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Buddhadharma : Summer 2005
summer 2005| 82 |buddhadharma and nearly two hundred deity images are linked directly to texts in TBRC’s online database. Just as the TBRC is working to pre- serve the textual record from the Tibetan region, as a byproduct of its curatorial work, Himalayan Art Resources is gath- ering images and information that can serve as a resource for present-day and future practitioners. Watt feels the infor- mation needs to be gathered now, before too much is lost or misinterpreted. By the middle of 2006, he hopes to have sub- stantial write-ups on all the main deities and important teachers in Tibetan Hima- layan art. He is also working on diagrams that will chart the lineage branches in the Tibetan tradition. By using lineage classifications, the site organizes a vast pantheon into paths that are easy to follow. If one is searching for a deity image, for example, the search engine offers a list of every such deity in- cluded at the site and asks you to choose which lineage’s version you would like to see. Watt emphasizes the importance of being able to find an image associated with a particular lineage. “These deities might be thought of as generic, but they are definitely not,” he says. “If you are a Vajrayana student doing a practice given to you by a particular teacher, you want the image associated with that particular lineage – or monastery, even. That’s why we pay so much attention to getting our sources and descriptions right.” In some sense, Watt says, “Vajrayana takes complex Buddhist teachings, like the Prajnaparamita Sutra, and transforms them into a visual and sensory code that becomes an aid for a very sophisticated kind of meditation and liturgical practice. But for them to work, it’s important to understand what these sacred mnemon- ics represent and where they fit into the various lineages. In some sense, for the Vajrayana student, they are like a family photo album. They are actual personal- ities in your family, whom you can get to know.” In Tibet, students would have been surrounded by such art in their daily life. Thangkas, murals, tapestries, and sculptures provided them with aids for the detailed visualizations necessary for Vajrayana practice. Watt has received many inquiries from Tibetan teachers, students, and thangka painters who are grateful for the work of Himalayan Art Resources, which provides valuable infor- mation that’s unavailable elsewhere. While the site offers much to those with specialized needs, it works just as well for a general user who is interested in Himalayan art and sacred traditions. An array of links to sites on every conceiv- able topic related to the artworks (dance, archeology, mandalas, etc.) makes the site a home base for learning about the Bud- dhist and cultural traditions of the Hi- malayan area. For those who want to see the art in person, the site also maintains a listing of museum exhibitions world- wide. Watt and his team continue to add functions to the site that they hope will make the art of interest to a wider range of people. For example, if you click on “Kids!” on the home page, you’ll find a recently added series of “explorations” that show how thangkas are used to tell stories. Watt’s aim, he says, is “to offer a site that a high school student, who’s from a small town and knows nothing about Buddhism, can learn from, and that also has deep value for longtime practitioners.” In this first biography of Ruth Denison, Sandy Boucher tells the gripping story of Ruth’s youth in Nazi-dominated Germany, her immigration to California and marriage to Henry Denison, and her pioneering wo rk as a teacher of female Buddhist practice in the West. “Ruth is one of our most amazing Buddhist elders, whose vision has helped plant the Dharma in the West. And this is her story, compellingly and beautifully told.” — Jack Kornfield, author of After the Ecstasy, the Laundry “A beautifully written book about a splendidly unique teacher.” —Joseph Goldstein, author of One Dharma: The Emerging Western Buddhism Beacon Press www.beacon.org $25.95 hardcover Buddhadharma ad 3/25/05 3:30 pm Page 1