I feel particularly restless today. Over the weekend I unwrapped a new shipment of rice paper but my initial forays have thus far been unsatisfactory. It feels as if I have never painted before. The brush is stubborn, the ink sloppy, and the paper haughty and reserved.
I know from past experience this awkwardness will pass, if not today, then tomorrow or the day after. I know that I must rid my heart of the desire to paint something ‘special or important’ and then rid my mind of the standards that will measure how well I execute my desires.
In other words, it is not the brush, ink or paper that is holding me back but my own ego/mind that wants to control, take authorship, be admired. It is only when I begin to forget my self that painting can happen.
Meanwhile I experience feelings of frustration or emptiness because the ‘ego’ is not getting the strokes it desires. Unselfconsciousness is the key; to be conscious not of the self but of the ‘unself,’ the not-self, the non-personal.
So this morning I have come to the local park for instruction.
Across the field the pine tree stands before me, centered, complete and wholly itself. Its broad base and tapering top are the picture of the meditative state – firm below, relaxed above. With such presence and peace how could it not be long lived and ever green.
The willow that stands behind, closer to the stream, shakes loose its long graceful boughs to dip and sway to the rhythm of a Viennese waltz. To the right and rear looms a giant oak with huge blacksmith limbs that night and day defy gravity – a living Atlas.
What kind of consciousness does a tree enjoy? Does it feel joy or peace or pain? Does it harbor secret aspirations or intentions? It sits at table all through the day, its leaves eating the sun, its roots drinking the earth. It has no choice to stay or go, no flight or fight is possible. The tree is designed for the acceptance of what is.
From within its greenery birds chatter and sing their songs without preparation, without thought, without judging the effect on their audience. The sparrow chirping above my head does not wonder which note is next or if tomorrow’s weather will be fair. There is no hesitation in its movement from branch to branch. All nature, all natural.
Having finally wiped my mind clean, my tutors dismiss me for the day and send me home.