Bodhi Unbound - help fund my PhD

£10,063 of £25,000 goal

Raised by 88 people in 13 months
Former nun, latex lover seeks funds for PhD at the Royal College of Art. Hi, my name’s Damcho Damcho is the name I received when I took ordination as a Tibetan Buddhist nun, aged 29. Before then, I'd been an established practising artist. As a nun, I had the daily ritual of wearing monastic robes and did so for ten years. My spiritual practice had two main focusses: cultivating compassion and training the mind through meditation practices.  I lived a celibate life, devoting myself to serving Tibetan masters and the communities that gathered around them; caring for the elderly and those close to death; researching, recording and practising Buddhist rituals from the Nyingma tradition whilst  receiving teachings in the approach of Rimé . This path was incredibly enriching and inspiring for me, though over time I developed an increasing disconnection from my physical form which I draped with layers of maroon cloth and mainly related to as a means for service. In 2011, while on retreat, I had a sense of my body and mind re-connecting and recognised - after some reflection – that it was, quite naturally, the time for me to cease being a nun.  You can read more on this in a Huffington Post interview here . More recently my curiosity as an artist, has led me to discover and explore a more sensual ritual of dressing: that of wearing latex! Now I have the opportunity to translate these life experiences into a unique contribution that I believe will intrigue and - I hope - bring some benefit. The world’s number one postgraduate art and design university, the Royal College of Art  in London have offered me a place as an M.Phil/PhD candidate to explore these two contrasting rituals. This is an exceptional opportunity and your contribution can help ensure this chance becomes a reality. Why 'Bodhi Unbound'? 'Bodhi' is a Sanskrit word meaning ‘to awaken’ and in the Buddhist context, it's frequently used to allude to the potential that we all have to awaken the wisdom that's inherent in us. This potential is said to be present in every being with consciousness, though - for the majority of us - it's obscured like a piece of gold bound in a lump of coal.   I have chosen the word 'Unbound' as it expresses both the release I found when I stopped wearing robes, as well as  being suggestive of the release from being ‘bound’ in the context of BDSM practices (which many people may think of due to preconceptions of latex wearing.)  Ultimately,  'Unbound' expresses an aspiration for the mind and heart to be freed of binding habits and negative emotions. Bodhi Unbound relates to my research practice as it will commence through recording, analysing and interpreting the tangible experience of being bound and then unbound from the confinements of restrictive ritual clothing: both monastic robes and latex.  Whilst wishing to reflect profoundly on the juxtaposition of the ways in which freedom and constraint play out in our own lives,  my aspiration for this research is threefold: -      Identify and probe our preconceptions and practices of some forms of ritual to see what new understanding of ritual may arise. -       To deepen and integrate my understanding of the potential of the mind and heart when ‘unbound’. -       Equip me to inspire, nurture and communicate with many, many others so that they in turn can support, inspire and nurture others. In order for this to happen, I need support - and your contribution can make a difference! Though I have lived and worked in the UK for a number of years, my Visa doesn't yet have ‘indefinite leave to remain’ stamped on it. As an Australian national, this means I need to pay international student fees.  At an acclaimed institution like as the RCA, such fees are considerable!  I have saved some funds and can cover my enrolment fee of £2,000 plus basic living costs in London for the first  4-6 months.  Going forward - if needed -  I will carry on with part time work in order to cover monthly subsistence. I will also continue to actively apply to charitable organisations and philanthropists for ongoing funding. I am asking for your help to ensure that I can cover this: - Annual Student Fee                                         £28,400 - Research-associated costs, including books, equipment,  art materials, conference attendance and travel                                                    £5,000 Total per annum                                                   £33,400 A Tibetan Buddhist master, whom I greatly respect, has offered me the first £500 towards my fundraising goal, insisting that it's very important for me to start and to finish this PhD. A community based organisation in London have offered me an Education Development Grant of £300. To these auspicious first offerings, I am asking you to join by contributing what you can; be it a few pounds, a major donation or support in kind. Every contribution will be acknowledged in my thesis.  Please donate today and share Bodhi Unbound with everyone you know.  (If you want to know more about me, keep on scrolling below this photo)  [Me studying, though I don't always do so in latex] About me as a student and artist: Aged 17, I received an award from the Governor of South Australia for my academic merits in my final year at secondary school when I achieved 98% and was awarded one of three Dux for my year. I went on to study in three important art schools in Australia - all of which I chose due to the reputation of their lecturers. I graduated from the Victorian College of the Arts with First Class Honours and was awarded the highest accolade for my programme: the Lavazza, George Gallery Scholarship which included a studio residency for a year. I exhibited throughout the 90’s in Australia including at the Melbourne International Arts Festival in 1999. My art always had a performance and installation element to it and I very much used my practice as a vehicle to explore the territories of human experience in relation to spirituality and concepts. For part of the time during this exploration, I was enrolled at the Catholic Theological College , part of the University  of Divinity to study Christian Mysticism. At the same time, I started to study Tibetan Buddhism. During this concurrent exploration, I had the first inkling that I wanted to be a nun, though it was to be six years before that became a reality.  Over this period of time, I became convinced that my creative expression was important not because of its form, but rather because of its intent. With this conviction, I erased, destroyed or gave away all of my art works (and other possessions) and embarked on the path of a Tibetan Buddhist nun.  About me in robes: I was ordained in early 2001 by Trulshik Rinpoche in Kathmandu, Nepal, and then was based mainly at a major Buddhist community in France. I  trained and worked voluntarily in countries of the Himalayas, Europe and South East Asia for the following ten years. I even had the fortune of being the attendant to the Dalai Lama during one of his official visits to France. Whilst in India on retreat in 2011, I had an insight that one of the forms I stopped relating to when I became a nun – my body – was an integral part of being on the spiritual path. I saw that it too is an arena for exploration and understanding, but one which I had greatly lost touch with. About me in latex: Fast forward 5 years, and - no longer a nun - I meet a couture designer who creates beautiful pieces of latex clothing. She obtained a doctorate at the Royal College of Art 30 years ago and soon after, she launched her career of making latex clothes. She and I made a natural connection which disarmed me as I explored her clothing collection and she assisted me in trying on a few pieces.  Immediately, I recognised that wearing latex is a ritual. It was at once similar to my experience of wearing robes, and at the same time could not be further from the protocol or appearance of donning monastic clothing. Whether monastic robes or putting on latex, what has become apparent to me is that both demand commitment of the wearer!  Once the latex is on, the body has a second skin, it is like a cocoon. It is so close to your skin that you feel naked, yet is also like a protective armour. Being touched while in latex, sense awareness is heightened. The experience is sensual, and awareness of the boundary between the inner and outer sensations of the body are amplified. And once the latex is removed, there is a deeply felt release - a sense of being unbound. About the Royal College of Art :  For the last three years, the Royal College of Art has been recognized as the world’s number one art and design postgraduate university. Well known alumni/ae from the RCA include Henry Moore, Barbara Hepworth, David Hockney, Tracey Emin, Paul Smith, Ridley Scott, James Dyson and Betty Churcher (director of the National Gallery of Australia 1990–1997).   To be able to enter into this eminent institution is an incredible opportunity, a great honour, and one which I feel provides me with the perfect vehicle, support and inspiration to deepen, refine, translate and communicate my past 25 years of research into something that I hope ‑ through thesis and practice - expresses an unboundedness of the body, heart and mind. Your contribution could be the difference between me entering this world-renowned institution or not.   About how you can help: Every contribution will make an impact. So even if you imagine that I have shared this with you over a cup of coffee, then if you were to offer to pay a few pounds for that imaginary coffee, I will certainly recall you as an actual coffee  sustains me through hours of research. If you can offer more   - or are tempted by any of my reward incentives - I will be so grateful for your generosity. I also welcome donations in kind from organisations and individuals who may be able to help in other ways, for example with materials and equipment, studio or gallery space, or even accommodation! Regardless of what you can give, spreading the word will make a major difference. Please share with all your friends and ask them to share!  With unbounded gratitude, Damcho x
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Bodhi Unbound has reached a milestone! 

I want to take this opportunity to thank and update all my friends/supporters.

After two months, with 12,300 people visiting the Bodhi Unbound GoFundMe page (1,600 of those in the last 24 hours!) and 78 donations, over £10,000 has been raised. 

An article released by a UK tabloid a few days ago seems to have spread far and wide across the world… being adapted into web articles in India, Hong Kong, Denmark, France, US, Nigeria and Australia! This has converted to a number of new followers and donors to my campaign. There are now over 500 people in the Bodhi Unbound network.

I wish to sincerely thank you all for your encouragement and your belief in my campaign and my research. I have been both enriched and challenged by the responses I have received. And through the sheer volume of engagement, I am - by necessity - finding more clarity in the spectrum of my research. This is invaluable as the scope of my interest is broad and this helps to bring focus.

The synchronous connections, opportunities and support that continue to present themselves serve - as much as the monetary donations - to fuel this project moving forward. 

So, I wish to request you again to please continue to like, share and help promote the Bodhi Unbound GoFundMe campaign. There is still a long way to go!

With unbounded gratitude,

Damcho
behind the scenes of press photo shoot
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Dear friends and supporters,

Here's a short video of me reflecting on what it's like to wear latex - and the ways in which it reminds me of wearing monastic robes.

Feel free to share.

Your ongoing support and interest is really appreciated!

x Damcho
Bodhi Unbound update in burgundy catsuit
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Dear friends,
I woke up one morning, and before my eyes were even open, my mind was intent on having this photo taken.
It's not meant to be provocative - though I recognise that according to the viewers perspective it could signify, or evoke any number of things.

The nun image is me in 2009. It has been printed at 1:1 scale and it is held so that it masks the rubber clad body beneath. The latex completely conceals the identity of the body and the photo prop serves to mask the identity of the one holding it before their face. So much is concealed and so it also allows for so much to be projected upon, yet you who are reading these words will probably know or assume that it is the one person.

For me, who experienced both the monastic identity in 2009 and then - in March 2017 - was hidden behind the photo and shrouded in latex for a photo shoot, this image symbolises a recognition that these are simply two masks. Furthermore, coupling these masks together in this 2-dimensional representation of my form - where the face and body become dependant on each other to complete the image, I’m hoping to express the interdependent existence between by body and mind. And though there seems to have been an extreme shift from robed monastic to lady in latex, the transition and contemplative experience that has bridged these worlds has been a very intimate one - as intimate as the closeness in this photo between the robe draped shoulders and the torso secured by rubber.

This intimate but radical transition that I went through was accompanied, or possibly even lead by something I'll call ‘body intelligence’. Rumi expresses this in his writing titled just that:

Body Intelligence
“…You and your intelligence
are like the beauty and the precision
of an astrolabe.

“Together you calculate how near
existence is to the sun!

“Your intelligence is marvellously intimate.
It’s not in front of you or behind,
or to the left or the right…”

(I will post the full poem on the Body Unbound Facebook page if you wish to read it)

I want to say a sincere thank you to everyone for their encouragement, support and generosity. Slowly but surely I am getting towards reaching my target: I am just over a quarter of the way there! If you haven’t done so already, please like and share my page and tell your friends. And incase you missed it, here is a interview that I did with Michaela Haas PhD about Body Unbound that was published on Huffington Post and Medium.com just a few days ago:

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/58cbfccfe4b07112b6472cc9

https://medium.com/@MichaelaHaas/the-art-of-being-unbound-590b975b3645#.uo649o6tb
2 masks: body intelligence conversation
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I've been interviewed by the author and journalist, Michaela Haas for the Huffington Post.

I hope through reading this, people will gain more curiosity and understanding regarding Bodhi Unbound!

Enjoy: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/58cbfccfe4b07112b6472cc9
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Read a Previous Update
Soren Jahan
13 months ago

fingers crossed!

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£10,063 of £25,000 goal

Raised by 88 people in 13 months
Created February 27, 2017
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£50
Anonymous
3 months ago
£105
Anonymous
4 months ago
UH
£60
Uscha Heilmann
5 months ago

Dear Damcho, I wish you all the best, such terrible things you had to endure in R. So disgusting. We came there with such a good heart and then to be so mislead by SL and cohorts. Unbelievable. Please take care of yourself and your mind. - I had to laugh when I found out what you are doing now. Phantastic !!! Would love to go to a party with you. Very cool. Be well. Uscha

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£5
Patrick McEvoy
8 months ago

Just want to make another small donation, hope everything is going well, best wishes ...

SH
£50
Sam Harvey
8 months ago

Sending love too!

£10
Anonymous
8 months ago
PM
£7
Patrick McEvoy
9 months ago

Good luck again with the campaign, hope it goes well ... best wishes ...

£21
Anonymous
9 months ago
£10
Anonymous
9 months ago
Soren Jahan
13 months ago

fingers crossed!

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