The Fourth Messenger - Art & Writings from the Sangha

Hello all, I set up a site, The Fourth Messenger, dedicated to publishing art and writings from monastics of various traditions. My hope is that it will help to heal splits in the Sangha, cultivate understanding between traditions, make monastic teachings more available at large, and also raise the voices of ordained women. If you are in contact with any monasteries, monks, or nuns, please feel free to forward the link to them and invite them to submit art, essays, teachings, Dhamma talks, or upcoming livestreams. May it serve to benefit all beings!

In the Dhamma,
Nisabho Bhikkhu


Welcome to the forum Venerable

:pray:t4: thank you for sharing. The site looks very interesting and the layout is very beautiful :star_struck:


Sadhu! Nice initiative!
I have always had the impression that the Vinaya advised against bhikkhus or bhikkhunis engaging with arts as a whole, especially visual and musical.
Is that a misunderstanding?


Dear Bhante @nisabhobhikkhu,
The site is lovely, thank-you very much. I am especially happy to read the teachings of the Ven Ñāṇadīpa :anjal:


Thank you for the announcement. I will subscribe to the podcast forthwith.

I am also very interested in @Gabriel_L’s question about ordained people engaging with the visual and musical arts, especially as there is a stronger tradition of poetry writing.


Just to be clear, I have always had that impression and understood that it was more about refraining from engaging in visual and musical arts. Maybe venerable @brahmali could comment?
Literary arts could fall in the bucket of explaining and elaborating on the Dhamma.


Sadhu Sadhu Sadhu
Hope it can end the schism.

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I think what you said was clear (engaging/not engaging = refraining) and I share your impression of the Theravadan mendicants. However, in the Tibetan tradition there is engagement with the visual arts: tangkas and the construction-deconstruction of sand mandalas.


Good question @Gabriel_L ! Certainly singing and music is off the table by Vinaya, however, poetry and similar restrained pursuits can be fine. There’s some precedent in the Theravada, for example, run by Luang Por Sucitto. The aspect of rejoicing and creativity can be an important means of keeping the heart warm and alive in robes, and, if done in a careful manner, can assist practice. It’s one means of gladdening the mind.


Its also worth considering why the Buddha says that lay performing artists go to hell. …

When sentient beings are still not free of greed, and are still bound by greed, a dancer in a stage or festival presents them with even more arousing things. When sentient beings are still not free of hate, and are still bound by hate, a dancer in a stage or festival presents them with even more hateful things. When sentient beings are still not free of delusion, and are still bound by delusion, a dancer in a stage or festival presents them with even more delusory things. And so, being heedless and negligent themselves, they’ve encouraged others to be heedless and negligent. When their body breaks up, after death, they’re reborn in the hell called ‘Laughter’.

Which would all be true IMO, if the essence of the created work was the weaving of a false reality thereby promoting the unskillful.

Conversely, a creation which showcases the Dhamma and encourages the skillful should IMO, be commended!


To truly be the fourth messenger, creating works of art must teach detachment from feelings as part of the process.


Yup! Sort of like this. :joy: