For Jack Niland- So Long and Thanks for all the Kittens

Jack Niland at Kalapa Valley

To my dearest friend-
when young
rough New Jersey
barbarians
so much pain to see
in one life
but still you
are sweet
a pristine heart
don’t let them tell you
it’s hidden in some
dark
cloud
anyone can see it
you radiate the real
Eastern Sun
one of the first ones
raising the victory banners
tiger
lions
dragons
oh my
dearest white kitten heart
I love you so
you were there for me at my darkest day
He loved you so
and that’s all that matters
He came to you
on a New York City Penthouse
Dean Wild Kind downstairs
dressed
in Crystal Armour
Andy Warhol and Jimmy Hendrix
Sara
and Guru Rinpoche himself
never think that such karma is dark
those
who can’t see you
I do
I know this well-
don’t listen to the Gurus who steal
your girlfriends away
listen to me
you are Love
precious
and dear
no one is like you
the dust on your statues
is made from Buddhas
you offend no one
but rather have brought
color and light to
all
and these forms will stay past your life
ahead of your time
someday
we will see the childlike sweetness
that you always new
and make mandalas
and pageants
and celebrate the real kingdom
tribal, earthy and royal
not stodgy
superiority and elitism
but raw
and vulnerable
and strong
Court Artist
and dearest one
truly meek
never proud
more than an Acharya
and your best is yet to
come
we love you so…

Dakini thangka by Jack Niland, 1971, Acrylic on canvas, 4×6 ft. Photograph by Marvin Moore

 

Jack and Tao in the 70’s New York
Jack Painting Vajrayogini

Western Thangka Painting: An interview with Jack Niland

Jack was an early student of Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche and a Dharma Artist, and is credited with making and designing many of Shambhala’s banners and flags. He was friends with Andy Warhol in the day in NYC and a close lifelong treasured friend of mine. His little teeny New York studio apartment always was home to me there, filled with warmth and blessings, a refuge in the city.  We’d talk of magic, love and art, sacred geometry, psychedelia, dzogchen visions and love lost. He said that in the future, Dharma Art would save the dharma, you can read the book here: https://www.amazon.com/Dharma-Art-Ocean-Chogyam-Trungpa/dp/1570621365. Jack, you are a part of me, I will miss you so very much. Goodbye and thanks…

Every Morning Jack would send me and his niece, a kitten drawing- here are a few…

3 thoughts on “For Jack Niland- So Long and Thanks for all the Kittens

  1. Messages to Jack:
    Sat, Oct 4, 2014, 5:53 PM
    It’s stupa work week at Shambhala Mountain center, I’m here with my daughter and the crew: Ricky Joshua Greg Bob Lindy, Yogi Bobby, old dear Vajra family. The little girls  enraptured with the video of the stupa making process and Trungpa and all is so well. Everyone is scruffy and dignified, hierarchy free  and warm as I always remembered. The magic is still alive here in the autumn leaves golden sun and moon- color Rupa magnificent mandala with dirty faces and we know this is still home.

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  2. His tribute page: https://www.chronicleproject.com/tribute-to-jack-niland/
    I met Jack in New York one night with Una and Anandi, we just popped over and became instant friends. He’d drape fabric around me like a toga and dress me up like a neo-dakini. He and Dean Janoff would come to Karme Choling and I was working on a thangka of Ekajati with Karme Choling in the background and Trungpa’s purkhang- here that is: https://dawnboiani.wordpress.com/paintings/
    We talked about art, goddesses, dzogchen, love, sacred geometry and- well everything. Over the years he was more family than friend, I’d come to New York and his little sacred studio, a healing respite in the city and that would be the only important place to visit. Many felt that way. Sometimes I’d talk to him even everyday, he always offered a compassionate ear, time, kindness, insight and could turn a world that looked often so dark into sheer magic. He saw us all as good, uncompromisingly good, and never was separate from a youthful innocence that we often have forgotten.

    I never met Trungpa, but through Jack felt like I did. It was not him being an icon, his amazing star-filled past, his lovers and the dramatic stories that I will miss, it was his kindness. May I someday aspire to be more like him, he will be missed in this world terribly. I heard that someone, maybe Trungpa said that Dharma Art, a full lineage that he firmly held way ahead of his time, of play, color, magic, innocence, celebration would be how the Dharma and lineage survives into the next generations; may it be so. I love you Jack, I’m so privileged to have known you. I wrote this poem when he was a little sad (pardon the politics), and posted some of his daily cat drawings- each one a profound transmission, yet to be uncovered. Love to him, love to you all, always. Poem and Cat Drawings: https://dawnboiani.wordpress.com/2021/09/14/for-jack-niland-so-long-and-thanks-for-all-the-kittens/ So long Jack, thanks for all the kittens. ❤

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