Thursday, January 29, 2009

Playing With the Dharma

A couple of nights ago we saw a fabulous Tom Stoppard play called "The Real Thing" at the Belfry Theatre.  I can't say enough good things about it.  The actors were fabulous and the play was intelligent, witty and thought provoking.  It was about love but not just the frothy stuff that skims the top, but  the depth and complexity of romantic love, what it means to really love someone.  Not the "I'll love you if you're nice to me and do what I want" kind of love .... but the love that sees the beloved at it's worst and loves anyway.  A love that can embrace betrayal and forgiveness all at once.  .....that cares enough to stay, to have patience and faith, that perceives the truth and goodness in that other human that the beloved hardly sees themselves.  You felt somehow that Stoppard understood the nature of loving another deeply and had amazingly been able to convey it in all it's painful and joyful essence.  He got it.  You got it.

When it was over, my partner said he had read that it was somewhat autobiographical for Stoppard.    I said "that makes sense and that's just like the Dharma!"  You could feel that Stoppard understood the terrain intimately.  And likewise you don't really get the principles of the Dharma until you live them.  I not only know this for myself  but have heard so many practitioners say this.  As did the Buddha when he said "Don't believe me, make it true for yourself."  It seems to me as humans we need to experience things at some blood and bones level to really understand.  How do you know  impermanence, letting go, having faith, attachment ?  You can read about them and hear about them for years without ever really getting them and then one day..... it happens .... in your life and you understand,  ... ah now I get it.  

And in art, like the Dharma,  you can only write or paint or create with depth what you really understand.  Every writer's workshop starts out with the advice "write what you know".  This is where art and the Dharma intersect, at this heart level of experience and understanding.  In art we go on to try and express it and in the Dharma we may express it or simply reflect it back in how we live our lives.

The piece of art for today is called "Moonlighting Monks".  For me there is both a feeling of community and chaos in this mixed media piece.  There is a sense of samsara in the dimmed light but also a sense that we are  all  on this journey together.  Sometimes it's hard to remember that the person rubbing up against you in some way that feels annoying is your brother and just like you he wants to be happy.  But there is our work, walking together, under the moon, experiencing the mystery of it all.

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