Nepal’s Greatest Gift to Humanity

Posted by The Himalayan Voice May 30, 2013

The Maha Maitreya Puja will be on June 8 -12, 2013 in Chitwan, the site for World Peace Puja is readied for the thousands to come from all over Nepal and the world for the Guru’s personal blessing. Though many have not yet met him, some have experienced life-transformation at the mere sight of a photograph, or reading a Teaching on

The young Guru, born Ram Bahadur Bonjam from a poor farm family in Nepal’s Bara District, vanished into the jungles at age fifteen. There, as a young monk, he meditated at the base of a giant pipal tree, sheltered by large cavernous roots. For six solid years from 2005 to 2011, atoning for the world’s sins, he meditated for its deliverance from suffering and ignorance. Before his closest friends, and sometimes before the media’s prying eyes he evolved steadily, without taking food or water, from an ordinary human into the Manifest Divinity now increasingly seen as Lord of the Age of Maitreya, succeeding the last teaching Buddha, Shakyamuni. In this sense, Maha Sambodhi Dharma Sangha is Nepal’s greatest Gift to Humanity in 2500 years. But in direct proportion to his growing global light, dark clouds of opposition rise at home. Certain influential sectors and local media hoped to suppress if not eradicate his allure.

To many, for a young monk of humble Tamang origins to embody such cosmic potential is unwelcome news. Moreover, his earliest public utterances already presented upsettingly radical views. All living beings (humans, animals, insects, fish, as well as all plants), are equally deserving of love and respect. He once termed meat-eating “daemonic behavior” that seemed at first a gross overstatement, until the heart learns to feel from the perspective of a steer, goat, pig, sheep, or from fowl and sea creatures, and all plants. Such a relatively new and empathetic outlook (or inner resonance) demands yielding one’s egocentricity to experience a unified world. As it takes some time to attune to the undifferentiated and cosmic love behind this simple utterance, many people still resist, not having yet relaxed the heart enough to resonate on a larger scale in empathy with all creatures.

Starting his solitary meditation with the ordination name Palden Dorje, he received successively, from his divine Guides, different titles reflecting stages in his evolution from monk into Buddha. From Om Namo Buddha Gyani Guru, to Bodhi Shrawan Dharma Sangha Guru, he received his final title: Maha Sambodhi Dharma Sangha Guru. This in plural form meaning “Great Dharma Congregation of the Fully Enlightened”, a weighty title for a 21-year-old to bear, especially a shy, soft-spoken boy with only a fourth-grade education. But in fact this title indicates the colossal responsibility now saddled upon him.
The-buddha-boy-mk Guru w Red original
His long process through blistering heat and freezing frosts without sustenance included merging with the elements air, fire, water and earth. He meditated underground, in water, and was once engulfed in 15 M high flames that emanated from his chest, consuming his robe and singeing his hair. A hastily summoned video camera caught the last hour where he danced in the flames standing and sitting stark naked, holding only a ritual bell and vajra. This clip was made during a week of absence when the BBC Discovery channel’s crew filming the celebrated Boy with Divine Powers had left. Learning of the fire, they returned to interview witnesses, and filmed again, for four consecutive days. The news alerted New Agers that the Guru of gurus had come. And from the world over, they thronged to Nepal to meditate near the spiritual guide during the last years of his six-year metamorphosis, to be within his spiritual and energetic sphere, and to await his spoken word.

The site of the April 2013 Puja graces former farmlands of a teenage devotee in southern Nepal named Buddha Yonjan, and his father, Gopal. As the Guru’s advent had been attended from the start by destructive moves from disgruntled factions, Buddha Yonjan concluded Guru needed a shelter. During one incident last year, the Yonjan family came forward to donate their hills and farmland, providing Guru with his sole earthly refuge.

Now the land is being prepared for the throngs of devotees to come. A nun bring a hundred odd “butter” lamps from Kathmandu. Volunteers clear the slopes. A tractor is toing and froing to a plantation bringing in 15- to 20-foot long bamboo. Piles of sturdy flexible tubes lie in the dust waiting to become upright structures. The helpers stay overnight in makeshift huts and erect the large Puja tent with their bare hands. The compound offers the barest of human necessities. Yet a sense of peace and serenity flows through the mixed community like an undercurrent uniting all into one, even though locals don’t speak English and foreigners know little Nepali. Obstacles arise one after the other, only to be resolved with ingenuity and good humor.

From dawn to dusk the foreigners do meditation or healing in small groups, or discuss Guru’s Teachings. All being Seekers, each one has at one time or other affirmed deep in the heart, without reason but with complete certainty: “This is the one! This is the Guru!” Those who’ve been seeking for years without finding a personal Guide, find home at last. With different backgrounds, they converged here independently, to discover they must become One, to evolve in Maitri loving compassion to spread Guru’s Teachings. When asked during a meeting (21 August, 2010) if the Teachings were Buddhist or Hindu, Guru had replied,

The religion is actually called Bodhi Dharma, but includes all religions. No one is excluded. I’ll be moving forward to include all existing religions of the world.IvyGuruStarSpray The special quality about this curious mix of world devotees sets them apart from other more opulent and organized sangha groups…

A Philadelphian comes after years in India under various Gurus and different spiritual practices. Bright blue eyes behind horn-rimmed glasses, lips hidden beneath a long moustache, dark blond hair and long beard matted in dreadlocks, he walks about draped loosely in a dhoti and squats on the ground to eat with his hand. Well versed in practices spiritual, he discusses various forms spirituality, religious customs and festivals.

An Australian Reiki master and former accountant shifted his life course to take up healing some years back, and his bright green eyes have not stopped smiling since. He imbibes nature in total bliss, forgetting time. With him, one receives a blast of instantly uplifting Ozzie warmth. Using Reiki he opens chakras for healing and spiritual guidance. His New Zealand friend is not only a clairvoyant medium, but a clairsentient keenly affected by the most delicate vibrations and energetic changes within a huge sphere. When the two met a year ago, they knew instantly their life was to join forces for healing and energetic tuning, to help friends and strangers attune to the accelerating global shifts. Each day she shares visions that come through from her Guides. She hasn’t seen Guru, but already his energy sphere is charging her sight and insight with intensity. This place has a far higher energetic vibration than any she’s ever known, and she says subtle changes are transforming everyone here on deep inner levels.

Among the first devotees who’d helped shape the direction of the international Sangha with their translations and videos is a British-American resident of Japan for the last twenty odd years. She practices aroma therapy and yoga. Skilled in many languages, she began to study Sanskrit and Nepali to translate Guru’s rare public Teachings. A Netherlander born and raised in Surinam till her engineer father took a job in Holland, grew up also with bicultural values. While her siblings went into the professions she chose to paint portraits for individuals and art galleries, and became deeply drawn to the young meditating monk in the jungle. With wavy long black hair she looks a female version of the Guru, and her beautiful large black eyes glisten whenever speaking of him. She witnessed the historic speech of May 2011 when the emerging Guru addressed the world announcing his identity, lineage, and mission on earth. Her life has been in the Guru ever since. A devotee from India has come many times already. His large brown liquid eyes enfold the listener. He speaks of dedicating his life to contemplation, giving up his former worldly careerism. His gentle lilting speech betrays deep experience in electrical and mechanics among other skills.

From Moscow comes S the soft-spoken master of the now indispensible He organizes and runs virtually alone the complex network around the Guru and his Teachings, in no less than 17 languages. This dedicated cyberspace has inspired thousands and engendered the widespread devotion now converging. Barely twenty-five, with surprising technical expertise, he works with ingenuity creating a shower with bamboo poles and black plastic floored with beautiful mosaic of large roadside pebbles. His clear light green transparent eyes, pools of purity and love, typify the “Crystal Children” identified by psychologists.

A blond angel from Ukraina carries a small bag and a large lute-like instrument. Sinking to the ground she tunes the strings. All stop chatting to listen, and suddenly, she breaks into song, a mellifluous Sanskrit hymn flowing through a golden voice that pierces the heart. Everyone is mesmerized. Her large bright green eyes are transparent with wisdom and compassion, her face all innocence.

Foreign devotees here represent 33 nations near and far, many alternative healers who avoid pharmaceuticals. There are also so-called New-Age Children referred to as “Crystal Children,” “Indigo Children, etc., beings born in droves over the past few decades to help effect global higher consciousness. They share several traits: life’s mission is to give, to share and not to take or harm. Refusing to hurt animals, they are vegetarians. Not living “ordinary” lives, they often have issues with non-supportive teachers or parents. They carve out new paths for themselves in Reiki, aroma therapy, spiritual guide channeling, minstrel-like music wanderings, herbs or yoga, etc.

Like a conch-blow to awaken the world, the Puja calls for all religions to join in oneness of loving compassion. For four days the devotees number around 50,000 per day, with 70,000 on the last day. In all 270,000 pilgrims come through the tiny farmstead. All experience integration and peace here. As one they seem to lift the planet from pollution, greed and cruelty. Earth will be home for Buddhas where all sentient beings including animals, insects and plants are delivered from ignorance and suffering. Such is the Maitreyan Age.

Young Q from France, another school dropout not yet twenty, found his way to the Puja site all alone. Asked why he was here, he replied without hesitation, “I came for Truth. People in my country turn truths info falsehoods, and falsehoods into truths.” In the dark night of our interview he said he “knows” Lord Maitreya, the Buddha of this Age and this Sangha. “No one in my life has ever mentioned or taught me about Maitreya. But the very first time I heard this name I knew instantly Who He is…. And so I came.”

Video Interview on MS Dharma Sangha關於尼泊爾奇蹟的訪谈

昨晚突然接到一個來自美國麻省的線上出版 尼泊爾的編輯者的訪問,來談關於一位15歲溜進了尼泊爾自然大叢林打坐入定,2005-2011六年不吃不喝不動、為人類贖罪的少年,Maha Sambhodi Dharma Sangha。當年被質疑的媒體譏笑稱謂BuddhaBoy。小虎萬分好奇,從2012年開始到尼泊爾訪問當地人以及來自各國的誠心人。透過當地觀察訪問,小虎發現我們住在一個大奇蹟正在發生的關鍵時代,興奮至極,秋天將回尼泊爾學習語言以便嘗試直接用尼泊爾文作問答、訪問。
Mr B K Rana from Cambridge Mass. USA, conducted this interview late in June, 2013. The YouTube LINK is here. HIMALAYAN TALK访问关于六年入定不吃不喝的尼泊尔少年。优酷連接




Q1 只要结构不合沈周时代的肯定就不对是吗?
A 結構 不合,小虎目前認為是來自時代的不同

Q 2 沈周本人临仿前人的作品您专门区分过吗,比如<临戴进谢安东山图>,您也给她判死刑了吗?
A 戴进谢安东山图這件不是沈周時代的作品,更不是戴進時代的結構
Q3 立轴与手卷的视角似乎不同,<京江送别图>手卷也不对吗?

正是 . 立轴与手卷的视角「似乎」不同, 但小虎認為每個時代的立軸和手卷的視角的確相同。祇是立軸所看到的範圍比較有限。但你可以試試看,把同一個時代的立軸「塞」在同時代的手卷裡,它很可能會符合那手卷。(不知這中文通不通)

Q4 所谓的粗沈、细沈您认为还存在吗?真迹只有五张,已无法讨论。

A 原來應該有的,沈周晚年、和晚年以後。早期的「廬山高」= 細; 晚期的「夜坐圖」=粗=自在=個性出來了。

Q 我也很有兴趣把沈周山水画按结构形态重新排列一遍,看看会是什么效果。

A 那太太棒了。 排排試試看! 加油!小虎認為《沈周現象五百年》早晚應該出來,是一本15-20世紀的重要的吳派繪畫史
Q 另外,您说黄居寀的那张画与明代戴进的结构很像,这个我承认,但黄居寀的 气息特别古,跟明人还是不一样。

A 小虎說的是明朝邊文進(不是戴進)。 這個作品是特意為了造假而製造的,當然得試試把它畫得古老氣一點、笨拙一點。但是,如果我們來比一比另一張真的五代花草畫《雪竹圖》(徐熙款),就得知五代畫家一點都不拙,反之,《雪竹圖》達到了全中國寫實同時寫神靈的最高峰;那個水準是世界之畫作無可比的。那麼,當時得了幾乎同樣高評價的黃居寀,繪畫的如此差?更要緊的是-他的結構會如此不符合五代,而像明朝嗎?

Q. 徐老師:

A. 李老師當年沒有像我們現在那麼多能作參考的圖檔,我們當時的參考資料都是極小的印刷品,幾張幻燈片,只有現在的百分/或千分?之一吧,也沒有敦煌資料;大陸封鎖,更沒得看到新資料。李老師的《鵲華秋色》當時震撼了整個學界,小虎自己也以他的說法解釋了元朝繪畫展之啟蒙,也沒多想到會花錢後彼此連貫的重要性。 當時沒有做仔細檢驗的機會。
直到1980年代到台灣,得到親自提畫的機會,才能夢想到現在那種研究。除了時代觀點以外,此書仍然是學生應該讀的(特別是國外學生),它用英文仔細地介紹了中國元朝的歷史社會及趙孟頫生平。  沒有那些基本報告,我們也沒得做到今天。

以前很多的研究報告最大的貢獻是歷史性、社會性的。作純藝術史的人就因此得救了,能夠全身全神的工作,祇關注於畫作本身,   不用花時間在文獻整理。

Q. 同時,大陸天津人民美術出版社剛出版了《沈周繪畫作品編年圖錄》,書里就沒有進行任何考辨,只是簡單排列。我覺得很遺憾。

A.小虎目前還不認識李惠聞女士之作。但認為沒有首先找出真跡怎能知道哪個作品比較早、哪個晚? 《富春山居圖卷》   無用和子明兩卷,不以結構及/或筆墨行為斷代看,怎知道哪個早、哪個晚呢?


A. 結構分析來自維也納學者Alois Riegl 和瑞士學者Heinrich Wöfflin。在中國藝術史學門,Princeton 的方聞教授是第一位引進了他們的結構分析法,1967以前的著作都強調這種純藝術性的研究(撇開落款紀年,首先祇看畫作本身)- 典型的是他那篇倪瓚存世的唯一真跡《容膝齋》研究。

至於視角和筆墨行為分析論,是小虎最近幾年在台灣退休後琢磨出來的。希望哪天能跟一批同學一起來仔細的釐清整個17世紀,再來18世紀。  目前的報告祇是還沒有成熟的,真是需要小組一起作的究。


A. 正是,真在考慮做這個事情,但是萬曆崇禎到乾隆沒更仔細地有證據地作分析排列,還不能有把握地作報告。 有了像倪亦斌博士那樣的學者,以他所考證的瓷器上呈現 的《西廂記》圖案製造年款排列 - 為(紙絹)繪畫史的證據,這樣,一起努力發掘排列,就能很快作出有用的參考 :)

A. 的確。 在故宮武英殿門口的鋪子裡看到了這種書,當時興奮至極,但身上沒帶錢就沒得買。滿遺憾的。 近年教書時就是請學生作這種資料收集以及分析、作報告時,一齊排列。。。但圖檔沒故宮那系列的清晰


A 這個可能不是沈周時代的作品。 可能是嘉靖時代(16世紀)的貢獻吧? 一個比較早期《廬山高》 那種15世紀下半期結構之演化 -(待考看到更大的圖檔或原作)。 


A. 那個片段蠻漂亮、秀氣,可能屬於隆慶萬曆初年
生黃捷瑄找出的山水立軸型是《江南春》(七十有八?-設色立軸,以及蠻大的冊頁型的水墨《山水》   (八十有七?)都在台北故宮


A.那本書應該是台大早期在故宮的指導之下同學碩士論文吧,可能是文史哲出版社?   上網查查

您寄來的那個東西可能與傳世的米友仁畫樣有關?希望能多看清楚一些,目前看好像蠻棒的畫,蠻差的書法 (還沒研究過趙左。 得等到董其昌研究開始。。。)

Q 我在北京,從事書畫工作,接觸的明清書畫比較多,所以想好好研究下明代。有太多疑問,我準備找個突破點,好好研究一個人,愿這種願望早日實現。

A 太好了,能幫忙的地方, 很願意參加您的工作!








1. 收藏家一旦有錢就想要買書畫作品以「附庸風雅」。

2. 書畫收藏在傳統的富有人家是社會地會的一種表徵,因此具有社會性競爭 的意涵,每人都想盡辦法想要買到別人買不到的大師名作。 

3. 在蒐購過程如有機會選擇美雅而無名、或者未必美但有名的作品,他們通常會以名氣為主要考量。

4. 因應市場需要的書畫商努力搜購並為之促銷的,通常不是美雅高級的藝 術原作(即使小書畫家或無名氏),而是具有大師落款的作品。

5. 因此,自古以來贗品市場的熱絡一向遠高於真跡市場。


當敬重的前輩們在進行書畫鑑定之後,他們告訴你的往往只是「這不是真的」這一句話而已。或者,在兩、三件極為相同的作品中,他們會用銳利的眼光以及豐富的經驗來檢驗和比較,然後告訴你,「這張是原本,那張是模本」。但是在許多情況下,那件所謂的某大師的「原本」有可能與他活躍時的時代風格有著數百年的距離,更遑論其個人風格。這又是為什麼呢?因為華人進行鑑定工作時,不考慮西洋藝術史學所研發出來的最重要的研究工具:「時代風格」(period style)分析法。


但是,目前國內外的學者專家大部分都還徘徊於考慮「真假之別」,卻對「假書畫」本身的製造時代與歷代假書畫的演變尚未有太大的興趣。很多都還緊貼著在書畫史中之「里程碑」大師的個人上,而不注意書畫藝術本身在該大師之前後風格連續的演變史。因此,到了二十世紀末,還是只能無力地堅持「此作品為五代大師董源所畫」,或「不對!那是二十世紀著名的仿造大師張大千先生畫的!」 他們幾乎不曾思考該書畫作品(不管傳說或落款)可能出自什麼時代。這是因為時代風格(包括整體的結構分析及母題的型態分析)這種研究方法與無成見的客觀態度在中國書畫史學當中仍未盡成熟,但是它是絕對不能缺乏的關鍵研究工具。





要想知道某個時代的風格特徵,就必須先蒐集許多該時代的真跡並一一檢視箇中內涵。遺憾的是在公、私收藏的「傳世品」中都沒有可靠的證據說明它們原來的創作時代,也就是說,「傳世品」絕大多數是有疑問的。因此,我們在檢驗某大師的作品時,最好能把它放在和它同時代的出土墓葬的壁畫旁邊來比較,或者參考從敦煌壁畫有記年的相關資料來作仔細的比較與結構、型態分析。這種以真跡來說明時代風格,又運用時代風格的特徵來檢驗傳世品的研究方法就是我們採用的,但也是蠻複雜且有難以預料的內在因素的一種活的工具,此即潘諾夫斯基Panofsky所謂被視為「惡性循環」(vicious circle)的測驗方法,其實是一個蠻有邏輯的呢!這就是說,一旦某一代的「時代風格」被很清楚地認識了,我們就能判斷該時代中的某大師名下的某件作品是否符合其時代風格,即是否能納入其真跡小組內。可是,每個時代的風格特徵都是需要從極多真跡的特徵裡慢慢distill「蒸餾」提煉出來的。換句話說,真跡與時代風格是兩個互相增加、互相應證的「未知數」,從我們目前學術水準與成就來看,如果能專心在斷代、鑑定這方面專心努力的話,我們還要蠻長的時間才能達到一個如同西洋繪畫史學門一般的清晰度。 

我們發現在檢驗某一位大師的書畫作品時所採用的方法,每次都得依個案而作調整,可能需借重某一部分或再加上其他新的考量。目前每個案子的過程都有其不同。譬如,尋找元代大畫家吳鎮(1280-1354)的真跡和找出沈周(1427-1509)的原作,這兩個研究的性質與過程就有極大的差異。冒著吳鎮名字的造假人中最有影響力的一位(即收藏於上海與華府的兩幅《漁夫圖卷》、美國著名的《風竹圖》的藝術家「甲手 ,Hand A),他的活躍時代大約比吳氏至少晚了150年,相當於明代正德、嘉靖年間。而最被現代學術界稱讚的、收藏於台北的《墨竹譜》則為一件典型新創的、與大師的原作風格、人格無關的清朝「造假工作坊」所製作的一種劣質、缺乏藝術價值的「累積品」(accretion)。更荒謬的,它是由卷本和冊頁合併起來的。那時的造假工匠早已經不認識吳鎮的真面貌,而是學習那位風流而具有新創和想象力的明人「甲手」的作品,因該贗品在明朝一出爐便立即發生「真跡作用」(functional authenticity)。也因此,在尋找吳仲圭名下的真跡時,具有元朝繪畫的結構、型態與風格的作品佔極少數,而大多數則反映了明代中期到清朝中旬的現象。整體而言,若與認定吳鎮真跡與找出沈周的原作這兩項研究相較,找出吳仲圭原跡是比較容易做到的研究。















1真跡 吳 鎮(1280-1354)真跡《竹石圖》(1347)台北故宮博物院藏

2贗品 HAND A(活躍約1500-1550) 《風竹圖》(1350)美國華府Freer Gallery收藏

3 累積品  HANDs X, Y, and A-1 (活躍約1700s)《墨竹譜》(1350)台北故宮博物院藏



The Physiology and Anatomy of Chinese Calligraphy

The Physiology and Anatomy of Chinese Calligraphy

Joan Stanley-Baker MLitt DPhil

Tainan National College of the Arts, Taiwan

Sacred Communication

Since earliest times when humanity began to socialize in tribes for survival in a changeable environment, people became deeply sensitive to the pervasive influences of seen and unseen energies around them, from celestial bodies to meteorological forces of wind, rain and thunder, to spiritual powers of animals and plants. These appeared to possess different qualities and were perceived variously around the world as deities, spirits, daemons, goblins, essences, angels, tribal progenitors or familial ancestors. Early peoples sought from them protection, and devised ways to propitiate, to please them with kinetic rites of dancing, with aural liturgy of chanting, loud blowing on conch shells, striking stone chimes and drums, and with visual offerings of powerful forms, floral arrangements, colourful and often mimetic paintings, etc. They also offered culinary celebrations in carefully prepared feasts, culminating with the libation of living blood drawn from animal or human sacrifices. With each offering of thanks and praise, there were petitions or entreaties concerning the welfare of the tribe, and the oracles would be interpreted by tribe members especially trained for the task.

The Chinese, practical to the end, or from the start, early devised writing for divine communication to ensure their appeals and queries to ancestral spirits were understood exactly, without mistake. Even more to the point, the written word guaranteed a correct “reading” of the answer. In fact, the script as developed in China embodies all three aspects of sacred offering, being a combination of aural, visual and kinetic energies. In its synthetic nature it is unique among writing systems of the world. And as vehicle for divine communication, writing has since its inception occupied a special place in the Chinese psyche.

Since the beginning it was practiced as a sacred art. Ancient mythical kings, heavenly rulers, and ancestral spirits spoke, and continue to speak to the living through calligraphy. As talisman to attract good influences, as charm to protect against evil effects, to nurture wealth and health, calligraphy in various forms continues to this day to be pasted on doors, lintels, worn on the person, carried in the purse, or burnt in trans-worldly offerings. Children are still taught never to sit or step on the written word for respect of the life force contained in the configurations.

Physiology or Dynamic Principles in Time

As hand-written compared to printed script, Chinese calligraphy communicates on yet another, unique level which is psycho-visceral. Many would call it spiritual. For in “reading” a work of calligraphy, aside from lexicographic considerations and the multiple associations engendered by the “message” itself, there is another, more vital channel of communication from artist to viewer that transcends the image or verbal message. This is where the viewer partakes in the original creative process and experiences the very act of the calligrapher’s “ink-dance” in its choreography as well as performance.

Unlike a painting where the viewer may in the mind’s eye roam in and out of the landscape, portrait, or still life at will, a work of calligraphy traditionally begins with the first stroke usually found in the top right corner, and proceeds downward in vertical fashion, with new columns forming to the left. In a knowledgeable reading, the viewer can feel the calligrapher’s every charge of the brush, and replay the wrist- or arm-movement as the brush draws across the writing surface in attenuation, twists around its tip-hairs to create a substantial dot, sinks into itself and backtracks for a more powerful forward thrust, or leaps across the empty gap to land at some strategic angle to begin the next stroke, hook, or new character. We feel the calligrapher’s wrist-weight and poise throughout. For every hesitation, and each nervous twitch of the least finger, a confident, leisurely drawing out, or animated brushing, of a stroke is left – non-correctable – as an ink trace on the writing surface and is readily translated as part of the viewer’s own visceral experience. Such intimate sensation of the artist’s minutest reflexes is like feeling the pulse, hearing the breathing, or sensing the xinyin or “heart-print” of the artist during the creative act.

What we seek in Chinese calligraphy is therefore not merely formal beauty in a composition of a series of interrelated configurations in space, but the palpable, living energy of the process of creation where we follow interconnected brush-actions as they move in time. The entire work, like a “score”, can be “heard” as music (or seen as dance) in real time. We “replay” the music (or reconstruct the choreography), replete with all the dynamic marks familiar to musicians whether legato, staccato, crescendo, diminuendo, rallentando, accelerando, sostenuto, or expression marks like allegro, cantabile, andante, maestoso, or con fuoco. Whereas dynamic marks in a music score are “instructions” to the performer, in Chinese calligraphy the performer is at the same time the creator, and we re-experience the creation and its performance afresh each time. The “dynamic marks” are viscerally felt, and can be deduced by a seasoned viewer. Thus rather than a score it may be more correct to liken a piece of Chinese calligraphy to a record or CD where the music can be played back with each viewing.

Calligraphy as a Visceral Experience

To the Chinese, calligraphy is the physical imprint of the action of inscribing one or a series of Chinese characters. The Chinese script itself has evolved over millennia without interruption and has acquired in the process a rich and complex inter layering of significance and values. This is because of its visual rather than its aural structure. In this sense we may understand the Chinese script to symbolize Chinese civilization itself. And, as inscribed by the calligrapher who transforms inspiration and energy into mass and form, calligraphy symbolizes the quintessence of that civilization.

It is the purest expression of qi or inner energy, and as such, it shares many features with the revitalizing art of Taiji’s qigong or energy calisthenics now being practiced by an ever-growing number of people around the world. For energy is universal in the literal sense of the word, coursing through particular, and controllable channels within the human anatomy, while drawing from the energy that is charging the universe. Ancient connoisseurs admired the energy-flow in calligraphy and felt recharged when “drinking in” an admired piece, in what can only be term a psycho-physiological or visceral manner, as if receiving a dose of qi-infusion from a gongfu master. And, like Taiji practitioners, calligraphers focus attention and energy inward when working for excellence, as powerful effects may be obtained only from a focussed, centred, one-pointed mind. Moreover, it must then flow unimpeded through the shoulder, arm, wrist and relaxed fingers to manipulate the Taiji-sword or the calligraphy brush – as if it were part of the mind. Any mental distraction would cause the muscles to shift, recoil or contract and disturb the transfer of energy into matter, of inspiration into form.

This essential life-process is accessible to all who cultivate inner centredness. It transcends personality notions of good and evil. The ancients were wont to say that one could glean a person’s character in his calligraphy, and point to that of the traitorous Northern Song master Cai Xiang as example of one that never reached the pinnacle of his art because of character flaws. But this is not due so much to moral failings, perhaps, as it may reflect differences in the depth of concentration, the totality of commitment and mental poise during the act of writing, (as in Taiji gongfu), and one may cite the universally admired calligraphy of Dong Qichang, who was in life less-than-admired as a man and bitterly despised as a landlord.

Anatomy: or Graphic and Historical Ingredients

Symbolic Function

The visual impact of Chinese script has always been to engender a potent sense of cognition and recognition. Reading, in its communicative function, is of course the same worldwide. But when written in Chinese, the character for each word emerges in a unique architectonic structure with its own particular combination of structural elements. Each character is a unique image with its unmistakable appearance and wholeness. The script is not primarily aural or phonetic, but a combination of pictographs and ideographs that may (or may not) be combined with elements hinting at a phonal value. It is foremost an image, and as such, of itself a visual symbol. In this sense, encountering a familiar word written in Chinese is more like that of seeing a photograph of someone we know, whereas the same word encountered in a non-Chinese, or phonetic language, is like hearing the sound of that person’s name. Here then, the impact of the Chinese script may be seen to be almost magical.

Thus images of words with auspicious meanings have become beloved ornaments in most homes. Common favourites include graphs for social desiderata like Ω “Wealth”, Ω “Nobility”, Ω “Promotion”, Ω “Longevity”; for nature’s benefaction like water (engendered by the supernatural Ω Dragon) and air (represented by the majestic Ω Tiger); or deified historical personages like the tempestuous but forthright martial hero Ω Lord Guangong, or, in the celestial realm, names from the multiracial pantheon most popular among which are Buddha Amitabha Ω Omitofuo, and the all-merciful deity Bodhisattva Avalokitesvara Ω Guanshiyin pusa, among others. These propitious invocations, once written as characters, take on the penetrating reach of spiritual X-rays. For even more than an external “physical likeness”, they probe the essence of the specific energy invoked.

Structural Principles in Space

Visual elements of Chinese writing mutually balance each other in weight and thrust, and, as evolved into the modern printed form, all characters manage to fit within the same spatial unit, whether consisting of one, two, or thirty-six strokes, as in Ω one, Ω (hu)man, or Ω stuffed nose {editor: nang- last character in the dictionary – unless you find a more complex one!} respectively. Some of the most basic words remain pictographs whose their present foursquare form had evolved from more descriptive ancient origins. “Sun” was a Ω {hand-write these} circle (often) with a dot in the centre; “moon” a Ω crescent with two dots inside; while “bright”, not surprisingly, was built of a Ωcombination of the two. “Water” was an Ω {hand-written} S-shaped curve of three parallel lines with the outer ones broken, while “stream” sprang from a similar curvature, but with Ω {ditto} three solid lines, etc..

When looking at an unknown character, the reader instantly perceives a herbal connotation from the Ω “grass radical” (as in xiao Ω a herb and a proper name); a bamboo-related plant or woven object from its Ω “bamboo radical” (as in its homophone xiao Ω a vertical bamboo flute); a ritual concept or object from its Ω “ritual” or “altar” radical (as in xia Ω with a heΩ element to the right, where he means joined together, and the complete character means the combined ritual offering celebrated once every three years with the entire multi-family clan gathered together). Emotional states are composed often with an “upright heart radical” {shuxinpang}, and intellectual concepts a “prone heart” {the heart radical writ in full at the bottom of the character} or “verbal” {yanzipang} radical. Social situations or interactions have usually an “upright human” radical, and animals of the canine family, thus bestial actions, feature a “canine radical”. Compared to a phonetic script, clearly, the visual charge of the Chinese script meets the reader on many more and richly varied levels.

Evolution of Medium and Form: A Symbiotic Relationship

The history of Chinese calligraphy begins with X-, V- and I-shaped lines traced with a pointed brush, in ink, along the rims of Neolithic pottery during the mid-fourth millennium BCE, but their “reading” is still being debated. Some time into the Bronze Age around the mid-second millennium BCE two script-styles appeared simultaneously even though both were ritual in function. Characters of the so-called Oracle-Bone or Divination Script were composed of thin and fairly even lines etched into brushed traces on animal bone material such as scapulae of oxen or carapaces of tortoises.{Editor, ΩΩwant to insert a couple of clear examples? For these and the following “scripts”? Using that character, written in that style, or selecting anything from the NIGENSHA series…}. The original brush-writing appears to have used cinnabar red, an expensive pigment reserved almost exclusively for royal, or ritual functions. But the divination had to be etched into the bone because the reverse side would be indented with evenly-spaced holes which, when subjected to intense heat over a fire, would crack in various directions, linking hole to hole, producing the ancestral “reply” as carved on the obverse side, and which should thus remain legible through the heating. Related in character-configuration but far more opulent in its undulating stroke-widths is the highly pictorial script found inscribed in intaglio (hollow form) on the inside ancient bronze vessels.

The reason for this divergence becomes clear when we examine the respective materials and implements used in their execution. Divination-bone characters are made with a sharp knife carving onto fibrous surfaces prone to splitting. They therefore tend to be “twig-writing” with fairly straight lines incised throughout. On the other hand, bronze inscriptions are the result of casting from pottery moulds, where first a rounded stylus was used to engrave character-forms onto malleable clay still in the leather-hard state. Here it is easy, and natural, for the blunt instrument to turn on itself and create richly rounded indentations in the clay. These markings were made on the observe moulds from which clay core-moulds were to be cast, core-moulds which would during the bronze-casting process be placed on the inside of the combined piece-mould arrangement, to decorate the inside of the final bronze vessel’s lid or body. Core-moulds bear the markings on the outside, in relief form, like present-day relief or “red-character” seals. Finally, through the reverse transfer process of casting, the graceful fully rounded markings emerge in intaglio (or hollow) form on the inside of the bronze vessel’s lid, or on the bottom inside the body. Proliferating in later stages, bronze inscriptions became increasingly longer texts.

As increasing numbers of words came to be used, replacing the clan insignia with historical accounts of clannish exploits, the need arose for adequate spacing of the words. Vertical columns became de rigeur, with increasing need for uniformity of character-size. Thus complex characters with their various protuberances like antlers and grasses began to “fold” or curve inward, creating a remarkable appearance unique to Chinese script. This was called the Greater Seal or Ω dazhuan script. In time the doubled-up curves grew in length and grace, evolving their own majestic if labyrinthine beauty. Well over a millennium later toward the end of the third century BCE, with the first unification and formation of empire, the Ω Lesser Seal script was ordained. This marks one of the earliest recorded examples of political control of the arts, where the First Emperor Qin shihuangdi ordered an empire-wide unification – and simplification of all units of measure, transportation and communication, including chariot axles and the script.

When the versatile bamboo was discovered as a convenient medium for writing, its segments were cut into strips of equal length, lined in parallel and string-bound at the two ends, forming long horizontal surfaces that could be stored in rolled-up form as scrolls. Here the scribe worked his characters within the widths of each bamboo strip, and the notion of “column” was naturally reinforced. Brushwork was limited horizontally but had ample room for creative expansion lengthwise. Indeed, we find the rich black ink graphs on bamboo and wood strips often graced with long “tails” that trail downward forming a bulge mid-stroke, and a point at the end. The scribe is thoroughly savouring the pleasure of drawing his wrist down the length of the slip exerting added weight to press down on the brush-belly causing the swell, and, as the wrist lifts off into the air, for the brush to resume its former pointed stance. Thus was born the so-called “clerical” or Ωli script found in such plenitude on bamboo-scroll and wood-strip documents unearthed from distant corners of the empire’s once vast realm.

With the state expanding and its bureaucracy burgeoning, hapless scribes began to feel stressed by their mountainous workload. In doing their “paper-work” they began to save time by reducing the number of lift-offs of the wrist between strokes or characters, where the wrist usually rises to gain purchase for the next clean attack. This reduction of upward movement caused the brush-stroke to double back on itself, leaving loop-like ink traces of the wrist-motions originally performed mid-air. These came to be called linking strokes, as they linked consecutive strokes, also successive characters, resulting in a fairly cursive appearance. Thus was born the cursive script style, Ωcaoshu (often erroneously translated as “grass” script). In developing the cursive manner, many intermediate strokes were eliminated, radically reducing the structural elements of many characters. This became in time so hard to read that officials wrote protests “against cursive script” (fei caoshu) complaining that such scribbles had become idiosyncratic, mostly incomprehensible, and must be outlawed.

A more moderate mode, the “running” or xingshu script, emerged that retained most of the basic strokes while retaining some linking strokes to add continuity and fluidity to the flow. This trend seems to have coincided with the invention of paper around the first century CE, a splendid, fibrous and absorbent medium, unrestricted as to size or shape, being as long and as wide as the frame for the pulp-straining sieve allowed. The new “elbow-room” once more encouraged side-way expansion in stroke-formation. Although silk had long been used for writing in ink, cinnabar or black lacquer, its prodigious costs precluded extensive use. Paper, easily produced with bark, bamboo or rag pulp, quickly became a popular medium, replacing the bamboo-scroll form of bound strips. Here finally, was born the formal or regular script, the Ωkaishu.

Brush-stiffness and Stroke-form

The Chinese brush-tip seems to have been shaped since the earliest Neolithic times to end in a point rather than lying flat along one plane. This allowed from the beginning the play of undulating widths within strokes or lines created by changes in wrist-pressure. The earliest brushes excavated so far already had tufts of hair bound tightly at the thick end, and were affixed to a rod or hollow tube by more string. The hair-tips were thin and short. The resulting strokes similarly, were short, and without too much variation in stroke-widths.

As the tips became longer, sometimes also fatter, brush-strokes began to show greater variety. When calligraphy as an art attained the pinnacle of Chinese reverence as the highest art form around the fourth century CE, brushtip furs comprised mostly of weasel hair, a relatively tough fibre with a strong bounce which the Chinese call “hard” or “stiff”. A major aspect of the expertise and astounding grace of the calligraphy ascribed at the time to the “Sage of Calligraphy” Wang Xizhi was the ability to create a softly pliant, sinuous but substantial “feel”, “touch” or bichu with such tough hairs.

In time the tips came to made of mixed hairs, including the softer hairs of goat. The mixed-fur tip allowed for easier formation of resilient strokes and graceful curves. Toward the latter part of the second millennium CE, calligraphers of the Qing dynasty took pride in the reverse ability to produce a fairly upright and firm feel with brushes made entirely of the white, soft goat hairs. There was especially in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries CE a major revival of interest in various ancient script styles, including Bronze Inscriptions, and a major calligraphy renascence swept across the realm.

Calligraphy Today

Artists nowadays use a mixture of brushes, from the scribe’s traditional weasel hair, to full-blown large tips of goat, rabbit hair, and an assortment of other animal hairs, all singly plucked and bound into various hair-mixtures and shapes. The four masters in the present exhibition have access to all the materials and traditions that Qing calligraphers had. And they are each heir to the richly associative visual tradition of the Chinese script. This is aside from the two-millennia history of Chinese calligraphy itself, with its many masters and script-style exponents.

But unlike the past, calligraphy today is no longer the basic vessel for communication. For the last century with the introduction of pencils, fountain pens, ball-point pens, eventually the typewriter and computer, let alone telephone and internet, verbal communication has relied virtually entirely on these, more “modern” means. Even most shop-signs, large and obtrusive in typical Chinese fashion, are mostly formed with characters off-set from a ready palette of commercial computer-generated “type-faces”.

But for New Years and ritual celebrations where spiritual needs predominate, hand-inscribed banners and scrolls once more flourish in the streets. In Japan more than in China, calligraphy as an art of hand-transmitted energy, continues to hold sway and many artists make a good living creating calligraphy as visually distinctive names for buildings, as decoration on folding screens, sliding doors, fabric hangings on shop fronts, writ-large on vases, plates, even personal attire including purses and scarves. Children continue to take calligraphy classes after school even as violin and ballet lessons have become common extra-curricular obsessions. But in Chinese society calligraphy has become more reserved, less utilitarian, elevating itself to a “fine art.” And as such, it has become even more exclusively a social commodity for cultural one-upmanship. This is in keeping with tradition, since painting, poetry and calligraphy had been “The Three Perfections” among the ancient elite, scholar-statesmen all, who themselves wielded the brush and were more than competent in turning out a good-looking manuscript. But among non-Chinese who love art for the aesthetic experience, Chinese calligraphy as it evolves more and more towards abstraction, is becoming ever more accessible.

We may well ask, then, with calligraphy a less common sight, but with literacy far greater than in the past, do we need to “understand” calligraphy to appreciate it? This is certainly no more the case than in music. The greatest idealist (literati) painter since the Qing, Wang Jiqian (C.C. Wang), and recently himself become a calligrapher extraordinaire, likes to discuss brushwork in terms of music.

Brushwork is like a voice. The painting is like the story which provides the narrative, the message. Those who don’t understand go to the Opera in order to “watch” the battles and the love scenes. But those who know, the aficionados, go with their eyes closed, to hear the singer and follow the voice. We go to “listen” to Mei Lanfang, not to “watch” acrobatics.

Clearly this form of appreciation had its origins in calligraphy, long before it was transferred to the “reading” of paintings. In calligraphy, the ancient Chinese read every nuance in the same way they enjoyed music, following the life-flow as the energy moved, now large now small, now high now low, twisting, swelling, leaping and settling. Herein lies the abstract, but palpable thrill of enjoying Chinese brush art. It has to do with the life force itself, and nothing could be more pure, and at the same time more universal, than the art of calligraphy.

For this reason one need not be conversant with the anatomy of Chinese writing or be able to decipher characters and understand the message. Rather, one need only to “listen” to the brushwork as it moves through time by following its progress in space, and reliving the artist’s creative act. It is like savouring the singing of an opera sung in a different tongue.

Let us consider the Four Masters of the Late-Twentieth Century we have here, for example. Coming from vastly different backgrounds and developing their art in contrasting environments, they have all arrived at a common point of no return in the evolution of their ancient art: they have transcended the utilitarian function of calligraphy and have given full play to its associative, pictorial and compositional potential.

In their own ways, they each explore the rich legacy of their tradition, playing on the meaning of particular words, the visual structure of particular characters, the double-meaning produced by certain imagery. This aspect is relatively new to Chinese calligraphy where tradition has focussed on evocation of certain Tang and Song masters or of more ancient script-styles like bronze inscriptions. Our four artists have China’s long cultural memory at their disposal but individually, and as a “phase” in the history of the art, they are opening up new horizons. Some explore the significance of isolated words as we see here in the works of Wang Fangyu and Tseng Yuho, or they lump the whole into one image – without sacrificing those essential qualities of excellence traditionally demanded of good brushwork, as a superlative “voice”.

On this point, on the criteria for brushwork-excellence, there has been remarkable consensus throughout the two millennia of empire. It is all the more remarkable because no one actually “explained” these criteria in verbal form as essays, poems or colophons, till the very late Qing dynasty when a Manchu artist like Tangdai discussed the problem. But when we check back on preceding times, though styles and contents change, we see that these essential criteria for excellence have remained constant. Tangdai wrote:

The principles of brushwielding (yongbi) reside in control by the heart/mind of the wrist-movements. There must be suppleness within firmness. One must be able to release and withdraw [energy in the brushstrokes] and not be ruled by the brush. Brushwork must be centered, zhongfeng. By zhongfeng I do not mean holding the brush upright. Feng is the tip of the brush: if [mostly] the tip is used [in a centered manner], then touching the [paper] surface, the resulting brushwork will be lively, rounded and mixed, yuanhun, and not dead, wooden, ban. On the other hand, using only the belly of the brush, [with the brush held aslant], the resulting brushwork will be either sharp like carving, or flat. To achieve a powerful expression merely by means of slanted brushwielding will result in [undesirable] angles and corners…

- Tangdai (pupil of Wang Yuanqi), in Huishi fawei (Suggestions on Painting) 1716.

What Tangdai points to is a sense of inner balance, and an inner reserve that does not “show off” with overt gesticulations. Rather, good strokes are drawn as it were will full breath but where little air is actually used, leaving most “in reserve”, etc. These criteria in fact are identical to those for good singing or dancing, where anything resembling “falling off-centre” does not make the audience nervous, but they can remain calm in the knowledge that everything is in the artist’s more-than-adequate control. A dramatic example of the “pure voice” quality of brushwork is C. C. Wang’s 93090817 which bursts with excitement as the brush (moving from the top right corner) begins the piece with a thumping attack of thick, black ink drawn downwards to the right where immediately -piano subito, – it softens and loops ribbon-like to the left and, whispering upward in a northeasterly diagonal like a muted violin, flips the tip back, pulling downward with more weight for the vertical. Here, taking a breath during the soft lower loop with the brush-hairs turned out, the brush dashes tempestuously left toward 7-o’clock past the original left-edge of the space, only to fly back with equal speed and urgency in a huge, scratchy oval that gathers momentum for the next attack – on the left-hand radical of the second character. The breathing, panting, and swishing animation of this work continues unabated to the end. Yet on closer look we see that all strokes are formed with deliberation, carrying each a full measure of weight and inner balance. “Good” calligraphy may look hurried or even frenzied, but in fact is always executed with inner poise and assurance. In 94052618 Wang achieves the visceral effect of the fabled Autobiography inscribed in “raving cursive” ascribed to the Tang monk Huaisu, using only a cheap felt-pointed marker pen. And in 950227 he lets flying furious swirls, forgetting even any formal evocation of Chinese writing, keeping only its primary criteria for brushwork-excellence. With bald daring, he further “colours” the loops and spaces so as to fill the entire space with “positive” significance, leaving no “leftover space”.

Like a gyroscope, excellence in brushwork resides in this inner centredness and assured balance regardless of the apparent “rpm” or axle tilt. This is what the knowing eye searches for, in exactly the same manner as the connoisseur listens to a singer, demanding that the voice be full yet reserved, rounded and not rasping, and no matter how soft a whisper for the finale, that the ending be never deplete of energy or out of “air”.

All four masters delve into the realm of creative play with structural components of the script, rearranging their inter-relationship and ratio with a boldness not previously witnessed in this tradition-bound art form. That is, they play with the history of Chinese calligraphy, evoking the ancient script-styles spawn in different media, now all on paper, using a soft pliant brush, but they also take far greater liberties with the rearrangement of parts. Tseng Yuho, like C. C. Wang, in certain pieces gives vent to sheer indulgence in “superlative singing” and runs pure melismas as it were, of the brush over the paper, without bothering to write any “words” at all.

And like C. C. Wang, Tseng Yuho has long been a consummate master of painting. From large screens to delicate frames, her work has always shimmered like jewels glowing in a poet’s garden. Yet in calligraphy her energy resounds with the power of a mountain and she proves herself a formidable master of this venerable art as well. Brought up in Peking, she had studied privately with Prince Pujin and thus learned the insider’s perspective of imperial art and taste, and the brushwork arts formed part of her earliest experience in appreciation as well as in performance. Her early calligraphy includes metres-long multi-columned scrolls with characters of enormous size, a feat difficult to sustain over any long stretch. After moving to Hawaii she saw first-hand the widely experimental modes of American art, and indirectly witnessed the birth of Abstract Expressionism. With characteristic curiosity,she lost no time in reconsidering her own choices in painting. However, from the start, she chose her own directions, creating her own innovations, not so much in order to please the critics, but to please her own emerging and broadening discernment of beauty. Her creativity gradually eveolved into two remarkably separate spheres, where in calligraphy she provides as it were the yang hoariness to complement the ephemeral yin lyricism of her painting.

Wang Fangyu takes pleasure in redistributing the value and relative function of character-parts with specific reference to their respective meaning, as well as the meaning of the word as a whole. Most startling is his “design” for the two characters Baishi (white stone), where the two characters overlap and the whole resembles one large white rock, with a starkness evocative of a Mondrian. He enjoys combining two rods into one form, or separating a single character into two. In huanmeng (Illusory – or chimerical – Dream), Wang creates a labyrinth on the outside, tucking the “dream” inside the right-hand space like a startled Munch face with open mouth, screaming in muffled silence. Or he would pull a phoenix apart into its components wind (above), and bird below. Wang has long been fascinated by the 17-century royalist painter-calligrapher monk Bada shanren, as well as a knowledgeable collector and connoisseur of his works. The upward-staring and attenuated form of the bird-graph pays homage to the bristling energy of the Qing master’s eccentric works. And in his 1980 Turtle he infuses the character for this long-lived animal with hoary antiquity using tough, slow, even strokes in parallel, while jokingly evoking a Western mood by structuring the graph with an apparent one-point perspective, diminishing in size toward the right.

Wang Fangyu’s whimsical renditions are surely enjoyable in their own right, but the pleasure doubles with character-recognition since his work is alive with verbal and visual puns.

Youngest among them by nearly two generations, and a product of Taiwan culture, Grace Tung Yang-tze after a brief early spate in painting has been single-mindedly pursuing the challenges of calligraphy. In artistically conservative Taiwan, Tung is virtually the only one to “depart” from tradition, and to imbue the art with new vitality. Local critics, with little reference to the “world outside” of Taiwan, uniformly mention her “difference” and “newness”. In her work, unlike Wang Fangyu and Tseng Yuho, she avoids playing on a word’s associative image, but seeks resolutely to meet the challenges of each particular group of characters on purely formal terms, thus making of her calligraphy, like C. C. Wang’s, an abstract art like music without words, an opera without a story.

In this sense Grace Tung and C. C. Wang share the sheer delight in spirit-resonance with the ancient masters whose calligraphy was admired purely on visual terms without regard to “content”. Tung loves the play of textures created with different densities of ink, often allowing the brush hairs to splay as they move, creating the impression of wind-like speed; the play of light and dark when varying the water-content in each charge of the brush; and the abstract compositional possibilities for different groups of ancient sayings. Here, like C. C. Wang, she merely uses the “text” as a pretext for brushplay and, living in Taiwan among a mostly Chinese audience, her works have had to communicate as literature. For with her history-conscious audience and she cannot, as Tseng Yuho or C. C. Wang, indulge in the wordless delight of pure calligraphic brushplay. Nevertheless, in spite of, and through, her legible constructions and innovative character-size ratios and com-positions, the appreciation of vitality and energy is a central feature of her work.

At we peek across the threshold into the third millennium since cultural unification, we find in these four calligraphers a common voice that echoes the consciousness of our times. Threatened with planetary disasters, people the world over are beginning to bring to the surface humanity’s ancient understanding and appreciation of energy. Of energy as the source of life. All matter, all mass or form, is a physical manifestation of invisible energy. And here, in transcending verbal communication, these four masters share with us, in their distinct ways, their experience – and the universality – of this energy.