Saturday, June 25, 2011

Meditation and Ani Marilyn

It is a mean cruel hurtful world out there for artists. Most of the time you will find that you are the only cheerleader in the stands. I have faced rejection from the smallest local shows and galleries imaginable- the big ones too. Artists are by nature sensitive and the hardest thing to do is to retain that very valuable quality. We are often told to develop a thick skin- I am not sure that is such a good idea. Really feeling and accepting hurt, experiencing it deeply is not such a bad thing. Suffering is real- it come to all of us in one form or another. Even if we live a charmed life of success, wealth and health- this too can come to a crashing halt.

Decades ago I was blessedly fortunate to meet and study Buddhism with this extraordinary woman. At the time- I was 38 years old, widowed and totally at wits end. I remember driving to South Providence to Lexington Ave every Saturday for weeks to take lessons. Ani Marilyn translated the esoteric teachings of Dzogchen from my Tsawei Lama, Khenpo Thupten Rinpoche.
Even at that age I did not really understand just how incredibly fortunate I was and just who Ani Marilyn was. I knew she had given up a life as a photographer after her lover died. I remember giving her the two finger width haircuts as was standard for Tibetan nuns. One day a saw her tenderly moving a wiggling, frightened slug out of of harms way as she whispered to it- "don't be afraid little worm, you will be ok." She ran around Providence with her wine colored robes and wine colored high top sneakers. Her favorite TV show was " "Love Boat", which prompted Khenpo to tell her, " Love Boat is not suitable TV show for nuns."

Here is her biography and work.


Karen Martin Sampson said...

Thank you for bringing Ani Marilyn to my attention. I have long been interested in Buddhism and very much enjoyed the short video essay on her life.
I know about rejection, of course, too, as an artist but over the years I have managed not so much to grow a thick skin but the ability to accept and then put aside the pain of rejection, and move on.

Sharon Knettell said...

I am glad you enjoyed it. I was actually crying when I wrote it.

I cannot believe how utterly fortunate I was to know her- I am still thunderstruck at the great good luck.

She was funny too and always cajoling a few bucks out of this stingy artist for her causes.

At one time while she was trying to earn a few extra dollars- I tried to get her a part time position at the Rhode Island School of Design. They would not take her because they were afraid she would try to proselytize.