Art as Offering

For the last 3 + years I have been adding pictures of the sunrise to Facebook, Twitter and more recently Instagram. I live on the beach in south Florida and it has always been an impetus to share this view and some inspiring quotes.... some meaningful, some funny but always inspired by the mood making itself known that morning. Earlier this year I decided to make a book about some of these moments and used the book "Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance" as a jumping off point for my title, "Zen and the Art of the Sunrise". I self-published the book and put it on Amazon. Though I have a great support system of friends, the book has not done well. I keep thinking and hoping it will do better but it is what it is. I wonder if I somehow missed the point that this is an offering in the midst of the "doing" to make this thing a published event. I wonder if I focused too much on what it meant for me to have an ISBN and lost where it was always about sharing and offering.

Recently I was listening to a great show on On Being with Krista Tippett with Matthew Sanford, a yoga instructor in MN. He talks about an accident that took away his ability to walk. Ultimately the interview is about his ability to reconnect with his body. The impetus is exploring what trauma, physical or mental, does to the body and how sometimes, as the result of traumas, we disconnect our minds and bodies. Now bear with me here because this connection is a long shot but it hit me like a ton of bricks. I have listened to the show three times to work through this revelation. I have an absolute disconnect in Mind and Body. I think one of the ways I work through this is by doing art. But in the end, art can be very intellectual. What if the connection between the mind and the body happen as an offering? What if living or art becomes the offering and it pushes the emotion outwards? I strongly believe that we work through personal belief systems and create a visual language in our own practice of art and the moment we are able to transcend the egotistic self our vision becomes universal. It becomes something that may benefit others. It becomes that offering, something that is shared or adopted and made into something else and hopefully something more.

In the face of the fear and rejection and the emotional rehash of traumas and beauty, the moment the artist's work becomes universal is the moment they surrender it outwards. There is a tenuous thread here that matters and it feels connected to something deeper and more universal. Maybe that is why it can be healing. I have always wondered why art is revered, protected and placed on a pedestal throughout the ages and it does not support Food, Shelter, Sex (a minimization of Maslow's hierarchy of needs). Why is it that we look to the humanities to solve the big questions? It is such a shared experience and it happened with the cavemen, Plato and it happens with the us in the now.

What if art connects as an offering and the moment the artist (writer, musician, philosopher, yoga instructor, etc...) let's go, it goes into the universal space where we are all existing? Maybe it transcends the object and becomes transcendent? It causes us to emote, react, to think and feel. Sometimes it is uncomfortable and sometimes it is dis-jarring, but always when the connection is made, it rearranges something in us.

I think of Matthew Sanford's place on the mat using yoga as his voice and I can only think that his re-connection to Mind and Body is art and it is empowering to me to explore where I am broken. And that is truly a powerful message.

~ b

 

Links for inspiration:

On Being: About >>

Matthew Sanford Interview "The Body's Grace" >>

Matthew Sanford's amazing book: "Waking"

"The Train": A thought-provoking movie on protecting art in the time of war IMDB >>

 

Not Leaning Forward or Backward

 

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Being present, in the moment and not furiously looking at ways to control the future is so much harder than it seems. What if you are asking yourself, "What is next?" or maybe you are trying to define a new path that is different from the one you have been on. All of the external messages reinforce the notion of being present and/or having faith that things will work out. My nature is competitive. I want to move forward and that leads to a state of discontent. Is there a balance for people that believe action gets things done and the wisdom of keying in to the present? How can we take a step into the now without reaching for the future or leaning into the past?

There is a concept in Buddhism named dhuka and it roughly translates to suffering. As a society we are constantly try to numb an ever present dissatisfaction by turning to things around us or craving things we don't have to silence this feeling. But what if we sit with it? Identify if? Maybe we can poke at it like a bruise and not shy away from it. Numbing ourselves in front if the TV or shopping for unnecessary objects are great examples of dhukha. To dive deeper into that a little bit, dhukha causes dhukha; suffering causes suffering. Once our issues or cravings are identified and explored they start to lose their power. Maybe once that inward journey is activated then we can be more fully okay with ourselves, at peace with how things are, right now. The now is not craving. The now is present.

On the flip side is sukha, happiness not shadowed by craving or aversion. It is a state where we are not confusing emotions like desire or nostalgia. This state of balance is considered enlightenment. It is at this point of realization and this defining moment when after his searching and introspection, Siddhartha Gautama became Buddha. He saw in that moment where he no longer craved. He was no longer reaching, searching and exploring, there was no clinging - no aversion or delusion. This led to freedom and with it the knowledge that it is an inherent state of humans.

Ultimately we strive to be a witness to ourselves without passing judgment. When we sit in meditation there are glimpses of this witness. There is no judgment. No thoughts. It just is. In that moment - whether it be on the hiking trail, sitting at our desk or in meditation, things are entirely OK. We experience more of these moments through meditation and going inwards. These moments that are lacking a sense of unsettling thoughts, a lack of judgment become our freedom. They allow a sense of peace to guide our daily thoughts and actions. Quite possibly, these are the moments that open us up to faith if we have felt that missing.

So in the end, and as part of a daily practice I leave with this: catch the judgments, catch the doubts and the over-thinking and striving for perfection. Slowly strip away the constant anxiety inducing pining for a future that does not exist. You are enough right now. Sit with that. Next time you overreach and try to be the funniest or smartest in the room or the better actor or you sit in judgment of someone just remind yourself that you are enough. Right now.

~ b