Announcing Tonglen Project

Hi all, it’s Maia writing as guest blogger here at Banging Rocks. I am so happy to share that Tuesday, April 16 is the day that Banging Rocks previews its Tonglen project, one that creatively synthesizes the experience of virtual reality with the experience of a Tibetan Buddhist meditation practice known as “Tonglen”.

Four of us (Daniel Lindenberger, Claire Roberts, Amy Dyck and I) have spent the past two months creating this experience, which is the beginning of a long arc of exploration for this project.

Welcome to its beginning, its soul, its seed point, and its root. We are happy to have you join in and to participate and to comment, and to engage with the work in the creative ways that we know and hope you will.

What follows is a poem-meditation-prayer that I wrote during our creation-time, and it reflects my own personal interpretation of the work. The work itself embraces all four of our different interpretations of tonglen, and establishes a new datum for the practice within VR, which introduces an intermediary talisman to the in-out breath, something tangible that VR can play with, and that you can play with, too. So, read on, and enjoy.

Maia’s New Tonglen – a breathing poem
Which way should I go?
Tonglen shows the way
Breathe in
If it’s the brighter path
If it feels beckoning
If it intrigues you
Then it’s the next best step
Breathe out
What should I do?
Breathe in
If it feels good
If it is intended with love
And if it is done with passion
Then it’s good

Breathe out
How will I know?
Breathe in
If it feels happy
If it feels ticklish and yummy
If it’s a Yes when you think of it
Then it’s the open path
Breathe out
When will I know it?
Breathe in
If you float on the delight of it
If you hear it as rhythm or song
If it moves through you in a wiggle or a wave
Then it’s the fluid option
And it’s the one that will ultimately bear fruit
Breathe out
Breathe in
You can kill it with doubt
You can doubt it with fear
You can fear it into a corner
Breathe out
Breathe in
Or, you can find the small movements that brighten and release with Talisman touch 
Breathing in and out

Black smoke in
White smoke out
Connecting and holding the world around you, in
Relinquishing and releasing the control of it, out
And smile
Stay on the bright path
It is the one that leads you where you want to go
It is the Tonglen path
To release suffering

-Maia Kumari Gilman, 2019

This is who we are, in relation to the project:

Claire is much more than an artist and game developer; she is an interpreter of the project’s essence.

Amy is much more than an artist and a sculptor of the talismans; she breathes spirit into form.

Maia is much more than an artist and an architect; she is an environmental designer of inner and outer landscapes, seeking ways to plant and to expand.

Daniel is much more than a project coordinator and idea generator; he is the master wizard of both the grand vision and the pieces that make up the whole, holding it together in his mind as the rest of us catch up to interpret, to breathe, and to plant and expand.

We are proud to be part of an event for conference attendees to the 2019 TED Conference “Bigger Than Us” , for which the Tonglen project was created.

You can learn more about the event here.

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