The truth is beyond expression, conception, language and symbols. So how do we realise this truth? We can only make use of things that are not truthful, fabricated and contrived. The Tibetan word for “art” means trick, deception, being taken for a ride. When we talk about art as a creative expression, we have to talk about an audience who experiences that expression.
Thinking this way, all Buddha’s 84000 teachings are art. Buddha never taught to share knowledge, he taught out of compassion. The life of the Buddha is a play, an art — driven by compassion, driven by a motivation to teach others the truth. If our motivation is driven by compassion, caring, concern for others, then everything we do or not do, express or not express, is art.
There is no art that works for everybody. Because of that, Buddha taught 84000 arts. Out of the six paramitas, five are art. Our final purpose is to transcend art, to go beyond the path. This should be the framework for buddhist art.
Recording courtesy of the Buddhist Art Department at Huafan University
Onsite Translation: Chinese
Artwork by Daleast