Buddhist renaissance man, Kevin Townley Jr, joins Ethan Nichtern for a conversation spanning the potent intersection of art and Dharma.
Kevin Townley is a writer, filmmaker, actor, singer, museum guide, Buddhist teacher, and meditation instructor trained in the Sokuko-Ji Zen community under Kyoun Sokuzan. His film and television work includes appearances in My Super Ex-Girlfriend, Men in Black 3, The Detour, and Law & Order. With his band, Bambï, Townley adapted Judith Rossner’s ‘Looking for Mr. Goodbar’ into the rock opera GOODBAR, performed at The Public Theater. Check out his new book Look, Look, Look, Look, Look Again: Buddhist Wisdom Reflected in 26 Artists. For more info, please visit KevinTownley.nyc and his Linktree
To learn more about Ethan & uncover a myriad of Buddhist offerings, please visit EthanNichtern.com
Dharma & Art
Welcoming longtime friend and Buddhist renaissance man, Kevin Townley Jr, to The Road Home podcast, Ethan invites him to share the deep connection of art and Dharma represented in his new book Look, Look, Look, Look, Look Again: Buddhist Wisdom Reflected in 26 Artists. Through this lens, they dive into how the Tantric Buddhist mapping of the Five Wisdom Energies helps us become more human.
“Buddhism was an oral tradition first, but also an imagistic tradition after that before things were even written down. The way that art can communicate to us is so immediate and so visceral and so non-conceptual, that it seemed to me that it wasn’t just an accident, like ‘We ran out of things to say so we’ll paint this image.” No. The image is a way of short-circuiting the mind’s desire to conceptualize everything in a linear way.” – Kevin Townley Jr.
David Nichtern & tattoo artist, Robert Ryan, discuss the connection between art & Dharma, on Ep. 31 of Creativity, Spirituality & Making a Buck
The Five Wisdom Energies (16:30)
Uncovering the Five Buddha Families—also know as the Five Wisdom Energies—Ethan asks Kevin to give pertinent Buddhist context as to what these are, and how we can work with them in our practice and daily lives. Exploring these energies of ignorance, aggression, pride, craving, and jealousy—Kevin takes us on a visual ride through the wheel representing these Buddha families.
“In western culture we think we have to get rid of negativity and then we’ll have just positivity left and everything will be fabulous. The Buddhist nondual view is: actually those two things, what you think of as positive and negative, are actually not different things—they are different experiences of the same energy, and they take on negative experiential qualities to the degree to which we fixate and identify with the experience of that energy.” – Kevin Townley Jr.
“When you don’t jump to conclusions and don’t move much, then what does arise is very very clear.” – Kevin Townley Jr.
Jack Kornfield relays Buddha’s view on conflict & reconciliation, on Ep. 124 of Heart Wisdom
Art is for Everybody, Dharma is for Everybody (36:36)
Digging a little further into Kevin’s new book fusing art and Dharma, Ethan invites him to share about his artist selection process and reasoning for focusing on showcasing these specific energies. From here, Kevin binds together the paradox of confusion and wisdom; before he and Ethan close with discussion around how art is for everybody the same as Dharma is for everybody.
“What you need to meditate and what you need to appreciate art is the same: time and a place to sit.” – Kevin Townley Jr.