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Monday, July 11, 2011

Tea-bowl for Ned Lash, #9 of 36, "The Lieutenant's Cup"

     "To Lieutenant Edward Lash,
      This Shino cup's wood-fired with ash.
      I'll give to you at Brandreth Lake,
      Where tea we'll drink, and thanks we'll take."

I've decided to give this tea-bowl to a dear cousin, a young man with great courage. He's a West Point graduate, recently assigned to Iraq. After that he'll likely be transferred to Afghanistan.

Courage is waking up in the morning and doing what must be done. That's all. Courage becomes dramatic in situations where lives are on the line. Yet all of us, have our lives on the line, at every instant. Courage is living, doing what must be done, without complaint, no matter what happens.

I have the greatest respect for the young men and women in our nation's military. I do not agree with many of the policies of our politicians that put them into action. That is another matter, my battle against those that don't have courage, who act with their wallets, or self-interest.

This tea-bowl has been given to 2nd Lieutenant Edward W. Lash. May God protect him. I invite him to drink tea with me. This cup is yours. Be safe. You do your work with our prayers.


Now a moment to speak of another topic:


What is tantra? People often ask me. Tantric Buddhism is the root of tantra, but tantra on its own is a cluster of techniques for enlightening consciousness within a Buddhist framework.

Meditations include chanting of mantras, the painting of yantras (giant diagrams of super-consciousness) mathematics and geometric exercises, even sexual practices which extend the disciplines established by yoga.

It also is the practice of love, and Dharma practice, but according to tantric principles.

I'll give an illustration:

Whereas an exercise in generosity love, or giving, might be to feed bread crumbs to pigeons on a daily basis, a tantric practice of this might be to divide the bread crumbs evenly between all of the pigeons.

While this sounds absurd, as an exercise such as this would indeed enlighten consciousness. In order to practice it, you'd have to become aware of each individual bird.

Tantra makes the general specific. Instead of 'pigeon awareness' you now know many individual pigeons. They become friends. You know them by observing their differences. This is tantric consciousness - knowledge of the specific within a general framework.

No wonder Buddhist pilgrims cross the Tibetan plateau, prostrating themselves like human inchworms. This meditation is also tantric, in that it 'measures' the earth, hence loving it, for every inch of the journey. The counting of each act of prostration, which carries the supplicant a few feet forward each time, becomes Divine meditation.

So I am not discouraged that not every bowl of mine has been claimed.

This is an exercise. I don't think I ever have looked quite as closely at work I've made until I started this project. I don't think I'll enjoy cups of tea as much with friends and strangers . . .

The mathematical construction of this meditation, requires me to devote a certain time and energy to each cup, observing it, photographing, doing this writing. I won't be dismissing individual pieces because of technical flaws, As a mediation, I've deepened my consciousness of the work.

Tantric consciousness is non-judgemental.

I'm looking for ways to become a better potter, but becoming 'better' as a potter, does not mean making better pots, though better pots might come from such a practice. It means becoming more aware, and conscious, while working. The work becomes meditation, and the meditation becomes the work.


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