Art in My Heart - Nalandabodhi International
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Art has always moved me.  My mother taught me to love art and make art.  For me art, emerges from my heart and also nourishes me in a continuous cycle. Viewing art and making art is a continual source of joy and rejuvenation. It is natural for me to express creativity in a variety of ways – visually, performing, singing, dancing, clowning, and installations.  I have acted in performances inspired by Buddhist themes, sung dohas (spontaneous poems spoken by male and female Buddhist practitioners), enacted Buddhist Jataka stories (instructive folk tales), and created themed installations for Tibetan New Year at Nalanda West for many years. My clown “guru,” Moshe Cohen, is a Zen practitioner and he taught clowning to Roshi Bernie Glassman whose character was “The Great Boobisattva,” a word play on bodhisattva – one who vows to act for the benefit of all beings.

Recently, someone shared on Facebook an image of a marble sculpture in Budapest that left me somewhat breathless. I was moved by the beauty, simplicity and magic of the piece. A video depicts a large book with “pages” made of water that seemed to turn themselves.  Appearing yet empty because the illusion of moving page is the mere movement of water.  The creators of the “The Open Book” sculpture are the artist, Kelecsenyi Gergely, and engineer Jozsef Szita.

I shared the image on Facebook, which also included the words “Sabah Hayastan” in the lower right corner of the image. A friend, Jane Boyajian, wrote to me about her experience of viewing this book. Her reaction reminds me of the evocative power of the arts to transport as to unexpected places. She wrote,

What really stopped me: the words Sabah and Hayastan together. Sabah means Saturday in Turkish. Hayastan means Armenia but not present-day Armenia so much as the homeland of the heart. So seldom is that term used because it has so much more meaning than “Armenia” which is, after all, merely about a boundary. Maybe it has a meaning that transcends boundaries. My family are from Turkey and that always feels like my homeland. But someone from either place knows what Hayastan means … ‘defies translation.’ And likely feels the longing for it. It is an idea, concept, but with more meaning than words can tell. Like Yahweh and what that word means — that which cannot be named.

Art, too, can be that which cannot be named. Art is expression which transcends labels.

Exercises to try

As you move through your day and week, notice what moves you, what beckons for your attention, what gives you pause.

Without judging yourself, draw a picture or write a phrase to describe it. For example, when an unknown Zen master observed snow falling, s/he wrote, “The immortals are grinding the clouds into dust.”

Then take a deep breath and remember one thing you are grateful for in this moment.


Lynne Conrad Marvet
Lynne Conrad Marvet

Lynne Conrad Marvet met Dzogchen Ponlop Rinpoche in 1988 in Woodstock, New York and has studied Buddhism with him since then. In April 2019 she was the Artist-in-Residence at Nalanda West. See her work on her website.

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