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.
Friday, October 15, 2010
Water, impermanent, empty and essential
It's blog action day today and the topic is water. When you live on an island as I do, water is never very far from your thoughts or sight. In many ways we take it for granted, at least its potential for great beauty. On an island water also feels enveloping, protective, sometimes. It creates community by its definitive boundaries. Islanders sometimes lament the difficulty of getting places and acquiring goods and services. In these instances water is experienced as an inconvenience. Islanders like nothing better that to have a good ol' grumble about ferry service.
And on this island, on rural properties we need to pay attention to water, to be mindful. We get our water from a well. We flush it into a septic system. More than in a city, we need to pay attention to water quality when we choose somewhere to live. In some places here, you can run out of water in the summer, your water can have too much sulphur or arsenic.
We learn to be more mindful of how we use water and more careful of what we put down the drain. We can suffer by our own hand if we ignore either of these things. And great joy comes from having delicious, untreated well water. The taste is incomparable and even after a short time here I find myself turning up my nose at city water.
But as I am always apt to think of the spiritual qualities of things, what of water? One of the spiritual attributes of water is its cleansing quality. Symbolically and in the physical realm water is useful in washing things away, for purification. Water is a key to life. It is one of the essential offerings on Buddhist alters. In looking at the many ways we can view water I am reminded of how everything is moving and changing (the Buddhist idea of impermanence). There are many ways to think of water. I am reminded of emptiness, in that we can't define the particular, singular nature of water. It is many things and these things morph with our position and point of view. Water is not as solid (or is that liquid?) as we might at first imagine.
There are many more profound thoughts on water out there today on blog action day, than mine, many more socially engaged thoughts about water and the suffering around the world caused by it's lack, the environmental concerns associated with our the lack of care, greed and self centredness indulged in by humans. But I will leave those topics to those who are more informed on the subject. These are just a few simple thoughts on water. May it wash away your suffering. May it nourish and cleanse you in many ways. May all sentient beings be blessed with the gift of clean, fresh water.
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.