Emily Kngwarreye’s Mandala

Anwerlarr anganenty (Big yam Dreaming) by Emily Kame Kngwarreye

Anwerlarr anganenty (Big yam Dreaming) by Emily Kame Kngwarreye

This week is Naidoc Week and I so I wanted to share with you one of my favourite paintings: It is called Amwerlarr Anganenty (Big Yam Dreaming), painted by Emily Kame Kngawarreye, an Anmatyerre woman from Utopia community, 250 kms north-east of Alice Springs. It is a massive painting 3m x 8m, taking up one whole wall of the National Gallery of Victoria in Melbourne, so it is difficult to capture the majesty of the painting in such a little photo. However, I have been fortunate enough to sit in the gallery on several occasions and meditate up on this deeply spiritually moving image and if you live in Victoria, I highly recommend you visit Emily’s painting.

Emily Kame Kngwarreye

Emily Kame Kngwarreye

On the surface the image is a representation of Emily’s Country, Alhalker, and her Dreaming, which is the amwerlarr (pencil yam), and suggests the lines of the roots of the pencil yam as it covers the earth. Emily painted this all in the course of two days, sitting on the canvas, laid out on the red desert earth, and covering it with thick white lines, all the time singing her Dreaming story as she painted. Emily started painting when she was 80 years old and to me this reveals the greatest significance of her work: her profound wisdom. In her paintings she re-creates the wisdom of countless generations passed on to her by teachings from her Elders over many decades. When Emily was asked what her painting was about, Emily simply replied “Whole lot, that’s whole lot… That’s what I paint, whole lot.” That is, although this painting looks like the roots of the yam, in fact there is a much deeper significance to her work: it is a visual representation of the whole cosmos, in the same way that the great Buddhist mandalas reveal the Truth that underlies our superficial understanding of reality. Within the lines of the painting there is a profound and mystical teaching that, even if we can’t understand it intellectually, we can receive by quietly meditating on the image. This is the same as the Buddhist practice of meditating on a mandala.

Diamond World Samaya Mandala

Diamond World Samaya Mandala

In a Buddhist mandala the image might be of a particular deity or set of symbols, but that is only the superficial meaning of the painting. Underlying the lines of the painted work is a deeper teaching that has come from the vision of an enlightened person – the one who first painted that mandala, who had a deep experiential understanding of Reality – which is then copied over periods of centuries by monks who then use the image as an object of meditation. Using your eyes as your instrument of practice, meditate upon the mandala and allow the teaching that is inherent within it to connect to your own deep innate wisdom.

Emily’s wisdom pours forth from her entire being as she sings her painting into life, through the medium of paint and brush, as an extension of herself not separate from the land, onto the canvas. Within the painting there is a story about Country that relates to the way people have an inherent interconnection with the land around them – the land that contains and includes the self, or self as a microcosm of the land itself, inseparable. Although the superficial meaning of the painting is the roots of the yam, within the lines and, far more importantly, between the spaces are revealed deep teachings of a cosmic Truth that can be apprehended not with the mind but with whole body simply being in its presence and meditating upon the lines in quiet stillness – allowing the message to seep into your own being via your eyes.

And this is exactly what Emily Kame Kgnwarreye is offering us in her mesmerising paintings – mandalas that offer us profound spiritual teachings that connect to our own deep wisdom. This is the sacred offering that the ancestors of this land have to share with all of us, regardless of  our colour or background – how to recognise and apprehend our inseparable, ineffable spiritual connection with the land. So I encourage you to sit quietly and meditate upon the works of the Elders.

Happy NAIDOC Week 🙂

Emily Kngwarreye working on the painting "Earth's Creation"

Emily Kngwarreye working on the painting “Earth’s Creation”

Pilgrimage to the Womb World

Mountain Pilgrimage - entering the Womb World

Mountain Pilgrimage – entering the Womb World

2014 Pilgrimage – Journey into the Womb World of the Divine Feminine

For this year’s pilgrimage, I will be undertaking mountain ascetic practices at sacred sites associated with the Divine Feminine in Japan. Undertaking a pilgrimage, especially in mountains, is a physically demanding meditation that takes the pilgrim into a transcendent liminal space that is between life and death, drawing in the inherent power of these sacred spaces wherein spiritual transformation is possible, which then culminates in being reborn into this world. This is why pilgrims in Japan always wear white clothing: white is the colour of death. The journey itself is an act of entering into a sacred space that is a three-dimensional mandala, beyond and yet contained in this world. The Esoteric Buddhist practices that I will undertake in this year’s journey will be focussed on entering the Womb World Mandala, which represents the principles of the Divine Feminine, such as compassion, nurturing and unconditional love; it also represents the source and the reality that we experience in our everyday lives, in all its organic messiness, but which is imbued nonetheless with Enlightenment. Undertaking this journey is a meditation on our own innate enlightened being.

dalai_lamaMy journey this year will culminate in a unique initiation into the Womb World Mandala by His Holiness the Dalai Lama, who is being hosted by my own guru and home temple in the sacred precincts of Mt Koya, Japan, for four days of teaching and initiation. This is an event of great karmic significance and I feel overwhelmingly blessed to be participating in this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

As always, in my role designated by my guru as “The Prayer Vessel,” at the various sacred sites along the way, I will be offering the prayers, wishes, intentions and hopes of anyone who wants me to offer a prayer on their behalf. In the past 20 years, I have offered thousands of prayers for people of all spiritual paths, from all over the world, and I have witnessed many miraculous events as a result of offering these prayers. It would be a great privilege for me to carry your prayer on this special journey as well. Please don’t hesitate to ask for what you feel you need in your life right now, or offer a prayer of hope for those you love.

Because this year’s journey is dedicated to the Divine Feminine and its manifestation in the Womb World, I will be especially focussing on blessings related to women’s issues, such as women’s health, conception, safe pregnancy and birth, pregnancy loss (miscarriage or abortion), relationship happiness, looking for a partner, looking for love, peaceful family life, success for children’s school life, success for children finding jobs, etc.

Womb World Mandala

Womb World Mandala

How to write a prayer

A prayer is simply a written account of whatever it is that you wish for or hope for; it is a statement of your intention for change in your life. I believe that when you write down your innermost hopes and wishes and desires and intentions, then you are activating that energy into the world: you are actively participating in creating your own desired destiny. My role, in offering your prayer at these sacred sites that are so powerful and ancient, is to magnify your intention – to ripple it out into the cosmos and help that energy to grow. So it is a combination of the energy of your own intention, which is made manifest by writing it down, then amplified by my offering your written prayer in places that are focal points of great spiritual energy, where transformation is made possible. Prayer is a very powerful tool in creating your destiny, and I have witnessed many miracles that have resulted from prayer – even though these miracles may not always be what the person had envisioned for themselves! You may be very surprised at the blessings that enter your life!

The most spiritually beneficial way of offering your prayer is to write in on the back of a sacred text called The Heart of Wisdom Sutra, which is an ancient text succinctly describing the nature of Reality. Because each Chinese/Japanese character is a pictograph – a symbolic picture of an idea – when you trace over its letters, you are creating an abstract painting of that Reality. Even if you don’t understand these words, there is a great spiritual satisfaction in ‘painting’ it as a writing meditation. So, first you can trace over the letters of the sutra, and then when you’ve finished, you write your prayer on the back and then send it to me. I recite your prayer at the sacred sites, offer it at the temple, and then it is ritually burned by the priests at the temple, which completes the offering of the prayer. You can find a copy of The Heart of Wisdom Sutra and more information about sacred calligraphy in the section “Sacred Calligraphy” on my website www.catekodojuno.com

Please contact me at catekodo@gmail.com and I will be happy to help you with your prayer. Or, once completed, send it to Wabi’an, 8 Bouvard Drive, Bouvard WA 6211, Australia by March 31st. I do not charge anything for this service, however, it is appropriate to send a monetary offering to be made at the sacred sites as a sign of your commitment and intention. And any donations towards the pilgrimage are gratefully appreciated 🙂

Offerings/donations can be made by cash, money order or direct bank deposit (please contact Cate for details)