Tag Archives: Buddhism

How a monk-turned-street artist sees New York City’s homeless

My article, co-written with Terence Cantarella, about the incredible and compassionate art work of Pairoj Pichetmetakul is now published in Tricycle: The Buddhist Review.

Courtesy of Pairoj Pichetmetakul (4)

Walking home from the Academy of Arts University in San Francisco on a cold autumn night in 2013, Pairoj Pichetmetakul passed a scene he’ll never forget.

On a nearly empty street in the SoMa district, Pairoj saw a young man beating a white-haired homeless man who appeared to be in his 70s. The attacker punched and kicked his victim, then sat on his chest and pummeled his face.

Pairoj wanted to help but fear held him back. He was new in the country, his English was poor, and he couldn’t call the police because his cell phone battery had died. So, he just walked home.

 “I couldn’t sleep,” recalled the now-32-year-old artist, who goes by his first name. “I went back in the morning to find the old man but he wasn’t there.”

Three years earlier, Pairoj had been a saffron-robed monk living at the Wat Hua Krabue Buddhist temple near Bangkok, where he recalls trying to avoid stepping on insects while walking between his living quarters and the temple.

Why, then, didn’t he help the homeless man?

That question troubled him so deeply that he resolved to make amends the only way he felt he could—through his art. Thus began an artistic and social project he calls “The Positivity Scrolls.”

To read more, click here.



Engaged Buddhism

The American Prospect has a fascinating interview with Ethan Nichtern, author of the new Buddhist political treatise One City. Nichtern is a fresh voice for the integration of Buddhist thought into the political sphere.

Best quote: “Meditation is about watching our mind’s propaganda and putting it in perspective. Our mind has its own Fox News Channel, and we learn to call that internal channel on its bullshit, too.”

Art Proper

James Joyce once wrote that art proper serves as a gateway to the gods, but what about art that attacks the Gods, or those who worship them? In Thailand, a young artist by the name of Nupong Chanthorn caused a great uproar with his painting (above) entitled Bhikku Sandan Ka (Monks With Traits of a Crow). According to an article in the Asia Times, the painting has sparked a debate within Thai society over wither Buddhist monks are a legitimate target of criticism. One side argues that monks are sacred and should not be insulted (and here I thought Buddhist had no-self and practiced non-attachment), while the other side argues that it is not only proper to criticize monks, it is a religious duty to expose wrong-doings in society – no matter the source.