By Dr. Rotraut Jampa Wurst
For this 1st Conscious connection of the IQBC I, Jampa or Dr. Rotraut Jampa Wurst (she, her/they, them pronouns) was the facilitator 1s. https://www.queery.us/pronouns or https://www.mypronouns.org/what-and-why.
After the 1st International Queer Buddhist Conference – IQBC – last year, 2021, which I had the idea to and finally organized with a very small team of supporters, I had to realize, that there is an immense need to have such a safe and protected space for queers, especially in times of pandemic, but not only then.
It is necessary or even urgent, that queers, lesbian, gays, bisexual, trans, asexual, pansexual, and also allies will have such a space, where they can share their ideas and capabilities. But organizing an international conference needs time – it´s not possible to have that every day, as requested on the IQBC, so I discussed the idea of an additional form of meeting until the next, the 2nd IQBC this year (Ocober 22 – 23, and 24) with the volunteers, who support my idea of organizing the 2nd IQBC.
First the attendees were asked to share their name, pronouns, and from where they zoomed in, and how they got to know about the IQBC and the Conscious Connections. And it was great to see, that, there were participants from Canada, the US, Czeck Republic, and Germany.
This meeting is planned to be a monthly Conscious Connection with different artsy expressions like painting, photography, dancing, song, music, poem, short story, etc. and meditation.
First there will be always a meditation and there will always be a meditation in the end as a frame.
At the beginning we were focussing on the breath.
No matter what position was convenient or comfortable for the participants, everything was ok: sitting, standing, walking, or lieing down. The only request was, not to close ones eyes, because the meditatiors should be alert or mindful and not become sleepy. In Tibetan Buddhist nunneries during my fieldwork I had to learn, that this was forbidden, because the younger ones could sleep sitting perfectly in meditation posture 🙂
So we lowered our eyes on to ourselyes, so that by focussing on oneself one wasn´t disturbed by the others or just things around.
Focussing on the breath meant, breathing in through your nose and breathing out through your mouth, but not changing your breath, not making it longer or deeper, just watching the breath, how it comes in and goes out as usual, like one watches a movie.
The extra challenge then was by breathing in through your nose to consider gaining breath, too, through your hand palms and your foot soles. And by breathing out, also releasing through palms and soles: Doing this can offer you the impression of warmth in palms and soles. So you gain more energy while breathing. Very good at a walking meditation in the cold.
After the meditation the was a short introduction about my person:
Originally I was born in South Germany, but I live in the very North of Germany, about 800 kilometers away. „Ever since I could think and hold a pen, art has been an important part of my life.“ 2s. https://atelier.drwurst.de/en/about/
And „I discovered my passion for continuous learning, music, art, and staying open to my own fantasies, not afraid of pushing boundaries.“ 3https://atelier.drwurst.de/en/about/
For the the 1st Conscious connection I had chosen a Dyptich, and both are dealing with the idea of a Buddha.
First I only shared that picture above.
Both pictures are made with watercolor on canvas, and this first, is called „Feeding your Demons“. It is 40 to 30 centimeters in size, the second „Buddha“, is 40 to 40 in size. And I painted them two years ago in 2020, during the pandemic.
Both are dealing with the idea of becoming a Buddha, as I mentioned before, an enlightened being, as it is usually translated. And that is the first mistake 😀
You never will become enlightened, full of light or with a halo like saints e.g. in Christianity. But on many pictures, also in Buddhism e.g. Tibetan Buddhism, Buddhas are painted like this.
I was told during my fieldwork among Tibetan Buddhist nunneries in exile, that we can become a Buddha in one life time, yes, in this life it´s possible 😉 4Identiity in Exile. Tibetan Buddhist Nuns and the Network Sakyadhita, Reimer publ. Berlin 2001, hopefully soon also published in English.
Remembering these chats with the Tibetan Buddhist nuns, who impressed me very much, and some became teachers for me, I played around with the idea of once becoming enlightened, making fun of myself during my painting, and didn´t take it too earnest. But the idea, that it is possible for every sentient being to become a Buddha, also an ant or my dog, so why not. You know, that Buddha Maitreya once first appeared in the form of a poor puppy, and then revealed themself as Buddha Maitreya 🙂 5s. for example http://aumamen.com/story/maitreya-appears-to-asanga and others.
If, I thought, how would it look like? Well, I am a Dharma rapper, called „founder of Dharma Rap“, so I would be the first Dharma Rapper Buddha 6Although I am doing rap for more than 20 years I was called „founder of Dharma Rap“ on the 10th Sakyadhita International Conference on Buddhist Nuns, 2008, Ulaan Baatar, Mongolia, where I performed a Dharma Rap before my talk, and the a workshop about „Buddhism and Popculture“; s. also https://medium.com/@jampawurst/dharma-rap-ac5d94a231e9; and https://www.drwurst.de/dj-jampa-sausage/.
So, no Buddha of loving kindness or compassion or wisdom, but a Dharma Rapper Buddha, who would teach in this way of reciting in rhymes, so in rap, and my basecap had to be in this painting:
To my amazement this basecap was blessed by the Karmapa during an audience in Bodh Gaya in 2013. It couldn´t left out in the painting.
And surely the light would be necessary. Full of light, fully sitting in a halo, no more in samsara, nothing to do with samsara, but in another dimension, a Buddha realm, free from every suffering.
Ok, you see, something went wrong….
Something happened. And you see that first, realizing the restless or uneven brushstroke in the light, and also in that, what is coming up through the meditation, sitting in almost perfect meditation posture, sitting in lotus seat…. –
During this time I came in touch with the book of Tsultrim Allione „Feeding your Demons“ and her teachings about this meditation on Youtube.
The idea is, not to avoid or to suppress one´s own nightmares, traumas, bad experiences or memories, but to embrace and feed one´s demons, to incorporate them, so to say.
I thought, ha, that´s easy, I know, how to do that. By the way, you must know, that I am a nerdy SyFy fan. And this reminded me of the story of Luke Skywalker in Star Wars, when he learnt from his master, Jedi master Yoda. Yoda told him, before he can become a Jedi master, he has to face his biggest fear. Doing this in a cave, which reminds on Tibetan Buddhist tradition, Luke met Darth Vader, the dark evil one. But instead of embracing or feeding him, he fought against him, and … he won! But in this very moment, the helmet of Darth Vader opened and the face became the face of Luke himself. So, he somehow was killing himself in this fight.
Well, I thought, I make it better, because I know.
Ok, probably in my meditation, as a SyFy nerd, Darth Vader will appear, too, and I will know how to deal with.
But this isn´t, how meditation works.
What came up, was a ghostlike being, like foggy clouds of tobacco smoke, reddish, bluish in color. I should have laughed about that childish ghost. But in this meditation it became so scary, that I had to stop.
But I have been trying again and again, and I am still trying to feed my demons. And that is human. That is the usual path in life.
What ever one had experienced or went through, you will have to deal with it as long as you haven´t fed your demons.
Soooo, my Buddhahood will surely not come as quickly as my Tibetan Buddhist nuns suggested. I am still on the way, on the path.
Coming to the second part of becoming a Buddha, the second painting, it will become clear, from another way approaching this topic, that a Buddha is not an enlightened being, sitting in a halo with radiant light, in a galaxy far far away from suffering, in another dimension, a Buddha realm, not touched from the suffering around at all.
This Buddha is sitting between the light side and the dark side. Again it´s a quote of Star Wars, – because Star Wars or George Lucas has taken Buddhist quotes in this saga -, the light side, meaning the side of the good, and the dark side, meaning the side of the bad guys. 🙂
But here, the Buddha is not surrounded by the light side. This being is in the middle, between both sides.
The being is painted as Buddhas are painted, in meditation posture. But this is a really an awakened one, and that is what the Buddha is about. To be awakened, not enlightened.
Awakened means, that this being went through all the suffering like every being does. Because that´s life. When you live the life without wisdom and method, you live the life of someone, who is just a sentient being, suffering from the experiences one has to make, caught in samsara, the circle of suffering.
But this being here, an awakened being, once realized, that there is a path to finish the circle of suffering, samsara, by following the eightfold path.
And the assumption is to recognize, that life is suffering. That there are causes for this suffering. Our clinging, our greed, hate, and ignorance. That there are terminations of this suffering. And that these are the eightfold path with right lifelihood, and right mindfulness, etc.
So, here the Buddha, the Awakened, had to go through the usual life, and then embracing their demons, and afterwords becoming a Buddha, integrating or incorporating each facet, light, and
Therefore the Buddha is painted in innumerable shades of grey.
AND: In opposite of the first painting the Buddha seems to be quiet, patient, and no more scared from any experiences that might be come up. They were already invited and embraced, and fed. This comes from the different brush stroke, which emphasizes the quietness, the patience, the tranquility, and the loving kindness towards all phenomenas.
And the strange thing is that those shades of grey, the grey scale, can be converted into colors. Therefore I also could have painted this Awakened One between the light and the dark side in each of the beautiful colors of the rainbow from ultraviolet until infrared. Ok, both are not possible to be seen by human beings, but I mean that it is funny, that a Buddha is full of all the rainbow colors, because they experienced the whole samsara with every ups and downs, and now, being awakened and knowing, they are full of compassion for all the ones, who are not awakened yet. And so every Buddha is a rainbow of alll the colors, so queer!
So once, everyone will have their chance, no matter which sexuality, sex or gender or which sentient being you are.
So, here you can see both again and I showed this diptych also during meditation, and before we went into a session of Q&A.The meditation now was about these two pictures and what the attendees take of them.
What does it mean to be a Buddha for the attendees or for you, reading this text. Maybe different ideas come up, different colors..
Consider your experiences, your nightmares, and how you can deal with them by using stress relaxation or painting or dancing, writing, or meditating. But never forget to breathe.
Focus on your breath. Be calm and soft and full of compassion to yourself. Don´t be scared. Focus on your breath.
After the meditation I gave a teaching of a short self massage of head and face, because such a topic can be difficult for one or the other, and so giving metta or loving kindness to yourself is important.
We then spoke about how we deal with the idea of what it means to be a Buddha and whether it´s possible in the midst of this world of suffering, and bad experience, and traumas, and nightmares. How can we deal with that? How do you do that?
After taking some breaths again, I offered the possibility of doing the next Conscious Connection of the IQBC on March 9, 2022, 8 pm CET, asking to write to firstname.lastname@example.org, whether one likes to be the next facilitator.
As soon as it is clear, who will be the next facilitator, you will find the info on https://iqbc.org.