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, December 31, 2010
One at the Beginning, One at the End
After a lovely day of wandering the island and having a mini feast that we conjured up in the new kitchen ( a little red pepper homous, sun dried tomato tapenade, Moroccan lentil soup, some raw olives, a few dolmades ... you're getting the feasting picture!) we are preparing to join Peter in his alternative new year's celebration. We have lit the fire in the Zendo (first time), have some candles and my singing bowl waiting to ring 108 times (alas, no bell). And then a we will each write something we want to let go of and toss it into the fire and then for a few sips of something bubbly at midnight.
But as I sat down to write in my journal, I found something I wanted to share with you, a little new year's offering. It's a quote I'd copied in March from my daughter's copy of "Taking The Leap' by Pema Chodron, something that had impressed me enough to scrawl into my journal. Perhaps it's a good way to send off the old year and step over the threshold of the new one??
"In the Buddhist teachings on compassion there's a practice called "one at the beginning, and one at the end." When I wake up in the morning, I do this practice. I make an aspiration for the day... I try not to make it too grandiose ... I begin with a clear intention and then I go about the day with this in mind. In the evening I review what happened. This is the part that can be so loaded for Western people. We have an unfortunate tendency to emphasize our failure. But when Dzigar Kongrul teaches about this, he says that for him when he sees that he has connected with his aspiration even once briefly during the whole day he feels a sense of rejoicing. He also says that when he recognizes he lost it completely, he rejoices that he has the capacity to see that. This way of viewing ourselves has been very inspiring for me. He encourages us to ask what it is in us, after all, that sees that we lost it. Isn't it our own wisdom, our own insight, our own natural intelligence? "
"Can we just have the aspiration, then to identify with the wisdom that acknowledges that we hurt someone's feelings or that we smoked when we said we wouldn't? Can we have the aspiration to identify more and more with our ability to recognize what we're doing instead of always identifying with our mistakes? This is the spirit of delighting in what we see rather than despairing in what we see. It's the spirit of letting compassionate self-reflection build confidence rather than becoming a cause for depression." - Pema Chodron, from "Taking the Leap"
Here is my wish for us all for 2011, that we might "feel that sense of rejoicing when we connect even briefly with our aspirations, that we identify with our wisdom and natural intelligence and that we develop the "spirit of delighting in what we see." Bows to you all for your good company on this journey.
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.