Sutta Art Journaling: Deep Engagement

A page from The Dawn of the Dhamma

Over the last few years there has been an emerging practice in the Christian community called Bible Art Journaling. It has probably  been helped along by the adult coloring craze, scrapbooking, bullet journaling, and of course social media.

The idea is that by embellish the extra large margins of a text designed for this purpose with art work or decorative pull quotes inspired by the text, one can develop a deeper connection to the text. You can find endless examples on Google image, Instagram, Pinterest, and of course endless hours on Youtube. On line stores like Amazon and Barnes & Noble have dozens of bible specially designed for people to create art in the margins. Although the social media aspect is new, illuminated manuscripts have a long tradition in Christianity and Islam. Ajahn Sucitto has a well known illuminated version of the Dhammacakkappavattana Sutta that can be seen in the book titled The Dawn of the Dhamma that can be read on line.

There is no shortage of criticism that people are taking it a bit far by completely obscuring the text with paint or drawing, which is probably well deserved. But there can be no doubt that for some folks decorating the margins with illustrations pulled from the text can be a healthy way of engaging with and remembering a text. Clearly it’s not for everyone.

Here is a text of Ven. Buddharakkhita’s translation of the Dhammapada laid out with a very large margin giving plenty of room for embellishments and illuminations. You can also get creative with the binding, and best of all you can reprint any page you want to redo.

Dhammapada Sutta Art Journal A4 Size
Dhammapada Sutta Art Journal Letter Size