Monday, September 5, 2011

camminando | Sunday Afternoon in Columbia County: "Festival of Books" and Won Dharma Center

Sunday afternoon was quite dense of events in Columbia County. My walkabouts (or to be more honest, "driveabouts") started at the Festival of Books at the Spencertown Academy, the 1847 schoolhouse.
The 2011 Festival of Books is the sixth annual "celebration of books and reading for the whole community"; the program featured a series of events, from best selling author readings to an exhibition of artwork from one a presented books and even sale of vintage books —where I found a 1865 edition of Lord Byron's Poems. It gives me a great pleasure in these years of digital everything to actually touch and read a vintage book, being amazed of how the delicate thin paper with elaborate illustrations and bound in an elegant leather cover, witnessed the passing of centuries and who knows how many stories can narrate...

Artwork from Howard Saunders's “faux graphic memoir ”Axeman Who Will be 70 in the Year 2010"

The afternoon continued at the open house of the Won Dharma Center: a presentation to the Claverack community of the new facilities of the United States headquarters of Won Buddhism Sangha. Won Buddhism is based on the teaching by the Korean born founding Master Sotaesan, who reached enlightnemt in 1916: "After reading the Diamond Sutra, Sotaesan said, "Shakyamuni Buddha is truly the sage of sages."

The Won Dharma Center meditation hall and grounds also featured an art exhibition by Bruno Pasquier-Desvignes, whose work is often based on aesthetically interesting assemblages of found manmade and natural objects :

The facility is set on 465 acres of the rolling hills on the North side of Route 23, near the Claverack Red Mills, offering breathtaking views of the sun setting behind the Catskills Mountains. On the architectural critique note, the series of building —a meditation hall, an administrative building, dining hall and residencies— although inspired by sustainable design and beautifully detailed in cedar and local materials, lack a master plan. Mainly an integration with the land and overall landscape design are missing; the site as well as the Buddhist tradition, relating the human mind and body to nature, would have offer a great opportunity to create an architectural expression / integration with the landscape.

Nevertheless the Won Dharma Sangha presence is a great addition to the energy of the already locally present spiritual communities and practices.

Nature and Spirituality: the Sun Setting behind the Catskill mountains