareness of this reality, two monks appear as the forces of goodness manifest as Cemetery Lords. These are Dharmapala, or "Protectors of Truth," with the message to point the mind toward authentic being.
2) Ten-trul Yul-tru: Purifying the Environment and Its Inhabitants
Chanting in the multiphonic tradition, the monks hold up a mirror and draw into it the reflection of the world and its living beings. They then purify these through sound and meditation, as symbolized by the act of pouring waters from a sacred wisdom vase over the mirror. Traditionally this piece was performed whenever an environmental, social or individual healing was required.
3) Kha-dro Ten-shug Gar-cham: Dance of the Celestial Travelers
Five dancers, symbolizing the five elements and five wisdoms, together with three musicians, invoke the sounds and movements of the Celestial Travelers, the mystical beings from another world whose blessings strengthen the forces of life and light. These beings visit our world in times of stress and danger, bringing with them the creative energy that inspires harmony and peace.
4) Sang-tsol Zhi-jo: Incense Offering & Auspicious Song for World Peace
The monks send forth the smoke of incense, which the wind carries into the ten directions as a subliminal force invoking peace, harmony and the ways of creative living.
We spent the afternoon checking out Stone Mountain Park, which is a 3,200 acre park surrounding a giant 1,700 foot tall Granite Rock that has the largest bass-relief carving in the world.
Three figures of the Confederate States of America are carved there: Stonewall Jackson, Robert E. Lee, and Jefferson Davis ...
... welcome to the South
We checked out many of the attractions at the park including the train ride around the 5 mile circumference of the granite rock and the recreated, surreal 1870's southern town complete with glass blowing, candle making, blacksmithing and your occasional park-worker dressed up like a knee slapping hillbilly, etc. ...
... Yee Haw.
Upon further investigating of the history of Stone Mountain, we found some rather interesting (disturbing) text suggesting the original use of the large granite rock. Yikes.
I recently spent 5 days down in Atlanta, GA visiting close friends and attending various events surrounding the induction of the Dalai Lama as a honorary professor at Emory University. (we'll get to H.H. in later posts)I arrived Friday evening, Oct 19th and spent the rest of the day catching up with the 'Bowser-Kyles' whom I was visiting and staying with. It was great to be spending some quality time with close friends who I rarely get to see. I was also reintroduced to their daughter (referred to here as 'Jamhands') since the previous time I met her she was only 8 months old and probably doesn't remember much. 'Jamhands', now 26 months, has developed into a very funny and unique person and it was a pleasure to get to spend so much time with her.
To Clarify, jam hands is like jazz hands but instead refers to the fact that every time she throws her hands in the air, and reaches out and touches you, her hands feel like they are covered in jam ... and it may just be the obligatory baby slobber, the half eaten mushy pretzel stick dipped in peanut butter that she is usually carrying around or even the frozen strawberries she would snack on, etc. etc. ... it all had the same result: jamhands.
Example 1.: Eating raspberry covered french toast barehanded results in some serious jamhands.
Tuesday, October 16, 2007
Monday, October 15, 2007
Saturday, I nursed a hangover all day. I also had to go to a work meeting with the environmental production company I am a part of. We met in the back room of the Coffee Tree in Shadyside to discuss some Restorative Events ... ah ... events. Nice meeting place but when we got there the back room was filled with people chilling and/or studying. Seems the coffee place failed to remember that we reserved the back room the day before. After much explaining and negotiating we were able to get management to kick out all of the people (I know ... nice move on our part). I didn't care either way. I was pretty much useless at the meeting anyway (aforementioned hangover).
Sunday morning, around 8:30am, I set out a plate of old bread in my backyard for the birds. By 9am, the bread had attracted a very large doe to my backyard (I didn't even know deer liked bread). This was perfect because I was hosting breakfast at my house for 5 friends that I invited to go with me to the local flea market. They arrived at 9am, finally getting a chance to see a deer that I am always talking about. After a breakfast of eggs, sausage, potatoes and coffee, we headed to the flea market. It was a beautiful day but the market was slow. No cool finds for me this time.
Thursday, October 11, 2007
After the song was over, the DJ was giving the usual 'shout outs' to the pledges ... mine was the only one they received during the song so he thanked me, pronouncing my last name correctly (which is surprising) and he went on to say that 'Jason is from Pittsburgh, from the 15206 area code. I believe that is the Robinson Township area ... yeah ... Crafton ... that 15206 area out West is a big area ... he's somewhere out there.'
He couldn't be more wrong. I live on the East Side of PGH. 15206 is in the Eastside. I wanted him to know that. Upsetting! I wanted him to shout 'Morningside Represent!'
The DJ barely finished his sentence before my phone was already ringing. Actually, two different friends who were listening to the broadcast heard my name and my location mix up and decided to call me and have a laugh.
I spent about 1/2 hour this morning watching two turkeys acting all confused in my backyard. It appears one turkey made it over into my neighbor's yard, which is completely fenced in, and then couldn't find it's way back out.
My neighbor and I sat on our respective back porches, drank coffee, and watched the two confused turkeys try to figure out the whole scenario.
We finally made a big enough commotion to give the 'caged' turkey a scare to get it airborn and up over the fence. I wish I had tried to get a picture of the turkey while it was in the air ... not everyday you see a bird that big taking flight ... plus their wingspan is pretty impressive.
Monday, October 8, 2007
As I mentioned before, I had friends visiting with me from out of town from last Thursday through today, Monday ... I made sure that there was never a dull moment while they were here.
Our activities included, but were not limited to:
... a few dinners and many martinis at Soba, Thai Gourmet and The Red Room
... shopping at the Grove City Outlet Malls
Here are some pics I took during the day at our site.
... and a small video provided by the Post Gazette.
The attendance at our site was a little slow during the day but it picked up nicely once the 9 to 5 workday finished. The other two sites of the ATF did really well though and i think everyone was pleased with the information and entertainment that was provided.
I was exhausted, sweaty and very dirty by the end of the day but I decided to stop at a new art gallery since it was First Fridays over in the Eastside and a friend had some new art she was showing. I figured if I went home first, I'd end up collapsing and not making it back out since I was so tired ... plus I needed to unwind with some free alcoholic beverages. I ended the night over at the Sprout Fund for their open house party which was still pretty crowded at 11pm (it started at 5pm). Sprout funded a good portion of the ATF with a nice sized grant so it was cool to see everyone and celebrate a successful event. More free beer, lots of friends and 'J Mall$' DJing some funk & soul tunes ... a pretty good ending to a very long but fun day.
Tuesday, October 2, 2007
Tonight is also the first planning meeting for the next step in the 48 Film Project. Another short film must be made, this time competing on a National Level. Hopefully I can contribute some more original music to the project.
I also have a few friends arriving from out of town this Thursday to stay with me through the weekend so we can attend our Alma Mater's homecoming. I'm not too big on celebrating the place it took me 5 years to graduate from due to failing grades ... I go up there for an excuse to hit the Outlet Malls.
I also have been working on a new song:
Untitled #10 (incomplete lo res version)
Contains elements of:
Led Zeppelin - When the Levee Breaks (for the drums - sped up and rearranged)
The Shadows - Scotch on the Rocks (for the bass line - also slightly rearranged)
and some song by the Syd Dale Orchestra (for the horns)
Monday, October 1, 2007
so in the meantime, for some filler, I give you an Eddie Izzard skit (played out by Legos):
(NSFW due to language)