The painting above (approx. 20” diam. Acrylic on wood) was created and gifted in 2009 by Frank to Terry Welch, the world-renowned Zen landscape artist, and art collector. The name of the painting is “Reflection Lake” and presents Terry’s favorite view from within the wildlife refuge he developed.
Reflection is key element within Zen practice. Like the stillness of the water improves the clarity of the reflected image, the stillness of our minds improves the image we reflect within our minds of the reality around us.
It is difficult to consider moderation in our age of exuberance and super sizing. But, Zen teaches us about moderation and taking the middle path. This practice is life saving and ultimately a more joyful experience. Extremes take their toll in causing us pain and suffering in the long run. It is better to enjoy our lives and reduce suffering through wise choices and moderation.
Take a deep breath; then exhale and consider where you are, and wisely take your next best step.
Many years ago, Shunryu Suzuki, in his book “not always so” introduced us to the idea of sitting like a frog. Shunryu said of frogs sitting, “I always admire their practice. They never get sleepy. Their eyes are always open, and they do things intuitively in an appropriate way. When something to eat comes by, they go like this: Gulp! They never miss anything, they are always calm and still. I wish I could be like a frog.”
In trying to get a better grip on this notion, Frank created the 24″ x 20″ acrylic on wood painting below, projecting enlightenment attained while sitting.
Since doing that painting, we’ve seen several frogs in a sitting position throughout the art world. In fact, one sits guard in front of our computer:
No reward needed… Just give of yourself and expect nothing in return… that is really a great feeling. Reducing the suffering of others is the highest and most rewarding joy we can have in our lives. If our giving is recognized, that is a wonderful experience, in itself in a new unit of time, particularly if unexpected.
Someone recently mentioned to us that if they are doing their job right, nobody notices. Trust should naturally flow between us, bringing with it an unspoken expectation of performance underlying our relationship. Sometimes, it is only when things go wrong that people speak up. But that is OK… if our intentions were right in the first place.
But, all this lack of expectation of reward, does not relieve us of recognizing the good work of others. There is a real joy in offering meaningful and honest praise to those that are delivering what we need and want.
One of the most important elements within a Zen practice is the critical nature of keeping our commitments. It really should be a priority in our lives, driving our most important directions during a given day.
The subtle breaking of casual commitments is a passive aggressive act against others, and too often the most important people in our lives suffer from our lack of consideration.
Keep your promises. We should all just be and do what we say.
Today we were reading about the use of negative titles and headlines to grab (and sell) reader and viewer attention. Fear, negativity, horror and the like sell, no doubt. It is our emotional response conditioning. But, there has to be a significant segment of the global population reaching saturation on all this goring of our souls and yearn at least for a break. And, maybe, once the taste of something positive and more ennobling is sweet enough, our inner desire will seek more. So, on with the peaceful positive here at Art and Zen.