Friday, January 9, 2009

The Little Things We Do

In this 10x10 mixed media piece  the words "Even tiny drops of water will in time fill a huge vessel" form the ground that the bowl rests on.  These words are attributed to the Buddha and speak to our actions and thoughts, both positive and negative.  The painting incorporates lots of texture, some Asian script paper and stamped text with hot  and soft shades of magenta and some watery blacks.

In a way I am adding to the topic of "creating peace in our world"  that I wrote yesterday.  In that piece I talked about starting on the inside with our own internal state of peace.  But where does it go then?  A number of years ago I was surprised to read (I believe in was in Ezra Bayda's "Being Zen") that being in a hurry, being impatient was a form of aggression.  When I stopped to think about it it made perfect sense.  These things can be so subtle.  So creating enough time, eliminating some activities if necessary contributes toward making our world more peaceful.  For starters it is a kindness to ourselves, decreasing our stress levels.  And when you think about things such as feeling impatient in the long line at the grocery check-out, for example,  you can see the subtle self centredness to the impatience, the slight disregard for the needs of others, the cherishing of self above others.  And then there's the energy of our impatience that radiates out into the space.  How likely are we to strike up a pleasant conversation with the shopper in front of us or feel compassion for the person working the cash when we feel the irritation of impatience?  I remember the first time I noticed this in myself.  I was rushing to the check-out , grocery in hand.  The irony of it was, as I ungraciously raced someone for the next spot in line I was on my way to make lunch for my friend and teacher, a Buddhist monk and was worried about being late.  I felt both embarassed and amused when I realized what I had just done.  As my teacher commented, "at least you noticed."

And so peace begins in the grocery line, at the coffee shop, when we are driving.  Do we let that driver in who wants to make a lane change?  Do we ride the bumper of someone going too slow?  There are so many radical acts of peace that we can make during a day.  I know when I take my friend the Zen monk out on errands it is so instructive to watch how she interacts with people, engaging them on a personal level, asking their name.  It is amazing to watch people melt into this attention and love that is often missing in our modern world.  When the Dalai Lama stays in big hotels he often chats with the chamber maids and staff, engaging them on a personal level.  "My religion is kindness" he says.  "I am just a simple monk"  And so if we can remember this stance when we go out into the world we can become an emissary of peace, doing something that is possible for us to do in the here and now, difficult because sometimes we don't feel like it or remember.  So where can I do this today?  That is the question I will try to keep in mind as I go about the small tasks of my life.  So peace evolves not just one person at a time but one action at a time.

1 comment:

  1. i like that: add each individual action we do to each individual person on this earth, and in this universe, and we've just created many more opportunities to enact peace.

    peace be with us always,

    -Steve @ fluxlife