Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Thinking About Hope (and a little art)

Here's a new little 8"x8" Buddha called "Buddha In The Sky With Diamonds".  I would have been more short winded if the Beatles had treated Lucy with more brevity.  That's my excuse and I'm sticking to it.  I have been sneaking a little more painting time this week, stealing time from the garden (a thief with paint & garden dirt on their jeans).  I have been so inspired by the wonderful art blogs out there (Lynne Hoppe, Michele Meister and on and on) that the studio is calling louder than the neighbours roosters.   And this weekend we took in some live art.  First we went to a "Art Off The Fence" on Pender Island with some friends.  The weather was stellar, there was great art and the location was stunning.  Here's a little peek.

When I typed the file name I realized I called it Art Offence.  I am guilty of a few of these!

And as a small diversion, we decided to capture Mt. Baker for Canada. It seemed so close, officer, we thought it must be ours.  So we raised the flag, passed go and took a "get out of jail free" card.

We also took in The Sooke Fine Arts Show which was totally amazing.  The quality of the work was incredible.  I was totally smitten by the encaustic monk done by Marlowe Jaxen.  It sounds a bit like the monk had terminal illness, but all you artists know what I'm talking about.

And of course there was Dharma chat with Dharma friends.  The topic flying around my old Sangha these days is one surrounding "hope".  In conventional terms we think of "hope" as something positive, something we should cultivate, right?  At first sniff, hope smells quite pleasant but when you breath a little more deeply you catch the scent of something slightly off.  The Oxford dictionary defines hope as "expectation combined with desire."  Hmm, from a Buddhist point of view, we're not starting with the best recipe ingredients, are we?  Hope implies something we want in the future.  It may be something perfectly wonderful, like world peace or a new subaru station wagon.  And baked into that hope are the seeds of suffering, if we don't get what we want.

Pema Chodron says something like, "we bounce back and forth between hope and fear", this is the common human state.  When we hope we may also feel afraid that we won't get what we hope for.  And then there is the disappointment when we don't get what we hope for, which inevitably happens if we're filling our shopping baskets with a list of hopes.  And after a while we feel the bruise of all this bouncing back and forth.  In fact we may feel like a human bruise.

This does not negate that in this everyday life we need to have plans and aspirations.  And of course our lives are filled with the activity needed to bring these things to fruition.  But what we're really aiming for is to accept what happens along the way.  We plan to go on holiday but then mom gets sick.  We aspire to be a better parent and then we goof up.

We want to be mindful of where we're aiming ourselves and take the necessary actions. We don't want to stand there like Dorothy with our eyes closed, clicking our heels together, hoping that we'll get to Kansas.  Hope may not be our best strategy.  I hope you know what I mean.


  1. Firstly, LOVE your new Buddha painting, and it's title--most appropriate! Art off the Fence sounds like a great gathering. Hope... it's an expression that's used a lot, isn't it. And I've been "guilty" of using it at times too. I can relate to Pema's bouncing back & forth between hope and fear. I've been in that ping-pong like state. "expectation combined with desire"...two words in there that don't seem very Buddhist, do they? ;o) I find in my own practice that keeping a closer watch on focus and intention has been higher on the radar. I don't want to close my eyes anymore and wait to get to Kansas without being present. :o)

  2. Thanks, Tracy for your kind words. Lots of opportunity for practice in Norway these days! Yes, intention is a big one, isn't it? And combined with awareness a very powerful tonic!

  3. Your Buddha's title is very clever!
    I'm claiming Mnt Baker for Canada with you! I've been ignoring my poor garden this year as hubby promised to look after it while I paint. I just close my eyes to his way of doing things and listen to the hummingbirds shower in our fountain.
    We are hoping to get to the Denman Island open studio show on Aug 13 & 14th.

  4. I seem to be shifting over from 80% garden and 20% painting to 80% painting! Not quite sure how the shift happened but it's all good!

    Okay what's that song "first we take Manhattan, then Mt Baker.... hmm.

    Love Denman! did an art class there last summer and stayed in a B&B. It was fabulous. Hope you make it to the SSI market, maybe we can meet up!

  5. I also try to figure out how to balance time and work in my gardens with time and work in my studio-- there are times that it seems like the gardens are never ending- always so much to do outside and so much to do in my studio... and then this past week I realized that I LOVE my gardens too... I no longer look at them like they are taking up too much time or stealing time away from my studio..I love the meditative aspect of weeding or pruning - the creative aspect of moving a rock or shrub.. the gardens balance and support my efforts in my studio and vice verse .. so there may be times you are in your studio more and there may be times you are in your gardens more-- all balanced in the end.

  6. layers- wise words! yes, the garden is creative work and a labour of love, a creation of beauty. And it does make sense that we in the northern hemisphere would do our outside creative work in the summer! And yes I think you are right that it all balances out in the end.

    Happy gardening in your beautiful space.

  7. Great title! Stunning Buddha! Can't help but feel that it really is a self portrait of your radiant Self :) Glad you are listening to "the call" of your art - giving expression... Your excursions sound inspiring...

    With regard to "hope." I found this quote on a blog recently and it seemed appropriate here:

    "Embracing your wholeness is the greatest gift you can give to others. Being sustained fully as you are right now, leaves you empty of grasping (?hoping) to the world to fill yourself up. Being already full, you are free to just be yourself, as you are, moment to moment. When you don't need anything from the world, or from other people, everything you do is service." Christine Wushke - Journey to Light.

    Not that I do this very well, which is probably why the quote spoke to me :)

  8. Your Buddha is so beautiful and the colours warm and wonderful !
    Your words about 'hope' are sooooooooo right and wise ....the problem also I find from all that hope you might forget to be grateful for what you have today !! :) But hope is of course also a motor for us humans to evolve ....
    And thank you so much also for mentioning my blog ( I feel very honoured :)

  9. The outdoor art events look splendid. I guess there wasn't much wind and those works on easels were safe.

    Your words on hope, fear, bruising and dorothy's heels were all a good reminder for me that time is more present than future.

    I always love the textures and layers that you achieve in your art works.

  10. Mystic - Hope you are well! Thanks for the wonderful quote.

    Michele - Thanks for you kinds words and your inspiring work!

    Gallery J - Yes it was a lovely calm day for the art show. Rather magical as the weather here as not been very summery. Yes hope is a tricky thing! And thanks! Will have to hop over and see what you've been creating.

  11. I love your painting and the title is wonderful.

    Great reflection on hope and what this really means. I never thought of it this way before, and now that you've explained it, I can see how it is problematic, how it keeps us from focusing on the present. I think I I have collapsed the term with "faith" - like I have faith that things will turn out / I hope that things will turn out. But as I was reading this, I could see the longing of it - which takes away the acceptance of what it.

    Thank you for sharing these thoughts with us!

  12. I can see Mt Baker from another perspective on a clear day too....I didn't notice the Canadian flag last I looked....Being right here right now is something I flow in and out of....that's the way it is. Reading your words is a reminder to be present.

  13. first... gosh, i am completely honored! and second, i love this buddha... it feels jewel-like to me.

    oh, the hope word! this has long been a 'thing' with me... the word just seems to get stuck in my throat. yet "hope this finds you well" is such an easy (and seemingly good) way to end a letter or e-mail... so sometimes i use it. then i go back to "i trust this finds you well". oh me oh my...

    i think pema's right and i think you're right. we begin to feel bruised from all this bouncing around between hope and fear. i do not want to feel bruised. i want to BE....