Tibetan Butter Garuda

The sobering, otherworldly sounds of the Monks have been developed over hundreds of years, ever since the Gyuto Tantric University was founded in 1474 with an original crew of thirty monks. Their monastic training includes a type of multiphonic chanting, in which each monk sings a chord containing two or three notes simultaneously. This remarkable, transcendently beautiful sound, thought to arise only from the throat of a person who has realized selfless wisdom, is Iike nothing else on this earth.

I dunno what it is with me and Tibetan Monks. I know enough about Tibetan Buddhism to know that karma has a lot to do with it. I don't know a heck of a lot more than that. But I've always been attracted to the visual symbolism of Tibetan mandalas. I first encountered the Gyuto Tantric Choir at Zellerbach Hall, in Berkeley, CA. They did their overtone chanting and human-bone-trumpet fanfares, and I swear my third, fourth, and sixth eyes opened. A couple weeks later, I ran into three of them backstage at a Grateful Dead show at the Oakland, Coliseum. They were standing in front of a Ms. Pac-man machine. So I showed them how to play it. They were enthralled. They liked my shoes. That was two years ago.

A week ago, driving my daughter across the Golden Gate Bridge, I saw them walking across the bridge. That night I got e-mail inviting me to a press conference. They were going to start their butter sculpture and do a sound check for their concert. I brought my mom. I love these Gyuto guys, and so does my mom. They are as holy as you can get, they can gargle the bottom cells of your soul with their voice-magic, but they seem to not be averse to having fun.

I QuickTaked some shots of the butter sculpture, and what do I see but the Garuda, the same old mindbird I've been painting for decades. I dunno what's going on here. I'm beginning to look into it.