Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Inspirations for making art

I enjoy combining art and meditation at Birken Forest Monastery where I am soon to go for a 10 day retreat.  In my experience these two forces come from the same part of the mind that enables me to understand the nuance and metaphor in the Journey Oracle.  The quiet, non-thinking part.  So here are phrases of inspiration that I plan to explore with my meditation into art.

The body's path

Blind contour drawing creates a slowing down.  The hand must follow the eye moving over the form--not ever looking down at the paper.  No racing ahead to see what's next, no opportunity for judgments.  Just like meditation slows the mind down so it can ultimately see itself.


When I let the form that is mostly empty emerge from the ground that is mostly full, I trust that the material which is paper, and the idea which is bone, have a goodness of fit.   Just like trusting when meditating that what I am striving to become is already present within me. 


In drawing sometimes the effort isn't in adding marks but in lifting these away.  Just like the true quiet of the mind is always present, and over time words gradually lift away to reveal the form of it's silence. 

The Pattern

My life is filled with choices that direct my conscious actions from an unconscious well of patterns.   How strong to make the mark, how much pressure to apply, how much space to involve.   Patterns only partially intuited, just like the versions of aggression,  ignorance and desire that shape the patterns of my resistance to inner peace.

The Story

Sometimes art is in the way a moment comes together--the materials, the idea, the drawing, the feelings--to make the narrative of a bigger lesson,  

After I drew this apple during my last meditation retreat, I wrote this in my journal,
I kept wanting a finer more majestic paper to draw on but these humble sheets just kept smiling and tuning their bright white faces up to receive the ink.  In the light of such willingness how could I judge them as unworthy.

Of all the art I did during that visit--this drawing and my thoughts about the paper told the best story of our impermanent, insubstantial world, and of how nothing matters and yet everything is important.  

Thursday, September 3, 2015

I hit a young deer

I hit a young deer two days ago.  Because I have no photographs of this story, I am adding three images of making a gift of tobacco and breath to a tree. The lesson from the young deer feels as big as this tree.

I am driving home from a wedding--telling myself stories about how profound and beautiful it all was--and not paying attention.  A young deer jumps from the roadside ditch and there I am--not paying attention.  A solid thud and the deer is lying on the wet pavement in spasms of jerking movement.  Surely it is dying.

Because this is Cortes Island and traffic is rare after the last ferry in the early still-bright evening, I stop my car in the middle of the road and move its young body into my lane away from anyone else coming.  I sit on the pavement with him, holding his head in my palms so he will not die with his face against the asphalt, but he does not die.

We just sit there, this small animal with little swelling bumps where horns would have some day grown--and an old lady sad but not crying, not trying to do anything but be there.  Several people drive by, each one asking what happened, what needs helping.  I say we are fine.  We don't need anything.  By this time the young deer is watching me.  I am thinking death is coming soon, and because I make drums I am wondering if I will be able to get the deer's body into the trunk of my car so at least my skill can serve his spirit with another form.

A young man passes by on a bike, gets off and joins us.  He manages to carry the deer to the long wet grass by the side of the road so I can move my car in the darkening gloom.  The young man, the deer and I stay together beside the road for what seems like quite a while--the humans crouched in the wet, the deer lying with legs outstretched and spasms of shivers running along its muscles. There is nothing obviously broken, certainly some scrapes and cuts but no blood and no bones showing. But I think the shock has been too much and now the deer's life is surely passing away in the subsiding tremors.

Someone stops and asks if we want a knife.  I say to the young man,"Which would you rather choose? To die here in the cool wet grass in the fading light, or have your throat cut?"  We decide none of us wants a knife.  We become aware our petting the deer like a pet cat or dog is probably not being understood in the same way by this wild creature.  First assaulted by an unimaginable thing, then moved twice and now held in place with alien smells and sounds and touch.  The young man makes a hollow beside a hydro pole on the other side of the ditch and carries the now actively struggling young deer to it.  The deer is lying in the bed with legs tucked under its belly and holding its head up.

Later at home I read about what I possibly should have done when I hit a deer.  Yet in this one small instance I think what we all did was correct. The humans did not panic or try to fix anything so the deer could receive death, or life, in its own way.  The next morning while driving slowly by I could not resist looking into the hollow place by the pole.  I saw that it was empty.