Creativity and Spiritual India

Author Archive

Call for co-creators

Hi everyoone,

Just a quick post to give you some news. I’m starting up a new site (soon to be announced) featuring creative services, media and courses. Most of my attention is going there these days, so this site here is getting less attention. I’m excited about this new project because I’m focusing more on collaboration, and on the business end of things. After deliberating about money quite a bit, I’m starting to see finances as a kind of fuel.

At the heart of creativity is, well, creativity and inspiration, and also relationships with the audience and co-creators. But business can be the engine to get my work out there and help me make more, and bring in other creative types. Creating and promoting: two halves of a chickpea.

That’s my view on it now, anyway.

So I’m putting out the call for co-creators. We’re talking animators, marketers, visual artists, musicians, writers, voice actors. I can’t pay you now. Sorry. I’m thinking of doing a royalty system, which gives you some skin in the game too. And as things grow, so can our projects.

I’ve been told finding collaborators is like dating. So you need to have an idea of who you’re looking for, and be willing to meet different people to see if you’re a fit. Bring it on.

Until next time,

B.T. Lowry (which stands for Bevis Theodore Lowry, by the way)


How to save the world this Christmas

Christmas is coming, with all its good cheer and marketing madness. It can be depressing to see just how much waste the greed there is at this time of year. Here’s what I did about it.

(I don’t know how well these will show up on your phone. You’d probably be better off looking at them on a computer so you can enlarge the images)

01-how i saved the world cover

how i saved the world 1

how i saved the world 2

how i saved the world 3

how i saved the world 4


The Glories of Non-Renaissance Art

Vasudeva mathura

This is a fresco from a temple in India. The temple is in Varsana, in the Vrindavana area, the place where the goddess Srimati Radhika is said to have grown up, during her pastimes in this world. Yesterday I spent some time with a group of friends, there in the temple, discussing this piece of art.  The intriguing aspects of this fresco are so many, the discussion it provoked so lively, that I am compelled to present my perspective, for posterity. I will try my best to do this in language resembling that found in art history books, with a few weird breaks from that form.

Ahem.

An overiew

Firstly, and overview of what is occurring. This painting shows Vasudeva Maharaja carrying the child Krishna across the Yamuna, from Mathura to Vrindavana. He did this to bring Krishna beyond the reach of the cruel Kamsa, lest that tyrannical king should smash the baby, as he did many others before. In the upper right, Krishna is appearing to Vasudeva and his wife Devaki. He manifested initially in the form of four-handed Narayana, before transforming into Baby Krishna, at the request of Devaki. It’s a deep and intricate pastimes, and here we (I?) am just touching on it. Below that, Kamsa is shown smashing one of Vasudeva and Devaki’s previous children. On the left are Vasudeva and Devaki praying, or possibly Nanda Maharaja and Mother Yashoda awaiting the arrival of Krishna, as one local sadhu asserted.

Subjective size

First of all, the relative size of the people and things in the painting is completely relative to their importance to this instance of the pastime. Western figurative art tends to mimic the camera (well, the laws of perspective preceded the camera). Western abstract art is, in this author’s humble opinion, mostly terrible, and not worth writing about.

But what we see in this painting is different. Compared to what a camera sees, it is completely wonky. Vasudeva is taller than a building. A palace isn’t much taller than Nanda Baba would be if he were standing. But the entirety of the pastime could not be conveyed in one frame if the artist limited themselves by imitating a camera’s view. Instead, the size of the elements is relative to their importance. Vasudeva carrying Krishna is what this picture is mainly about, therefore they are the largest. The palaces are just there to give context, so they’re small. The personalities inside the castles are important (but not as important as Vasudeva Maharaja) so they are quite large. The trees and so on are also there for context, so they’re small, whereas the jackal upstream from Vasudeva is large (it showed him where he could cross). This is all absurd from the point of view of visual perspective, but that’s what’s so great about it.

Temporal dispersion within a single instance (not a bad section title, eh?)

Furthermore, not all the events in this painting took place at the same time. Kamsa is shown killing a baby on the right, something he did previous to Vasudeva Maharaja crossing the Yamuna river. Narayana is shown appearing to Vasudeva and Devaki, which happened earlier that night. On the left hand side, one local sadhu told us, Vasudeva and Devaki are shown praying, before the birth. I’ve seen a picture of Lord Rama where He crosses the Ganges River. In one picture, He is shown there with Sita and Lakshan on one bank, and on a boat in the middle, and offering respects to a sage on the far side. It was a bit like if someone shot pictures with a camera for an hour or, then put everything they capture into one frame. Except very different from what a camera sees, but that we covered.

So in this one picture of Vasudeva Maharaja crossing the Yamuna River, we have events happening at different times, and size relative to importance.

Intriguing stuff. Let’s see what tomorrow brings.


What kind of story are you looking for?

Oh story lovers! I am considering where to focus my energies to craft meaningful stories, and your help is greatly appreciated.

story

 

What kinds of stories are you looking for the most, but are darned hard to find?
(As a bonus, a random person who answers will get an unreleased flash fiction story sent to you.
The questions are very short, and but a few.
Here goes:

What medium do you prefer? (short videos, longer films, interactive apps)
What length do you prefer? Do you want something you can digest in ten minutes, one hour, or are you looking for a story you can stay with for many days?
How about genre? Real-world contemporary, historical fiction, fantasy, sci-fi etc.?
Characters? Women, men, boys, girls, aliens. What kind of characters do you relate to the most?
What’s the best story you’ve experienced recently, in any medium?
How did it move you?
Do you have any other ideas that I haven’t mentioned?

Please write in the comments.

That’s it. Thanks!

 

B.T. Lowry


Life Bound Friend by Ayla Nereo, Music Video

Hi there,

Have you ever had a song strike you so much that you want to make a video for it, to accompany the mood of the song with your own introspections?

Here is my video for the beautiful song, Life Bound Friend, by Ayla Nereo. The voice in the song, for me at least, is the call of someone no longer enmeshed in worldly turmoil, free enough to sympathize with their friend still caught up in it. Like the council of a genuinely kind and mature adult for a troubled youngster.

Without further ado, here it is:

 

 

When I was about twelve, two dear friends of my family were murdered. They were an elderly couple of the Baha’i faith, named Barb and Gord Scott.  They’d gone to South America to carry out missionary and charity work, and purchased a large van to transport needy people around. It was while driving in this van between cities that they were stopped by a gang of thieves. The men killed the elderly religious couple for their few possessions, particularly their wedding rings.

The news struck my mother hard. She is not a religious person, per se, but I would call her a person of faith. She wondered how this tragedy could be allowed to happen.

While she was crying at the kitchen table, face in her arms, she heard a voice, and had a kind of vision.

Barb Scott, alive and well despite the loss of her body, told my mother not to be grief-stricken. “There’s so much more than what we see here,” she said.

On another note, I’ll be going on a hiatus with my weekly scenes and such. I’m focusing my energies on flash fiction, a new novel, and experimental multimedia storytelling. So I’ll be posting more irregularly, at least for a while.

My well-wishes,

B.T. Lowry, aka. Venu Gopal das


Ghostyard

“I won’t leave my body, I told myself, no matter what happens.”

Hi. I’m B.T. Lowry. Welcome to this week’s scene of the week, Ghostyard.

Ghostyard - Tim Green

by Tim Green

 

 

Listen here: 

I won’t leave my body, I told myself, no matter what happens.

A riverbank is a stupid place for a graveyard. The bodies are bound to get washed away over time. People go to the river to get clean, or take their water buffaloes to wash the dust off. It’s meant to be a pure place, and a purifying place. Some worship this river, or use its water to worship other gods. But that same water filters through graves. How can it be pure?

Stupid.

I slowed down as I neared the graveyard, keeping an eye out for the rowdy ghosts, especially him.

On the other hand, maybe it was a good place to bury the dead. I had seen fewer and fewer ghosts there, since I’d come as a kid. Ghosts tend to stick around their bodies, and if their bodies have washed away, the spirits can go on to whatever’s next for them. Another life, usually. I’d known most of the kids in our village when they were old.

That’s why cremation is good: the vessel is gone so the spirit moves on.

Usually. The one I sought tonight was old. Old and tricky.

I won’t let him fool me.

I looked carefully at the gravestones, taking in all the details. The crack there above the old woman’s name. I’d known her. Only dried flowers there now, a garland of red, yellow, orange, red, yellow, orange. If that old ghost made an illusion, he’d have to get every detail right to fool me.

He lives here. He knows the details better than me.

Never mind that. I’d just come to talk with him, ask him why he’d been causing trouble.

Was there a purple flower in that garland?

 

***

 

In India, ghost-knowledge is much more comprehensive than in the West (except the movie Ghostbusters, of course). Growing up in Canada, I sometimes wondered if ghosts existed. A glimpse of one, or word that someone had had even the remotest experience of one, was cause for gossip and fear among us kids. But in India they are categorized in many ways, largely according to the life they had while in a physical body.

If someone performs spiritual practices but also nefarious acts, for example they might become a powerful ghost. Those were often the worst kind. Sometimes whole families or even villages might be ghosts together, having been ripped out of their old lives all together by some violent event. There are ghosts fixed in trees, those who know they’re ghosts and those who don’t. Some are ‘for hire,’ and a dark tantric can incite them to attack living people. They can possess people’s bodies, and it’s easier if the people are weak-minded due to intoxication or mental illness.

Ghosts have their terms as ghosts, like jail sentences. Often they are living out what would have been the remainder of their life, which was cut short by a sudden death. It generally sucks to be a ghost, because they have the same sensory desires as they did in their lives, but without the physical senses to satisfy those desires. Powerful sages and yogis can release them from their terms as ghosts and send them on to whatever comes next, usually rebirth as a human or in another species.

Interesting stuff. Some day I’d like to develop a more complex story involving ghosts.

 

Thanks for reading. If you’d like to see this scene expanded into a story, then tell me in the comments that this is the one you want. If you want to see what I can do with a deeper story, pick up  my novel here, Fire from the Overworld. It is the story of two young mystics who fight to restore balance in their desert village, when war erupts among its spirit rulers. Feel free to sign up for the new scenes in your mailbox each week, along with guest posts, and my thoughts about living, loving, investigation and creation. 

This work is licensed Creative Commons, attribution, which means you can use it however you want, even commercially. Just let people know which bits came from me. Thanks!


In defense of Religion and Science.

“Instead of branding people according to which camp they’re in and which flag they’re waving, it’s far better to look at underlying motives.”

This week I’m pausing the scene-of-the-week series. I’ve been thinking about religion and science, and how too often we get caught up in pitting one against the other, as if they are natural enemies, or as if one is totally false and the other is a virtuous savior. Really that’s all bollocks.

Science Fish

Listen here: 

They’re wars, not religious wars

There is a popular saying, that most wars and death go on in the name of religion. This is often put forward by proponents of strict rationalism and its brainchild, science.

This is not true in two ways.

People usually kill each other for land, money and power. The two world wars were not religious wars. Stalin and Chairman Mao’s attacks on their own people were not religious wars. Taken together, these make up most deaths in the twentieth century. So statistically, at least in recent times, most violent deaths have not taken place in religious wars.

Secondly, wars that go on in the name of religion are generally not actually founded in the teachings of the religions in question. The Bible never advocated the Inquisition or the Crusades, nor the genocide that took place in the Americas. These were all done in the name of the Bible and  Christ, but if you look deeper you’ll find that was just a false front. Christ taught his followers to love their neighbors, not to enslave and exploit them, to take their land and replace their spiritual sites with your own. Actually the underlying reasons for these conquests was greed, and the desire for self-aggrandizement. Religion was just a front, not the cause.

Science wars?

On the other hand, a religious person might turn the tables on science and say, “Hey! You claim that so much damage has been done by religion, and that science is progressive and helpful, but science has done far more damage than religion ever has. Guns, the atomic bomb, nuclear plant disasters, plastic clogging the oceans, chemicals poisoning our rivers, greenhouse gasses heating the planet—these are all byproducts of science, not religion. Wars between humans are nothing compared to rendering the entire planet less habitable.”

But again, if you look deeper, you’ll find that the cause of these things is not science. Science is the study of that which lies within the realm of the senses or the extensions of the senses. Based on discoveries made during these investigations, various technologies can be made. These can be helpful or harmful, both in their manufacture and their use. Thus far, we see a mix. Science has produced medicines to save millions of lives, and weapons to kill just as many. The wheel and fire are also scientific discoveries, not just nuclear bombs and plastic, so even the foremost Luddite can’t write science off completely. However, most of the gadgets produced today—androids and tablets and wireless ear-pieces—are unnecessary and very harmful to the environment in their production. What is real progress? Is it the advancement of our immediate convenience, or our capacity to understand, love and give? Too often, the underlying motive for scientific progress is also greed.

Therefore let us not criticize religion or science. They each have their jurisdictions, and it’s not helpful to falsely pit them against each other. Instead of branding people according to which camp they’re in and which flag they’re waving, it’s far better to look at underlying motives.

 

Thanks for listening. Next week we’ll get back to our scene-of-the-week series.

If you want to see what I can do with a deep story, pick up  my novel here, Fire from the Overworld. It is the story of two young mystics who fight to restore balance in their desert village, when war erupts among its spirit rulers. Feel free to sign up for the new scenes in your mailbox each week, along with guest posts, and my thoughts about living, loving, investigation and creation. 

This work is licensed Creative Commons, attribution, which means you can use it however you want, even commercially. Just let people know which bits came from me. Thanks!