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?


  1. The quotes are so wonderfully linked - like a blossom opening. Dharma is about how we relate to dukkha - resonates. Looking forward to hearing about the metta retreat!

  2. Your post reminds me so much of how important resting in Awareness is - the awareness of our darkness and our Light/Buddha Nature; our unsettledness and our joi de vivre... I had a "dukkha day" yesterday as well, and in the end the only thing that mattered was just being with it, allowing it, letting it play itself out. Like you said, discovering that it's all okay - discovering that you/we can still fly when those dark clouds appear - learning to ride those balloons. :) All we are, we are...
    Bows of loving kindness to you - Ms. "Pippi" :) Christine

  3. oh my, i love this painting, carole...

  4. I love this new direction your work is taking- into a more personal realm, it seems. Just looking at it coveys everything you said in your post. It's full of emotion, very expressive. Just wonderful!

  5. Genju- Thanks Genju, hope your garden weekend was good!

    Christine - yeah those Dukkha days, maybe we could have a dukkha party?? With balloons and all

    lynne- That means alot coming from the lovely creek people creator!

    Shrmon - Thanks, feedback and encouragement are good. Trouble is I've been spending loads of time in the garden and not so much time in the studio!

  6. Hello...I'm new. The painting is wonderful but, the writing is what really, really spoke to me. Especially this phrase. "Still She noticed she could fly in the thin air of joy" Thank you!

  7. At first glance your painting appears to be delicate, but after reading your post the power of it is unmistakable! The writing and the painting go hand in hand and I enjoyed them.

  8. Mary - Welcome! And thank-you, yes I am drawn to words a lot and I always thought I had to choose between writing and visual art. My daughter just turned me on to a book called "Refuse To Choose" written for people who have multiple passions. It's interesting stuff.

    Eva- Thanks for the feedback, always meaningful as I love your work and your exploratory sesne.