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.
Tuesday, June 28, 2011
How Simple Are You?
Have I posted a picture of my repainted Zendo (which is really code for a living room with no furniture)? We lightened it up a while ago from a browny, pink colour to a soft green, a testament to how a paint colour can change a room. But really all this chat stand in for the fact that I don't have any artwork to post. However I can report that the little outbuilding that will become, at least my summer studio, is almost clean, after removing several vaccum loads of sawdust from it. Now all that's left is the wall washing and moving in. I am not convinced the roof holds water, so I will move in a tentative kind of way. The old workshop lends a new meaning to "living roof" with it's several inches of moss on cedar shakes. We'll see.
Meanwhile I have time to post as I twisted my ankle in an act of over zealous gardening around the studio building. Is this my body restoring some balance to my life? "If you won't sit down, I'll sit you down." But then sometimes a twisted ankle is just a twisted ankle.
And so I got to watch myself feeling a bit bummed out about this enforced couch potatoing I've done today. I get to see my busy, agenda setting self, sidelined. It's not a bad thing to be reminded of your tendency to want to barrel through things, your impatience for a finished product. It's a good thing to look at habits that are not altogether wholesome and be reminded there are other ways.
I gathered drawing things and dharma talks and some Shamanic journey things I've been reading but in truth I ended up doing a lot of dozing and not that much else, a couple of small sketches, a half slept through dharma talk on creativity by Tenzin Wangyal Rinpoche that you can find here. But by this evening I am letting go of all the expectations of how things "should" go.
On Friday we went to hear Jim Merkel, author of "Radical Simplicity" speak and I must admit all the talk of downsizing and living on $5000 a year made me feel squirmy, guilty and uncomfortable at first. Oh no I've moved to the country, I need to drive everywhere. Oh no we wanted a smaller house, but couldn't find one we liked. After judgmental mind quieted down I realized we do a lot of things Jim recommends to improve your ecological footprint. We are mostly vegan, we grow our own veg (make that, we're trying to grow our own veg, it's been a bad yr on the coast, no radishes, can you imagine??) We don't go into town everyday and mostly do a bunch of errands, and there's not much shopping to lure you in here. One of the reasons for coming here. Errands done in 1/2 an hour. Other things that contribute to a simpler life here are the lack of places to eat out and a choice to not hook up to TV, that visual crack box.
After feeling guilty about renos that were done mostly to please my aesthetic sense, I realized there are more things we can do to reduce our ecological footprint, mostly small things that constitute thinking before we buy things. Do I need that soft tie for my tomato plants? No, I can rip small pieces of an old tea towel to do the same job. I can make sure we pick more blackberries for the freezer this summer, dry some apple rings. Do I really need that new sweater?
I like his reminder that when you are buying something, you might consider the life blood of the person that went into to making it (and in "Your Money or Life" style, think about your own life energy that it took to supply the $$ to buy it). This idea reminded me a lot of the Buddhist idea of interdependence which Thich Nhat Hanh is so famous for describing. When you look at a slice of bread on your plate, think of all the people it took to make it, the person that planted, cared for and harvested the wheat, the person who took it to the flour mill, the people that ground the grain into flour, the people who baked the bread, the people that transported it to the grocery store, the clerk who stocked the shelf, the cashier who rang it up and popped it in your bag. It took all these folks to get this simple slice of bread to your plate. We don't often think of this or feel grateful for their part in our slice of bread.
So that's where the Dharma went this week for me. How about you?
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.