Sunday, May 2, 2010

Mind As Enemy, Mind As Friend

A few nights ago we drove into town to see an art opening by Lady X, a mysterious 70 yr old woman whose paintings sell out immediately. I was curious to see this show. And as I wandered the exhibit I enquired of the gallery owner if Lady X might be hiding in the crowd. I imagined how much fun that could be for her.

But the salient experience of the night was not so much the art, but the feelings that were following me that evening. There was the awkwardness of not knowing a soul. You've been there, I know you have.

It was early evening and overcast, the countryside quiet. And not that I was given to wild evenings of revelry and socializing in the city, I found myself feeling lonely. And with the feeling of loneliness I noticed the thoughts that supported it: worries about will I make friends here in this new place, maybe my art isn't good enough, will we find a home we love. The mind projecting itself into the future, on a little jet stream of worry and doubt. In truth these thoughts have been percolating in the background for a while now.

Yet as we chatted about them on the way in to town they somehow lost their grip. Monsters hate the light of day. I could see them as just thoughts, with all their unreality, the mind doing it's reflexive thing. Certain habitual thoughts seem to arise as the Buddhist saying goes "when all conditions ripen": the time of day, the grey sky, the quietness of roadways. I could remind myself that this beautiful green landscape was what we'd been longing for when we lived in the city.

Life here is simply minus the city activities of nipping out on an errand or two. The hum of the TV doesn't fill the evening. Without these things life is quieter, simpler. It takes time for the gear shift to click in. But it's good to notice the arising of these thoughts and feelings that create subtle undercurrents. It keeps them from getting up to their subversive little tricks of masquerading as the truth. What's that bumper sticker? "Don't believe everything you think."

In all of this I was reminded of a quote from a book I am reading, "The Wise Heart" by Jack Kornfield. "Who is your enemy? Mind is your enemy. Who is your friend? Mind is your friend. Learn the ways of the mind. Tend the mind with care." -The Buddha

And which of those grey haired women was "Lady X"? My mind has several theories, including me as Lady Why.


  1. When things slow down, it seems all the 'hidden' crap creeps in. Glad you're hanging with it.

  2. That's it, isn't it? Same thing that happens at a retreat. Hadn't thought of it quite in that light. Thanks for that!

  3. As always your process of mindfulness, acceptance and presence to what arises is so clear, so clean and so inviting for those little gremlins to arise cause they know they'll be seen through... And of course you have the essential ingredients: good partner, good book, good awareness, good Heart...

  4. love to read of your journey lady why... may you settle gently into your new life

  5. If you are Lady Why here, does being Canadian make you Lady A? ;-) Oh I recognize that avoidance... I've dusted off my painting table a few times now; folded the felt underpadding, re-arranged the brushes, washed the ink stones... And all the while my mind keeps going on about how creativity is preceded by "priming the pump"'s really just another waiting.

  6. Just wanted to say hi from one Buddhist artist to another! I like your blog; great work, and great insights as well!

  7. Nice to see all your smiling avatars & comments. I have a y and an a, I am getting close to YAY!

    Nice to find another Buddha painter!

  8. You are invited

    Too brite days
    midnights that refuse to
    abide dark and secret
    when empty phrases chant
    to fairytale Moons
    I tell myself
    This is no ordinary room
    This is no fleeting flittering life
    This is a magical passageway
    sparkling like mica, like miracles

    Quiet traces
    luminescent impression
    a trailing kite tail binds
    silent whimpers, sojourning whispers,
    tears shining behind mime smiles

    Crone's gnarled fingers, playing
    to spite agony
    simulate touch
    beyond ache,
    too brite cell,
    crouching scarred shadow
    I cast silhouette of metamagic gypsy

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