It’s going to be a spatter week! Oh and, Joseph… note the white balance! I’m too embarrassed to explain why I wasn’t getting the right effect for all the advice I was getting. But that’s the problem, isn’t it? There are subtleties in the join-these-dots-please of a teaching I tend to be oblivious to.
The nuances of getting the ink to spatter was one of those moments. However, it ended up being a good lesson about the physics of objects in motion and letting go of how I think something should happen. And it lead me down a rabbit hole about mass, velocity, and attaining enlightenment. If I recall, mass X velocity = momentum. Which says a lot about the effect of my surplus baggage on sustaining momentum in anything I’m doing – mental or physical – including getting enlightened. One of the excess bags is the one that I call Wishfulness. It carries the shoulda’s, woulda’s, and what if’s. (The coulda’s are in the Resentment bag.) It gets heavy at times, these moments of wanting a second chance – or even a better first chance.
Here’s a nice piece from Joko Beck’s Everyday Zen:
To some degree we all find life difficult, perplexing, and oppressive. Even when it goes well, as it may for a time, we worry that it probably won’t keep on that way….Nobody believes his or her life is perfect. And yet there is something within each of us that basically knows we are boundless, limitless. We are caught in the contradiction of finding life a rather perplexing puzzle which causes us a lot of misery, and at the same time being dimly aware of the boundless, limitless nature of life. So we begin looking for an answer to the puzzle.
Joko points out that we tend to look outside ourselves – that bigger car, higher salary, better vacations, and so on. These are the “if onlies” that we go through hoping for a resolution to the puzzle of feeling our suffering and intuiting our boundlessness.
First of all, we wear out those (if onlies) on the gross levels. Then we shift our search to more subtle levels…we turn to a spiritual discipline. Unfortunately we tend to bring to this new search the same orientation as before…. “If only I could understand what realization is all about, I would be happy.”
Enlightenment is not something you achieve. It is the absence of something. All your life you have been going forward after something, pursuing some goal. Enlightenment is dropping all that.
I’m getting the sense that just dropping off those excess bags at the Salvation Army is not enough. Velocity has to drop off too. A full stop? It suddenly occurs to me that the velocity of the ink is most powerful when the brush comes to a sudden stop on the paper.
That’s an interesting conclusion. When we are always moving about staying busy it’s hard to make a good expression on the brush paper of our life, because the paper and the brush and the ink are themselves space and lack of distraction. We can’t find this space for genuine expression until we stop the endless running.
Craig, I see so much running as a way to keep from feeling intense emotions like anger. May I invite you to say something about that from your work?
Responding to Joko’s statement about how we begin serious practice . . . I was 54 when I came up with breast cancer. It was the first time I realized I could die soon, now, not have another 20 or 30 years. I was desperate, no longer cared about anything but living. Said, I’ve got to do something. I began a healing meditation I had read about in a book I edited. Every single day. Fiercely made myself. So. It was a kind of spiritual materialism, I did want something. But it was “life and death is the great matter.” I bet the first book I bought was “When Things Fall Apart.” What, stay with falling apart? What an outrageous idea. Maybe your wild spatter is a promising condition.
Jeanne, I may be wrong but I don’t think that was spiritual materialism. We have an innate leaning toward survival. When distress, ill, out of balance, we do what we have to. In your case, you doubled the effort of practice. Others double their effort in running away from their reality. I remember when I was diagnosed with fibromyalgia in the first year I began my private practice (it was also my first “real” job!). As you say, I “fiercely” made myself dig into the healing practice. And although I might have “wanted” to heal, I learned very quickly that what I wanted wasn’t going to make the difference. How I practiced was.
Wild spatter, indeed! 😉
“Fiercely” was a good word. I remember another Zenner commenting to me on how seriously I took practice. (I don’t drink.) I said in all seriousness, “I practice as if my hair were on fire.” I’d read that somewhere. My friend looked at me as if to decide whether I was crazy or kidding. Nope. (I have settled down somewhat since.)
Full moon tomorrow. I’m expecting a spectacular enso.
😆 Hair on fire is in one of the sutras, I believe. You may want to write a post called “Fierce Fire!”
You know, I startled when I read your last sentence: Aieee… what if the enso disappoints her! Funny because I was going to post from Joko’s essay on aspiration vs expectation. Instead, I think I shall just go set my hair on fire!
I did read this the other day, sorry I didn’t comment until now! *^^*
Personally, I learn much better when I’m shown something and could explain it much better if I could show you in person!!
Just an idea… Have you tried photographing them back-lit? I put some drawings against a sunny window before to photograph them and they really came to life!
The photos you’ve been posting are beautiful, by the way!
Thanks, Joseph. I’ll try that. I’ve been playing with the manual function but over-exposing them picks up the red or blue of the supporting material. Working on it!