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, September 19, 2010
Oh No What Have I Done?
The "self" is an interesting creature to watch. It can provide more entertainment and drama than any movie you might rent. Two days ago I got to watch a curious drama of the self unfold, an oscar worthy drama to be sure. Two months ago we bought a new home but because the owners needed time to collect and arrange 18 years of belongings, the possession date was set 2 months into the future. We were excited and were anxiously awaiting the day when we could roll up our sleeves, shine the place up and make it our own. Finally that day arrived.
We had known that the house needed some TLC and that the aging owners who had health issues were finding the property a challenge to maintain. Yet when we walked into the house for our first viewing of it as our own, we were overwhelmed by doubt and buyer's remorse. "Oh no, what have we done?" Both my partner and I were afraid to say it out loud but it was evident from our wander through that we were not possessed by eager enthusiasm.
Instead we were visited by a huge helping of doubt. Things seemed darker, dirtier, the scale of what was required seemed larger. Could we be happy here? Had we grasped after getting settled and bought this house and property by mistake? Should we have waited? Maybe something better would have come up. And on and on and on. You're getting the picture. The sound track to this little movie is at the dark and foreboding stage.
So there it was "doubt" in full regalia, one of the five hindrances in Buddhist thought. And we got to watch it's pageant of suffering. Now as well as experiencing the doubt, we could see the little drama unfolding (kind of like watching a documentary) so we weren't fully hooked. Suffering yes, but also understanding the source of suffering. And we could see the other sources of suffering. A heavy dose of expectation. Yes we expected the place would need paint, but we expected everything else would look just perfect.
Instead we noticed that there was a view of the neighbour's house that we'd forgotten, his roosters were noisy. We could hear cars from the gravel road below. The scope of cleaning seemed overwhelming. Each expectation spawned a new one. It was like a little line of domino expectations, setting each other off. Dissatisfaction was the word of the day.
I wavered between trying to put a bright face on it and just being with that sense of doubt and dissatisfaction. We were drinking from that well of common human experience where we want to tie our happiness to external things, when we want life to please us, when we want things to go our way in every detail. I could taste the interesting souffle of doubt, expectation seasoned with a pinch of greater knowing.
By next morning everything had changed. Overwhelm had left the building. We got out our cleaning supplies and loaded up a few boxes and drove to the new house. This time it shone with the potential we had seen in it when we decided to buy it. The house hadn't changed. We had. Our self centred worry and doubt had lifted and we embraced the mop and bucket with renewed enthusiasm. Could I have found a drama at the video store that would have engaged me more, tugged at my heart strings, and offered me more teaching? I don't think so. And what's up on the movie marquee of your life today? Comedy, tragedy, drama?
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.