There is a fire in the sky –
This great structure, this monolith of ancient lines and dimensions, reaching to the sky in all directions. The sun crests over the tree of life within, the moon disc at its peak gracing the deep blue sky like a spear cutting through the air. This Stupa is something from a fairy tale, a myth, a legend, as every time I gaze upon it I am caught up in its presence like a powerful drum being beaten by my side, reverberating my inner most feelings and letting them out. Upon its perch, gazing to the sea, with its broad shape covering all in its shadow and gaze, its lines and form mesmerizing. Looking to the sky, losing track of the ground beneath me the stupa seems to be flying through the air, as the clouds create a not so subtle movement and sway in the sky overhead.
On this special day there is a halo in the sky around the sun, a burning sphere of light amongst the swirling tempestuous clouds overhead, their wavy, fluid, almost liquid lines full of color and shadow, a dynamic display of natural beauty. Though some time has passed since, and I am no longer in the Stupa’s great presence, looking back this particular day held such a surprise amongst the turbulent but calming skies. For at this very moment Lama Jigmé Rinpoché was teaching in Karma Guen, and we at the great Stupa de Benalmádena experienced a rare sight indeed, a true fire sky, a colorful and dramatic display in the skies overhead, letting us all know that something very special was happening here. In one moment there was a cloud of unique shape poised directly above the stupa, as if coming from the stupa itself, emanating this burning ray of light and fire, shooting into the sky. From its post atop the mountainside, peering to the sea below, the Stupa stands tall and magnificent, broad shouldered and strong, like a great monument, a motionless dharma juggernaut.
There is a fire in the sky – around the sun a burning disc of light perches, unmoving, illuminating all below with its gaze.
These past few weeks have been a joyful blur of activity and learning, as the buildup of my exhibition required so much more than just patience and hard work. After only four weeks of planning, and five short days to completely setup and prepare everything, the simple fact that it was ready just in time came as no surprise. Thanks to the hard work, dedication and pure willingness of a few people, this dream, this bigger than I could have ever imagined dream has become a reality, and much more than a reality as it is now a living and breathing thing with which I have left inside so much of my heart and soul. To be able to have a tribute to Shamar Rinpoche like this, to have my work displayed in such a beautiful and deeply powerful place, inside a stupa, and to be seen by the thousands that come to Benalmadena all year long, this is beyond anything I could even dream of. As we have completely outgrown the simpler initial idea for the show to now include all my work from this past Monlam as well, with Karmapa coming into his own in a year of difficult times and heavy emotion, seeing this through my lens and heart has been a gift all in its own, and I am so happy to be able to share this as part of the journey as well.
To finally see the exhibition in its entirety, to actually walk through and see all our ideas come to life, the colors and sounds echoing off the newly painted walls, this I have finally experienced for myself tonight, over a week after our grand opening. This is without a doubt a most adventurous first exposition – for a new artist just budding into the scene, making the jump from my usual travels and events to a real gallery of this quality, visibility and locale is such a huge honor – and one that I do not take lightly. It is directly in thanks to the admirable trust and courage of Maggue and her two amazing daughters, Anna and Galu, for they are the true reason for this all coming to life. It was their idea, they organized and planned everything, helped me to clarify my ideas and brought with them so much greatness and ideas of their own as well. A bonding experience for us, through our efforts and determination we have grown close, and to me they are nothing less than family. To have such trust in each other, and they in me is a deeply touching sentiment, and I will never forget these acts of kindness shown to me. From the moment I arrived a few months ago I have felt such a strong bond with these people, their hearts are always open and their home is a meeting place of stories, laughter and memories. Such devotion to their work, as the stupa here in Benalmadena is beyond compare, a simply extraordinary place – but one can truly feel their love and presence at this Stupa of Dancing Light – the place is blessed, but those who make it home are the truest blessings to me.
Now the exhibition is open to the public, for all to see, my deepest feelings and thoughts displayed on a global and very public forum – in hopes that my journey and the ensuing imagery that came with it can be but a small token of my memories and feelings from what I, and we all, have been through together. From the passing of Rinpoche comes such sadness and longing, mixed with joy, for now I can truly hold on to what I have made from these passing moments, now engrained and painted on the walls of the Stupa. Walking into the gallery I am greeted by the largest photo of Karmapa I have ever seen, his gaze is blazing and serene at the same time, magnified by the sheer size of the image, his golden robe caught in the sun as he kneels on his throne, it affects me deeply. Walking through the photos, hearing my music echoing in the hall, I still cannot believe that for one I was asked to display my work here, and that in such a short time, done almost completely over the phone and email, this tremendous achievement has culminated into all of this – such a feeling – I don’t have words to describe it. The exposition will be up all year at the amazingly beautiful Stupa de Benalmádena, so I warmly invite everyone to come and see it for yourself!
My deepest thanks, appreciation and gratitude to everyone from the Stupa staff for their constant energetic and lively presence, hard work and dedication: Zoli, Patti, and Liz, you are the best and your dedication to your work is both admirable and heart warming. To all our friends and oftentimes hilariously relaxed compatriots during my stay: I have never eaten so well, enjoyed myself more, nor had more fun or laughed harder in my life – you all really know how to live life to the fullest in every moment and I am so happy to have shared these moments with you. A big shout out to my friend and wonderful photographer Salva Dharma Photography for coming out in support, and giving me the chance to actually be in some of your amazing photos, the video’s thumbnail being one of his, and for being such a constant support and great inspiration to me. To Lama Jigmé Rinpoché, for sending me on this amazing journey, and for being present to inaugurate this event personally was such a rare treat. And to Maggie, Anna, and Galu, you have shown me such great generosity, warmth, compassion and respect – this is just the beginning of what we will make together, and I cannot wait to see what we come up with next! From the bottom of my heart thank you for everything, muchas gracias por todos, mi familia, con mi corazon.
The Stupa is dancing with me – in the night air, cool and refreshing, this magnificent structure adorning the hillside here in Benalmadena is literally swaying and moving in the breeze as the starless sky gives a perfect backdrop of black contrast. Street lights and houses becomes twinkling stars. The stupa’s glowing white form takes on a hint of golden sheen, as the sun sets here in Spain, the sky holding onto its last remnants of sun and color, softly fading into night over the hillside. Having photographed this space more than a few times now I have become more acquainted with its details – its curves and shape, the way the sunlight plays off the edges, and that blue sky that has now become the universal standard for big blue in my book of memories. Changing the venue by just a few simple hours later on, and this environment takes on a whole new vibe.
Lost is the deep blue sky and puffy clouds, but with this comes the night – and the cascading lights of Benalmadena turning on, the warm glow of yellow, gold, orange and red, mixing with the stucco and tile of the Costa Del Sol. Having spent my adolescence in the southern coast of California, this seems altogether familiar to me on more than a few levels, as these instantly recognizable textures and colors, these memories of my past – now mixing with the new and precious moments here in a place I have quickly come to call home. The stupa is dancing in the night, dancing with the lights, the space full of color, as a simple break from work inside the gallery turns into an exploration into long exposure that I lose all track of time. As the city slumbers below, as the coast steeps into dark and the lights of the city come to meet the horizon, the Stupa de Benalmádena stands alone on the hillside, dancing in the night, seemingly illuminated from within.
Rinpoche Is Glowing
I spent all of yesterday morning in a living room with Lama Jigmé Rinpoché and Audrey Desserières – in the wake of his last two courses here in Spain, and as we were all here at the same time, we decided we would try and take advantage of these few precious free moments in his hectic and busy schedule and try to get some filming done. As we were filming an interview, our gracious hosts allowed us to transform their living room into our temporary studio, bringing in lights and arranging tables, finding the right corner that had just the right amount of beautiful natural light coming in from the large windows looking out onto the Mediterranean sea. This home has a great sense of welcome and family to it, I have from the moment I stepped foot here felt completely at home, thanks to its owners, and our wonderful hosts Anna, Galu and Maggie Kossowski. Rinpoche also seems to be extremely comfortable and at ease here, as he is in a wonderful mood and energy, smiling from ear to ear as I prepare the cameras and get situated, setting up the microphones, joking with us as he rests poised, ready and energetic – excited to get started.
The filming goes off perfectly, and afterwards I ask Rinpoche if he would be ok if I was to casually take some photos of him while he was still seated in his chair. I rarely get a chance to take some more official shots of Rinpoche, and today seems like a great time as he is looking especially regal and wearing his beautiful purple jacket that truly suits him so well. He agrees, and I spent the next twenty minutes or so taking a photo from time to time as casually talks with the others, but I was in clear amazement by just how magnetic and witty he was – I had to remind myself to continue taking photos as I was becoming totally engrossed in their conversation and would constantly forget. Everyone was almost falling over each other laughing and joking together, the warmth in this room was really powerful and I could tell that they all had such a wonderful connection together, truly enjoying each others company, I really felt very lucky to be here with them, a guest in this space being shared by them together. Rinpoche was simply glowing, not only was his sense of humor and wit totally undeniable, he is such a wonderfully simple, compassionate and conscious man, you can truly feel his attention is completely on whoever he is speaking with, his presence felt in the whole room, yet never overly powerful or dominating in any way, regardless of his great status as a teacher. He is approachable, gentle, kind and warm, he is genuinely interested in all things – we even joke that one cannot impress him as he seems to be truly informed and educated about everything we can think of.
These few moments that I did manage to capture with Rinpoche, this lucky morning basking in the wonderful ambience of this family and friends, I feel like I got to see the truest side of Rinpoche I have had the luck to see. He was glowing, his eyes sparkling and his face full of life and humour, and we all were too, surrounded by his great presence and yet so welcomed into his personal space. Here in the warmth of the Spanish Costa Del Sol, with the wind running through the tress and the ocean at the horizon, one feels like you can simply reach out and touch it from the terrace, this morning spent with Rinpoche as his glowing smile imprints forever on us all, I am feeling so lucky and blessed to be here. Rinpoche is glowing, and his glow will rest with me in my heart, for I will be forever grateful for his allowing me to share these most precious moments with him.
Rinpoche’s Great, Great Heart
These past two days here with Jigme Rinpoche in Benalmadena have been simply wonderful, and a true blessing, for even after teaching a full program in Karma Guen just a few days ago, we have all been treated to such great kindness and compassion from Rinpoche as he graciously makes time for everyone for a two days course at the Stupa De Benalmadena. His never ending energy, patience and warm presence can be felt so strongly here – outside under the blue sky or inside the beautiful Gompa done in pastels drawing inspiration from Bhutan – his smile quite literally lights up the room, and as each person had the opportunity to approach the throne for blessings at the end of the empowerment this morning – this glow and burst of happiness can be seen on each and every face as they came near. After yesterdays outside teachings, this afternoon we have now moved inside, and the gompa is completely full, so much so that in fact the entire ground floor is also crammed to the brim with people watching the teachings on the TV installed just for the occasion, numbering well over three hundred in attendance. More than seventy people also had the opportunity to take refuge with Rinpoche, and the air was full of vibrant energy and laughter as Rinpoche’s wonderful sense of humor, wit and charm were ever present. Seated in front of the amazing buddha statue inside I am completely transfixed on his movements and presence, from the preparations for the initiation, to the public talk and blessing line, Rinpoche’s eyes, smile and attention seem to be constantly and calmly scanning the room, reassuring everyone that he is indeed speaking to each and everyone of them personally, thanking them for coming, and letting them know in his own amicable way that he is so very glad to see them.
Having had the opportunity to see Rinpoche many times, thanks in great part to the fact that I’ve been in Dhagpo these past three years, I have always found myself drawn to his warmth and wisdom, for he is truly a wonderful teacher. These past two days however, he has been in form like I may have never seen him before. I too am beaming and glowing myself – laughing out loud and rejoicing with the rest of the audience, his contagious glow affecting me so very much as I move through the dense crowd, trying hard not to step on people, or their belongings as I do so. Even after a full morning program, and an afternoon talk Rinpoche again makes time for a large array of questions coming from all over the building, in the gompa above as well as the crowded downstairs hall – taking time to answer each and every question. Despite the fact that he has already been going non stop for over three hours, Rinpoche is just beaming, his happiness and compassion clearly transferred to us all – written on the face of everyone in the room.
This amazing stupa, the warm spring air here in Spain, the great blue sky and the grateful and happy people who have made the trek to come and see Rinpoche have left me truly touched. We have been more than blessed to have this special time with Rinpoche, and I cannot imagine two days better spent, or with better friends and family to spend it with. My greatest impression however, has been Rinpoche’s great presence and heart with us here these past two days – for as he has always been a great teacher and a joy to be around, these past two days I have been treated to an up close and personal view to much more than just that – today I have seen his great, great heart, more so than ever before, and I am so deeply touched.
Color Y Luz Exposition
My very first Exhibition – launching April 4th 2015 – in the beautiful Stupa de Benalmadena! An audio visual journey of my Photography, Video, Music and Poetry – chronicling the voyage of Shamar Rinpoche’s Kudung from Europe to Nepal – and ending with the Seven Days Under The Tree Collection from this years Kagyu Monlam with His Holiness the Karmapa Trinley Thaye Dorje.
Come and join us – the exhibition lasts all summer long, and will be inaugurated this April 4th during the course with Lama Jigmé Rinpoché – from the Stupa de Benalmádena and dharma.imagery.project – Color and Light!
-Spain Visit January 2015-
After such a wonderful weekend in Spain – France is once again underneath the wings. Benalmadena, with your amazing people who were so kind, warm and inviting to me, making me feel immediately at home – and your incredible stupa on the edge of the ocean, seemingly on the edge of the world, I will see you again soon! Looking forward, and thank you for everything, from the bottom of my heart. Con todo mi corazón Stupa de Benalmádena!