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.
Thursday, December 23, 2010
I am reading a lovely little book by Dzigar Kongtrul, called "Light Comes Through". Seemed an appropriate title for Solstice, don't you think? I also thought it was seasonally appropriate as he talks about the practice of rejoicing. Rejoicing he says is the antidote to jealousy. He suggests jealousy is the grossest of emotions, so easy to see, so it is the easiest to work with. "The jealous mind", he says, "wants what others have, be it physical attributes, wealth, intelligence, someone else's spouse, their job, status, spiritual accomplishments, and so on. Because it focuses on what it doesn't have, it feels impoverished and discontented all the time."
Personally I like the idea of an antidote. Take some poison, how about an antidote? We used to talk about this in the Zen tradition I sat with. They did not actively work with the mind in this way. There were a number of us who asked, well if you have unwholesome habits of mind, don't you need to retrain the mind? Dzigar Kongtrul responds to this by saying, "jealousy is habitual, which means that even though we have investigated the harm it can do and the merits of overcoming it -- even if we are completely convinced -- it will still rise up again out of habit.... Rejoicing is simply feeling happy when something fortunate or beneficial happens to someone other than ourselves...We can find so many ways to rejoice and so many things to rejoice in.... we simply share in the joy of others' virtue... When someone becomes a vegetarian (yay) or donates money to a charitable organization we can rejoice... We can also rejoice in the beauty of the world... We need to ask ourselves, "Why does it always have to be my joy? Why is it so hard to delight in the joy of others? The positivity of rejoicing practice releases within us the qualities of intelligence, selflessness, generosity, patience, strength, and good-heartedness... We use this practice to deliberately shape the mind to work for us."
At this time of year in many ways there is a turning toward this generosity of spirit so it seems the perfect time (but isn't anytime?) to engage in the practice of rejoicing. And if we turn our mind in this direction, it becomes apparent how much there is on the horizon or right in front of our pointy little noses (speaking to the pointy nosed little self) to rejoice in. I often notice how my mood is altered when I make a slightly disparaging comment about someone or something. Energetically I can feel how life force is depleted instead of life enhanced. So here is an opportunity to approach things from the other side of the proverbial pasture and rejoice, to support the life force by rejoicing. What will you rejoice in today?
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.