26 December 2012

The Path Before You is the Path to Your Dreams

On Christmas day 2011, one year ago, I found myself on a beach in Galle, Sri Lanka, at a meeting with the heads of several international NGOs. They asked me to draft a proposal for a program that could develop and support the livelihood of Buddhist artists throughout the South and Southeast Asian region. This was my dream job, so I got to work.

One month later, I had drafted a proposal for a hybrid program that included a future inter-cultural center for the study and practice of art and meditation. Two months later, we had a name: AKSHA.

Flash forward 10 months to yesterday, Christmas day 2012. AKSHA is now a real project on Kickstarter.com--raising almost 50% of its goal in less that 2 weeks.

It has a series of prototype products--jewelry--to help fund its first exhibition program. Meanwhile, I received a Fulbright Fellowship, and have been doing research on Buddhist art in contemporary life in Thailand for 3 months.

Ajahn Ouan
Similarly, on this Christmas day, I found myself at a meeting with luminaries, this time in Bangkok, at the Pohchang Academy of Art, one of the most famous art schools in Thailand. It is with the Director, department heads, respected professors and a visionary patron of the arts. I walked in late to the morning meeting and was promptly informed that I have been assigned the role of international spokesperson for the school. They have bestowed me with the responsibility of speaking for the local artists to the world at large.

You have to understand, Pohchang is not a pretty place. And I love Pohchang.

The Academy was founded by King Rama VI in 1913 to propagate the traditional arts during a period of increasing European influence. Being an old school--it is firmly established in tradition. A large percentage of Thailand's National Artists were trained within its halls. Yet, it remains unpretentious, a dusty, cluttered campus full of artifacts and refuse from generations of prolific art students. There has simply been no way for housekeeping to keep up.
Ajahn Pei
At Art Kaffee, a cool, funky coffeeshop next door run by the alumni association, we discussed the possibility of creating a program for foreigners wishing to spend time studying art and meditation in Thailand.

Ajahn Chu
Now, in my mind, a center for art and meditation is something in the distant future. A dream. But the meeting yesterday seemed to point to it as a distint possibility. If we are successful with launching AKSHA's wheel this year, there may be no limit to how far we can go.

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Thanks, appreciate the mindful comment! - Minette