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, June 10, 2011
Being A Bigger Container
The mixed media piece to the left is something a little different for me as I explore the creative ether, exploring being present and combining with what the materials suggest and what comes to me. Waiting and watching for what resonates. There is Dharma in there. But then there is Dharma in everything if we're willing to look, don't you think? This piece combines images and words, something I am strongly drawn to. I love words and how we can mix them together so I have tossed my little Dharma poem into the mix.
Do you see Pippi there soaring upwards? This is the brave heart, the strong core of inner strength (RM Jiyu from the Order of Buddhist Contemplatives called it our Iron Being). I see this in Pippi Longstockings who is a bit of a personal hero to me. We all need heros to inspire us, don't you think, the vision to draw us onward? And we all need to cultivate that inner confidence. Chogyam Trungpa used to talk about "having a strong back and a tender heart."
And of course there is the inevitable cloud that comes to us in this human realm. Dukkha anyone? I've got some lovely latte coloured dukkha in the cloud.
And the Dharma in it is about how we relate to dukkha. I was having a dukkha day yesterday. Feeling like I was being revisited by a cold I had a few weeks ago. A grey cloud followed me around colouring everything. This is an old pattern of relating to unwellness for me: aversion. I did the best I could, but there was a kind of skirmish going on between me and my dukkha. And at the end of the day as I lay in bed, it came to me that it was all okay, that I could embrace everything,, even the darkness. I could be tender toward my feeling unwell AND toward my aversion to feeling unwell. Joko Beck calls it "being a bigger container."
And my painting is about this really, the experience of holding it all. I don't know if you can read the words. Upper left in the cloud, it says "Rain Wept Buckets On Her New Dress" "A Mushroom Cloud of Tears" There it is Dukkha, or unsatisfactoriness, the stuff we don't want. And then there is our attachment to what we want (or want to push away) that causes suffering, our wanting things to be a certain way, the second noble truth . Next line of text is about this: "Played The Umbilical Chord of Desire".
And text in the lower right: "Still She noticed she could fly in the thin air of joy" which of course is about our letting go which we can't do by our own will, but happens if we lay the fertile ground and cultivate it through our spiritual practice: the fruits of practice.
I did a Metta Retreat last weekend at the divinely beautiful Stowel Lake Farm. I will share that next time around. Until then may the peace of holding both your strength and frailties be with you. Is that the "force", Luke?
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.