Bits of zen flotsam & jetsam from the daily practice of a zen fool with shards of modern Buddhist art from my studio. Sometimes cranky, sometimes inspiring, mostly entertaining.
Sunday, August 22, 2010
Enemies? Invite Them To Tea
Here's a photo of me building a little gate for some wee folk who make their home up on Mt Erskine. All manner of offering have been left by their door so I couldn't just walk by without making some contribution. Let's say I built them a peace arch. This is an offering so that they may live in harmony with all the little folk in their lives and all the creatures they encounter.
In fact this is an auspicious wish for any of us, large or small. Last week when I was in Victoria I had the great pleasure of having coffee with a group of folks who are part of a little Sangha I belong to. It's not a traditional Sangha but a delightful one. We have a fearless organizer and over the years we have attended all manner of Buddhist events together, gathered for potlucks and watched Buddhist movies. Conversation ranges all over the planet in an enthusiastic, harmonious sort of way.
Just before we flew off on our various errands the topic of politics came up. My answer was, "I don't do that anymore." We went back and forth a bit with someone pointing out that politics brings social change. My feelings were that it's too divisive, it's not where I choose to put my energy anymore. It creates us and other and somehow that never seems helpful. If our intention as we go out into the world is "to do no harm" , to be helpful, working from a place of opposition doesn't seem helpful to me. Go ahead, call me Pollyanna but I think that true change comes from people "walking a mile in someone's shoes (even if the fit isn't so great)", from getting to know the "other, from the "other" getting to know us and somehow over time, change can happen. Without that softening of positions and stories, it is hard to make any real headway, whatever your cause. If you win the battle and leave field full of bodies behind you, what have you won?
Someone in the group commented that they'd heard Buffy Ste. Marie at a rally and after someone gave a rather fierce political entreaty. She came on stage and said something like, "after all these years, I think the best idea is to invite them to dinner." It's not unlike Gandhi's comment about the British when told of some action they were about to engage in. "I would like to invite them for tea and biscuits," (and he did, offering them several rounds of biscuits).
It seems important to me that we follow through on our intentions to be compassionate and helpful. And yes it is difficult but I look to people like the Dalai Lama and his position toward China when I think of difficult situations. What better role model could we ask for?
Buddhism & Art...if I had to pick two words that give an overview of what I get up to in this world those would be my choices. Buddhism is the ground upon which I rest all else. I like to think it brings me some sanity. It helps me think in some logical way about what I am doing and look at it as deeply as possible. What did I just do? Why ? What's that all about? ...To try and look at my life without sliding over things or fooling myself...To be present for life, not rejecting or preferring one experience over another. Buddhist practice makes my life full and rich, sometimes filled with joy and sometimes with a deep experience of the suffering present in this world.
After all those words does it seem odd to say that it is the simplicity of Zen that appeals to me? This inclination to simplicity pulls me to try and integrate my practice and work, to paint Buddhas, to observe my process as I work.
I am drawn to mixed media, integrating script and words with images and colour.