The-Tibetan-Book-of-Living-and-Dying

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The-Tibetan-Book-of-Living-and-Dying

THE UNIVERSAL PROCESS 355In Tibetan Buddhism the Nirmanakaya is envisioned as themanifestation of enlightenment, in an infinite variety of formsand ways, in the physical world. It is traditionally defined inthree ways. One is the manifestation of a completely realizedBuddha, such as Gautama Siddhartha, who is born into theworld and teaches in it; another is a seemingly ordinary beingwho is blessed with a special capacity to benefit others: atulku; and the third is actually a being through whom somedegree of enlightenment works to benefit and inspire othersthrough various arts, crafts, and sciences. In their case thisenlightened impulse is, as Kalu Rinpoche says, "a spontaneousexpression, just as light radiates spontaneously from the sunwithout the sun issuing directives or giving any consciousthought to the matter. The sun is, and it radiates." 3 So couldn'tone explanation of the power and nature of artistic genius bethat it derives its ultimate inspiration from the dimension ofTruth?This does not mean that great artists can in any way besaid to be enlightened; it is clear from their lives that they arenot. Nevertheless it's also clear that they can be, in certain crucialperiods and in certain exceptional conditions, instrumentsand channels of enlightened energy. Who, really listening tothe greatest masterpieces of Beethoven or Mozart, could denythat another dimension at times seems to be manifestingthrough their work? And who, looking at the great cathedralsof medieval Europe like Chartres, or the mosques of Isfahan,or the sculptures of Angkor, or the beauty and richness of theHindu temples of Ellora, could fail to see that the artists whocreated them were directly inspired by an energy that springsfrom the ground and source of all things?I think of a great work of art as like a moon shining in thenight sky; it illuminates the world, yet its light is not its ownbut borrowed from the hidden sun of the absolute. Art hashelped many toward glimpsing the nature of spirituality. Isone of the reasons for the limitations of much of modem art,however, the loss of this knowledge of art's unseen sacred originand its sacred purpose: to give people a vision of their truenature and their place in the universe, and to restore to them,endlessly afresh, the value and meaning of life and its infinitepossibilities? Is the real meaning of inspired artistic expression,then, that it is akin to the field of the Sambhogakaya, thatdimension of ceaseless, luminous, blissful energy, which Rilkecalls "the winged energy of delight," that radiance which transmits,translates, and communicates the purity and infinite

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