Paula Arai - PAINTING ENLIGHTENMENT

Come meet Paula Arai, Associate Professor of Buddhist Studies at LSU, when she presents her new book, PAINTING ENLIGHTENMENT: Healing Visions of the Heart Sutra, a fascinating study of the life and work of Iwasaki Tsuneo, a Japanese artist who combined his career knowledge as a biologist with his spiritual insights as a Buddhist practitioner to create breathtaking paintings. His trademark motif is the use of the Japanese characters of the Heart Sutra, an important Buddhist text, to create images of natural phenomena ranging from landscapes to DNA strands and entire galaxies. Paula Arai’s book is at once a full-color display of Tsuneo’s paintings, an overview of his life and career, and a commentary on the Buddhist and scientific themes in his work.

A stunningly beautiful, full-color book of Buddhist paintings by twentieth-century Japanese artist Iwasaki Tsuneo, interpreted by Buddhist scholar Paula Arai.

Little known during his lifetime, the Japanese biologist and artist Iwasaki Tsuneo (1917-2002) created a strikingly original and exquisitely intricate body of modern Buddhist artwork. His paintings depict themes ranging from classical Buddhist iconography to majestic views of our universe as revealed by science—all created with the use of painstakingly rendered miniature calligraphies of the Heart Sutra, one of the most important scriptures of Mahayana Buddhism. In this groundbreaking book, Paula Arai presents over fifty of Iwasaki’s paintings, elucidating their Buddhist contexts and meanings as well as their intimate connections to Iwasaki’s life as a war survivor, teacher, scientist, and devout Buddhist practitioner. Having been posthumously recognized by His Holiness the Dalai Lama, Iwasaki’s paintings are sure to be regarded as an innovative and heartfelt contribution to the artistic legacy of twentieth-century Buddhism.


Paula Arai is the Urmila Gopal Singhal Professor in the Religions of India at Louisiana State University. She is the author of Bringing Zen Home: The Healing Heart of Japanese Women’s Rituals and Women Living Zen: Japanese Soto Buddhist Nuns.


Event date: 

Sunday, October 20, 2019 - 1:00pm

Event address: 

Octavia Books - 513 Otavia Street - New Orleans, LA 70115
Painting Enlightenment: Healing Visions of the Heart Sutra Cover Image
By Paula Arai, Robert A. F. Thurman (Foreword by)
$29.95
ISBN: 9781611807561
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Shambhala - September 10th, 2019

A stunningly beautiful, full-color book of Buddhist paintings by twentieth-century Japanese artist Iwasaki Tsuneo, interpreted by Buddhist scholar Paula Arai.


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