Mirror of Gesture, Ibn Gabirol, Imam Ali and Wabi-Sabi

The Mirror of Gesture (Abhinaya Darpana) is a 2nd century CE classic of Indian dramatic art. Translated and introduced by A.K. Coomaraswamy, it is invaluable reference for all those interested in the performance arts or arts in general. This book includes many plates illustrating the different mudras, and the details of the twenty-four movements of the head and the forty-four glances. Click here to read.

“The arts are not for our instruction, but for our delight, and this delight is something more than pleasure, it is the godlike ecstasy of liberation from the restless activity of the mind and the senses, which are the veils of all reality, transparent only when we are at peace with ourselves. From the love of many things we are led to the experience of Union: and for this reason Tiruvenkatacari does not hesitate to compare the actor’s or dancer’s art with the practice of Yoga. The secret of all art is self-forgetfulness.”

• As a rare acoustic approach to medieval Andalusia, we also bring this week a selection of Jewish mystical poetry, including excerpts from the famous “Kingdom’s Crown” (Keter Malchut) by Ibn Gabirol, and a poem by Abraham Abulafia, all read in the original Hebrew and in English. Click here to listen.

• In a video-recorded lecture, “Imam Ali and the Power of Compassion”, Dr Reza Shah-Kazemi explores the role played by Rahma—loving compassion and mercy—in the teachings of Imam Ali ibn Abi Talib, stressing the relationship between intellect and compassion.

“Just as the operation of the intellect requires the participation of all the cardinal virtues—with compassion at their heart—the deeper meaning and transformative power of the virtue of compassion can only be unlocked by the spiritual and ethical application of the faculty of the intellect.”

• Finally, with thanks to Robyn Griggs Lawrence, we have an article on the Japanese concept of Wabi-Sabi, or the Zen inspired mind-set that prepares us for “an active aesthetical appreciation of poverty,” subtly pervading daily life with the spiritual values of naturalness and submission to the cycles of growth, decay, and death.