Eclectic Buddhism in Ventura

Submitted by Leslie Rinchen-Wongmo

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Client: Ventura Buddhist Center / An Lac Mission

Location: Ventura, CA, United States

Completion date: Jan 01, 2014

Project Team

Artist

Leslie Rinchen-Wongmo

Threads of Awakening

Other

Venerable Tapovanaye Sutadhara

Ventura Buddhist Center / An Lac Mission

Other

Venerable Thich Thong Hai

An Lac Mission

Other

Venerable Chuc Hien

An Lac Mission

Overview

Five silk thangkas were displayed in the temple for the month of March 2014 — three sacred meditational images and two portraits of Buddhist practitioners in their daily lives. The temple serves as a place of meeting, ritual, meditation, and exercise for diverse groups and the art provided inspiration as well as a window onto another Buddhist culture.

Goals

Thangkas were requested to inhabit the Temple space for one month in order to bring inspiration and cultural awareness to the community there.
An Lac Mission (which means Garden of Peace in Vienamese) was established in 2001 by Vietnamese monks and nuns for the benefit of the Vietnamese community and all those wishing to experience Buddhism. Housed in a 100-year-old church building, considered a historical site by the City of Ventura, it provides a spacious shrine room and dining hall, as well as a separate facility for education and living quarters.
Classes in Tai Chi and Yoga, mindfulness meditation retreats, Zen practice and Dharma discussions are regularly offered. Effort is made to include those outside the regular community and to expose community members to other Buddhist and spiritual practices. The exhibition of Leslie Rinchen-Wongmo’s artworks and the upcoming Tibetan Maitreya Relics exhibition are part of that effort.
The temple’s spacious interior, beautiful statues, and visiting artwork by Leslie Rinchen-Wongmo uplift visitors. When combined with regular spiritual practices, dharma talks, discussions, and the kindness of the Sangha, they become a great source of maitri (loving-kindness) and healing.

Process

David Stanley, project coordinator, invited Leslie Rinchen-Wongmo to display a selection of thangkas in the temple in order to expose the art to a larger audience and attract new visitors to participate in the Temple's healing activities of meditation, yoga, and tai chi. Ven, T. Sutadhara (known as Bhante) welcomed the art and expressed appreciation for how it enlivened the space and created new opportunities for discussion about the variety of practice techniques available in the different schools of Buddhism. Sutadhara, Rinchen-Wongmo, Stanley, and Ven. Chuc Hien cooperated in hanging the thangkas in a way that complemented the existing temple statuary and other decoration, as well as the architecture of the 100-year-old California church.

Additional Information

The thangkas will return to the Temple June 13-15, 2014 to accompany the visit of the Maitreya Loving Kindness Relic Tour, a collection of relics from great Tibetan and Indian masters, going back to the Buddha himself. Several thousand people will visit the temple to receive blessings. Artist Leslie Rinchen-Wongmo will speak about Threads of Awakening: Finding Beauty and Connection One Imperfect Stitch at a Time on Saturday, June 14 at 10:30am. The documentary film "Creating Buddhas: the Making and Meaning of Fabric Thangkas," which features Rinchen-Wongmo's work will also be screened.