Nirvana and art


And it comes right down and lands on the ground and out comes a man from Mars..."

I haven’t taken blog-worthy photo all week and so I’m posting one I took at the end of March at Wildwood. I edited the photos I took that day while listening to music, something I don’t do. I found it an interesting experience. Music and photography are two forms of art that touch me very deeply. It was really interesting to see how the song I was listening to affected the way I processed the photo. Each song changed the way I looked at the photo and influenced the decisions I made.

This whole idea, the way another person’s art influences my art, is an idea I’ve been thinking about lately. Specifically within the context of Buddhism.

This week at my zazen group we talked about the Third Nobel Truth: the cessation of dukka (suffering). Otherwise known as nirvana. The text we read was “What the Buddha Taught” and was very interesting to me. I had always had this vision of Nirvana as a place where Buddhists go after they have completed their karmic lessons. And I always pictured it in my mind as a kind of gaping void, which never appealed to me. However, this is not at all what nirvana is. Nirvana is something that is always there and that we always have access to, whether we are Buddhist or not. Buddhism provides a path to help you find nirvana, but, from what I’m understanding, you don’t have to be Buddhist to find it. It is hard to describe but I think I kind of understand it a little bit. I think I’ve had glimpses of it in my life now and then. I think that moment on Mt. Hood was a brief glimpse of nirvana. I think that when I watch the sunset over the ocean and feel like I’m having a religious experience, because it is so beautiful, that is a brief glimpse of nirvana.

I think that when we create art we are working from that place. Or anytime we use our intuition, we are tapping into it. I have called it “that thing that connects us all together” for lack of understanding.

I think that when we experience art and are affected by somebody’s creation we are experiencing a glimpse of nirvana, too. During our discussion Wednesday night the analogy of a river was used and I think it’s excellent. Nirvana is like a river and when we are experiencing, and affected by, art we are dipping our toes in that river.

Honestly, I’m still learning about all of this and don’t claim to have the answers. But this idea has been rattling around in my head and I felt like sharing.


Health and Fitness

Bloomsday is this Sunday. I’m signed up for it and will be there. Will i run it? The whole thing? Probably not. I’m going to try my best but I won’t be able to run the entire race. This is such a disappointment. I was so excited with my running a month ago. The last time I was in Spokane I was up to 4.5 miles, the farthest I had run in a long time. I ran the Centennial Trail downtown in my Vibrams. I felt pretty good until I finished my run and I had to limp back to the car. The rest of the weekend I could barely put weight on my foot. I almost made a trip to urgent care.

After doing a bit of research I realized it was/is plantar fasciitis. So this past month I’ve been taking it easy. I haven’t really run in the past month. Not significantly. I’ve been running a mile here and there to see how it feels but it is still hurting when I run and I don’t want to aggravate it.

I relented and bought myself a pair of old-school running shoes last weekend. Saucony, my old stand-by. I’m not sure the Vibrams are for me. I’ve read elsewhere on the web that others have developed plantar fasciitis after running in Vibrams, so it’s not just me. I have abnormally high arches, so maybe this has something to do with it? I don’t know. But I do know that I’m back to running shoes. It’s disappointing. I wanted this minimalist shoe thing to work for me. I do enjoy the experience very much.

The past


A couple of years ago, when I started studying Zen philosophy, Raf was hired to illustrate a book. The book is a memoir called Leaving Parma. As he was brainstorming ideas for these illustrations he came up with this one: “Words create past experience.” He came up with this within the context of the memoir as “Creative Nonfiction.” The idea came to him when he read the prologue to the book. In that section Angie Sarich explains that when she had her family read the book they remembered things very differently and it made her question the past and what it was. So using this idea he decided to illustrate the book with words from the book. He used words to recreate images described in the story. The above illustration is an example of one of these final images.

I thought this was a brilliant idea and if  you ever get a chance to get your hands on this book take a peek at Raf’s illustrations. They are really unique.

When he was bouncing this idea off of me I was studying Zen and was kind of, in a roundabout way, thinking about the idea of past and what it is. And then it hit me. hard.  The past does not exist. We may think it does but it doesn’t. We are constantly rewriting it, whether it be in our minds, or on paper, or on a blog. We remember things about specific events that didn’t quite happen the way another person might remember it. So if I recall something one way and another person who experienced the same event recalls it another way, which way is the true way? See what I mean? The past is merely an imagining of what we think happened.  And our  recall of fact is tenuous at best.

That’s really all I have to say about that. I thought about it recently because the idea came up in my zazen group this past week. It was one of those rare,  mind-blowing “aha” experiences that don’t happen very often.

Photography Friday: Spring!


Another week goes by in a flash! I have all of these blog posts in my head and no time to write them. This is being posted from my iPod which is not conducive to good writing.

This past couple of weeks have been very stressful for a variety of reasons and I’m starting to feel the effects of it. I woke up in a bad mood and feeling that cloud of depression begin to wash over me. It’s funny how stress and depression are so closely linked…

Hopefully I’ll be able to post more about all of this. Writing seems to help ease the stress, somehow.

In the meantime, here is a photo I took last Sunday at Bridal Veil. It was a really nice, non-rainy day. It was wonderful to finally see flowers.