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.

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