Tuesday, April 21, 2009

View from the Top

On Sunday, I took a walk to the top of Rigaud mountain. It has a cross at the top that is lit up at night, like the one on top of Mount Royal, the "mountain" in the middle of Montreal, which is about 60 km away to the east. It is a tradition in Quebec to place giant crosses on top of prominant hills.

I walked up with a friend and my dog, Trinkette. Although the day was overcast, we enjoyed the pleasant walk through the woods and over some rock-strewn fields, starting at the Sanctuary of Notre-Dame and reaching the wooden lookout on the peak about an hour later.

Here are some views from the top, looking northeast and northwest.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

5 ways to end suffering

Today I want to write about the Art of Living Level One course I took from March 19th to 22nd at the North American ashram. It was the second time I took this course and it was very different and quite wonderful because it was intensive (3 days instead of 6) and Guruji Sri Sri Ravi Shankar was present at the ashram. All course participants had the privilege of meeting him personally and attending Satsang on two evenings.

I would like to share with you some of Guruji`s wisdom. He gave us 5 ways to end suffering from problems.
1. Realize that all in life passes and this problem will also pass.
2. Look back on your life and see all the problems you have overcome. Also this problem you will overcome.
3. Look around and see that others have even greater problems to deal with. This puts your own problem in perspective.
4. Have faith. Believe in happy endings.
5. Give your problem to your guru, priest or counsellor and then let it go!

I took some pictures during the Satsang and decided to try out the video option. Being a neophyte, I didn`t realize that holding my camera sideways will also make the video sideways! Just before I began filming, a question had been asked: "What is the role of sincerity in spiritual practice?" It is simply no coincidence that I filmed just as he answered. At the level of universal wisdom, Guruji`s answer was like a huge gong vibrating into my deepest Being.

It was not until the course was over and I was back home to meditate on it all that I made a profound realization. Everything that happened was exactly what I needed to experience. I did not have an exstatic and joyfull meeting with the guru but I also did not approach him with joy or devotion. My mother once said to me: "The way you call into the woods is the way your echo will sound".

Thank you, Guruji, and thank you, Mother!

Thursday, April 2, 2009

March ATCs

March 28th was the date of our most recent ATC trading day. There was a huge turnout, so I'm glad I made a lot of cards. Here is a sample page from my first series.

I titled my cards "Batik" because I used the classic color resist method. All of my cards were made with beeswax on card stock, but I used 3 different methods. For my first series, I painted designs with a #6 brush loaded with melted beeswax and I also made some finer lines with Windsor & Newton masking fluid on the ivory card. Then I covered the marks with a layer of "Arylide Yellow" liquid acrylic by Tri-Art. Step two was to make more marks with the beeswax and cover them with a layer of "Alisarin Crimson": these two layers created the brick red color. The third layer of marks was covered with "Indigo" acrylic paint. When I went to iron away the beeswax, some of the paint that had stuck to the wax melted down into the card and created the unusual spots.

My next series was made with an Indonsian Tjintang tool. The beeswax is poured into a little brass cup with a tiny spout that is attached to a wooden handle. I held the Tjintang over a candle to melt the wax and the wax flowed out onto the card stock. Careful! If the wax gets too hot it gushes out and if it's not hot enough, the spout is blocked. For this series I used watercolors: Cadmium Yellow, Cadmium Red and Prussian Blue.

The third series was done with the Tjanting and liquid acrylic paint. I thought it was the least successful but they turned out to be the favorites at the trade.