Sanctuary of Transformative Art
A Journey to Tibet by Marianna and Sky Rydvald
Spring 1999, Dear Dharma Sisters and Brothers, Dakas and Dakinis
Aloha Greetings from blessed Maui where medicinal trees and celestial flowers grow. Taras Island says our precious Teacher, Venerable Sakya Dagmo Jamyang Palmo. We are so grateful to be here, breathing freely after experiencing the grave air pollution in India and Nepal. In the past, I spent over 7 years in India, Nepal. Through the Blessings of Tara, with generous support from Spiritual Friends, I was fortunate to bring my children on the Pilgrimage. I am grateful for the opportunity to paint murals “The Life of Shakyamuni Buddha” in a Temple, Karma Tharjay Chokhorling in Bodhgaya. I was pregnant with my youngest son Sky during that project. Later I brought him to India, Nepal to meet Teachers.
I met HH Karmapa at Samye Ling 1975. There He became my Heart Teacher,upholder of Sublime Dharma, performing enlightened activities that opened doors of Faith ; venturing into my dreams, inspiring visions to be painted; giving Mantra Empowerments to practice skillful fearlessness. I painted a portrait ofthis precious Mahasiddha after His passing in 1981. He gave Refuge to my daughters Tzewang Dolma and ChangChup Dolma.
Since my Teacher appeared in Tibet as the 17th Karmapa, I recently journeyed to Tibet with my son Sky. Before the journey, I completed a large painting of Green Tara in a sandalwood grove. Snow Lions and their cubs are dancing at her feet, safe and happy, close to the Mother of all Buddhas and Bodhisattvas. This painting I wished to give to HH Karmapa, transferring it onto a smaller canvas easy to transport to India. In Dharamsala, a Tibetan tailor made a beautiful brocade frame. During the Jamantaka Initiation given by His Holiness Dalai Lama, in a dream, Karmapa’s dream flag appeared and we made firm our plans to reach Tsurphu, Karmapaís Monastery in Tibet. We set off to Tibet carrying the Thangka of Green Tara.
Venturing into Tibet by bus, the air became more and more clear due to lack oftraffic on those barren, enchanting and dangerous roads. There were no road improvements to be seen except around Lhasa and Airport. The nights were cold in the small villages where Tibetans and Chinese immigrants dream of becoming good neighbors. What else can we do on this small planet floating in vast space. As we bounced down the narrow gravel roads with thousand foot drops I was on Top Alert to throw Sky to safety through the half opened door , ifthe bus would tip over the edge. The driver was certainly tempting our life span. As soon as we arrived in Lhasa, I made arrangements to go to Tsurphu to see Karmapa who then was 13 years old by western counting. Sky is one month younger than Karmapa. He also was anxious to see Him. A short while before our journey, Sky had a wonderful dream about Karmapa in which Karmapa was on Maui with His Family. They were in the Japanese Buddhist Temple in Makawao celebrating. In the dream, a local boy had pushed Sky towards Karmapa who then put His arm around Sky’s shoulder and asked him kindly, “Will you pray with me tomorrow”.We traveled by tiny bus, winding through fields where decorated yaks happilyswung their braided hairs, plowing fields with majestic grace. Spring was inthe air. Arriving at Tsurphu I felt a quietness that made me wonder if Karmapa was there. We saw one of the head monks that treated us kindly. He told us that Karmapa was in a Green Tara retreat and was coming out of retreat in 2 days. I showed the Monk the rolled up Thangka and asked him to bring a photo of theThangka to Karmapa. The Monk came back after a while saying that Karmapa was very happy for the photo, that it helped Him visualizing Tara asking us to return in two days. I told the Monk that our plane was leaving, but we wouldtry to return.
It felt wondrous to bring Karmapa the Thangka at the time of Hislong Retreat. Tara was blessing our days in Tibet.Back in Lhasa I told the tour guide about my decision. He said it was very difficult to change visa and airplane reservation, but later a former monk at Tsurphu came and told us that he had contacts with visa officials and airlines.The next day he had arranged everything. We returned to Tsurphu in a jeep, with the former Tsurphu monk as our translator. Arriving at Tsurphu we waited in the guest room where we met Karmapa’s delightful, beautiful sisters. Blessed Dakinis, bringing a fresh air of purity and grace from the high Mountains, still carrying their artful knifes dangling fromtheir hips, showing us a magnificent amber from Russia. We invited them toMaui, praying they soon will have passports and visas so they can travel freely together with their precious Brother on His future journeys.
A Lama told us that we now could see Karmapa. As we came closer to Hisprivate chambers, at the top of the Monastery, we were led through a line ofmonks blowing Horns to welcome us. To be treated in such a noble and caring way by a Dharma Master made us so happy. The dream came alive. All is awaking dream, like dew on the grass it fades away. Karmapa was so kind to us, so loving to Sky. He told me not to hurry, to take my time. We were in His presence about an hour. We prayed for His Long Life, that He soon would be able to travel freely around the world performing enlightened activities, seeing His many students who patiently awaits Him. I told Him about the sever political situation in Serbia, Europe, the World. How we need to pray intensely for World Peace to pacify the warlords. I presented the Green Tara thangka and He said that our meeting was very auspicious as wecame with this thangka at the completion of His Tara Retreat.
In His past life, I had given Him many prints of my first green Tara painting that had amused Him very much since I had painted Tara with birch shoes, with a family of Saami People on one side and an elk on which crown a Dakini was dancing. He said at that time: “you probably thought she was cold up in the North”. And here He was as a 13 year old Maha Siddha, with the kindest voice, again being amused as I was looking for a nail to hang the thangka. The monks came with a small table to stand on and as I hang the thangka , a large print of Chenrezig fell out, rolling towards Karmapa. I had forgotten I had rolled the thangka on this print. Being with Karmapa is intensively magical. Sky told his dream about Karmapa, who looked very pleased. Sometimes He might belonely in His remote mountain retreat. always guarded by many monks,following his every move. How I would love to take Him with me, to really celebrate with His dear Family on an Aloha Island. I told Karmapa about the experiences I had, being with Sky, dreams, lettersfrom Teachers such as our wonderful Nyingmapa Khenpos who were with uswhen Sky was born and the Khenpos dream.
As we left Karmapa’s chambers, the monks were playing on long horns,vibrating into the core of our being, feeling Karmapa’s kind prayers. We pray forHis well being every day. May He be safe and well protected. May His enlightened activities illuminate all realms, liberating beings. Dear Friends, please remember the Long Life prayers for our Precious Jewel,the young 17th Karmapa. How fortunate we are to be alive to practice holy Dharma, to receive Transmissions from Enlightened Beings.
OM AH HUNG Karmapa Chenno, Karmapa Chenno, Karmapa Chenno
A Moment of Tranquility
Pristine scales of mountainous landscape.
Wind that gently brushed your face with a harsh
slap. Could you really drift into thought with such extravagant
beauty fluttering in every corner of the eye?The eye is only part of vision,
I heard many a voice, speaking to me of this.
Wisdom shared freely is a gift to cherish for all eternity.
Cherish it in your heart, but let it flow.
One word of wisdom is a thousand verses,
only time can tell.Curved slates, filled with artistic talent, welcomed like
branches on a willow. Sad yet enduring.
I was filled with joy to have come
so far into the journey.Eyes and ears all so vigilant,
have we ever thanked the beholder, questions for one,
now gone. Listen carefully,
a bird flew and landed, then sung its turn.Cherish simplicity,
what already is bestowed is treasure enough.
Look around and see,
the value of nature with glee.
Oh mighty mountains, with caps of white,
and clouds of ice.
~Poem by Sky in Memory of Tibet 1999