Thursday, April 2, 2009

Deep, Rich & Messy (are we talking chocolate cake here?)

The art here is part of a larger work (like the one posted yesterday).  I am getting a lot of miles from this and having a lot of fun because I don't usually work large enough to capture portions of a painting and have them stand alone.  It's kind of like a puzzle.  In the end I will post the large work.  In the mean time I have a few more "parts" to show before I bare the whole thing.  

And I am heading into the final leg of the 1oo Days of Dharma.  It's interesting to watch.  When I first started I had a gazillion topics I wanted to cover.  Ideas were easy to come by and as the days went on I wondered sometimes, what will I write about today.  But when I sat down something always seemed to materialize. The process has strengthened the muscles of faith and trust.

When I stop and think about it the process of writing 100 Days of Dharma parallels how things go for us in many places in life.  First we start out enthusiastically and then as time goes on the honeymoon wears off, we get a little bored, our minds wander and we look for new stuff.  If we're not careful we can live our whole lives in this way, never touching anything very deeply, always skimming along the surface, flitting like paper thin butterflies.  It can become an habitual pattern, that at some level is unsatisfying but comfortable.  Now this doesn't mean that we simply flip over and do the opposite.  That would be a mistake too.  This is where our contemplative practice comes in, sitting down at the end of the day and looking at what's gone on, "what niggles" as my Zen teacher would say.  

We can look and see what our tricky little selves are up to.  Are we wandering, are we avoiding, are we  speeding about, never devoting enough care to the details of our lives, do we run around like headless poultry?  Are we hanging out with our good friends sloth and torpor?  Or is it just not necessary in a particular situation to go any deeper.  Perhaps a little skim across the surface shows us where we do need to go and it is wholly appropriate to move on.  Only we can know in any given instance, whether it is a relationship, a job, a conversation, some chore around the house.  But if we never look, we will never know.

The other part of the process of writing 100 Days of Dharma that parallels life has to do with moving past our pre-conceived ideas, our likes, our dislikes, the comfortable, the easy.  It's about committing to something no matter what and just seeing it through.  Our minds are always throwing up resistance, that's what they do.  It is part of right effort to just pat the resistance on the head, say not now, and carry on.  This act of moving past resistance is common to athletes and artists and creative types of all sorts.  Sometimes the best work doesn't come until you have written a thousand pages of purple prose or painted a hundred pedestrian landscapes.  Sometimes it has to come from a place that is way past where you thought you could go.  And as with all aspects of the Dharma, it's about getting to know ourselves, experimenting with what might work and adjusting our course.  It's about living the examined life, the deep, rich, messy life that comes to us while we're grasping after the easy and the comfortable things that we think will make us happy.


  1. Dear Carole -
    I must admit, that after your 100 days of Dharma are over, I do hope you will continue to write. I have received alot of wisdom through reading your blog; and much of what you've written about seems to have paralleled the things I was going through at the time; many wise and practical things to think over for my life.
    Thank you.

  2. Yes, me too!

    I was thinking the same thing: I hope you will continue writing your blog - please! :)

    I too have received sooo much from reading your postings. I even want to go back and read them all over again! (which I will).

    I love your authentic, everydayness approach. It helps me get through the messiness of living in the trenches of life. What you offer is always refreshing and heart warming.

    Many thanks and bows...

  3. Well thanks for the kind words. I do love to write about the Dharma and will continue but probably not on a daily basis. Some days I have to dig pretty deep to find something to say! But it has been great fun and a great exercise. Maybe I could have guest posts sometimes and other people could write about their Dharma. Any takers??

    with bows,