Ritual in Contemplation, Text and Tools in Tantric Buddhism

Ritual in Contemplation

This lecture about the symbology used in Tibetan art is given by Prof. Robert Thurman, who is the one of the best known exponents of Tibetan Buddhism, at the Metropolitan Museum in New York.

Prof. Thurman knows the works not just as an outside scholar, interested in the works for their artistic value, but also as an insider, having been the first Westerner to be ordained in the Tibetan tradition, and that by the Dalai Lama himself.

He gained his PHD from Harvard, and also has an equivalent ranking in the Tibetan tradition, and is currently Prof. of Indo-Tibetan Studies in Colombia University.

His deep knowledge of the tradition and its symbolism shine through here, as he shows and explains many of the icons seen in Tibetan art, from statues, paintings (including Thangkas) and ritual objects, bringing them all to them with many stories, one of the most interesting of these being the explanation of the Maha Kala mandala, which he deals with in depth.

Although some of the remarks seem apologetic in nature, as the culture is very foreign to Western sensibilities, nevertheless we could hardly look for a better guide to the many intricate and multi-leveled meanings of the works in questions.

The presentation is introduced by John Guy, who is himself an expert on the Buddhist art traditions, and he gives a very good overview of the subject at the beginning for around 10 minutes.

 

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