Wednesday, December 31, 2008

To Forget The Self

One of my favourite things to do on New Year's Eve is look back at the old year.  Somehow doing that helps ground me before I look forward to my hopes and aspirations for the coming year.  This has been a big year for me.  As my friend and raw food chef Jim Maurice (check him out at refers to it, I have had a "health opportunity" this year.  It has helped me look more deeply at my life, about what really matters and reminded me to do some things when my natural position is to avoid the difficult and procrastinate.  Toward the end of the year I found a helpful stance.  "Don't take yourself so seriously, relax and do it (whatever was on my mind).  Abandon perfectionism and self doubt, and over thinking.  
I think of  the mixed media work shown here as a bit dark.... a stiff and bandaged figure (that's gauze bandages that form this being).  The background is formed by the words of Zen master Dogen "To study the self, is to know the self, to know the self is to forget the self, to forget the self is to be enlightened by the ten thousand things."  This work sums up the "self" for me.  As my Zen teacher would say we are such vulnerable little creatures, silly little creatures sometimes.... so painfully self centred, touchy and self protective most of the time.  But there you have it the human condition....We are all in this same boat together.  So when someone does something that offends or annoys it is so helpful to remember that just like us they are trying to be happy, just like us they are doing the best they can.  Now there is our work...trying to loosen the grip of this little self, increasing our kindness and compassion in difficult situations.  (It's easy to be nice when things are going well!)
So while it has been a difficult year for me in many ways it has been one of the most fruitful, with so much learning  happening at a deep experiential level.  Recently I read somewhere that when we can see experiences that we would normally reject as "medicine for healing" we will embrace them in the same way as those things we find desirable.

So in saying good bye to the old year I would like to mention the passing of local artist Jimmy Wright, who I only spoke to on a few occasions but I found myself deeply touched by his passing.  I loved his huge iconic polar bears and bulls (after all I am a Taurus).  When I heard he had died I felt a real sense of loss that there would not be any more new Jimmy Wright polar bears born into the world.  And in closing my thoughts for the new year are taken from a friend who has had an enlightening health challenge of her own.  I can't express a better way to approach life in any year.  Eden's little prayer is  "Please don't let me take anything personally and I'm just glad to be here."  May we all find the wisdom to live from that place in 2009.  Be well, be happy!  Be present for your life!

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Post Apocalyptic Buddhist Graffiti

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This is a recent work and feels like my response to what is going on in the world.  With all the economic turmoil in the world this fall I felt the clamouring of people in so many places that "the sky is falling", people that normally seem unphased by things or usually hopeful.   It always seems to me that the dramatic and intense coverage of  issues by the media fuels so much fear in people  How much "news" is created to sell a paper, to get people to tune in to yet another newscast?  What is real, what is illusion?    Yet I am weirdly hopeful.  Some things need to fall away so they can make room for new more wholesome things.  Somehow it feels like that's what is happening.  Birth is not without it's trauma and dangers, a time of passage.

So the scrawl and colour tension in this painting express the angst I feel around me, the chaos and fear that is palpable.  The words on the canvas are hopeful words from the Dalai Lama's from a piece called "This Precious Life" which encourage us to work with our everyday lives: 

Every day, think as you wake up, today I am fortunate to have woken up.  I am alive.  I have a precious human life. I am not going to waste it. I am going to use all my energies to develop myself, to expand my heart out to others, to achieve enlightenment for the benefit of all beings.  I am going to have kind thougths towards others.  I am not going to get angry or think badly about others.  I am going to benefit others as much as I can.

May 2009 bring great joy, happiness & health to you.  May it be a year rich with learning and life.  This is my wish for you.