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I was listening to the radio in my studio and was greatly moved by Greta Thunberg's speech at a rally in Vancouver that was happening that afternoon. I stopped what I was doing and pulled out a new piece of watercolour paper and experimented with a limited palate and strong pigments and applied a large brush of water gradually tipping the paper to enable the paint and water to mix and flow. "Believe the Science I" came alive in front of my eyes:
A week later I felt the need to express my thoughts about the rapid melting of ice in the Arctic and Antarctica and the consequent rising levels of the oceans and "Believe the Science II: Melting Ice and Rising Oceans" flowed into my consciousness and on to the paper:
I hope that in some small way, my intuitive watercolours will help to bring awareness to the climate emergency facing the world and the need for governments to act NOW!
Monica Bennett, Sandy Shreve, Nancy Silo and I are, once again, grateful to all our friends and visitors who came to our "Chain Reaction" summer show at the Sea Star Vineyard on July 5,6 & 7. Four of my artworks found new homes and I am deeply grateful for the encouragement I have been given. Our interactive displays were much appreciated and our two collaborative pieces: "Wayfinding" and "Summertime" were successfully auctioned with 100% of the final bids going to the Pender Island Fire Camp.
The group of 4 artists who make up 'Quatrain' extend their gratitude to all those who came out to see their successful show last weekend. We all enjoyed meeting and discussing our work with friends and visitors alike, and the most often mentioned comment was that they enjoyed the way all four artists integrated their work through responding to each others art pieces and to a simple haiku poem. One person mentioned that we had created a language in which the viewers were able to participate. I am privileged to have been invited to join these three talented artists, who have created this integrated form of art exhibition over the last 3 years, and am grateful that several of my art pieces have found new homes both here and off Island. We are indebted to David Goudge, Proprietor of Sea Star Winery, for enabling us to exhibit our artwork in such an ideal venue, and we are delighted to be donating 10% of our takings to the Epicentre for the purchase of art supplies for their young members.
This is my latest Sumi-e image of my enso "Circle of Serenity" which includes my given Zen ideograph and seal and will form my logo for my new watercolour gallery "Enso Gallery" which I hope to open here at my home in mid-June.
These photographs are of the Zaike Tokudo Group all of whom took their Bodhisattva vows together at the Salt Spring Centre of Yoga on November 15, 2015. The ceremony was quite beautiful and will be in my heart for ever. Norman Fischer presided, assisted by Peter Levitt, our teacher, and Judith Daylen acted as jisha for Norman.
I have been given the gift of a new name today. It is Kõya Shõsei and translates to 'open field, illuminating vow'. With this beautiful name came a profound poem, which I am slowly beginning to absorb into my being:
The heart holds no obstruction,
the formless field is revealed.
Vow illuminates what we have
always been, clarifies our seeing,
and the seen. Life is fleeting;
there is only the gentle doing now,
the soft voice of winter stillness
sings the dharma blossoms of spring.
I have received the Zen Buddhist precepts today and am now a lay Zen Buddhist practitioner. Now my life begins!
Today saw the culmination of an amazing journey on my Jukai path. I finished this rakusu at lunchtime and have had such warm feelings of relief and accomplishment. There have been moments along the way when I was tempted to throw the whole project out of the window, when just one more jab of the needle in my fingers would be the final straw. But there were also moments of peace and quietude when the stitches seemed to flow into place effortlessly. I had time to reflect on the vows I am about to take in November, and realized that this whole process was the Precepts in action.
I am studying Shohaku Okamura's Realizing Genjokoan and have made a small step forward in my understanding of "to study the Buddha Way is to study the self. To study the self is to forget the self. To forget the self is to be verified by all things. To be verified by all things is to let the body and mind of the self and the body and mind of others drop off..."
My daily meditation or zazen is the time when I study myself to forget myself, in spite of the myriad thoughts that whirl around me. I am realizing that through zazen I can begin to feel the interdependence of all beings. We are living in times of rapid climate change which must inevitably mean that our relationship with the earth, with nature, with animals and fellow human beings must become one if we are to survive. Sitting in zazen is not a time to contemplate these things, but a time when one realizes the dropping off of the separation between oneself and others - others being other human beings, animals, nature and the planet.
As I study the Precepts, I am allowing their light and guidance into my daily life. Today I stepped out and had coffee with a new friend. We shared our enthusiasms, our hopes, our shortcomings, our humor and so much more. Where will this encounter lead us as she steps away for a long hiking tour in Europe, and I continue to sew, paint and enjoy the warmth of summer on Pender Island? Will we meet again? Will we share again? I shall follow her journal on Facebook and just maybe our paths will cross once more.
Understanding the Practice of Zen Meditation
"When you give yourself to practice through and through, which means through and beyond feelings and thoughts, little by little you begin to allow something great to surface, something without beginning or end. That's as it is."
"In traditional Zen spirit we don't emphasize the stages in meditation practice or anything we think we've gained. We emphasize having strong confidence in our original nature. That's the spirit of Zen, and this confidence unfolds through the cultivation of practice."
(No Beginning, No End - The Ultimate Heart of Zen by Jakusho Kwong)