This beautiful sky with pre historic cave paintings is what is happening right now over Amsterdam.
The Japanese attitude towards broken dishes is full of hope and yet extremely realistic. No chance you can undo disaster when your favourite bowl is broken. Missing bits, messy glue. No matter how crafty you are, it will always look like a badly repaired broken dish. So, is there no way to hide the breakage and be painfully reminded every time you use it? No. But how insightful to not hide the memory, but make it more beautiful. Let’s not hide the pain, but give it a silver lining. Literally.
Here are some pictures of a bowl a friend asked me to give a silver or, in this case, a gold lining. After sticking the parts together with a mixture of special lacquer and flour, some weeks in the muro, a hot and wet drying cabinet, sanding and cleaning, it is time to finish with gold dust.
Broken is even better! The story of this bowl is clearly visible. Maybe it can inspire us to wear our scars with pride and confidence.
It can be hard to stand strong in the daily storm of distractions. My mind is easily won by all the beautifully crafted messages that I see, hear and feel when going for a stroll. Even a short walk around the block means that I will be bombarded by an array of commercial signs, posters with this weeks concerts, shop windows with all kinds of necessary items, not to mention the people I meet. People, some I immediately dig, most are too weird, too ugly, or whatever story my instinctive feeling tells me to make up. All these external triggers have the capacity to make my mind run wild. I guess that most of us know this feeling and that is why we retreat to our quiet homes at night, close the curtains and shut out all the triggers. Quiet and still at last.
I wish! Of course it is too shortsighted to think that by shutting out the world, my mind will quiet down. What a silly idea. My mind is not so easily inspired to quiet down. No, if there are no external distractions, from the scary depths within me, my mind will make up its own distractions. No problem at all. Before I know it the incident earlier today with the messed up proofs of next month brochure is escalating into a vivid story with details repeating itself endlessly. Especially the details that make me squinch.
So, what keeps me inspired to keep on working with these distractions? To be mindful of my pitfalls and trappings, to be aware what is going on, to not back off when it gets painful, to let my experience be alive, vivid and fresh. There is many sorts of inspiration. Memories of the words that my teachers spoke, are an inspiration. Just short key sentences that are able to open up a whole world of understanding. Hoe about every fifth billboard having such a line instead of the usual advertisement? ‘This will also pass’, ‘Let everything be part of your meditation’, ‘What are you doing?’.
I drive my car every day. Listening to the dharma talks on dharmaseed.org are another way to keep inspired.
Thich Nhat Hanh gives such nice and cosy little hints. It is our attachment to the table that makes us suffer, not the table itself. And it is true. I happen to have a very nice table that needs to be oiled and cared for every now and then. When I have spent some time rubbing and caressing the wood, I am attached to the damn thing like never before. The first cup leaving a ring, the first scratch, it hurts me. Of course it is not the table that is causing my suffering. It is my careless wife, who spills the hot tea.
Lately I try not to be attached to the table, as well as to my wife.
We get into fights because we do not understand what emotions we are experiencing. I panicked today while in a car. We were hurled out of the automatic car wash, engine dead, gear in neutral. My wife was behind the wheel and while we were gently rolling down the slope, she did nothing. The road was coming closer and closer. I panicked, yelled that she should do something and ultimately I pulled the hand brake.
We layer emotions. Under the anger there is fear, under the fear there is sadness. And, as Pema Chodron said, behind the sadness there is the clear blue sky.
Communication is all about being sincere, about seeing clearly what is going on. Hiding behind anger was fear. My panic was pure fear. Instead of yelling at my wife in total anger how stupid she was, I could have better explained to her that I panicked and pulled the hand brake. She didn’t do anything wrong. I did, I panicked and pulled the hand brake.
We got into a fight and had to give each other some space. I walked home. The anger rushed through my body. I remembered to let the storyline go and feel the energy of the anger in my body. It felt alive and vibrant. But the minute I started to tell myself what an idiot she was, I started to feel miserable again. Letting the energy be, without comment, without escalating the anger, I felt great.
My panic had lasted a second, the anger covering it took at least an hour to dissolve.
You can make life into a celebration. Not by changing life itself, fat chance you will be able to control what the gods have in store for you. Better take it as it comes and celebrate by being aware of every moment. Pay attention to the things you do. I like to arrange my cooking knives, the groceries, the pots and pans and the spices just so everything is tidy and in its right place. It is a joy to move my arms, see the knife slice the carrot and be aware. Cooking turns into a sacred act. And in case the gods were to interfere, I keep a tissue at hand to stop the bleeding.
Tibetan lama Chögyam Trungpa writes in the path of the warrior that spiritual bravery has a lot to do with honesty. Starting this blog makes me painfully aware how difficult it is to be honest. It is not the big lies that worry me, but the very subtle ways in which I manage to kid myself. It takes bravery indeed to find the honesty to admit that this blog scares the shit out of me.
I wonder. It probably isn’t the blog, it is you that I am scared of.
Finding myself in the middle of something completely new. WordPress is something to get used to, let alone figuring out just the first step. I have managed to lose the about page already. Want it back. But I am not alone, others have been where I am now.