Wednesday, December 31, 2008

To Forget The Self

One of my favourite things to do on New Year's Eve is look back at the old year.  Somehow doing that helps ground me before I look forward to my hopes and aspirations for the coming year.  This has been a big year for me.  As my friend and raw food chef Jim Maurice (check him out at refers to it, I have had a "health opportunity" this year.  It has helped me look more deeply at my life, about what really matters and reminded me to do some things when my natural position is to avoid the difficult and procrastinate.  Toward the end of the year I found a helpful stance.  "Don't take yourself so seriously, relax and do it (whatever was on my mind).  Abandon perfectionism and self doubt, and over thinking.  
I think of  the mixed media work shown here as a bit dark.... a stiff and bandaged figure (that's gauze bandages that form this being).  The background is formed by the words of Zen master Dogen "To study the self, is to know the self, to know the self is to forget the self, to forget the self is to be enlightened by the ten thousand things."  This work sums up the "self" for me.  As my Zen teacher would say we are such vulnerable little creatures, silly little creatures sometimes.... so painfully self centred, touchy and self protective most of the time.  But there you have it the human condition....We are all in this same boat together.  So when someone does something that offends or annoys it is so helpful to remember that just like us they are trying to be happy, just like us they are doing the best they can.  Now there is our work...trying to loosen the grip of this little self, increasing our kindness and compassion in difficult situations.  (It's easy to be nice when things are going well!)
So while it has been a difficult year for me in many ways it has been one of the most fruitful, with so much learning  happening at a deep experiential level.  Recently I read somewhere that when we can see experiences that we would normally reject as "medicine for healing" we will embrace them in the same way as those things we find desirable.

So in saying good bye to the old year I would like to mention the passing of local artist Jimmy Wright, who I only spoke to on a few occasions but I found myself deeply touched by his passing.  I loved his huge iconic polar bears and bulls (after all I am a Taurus).  When I heard he had died I felt a real sense of loss that there would not be any more new Jimmy Wright polar bears born into the world.  And in closing my thoughts for the new year are taken from a friend who has had an enlightening health challenge of her own.  I can't express a better way to approach life in any year.  Eden's little prayer is  "Please don't let me take anything personally and I'm just glad to be here."  May we all find the wisdom to live from that place in 2009.  Be well, be happy!  Be present for your life!

1 comment:

  1. beautiful blog you have here.

    excellent post as well. i found good food and sustenance within it.

    i found your advice on procrastination helpful, as i have been procrastinating on getting back to my zen practice (lol)! seriously though, i would like to reconnect with the San Francisco Zen Center in this New Year. so, that is one of my intentions. thank you for your inspiration.

    to a year full of gratefulness and auspicious moments!

    deep bow,

    -Steve @ fluxlife