The Jewel in the Heart of the Lotus
September 12, 2008
A short animated guide to Buddhist breath meditation, using the metaphor of an opening lotus. The narration was adapted from a talk given by Ajahn Brahm, a popular Buddhist teacher, author and abbot of Serpentine monastery, Perth.
The visuals are taken from ‘Lotus’, a film I had made previously. A few years later I was listening to one of Ajahn Brahm’s mp3 talks (available from Buddhist Society of Western Australia www.bswa.org), in which he used the classic Tibetan symbol of spiritual awakening – the lotus, to explain the Buddhist practice of meditation. I felt inspired to rework my Lotus film, and edit together the talk with some of my music, with a view to create a meditation ‘promo’ video. There are many forms of meditation pushed around these days, and most of it is new age, pseudo-buddhist tosh.
The form Buddhism I follow is Theravadin, which is the oldest, and maintains the Buddha’s original teachings as authentically as possible. In these teachings the Buddha teaches Anapanasati (mindfulness of breathing) – this is the same meditation method he used to gain enlightenment, and is same method used by millions of Buddhists today.
Finding a good teacher is important when it comes to the real practice of Buddhist meditation, and if you’re interested, I strongly recommend you visit the bswa website and listen to some of Ajahn Brahm’s talks freely available as mp3 downloads.
When I had finished making this film, I sent it to AJahn Brahm in Perth, and he has since used it to show his monks, and at public talks and events. This was so inspiring for me, seeing that digital art and music can in someway, I hope, inspire and promote meditation. This is definitely one of the highlights of my creative career!
Here’s a shot glossary on some technical terms mentioned in the film. ( from wikipedia)
Jhāna – is a meditative state of profound stillness and concentration in which the mind becomes fully immersed and absorbed in the chosen object of attention. This was the state where the Buddha himself had entered during the period of his own quest for enlightenment.
Nimitta – At the state of access concentration, some meditators may experience vivid mental image (Pāli: nimitta), which is similar to a vivid dream (as vividly as if seen by the eye), but in this case the meditator is fully aware and conscious that they are seeing mental images.
Emptiness – is a characteristic of phenomena arising from the fact (as observed and taught by the Buddha) that the impermanent nature of form means that nothing possesses essential, enduring identity. In the Buddha’s spiritual teaching, insight into the emptiness of phenomena is an aspect of the cultivation of insight that leads to wisdom and inner peace.