Art and Authenticity

posted in: Dharma Topics | 0

This program will be offered as a Zoom Meeting from (7:00 – 8:45 pm, Eastern US time):

On Thursday evening, May 14th, open to all who have participated in the group meeting at Crossings in Silver Spring, Maryland. 

On Friday evening, May 15th, open to everyone who wishes to join.

Dear Still Water Friends,

This Thursday and Friday, after the meditation, we will recite the Five Mindfulness Trainings, and will focus on the Fifth Mindfulness Training, Nourishment and Healing.

As an artist, I am constantly striving to create original works of art. It is always a challenge. I would not want to be an artist who precisely copies works of others. I would not want to be called a good copyist or an impostor. That would be a betrayal of myself. I want each of my artworks to be personal statement, something that only I am able to create. This is my art. This is me creating authentic art pieces, all by honoring my authentic self. 

This is where the Fifth Mindfulness Training speaks to me in a very personal manner. Not only does it address the external and internal elements that can dull my mental awareness, hinder me physically, and entangle me in emotions or illusions, but it also prescribes a wonderful remedy: “I will practice coming back to the present moment to be in touch with the refreshing, healing and nourishing elements in me and around me, not letting regret and sorrow drag me back into the past nor letting anxieties, fear, or craving pull me out of the present moment.” The remedy invites me to look within myself and realize that the present moment is where life occurs and where creativity is possible. 

I have access to many sources of inspiration, historical and in the world around me. However the most important element in creating real art is adding a personal interpretation, something that indicates the work is mine, not that of Andy Warhol, or Frida Kahlo. The source of that originality is, as the Buddha said, “going back to the island of myself.” I’ve also been inspired by the Spanish poet Antonio Machado who encourages me to create my own artistic way:

Caminante, son tus huellas
el camino, y nada más;
caminante, no hay camino,
se hace camino al andar.

Wanderer, your footprints are
the path, and nothing else;
wanderer, there is no path,
the path is made by walking.

(From Campos de Castilla, translated by Betty Jean Craige)

After our recitation of the Five Mindfulness Trainings, I would like to focus our Dharma sharing on connections we see among art, authenticity, and the Fifth Mindfulness Training. 

Below is a related excerpt by Thich Nhat Hanh and a poem by Francisco Albánez.

Warm regards,

Carlos Muñoz

from You Are Here by Thich Nhat HanhWhen we look deeply at a flower, we see all the non-flower elements there, such as earth, sun, minerals, the gardener, and so on. If we look deeply enough, you will see that the whole cosmos has come together to manifest as this miracle. The flower is full of all the elements of the cosmos—time, space, the sun, rain, even your consciousness—everything. But the flower is empty of one thing. It is full of all things but it is empty of one thing: a separate existence. It is empty of any separate entity called self.  We are like the flower. Everyone of us is a miraculous flower in the garden of humanity. If you look deeply into yourself, you will see that you possess everything. As the poet Walt Whitman said, “I am large, I contain multitudes.” The one contains all—that is the insight of Buddhism. If you practice deep looking, you will discovered this truth, the mystery of interbeing: the one contains all. What you are looking for is already in you. You might have an inferiority complex and think that all you have in you is suffering. That is not true. You must get beyond the thought, “I am nothing. I am made up only of suffering. I should go look for a teacher who can save me.” You must definitely get beyond this thought. You already are everything you are seeking. Do not try to become something else. The flower does not try to become the sun; it already is the sun. It does not try to become a tulip; it already contains the qualities of a tulip within it. When you achieve this insight, you stop suffering. We suffer because we want to deny ourselves. We want to become something else, and so we never stop running.The One Who Is At Home
by Francisco Albánez, translation by Robert Bly

The One Who Is At Home
Each day I long so much to see
The true teacher. And each time
At dusk when I open the cabin
Door and empty the teapot,
I think I know where he is:
West of us, in the forest.

Or perhaps I am the one
Who is out in the night,
The forest sand wet under
My feet, moonlight shining
On the sides of the birch trees,
The sea far off gleaming.

And he is the one who is
At home. He sits in my chair
Calmly; he reads and prays
All night. He loves to feel
His own body around him;
He does not leave his house.