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.
Monday, July 4, 2011
"The Eye As The Lens Of The Heart"
Last week as I nursed a fat ankle caused by some Samurai gardening, I pulled out my copy of "The Zen of Seeing" by Frederick Franck. It doesn't get any better in my mind than when art and Dharma get mixed together, or should I say merged, because Franck joins the two in such a seamless way that you'd wonder why we ever thought they were two separate things.
His work always makes me think if you weren't inclined to draw but loved the Dharma, Franck could convince you that you must get your pencil out. And if you love drawing, it is not much of a stretch to nod in agreement as Franck turns it all into a spiritual experience.
I particularly like how he views Zen (or you can extrapolate his point of view to any spiritual practice, I think). Listen to him: " This eye is the lens of the heart open to the world, My hand follows its seeing..... There is no split between a man's being, his art and what one might call his "religion" unless there is a split in the man"
And because he calls his book "The Zen of Seeing" Franck feels the need to clarify this thing he calls "Zen". He starts by offering us a quote from, Dogen, the 13th century Sage who is regarded as the father of Soto Zen: "Whosoever speaks of Zen as if it were a Buddhist sect or school of thought is a devil." hmmm..
Franck goes on to ask, "What is Zen?"
Here's his answer.
Zen is: being in touch with the inner workings of life.
Zen is: life that knows it is living.
Zen is: this moment speaking as time and as eternity
Zen is seeing into the nature of things, inside and outside of myself.
Zen is: when all living things of the Earth open their eyes wide and look me in the eye....
He goes on to talk about how this experiential approach to reality has been repressed, especially in the west, but that mystics and artists have always been in touch with it.
Oh, and by the way if the advertising world has convinced you in any way that Zen is a kind of soap, a perfume, a pair of jeans, an energy drink, or a style of baby furniture made by Fisher Price, you might want to reconsider that.
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.