Tuesday, August 10, 2010

What Does The World Need?

Here's a piece that's been waiting to be finished, hanging out in the dark orphanage of homeless Buddha paintings. It started its life as an abstract and seemed to call out for more, advising me at one point that it was merely the ground for something further. So it has followed in the footsteps of several other Buddha Brothers (or sisters) getting involved with some pattern pieces and a shiny tar gel enso.

Sometimes I look at this calling out for more in my work. Sometimes it is really about the underlying feeling of not being good enough, of thinking I need to be more than I am which of course spills on to the canvas. Sometimes I am right and a piece needs more, I need to push a little further and sometimes it's simply a manifestation of that human delusion of "not good enough". The work is in knowing the difference. Sometimes I get it wrong.

I ran into a couple of Dharma friends today quite to my delight. Over egg salad sandwiches wrapped in sunshine, we sat outside and talked, what else?, Dharma. As the conversation meandered and rolled through the sun filled patio, one friend confessed to feeling guilty about time spent on long term, intensive practice. She found what came up as she sat were feelings that she wasn't contributing to the world and thoughts like "who are you to be doing this". Again it seemed there was this human delusion of "not being good enough", not doing enough. Different situation, no paintings involved, same delusion.

Her situation particularly reminded me of something I'd read the evening before in Jack Kornfield's book, "The Wise Heart" and I offered her my loose recollection of Kornfield's wise words which are: "The quieting of our mind is a political act. The world does not need more oil or energy or food. It needs less greed, less hatred, less ignorance. Even if we have inwardly taken on the political bitterness and cynicism that exists externally, we can stop and begin to heal our own suffering, our own fear, with compassion. Through meditation and inner transformation, we can learn to make our own hearts a place of peace and integrity. Each of us knows how to do this. Gandhi acknowledged, "I have nothing new to teach the world. Truth and non-violence are as old as the hills."

May you offer the world what it needs.


  1. I found your words and quotes here comforting: "learning to make our hearts a place of peace and integrity." Beautiful.

    Tara Brach talks about this "not good enough" syndrome, which she also refers to as the "trance of unworthiness." I think it's also referred to as "unsatisfactoriness".

    I often feel this "not good enough" - not contributing enough, not making my life count for something, not "doing" enough - like I "should" be doing something else. The delusion comes in so many forms. Yet, I know this "path" is what I need to be doing: living authentically according to the Truth of the Heart - for my own sanity, and maybe for the world's as well...

    Your painting reminds me that underneath the "form and structure", "patterns and concepts" there is only peace - there is only "enough." And what you have to offer is what is needed....

    Thank you for this beautiful offering - both the words and art... Christine

  2. My eyes follow the beauty and movement of this enso...the whole piece is beautiful.
    I so love egg salad sandwiches...there is a place in town and ever so often I show up for one as a special treat...great reminder of simple pleasures.

  3. Ah, it's so fabulous to be home and have easy access to your wisdom! I love the Jack Kornfield quote. To take ourselves off the hook, to be compassionate with just who we are in this moment - such a challenge when we put ourselves at the end of the line up for nourishment.

  4. My teacher once said that someone who's practicing brightens the heart/mind of even the people they pass on the sidewalk.

  5. Many thanks as always to each of you for adding to the conversation.

    MeANderi - I like that expression "trance of unworthiness". It has the somnambulant quality, this disposition to life.

    Blue Sky Dreaming - ah yes, to savour those simple pleasures and that is one of my favourite treats too.

    Genju - Great line, "when we put ourselves at the end of the line up form nourishment. That kind of sums it up.

    Chong Go Sunim - What a lovely way of putting it. I am anxious to pass it along to my friend up on the mountain!